Karie, Jacob, and Casimir | Detroit Documentary Family Photographer

One of the bonuses to me being a Documentary Family Photographer is that I get to meet and spend time with some really amazing people. I may sound cheesy, but often times I end up truly feeling that after our session we have bonded and I now have new friends. Before their first session, I already knew and loved Karie. We have spent time together at our get togethers for Mastermind Happy Hour, a group that I co-founded that hosts get togethers and support for small business owners. Meeting Jacob and their son Casimir, and getting to spend time with their family in their home while they interacted and we chatted, just confirmed the amazing energy of ease that Karie brings to our get togethers runs through the whole family. I may have started calling Casimir my new boyfriend because I kinda loved him and as Karie reminded me recently he kept giving me cat eyes. He looks at you lovingly and slowly closes his eyes at you. Cats do this to show you they trust you. If you didn’t know, the secret is out, I am a total cat lady. So of course this instantly added to our ability to bond.

Karie and Jacob, thank you for welcoming me into your family with such ease. I’m excited to watch your babies grow and document the different stages of your life together. XOXOXO

As you may have noticed, during this session they were getting ready to welcome their newest addition into the family. Beautiful Ada is now here and I will soon share the pictures from her session welcoming her into the world and her wonderful family.

Documentary Family Photography, Do It For Now

The more personal development work I get into, and believe me, I’ve been getting pretty deep, the more I realize how important right now is, how now is really all we have. But you might be asking, okay, but what does that have to do with documentary family photography?

Seeing yourselves now is a reason to have documentary family photos made of your family that isn’t talked about as much. The reasons that involve the future are important and valid. It’s heart warming and wonderful to think of your family 10-20 years from now pouring over these photographs reminiscing about the old days. Or thinking of your grandkids flipping though your album of theses photographs, being able to get a feel for what a day was like for your family. Having this heirloom to pass down for generations, all of that is beautiful and wonderful reasons to have your family’s day documented.

But what about right now? Feeling all the feelings NOW, seeing your value NOW, loving on each other NOW, pour over photographs of your family right NOW, and really see all that you are together, right NOW.

It's funny how it's almost coming full circle, what really got me started with documentary family photography years ago was my desire to show moms their right now, their everyday, and how much they're valued.

The little intricacies of being a mom, a parent, I was seeing them go unrecognized. I was seeing the moms I know not seeing the value in all of their little everyday moments. How their kids looked at them, how they casually grabbed for their mama's hand, how they buried their heads into their mama's neck when they were upset or feeling shy, how they would look across the room to connect eyes with their mom for reassurance. I wanted to show moms how important their time at home is, how important their time with their kids is, how much it means to their children.

These moments we have with each other, with those we love, they are everything.

So have your family's photographs made for the future, cherish and revisit them for years to come, tell your kids all about what they were like in those photos, tell your grandkids all about what their parents were like while showing them what it felt like with an album of moment filled photographs. BUT also DO IT FOR NOW, do it to see right this minute that your family is full of love, that your family is imperfectly perfect right now.

What’s stopping you? Have your day documented. Have your family's pictures made.

Baby so excited about mom. Royal Oak, Ferndale Family Photographer
Empowering Mothers | Metro Detroit Family Photographer

Are you like me in that you feel best living a life of continual learning both professionally and personally? Tim jokes that if I could get paid to be a student forever, I would totally do it and he’s right I probably would. Right now I am taking a great business class created especially for documentary family photographers. One of the questions we had to answer was “What is our why for being a documentary family photographer?” I realized that I have multiple why’s, but this one below is a big WHY for me.


It may be surprising to some, but a large part about making these photographs for me is about empowering women as mothers. We are often the core of our families. We provide the security, the love, the comfort, the guidance, the glue that holds it all together for our families. Shoot, our bodies are even designed to provide the nourishment for our children as babies without us having to do anything else at all! How unbelievable is that?! We help our children to be brave when they are scared, to know that they are capable of things that feel hard. Because of us they know that they are loved and worthy. Because of us they can try and make mistakes and try again and know that we are there and that they are okay. To our children their mothers are the center of their world, their source of comfort.

This is one of my big why's as a documentary photographer. To empower women as mothers by showing them their own greatness, value, and love as a parent. That moment when a woman sees themselves in their photographs with their children and feels so great about herself as a mom. When she sees how important she and all she does is to her family. AHHHH, that is my why!

Now before we even go there. Does this mean I don't care about men or dads? No not at all! My husband is such an involved and important part of our family and is my son's hero. Way more than I am. But men in general, they do not question their parenting like we do. Somehow they have a different level of confidence that they are doing a good job. Women, as mothers, we need to see and feel our value more. It's time for us to be empowered in our role as a parent.

Are you ready to yourself and your value in your family’s photographs?

Ready to book a session? Have questions about a session?

Shelley TorgersonComment
Jillian, Lennon, & Scout | Royal Oak Documentary Family Photographer

It’s a small wonderful world. We’ve have known Jillian and Lennon in some capacity or another for years. Tim used to work down the street from Lennon’s business and was friends with both him and his dad. Through Lennon we’ve met Jillian, years before they were together. Fast forward to now I have become friends with a mom at Milo’s school and we realize that Lennon grew up with and is best friends with her husband. Small wonderful world, full of connection. And now Lennon and Jillian are a family, live in a house I love on a gorgeous street in Royal Oak and have the adorable little Scout. Her personality is so awesomely full of life and at the same time chill, even at this young age you can see it. She is going to be a force to reckon with in this world.

I have been sharing images from this session on social media but I figured it’s time to share the whole slideshow with you because I totally LOVE it. This family is freakin adorable. We had a Half Day session together and there is such an ease to being in their presence that I could have stayed all day. Seriously, I love them, their daughter, I love their house, and to top it off, their cat’s name is Tim (my husbands name for those of you who don’t know). I mean, what more could I ask for?! Doing a documentary family session for them was seriously so much fun for me.

The slideshow is below, but for those of you who are at work and don’t want music on, make sure to turn down your volume or check out the images I posted below the slideshow instead.


And because I love this one so much, I had to throw it in here at the bottom. I mean look at that dimpled bottom! Baby perfection!

Metro Detroit Royal Oak Family Photographer -24.jpg
Shelley TorgersonComment
Relaxed Portraits || Metro Detroit Documentary Family Photographer

Did you know that with a Half Day or Glimpse of a Day session, you can use 15-30 minutes of your session for relaxed portraits?

Sometimes I have families who really want a documentary session, but still like the idea of having just a photograph or two of their family posed together. Or my clients love and understand what a documentary family session is all about, but the grandparents are all, “wait a minute, you’re not all going to be posed in matching outfits smiling hugely into the camera?!” This part of the session allows you to get the photographs of your family you want, the real moments that tell your family’s story while also still being able to give grandma and grandpa a posed picture for their mantel if that’s what they prefer. (Sorry though, unless it's how you normally dress everyday, matching outfits are still not allowed!)

You have the option of having up to 15 minutes during a Glimpse of a Day or up to 30 minutes during a Half Day Session for relaxed portraits directed by me. You can have the best of both worlds! What are you waiting for?!

Shelley TorgersonComment
Haley & Hans | Royal Oak Documentary Couples Session

While talking to Haley before her’s and Han’s session she told me something along the lines of, “My friends have told me I had better warn you that Hans and I are really gushy and lovey. They’re worried you might think that we’re faking it for the camera.” I am pretty good at spotting what is real and what it fake when it comes to how people are acting, but I thanked her for letting me know and got even more excited for their session. Seriously you guys, Haley and Hans are the cutest, most in love couple, and it’s obvious that they are the real deal. I joined them for one of their favorite morning rituals, walking up to the bakery not too far from their house. There was a moment when Haley went to use the bathroom and Hans looked at me, his face full of love, and said “Isn’t she just the cutest?!” The love is so huge and so real! Then we went back to their home and they made and drank tea together, something they often do. Simple, perfect, them being them.

Spending a couple of hours with them, really got me excited for more of this type of session. A family doesn’t only exist when there are children involved. Capturing love, silly faces, little glances, that’s what this is all about. Every family has all of these moments, whether there are children involved or not.

So here’s my shout out to all of you couples without children. Have your pictures taken together. Get a session done. Plan some time doing the things that you love to do together and have someone capture and show you your moments. You won’t regret it.

Haley’s response to her slideshow had me in happy tears:

“SHELLEY I AM IN LOVE WITH THESE PHOTOS!!!!! *swoon* Wow you are so talented. I have no idea how you captured that many good ones lol. It just felt like a walk but you captured the treasure. Wow. I'm in tears.”

**With any of my shorter length sessions I offer 10-15 mins of loosely directed portraits if that is something that a family wants. There are a few pictures in this slideshow that are not purely documentary. The love is real, their reactions are real, but this couple wanted to reenact something they’ve done together every year, so we made that happen for them.