Documentary photography is a style that I describe as the photographer taking a fly-on-the-wall approach. There is no direction or guidance from the photographer and events are unfolding as if no one was watching. This is how I describe 99% of the photographs I take of my own children. I document them. I don’t pose or guide them at all. I simply follow them around with my camera, capturing those 100% natural, candid moments.
Now you hopefully have a better idea of what each of these terms means. All three of these styles are beautiful and unique, and there is a place for each one. Many photographers incorporate a mix of these styles in their sessions, so be sure to ask your photographer questions about his/her style before booking your session. For example, I photograph my own children in documentary style photography, but all of my client sessions are a mix of traditional and lifestyle. Look at the photographer’s portfolio and find what style or styles speak to you the most.