Little girl walking through richmond, TX streets | Photographed by Samarie-lei

I was only a few months into documentary photography where I had this pivotal moment that something had to give in order for me to fully understand how to approach this style of photography. In my mind I had this attitude thinking this is a breeze to just jump into it and it comes naturally. However in my case it wasn’t. I was approaching it as a portrait photographer, but that was exactly what I was trying to move away from. I first learned about Colie through a friend who happen to forward me her website. This was before knowing what storytelling was. Honestly, I didn’t realize she taught a class so I book marked her page as an inspirational photographer without even knowing the full effect she could offer me in the future. In late March, I came across her website again but this time through a friend who happened to have taken her class. Actually, now that I think about it I was being one of those nosey friends who happen to go through her Facebook account and saw the review she made on Colie’s course. I remembered her logo the bright pink and orange and instantly realized who she was. As I read my friends review I was instantly hooked. As I got more in depth in documentary and met really amazing photographers who have the same interest as me I learned more about Colie’s philosophy. I browsed more into Colie’s site and her courses. I read reviews and bam! This was a no brainer, I had to take this course! I had the opportunity to spend a little bit of my business money and all my choices were amazing between a nice new lens or going to Click-Away, but I knew my decision for The Business of Telling Stories was my best option. I needed some serious direction on how to change my whole shooting structure from weddings, portraits to only storytelling but also how to run the business. 

At first I was at a loss, kind of like going to a new school clueless at what I was doing. I struggled for awhile at the way I was shooting. I still had that portrait approach on most of my images, but Colie and Kayla were on me a lot giving me directions on how to set my scene. Our homework was to shoot everyday, learn from our environments (lighting, space and scene). This gave me a reason to carry my camera everywhere and shoot what I feel would tell a story with an image or multiple images. I learned the difference between lifestyle and documentary. Not only that, but I learned about the business. How to run it, how to price and value my photography. Colie put in so much into this course that after I finished it I was a whole new person. I left feeling more confident and how I wanted my business to follow after. Your shooting style completely does a full 360 degree turn. You will notice the change after this course. She was amazing at answering any questions you needed, even after the course was finished. She became a friend and someone who is truly honest and helpful. I felt this feeling of sadness after finishing this course because I wanted to learn more. Do I feel like this course could be for anyone? It all depends on you! I took this course in April of this year and participated each day because I knew this is where I needed to be. It was an investment so perfectly to matched to my style. I left with a feeling of wanting to learn more. It was that good! Do yourself a favor and follow Colie James Photography and The Stories We Tell. You will be amazed with so many photographers who have participated in this course every review is a positive one! 



BEFORE. These were taken before starting and during workshop. My biggest struggle in storytelling was shooting at medium angle. I was told my shooting style was more environmental portrait photography. Nothing wrong with that, I actually loved the aspect of it, but I wanted to tell a more visual story. And the only want to do so, is backing up a bit to capture the whole environment. 

AFTER. Can you tell a story with these images? 

So there you have it! Does this help your decision? I hope it does, it was one of the best investments to make in my beginning stages of documentary photography.

Looking to book for a documentary family photographer? Samarie-Lei Photography is offering in-home, on location or travel sessions. 
Locations include Katy, Houston, surrounding areas but not limited to locations outside of Texas. Please visit my contact page and send me a note to check with availability and pricing.