Making Moment Driven Pictures: Documentary Family Photography

with Kirsten Lewis | Available for Immediate Download


Nothing is better than real life and pictures of real-life moments make the viewer connect to the subjects and the photograph. The catch is that making great real-life moment pictures is hard…really, really hard. Documentary family photography is not just about “capturing everyday life”– it’s about making deliberate, well-thought-out photographs that will elicit an emotional response from the viewer, all while not controlling or influencing the environment in any way. Additionally, the more personally connected the photographer is to their own point of view, the stronger the end result will be. This Breakout is an introduction to making moment-driven pictures and embracing the art of real-life photography.


• Applying The Ethics of Photojournalism to Family Photography Technical Tips for Storytelling
• Create A Goal’s List For Every Session
• Approaching A Scene With Purpose
• Point of View
• Tight vs. Wide Shots
• Shooting For The Future
• Shooting Through A Scene
• Action and Reaction
• Action vs. Moment


Kirsten Lewis is a documentary family photographer based in Denver, Colorado, although her work brings her all over the world– from New Zealand to Dubai, Brazil to Canada, Italy to Hawaii. She is a professional educator who teaches documentary family photography as a desirable alternative to the traditional family portrait. Kirsten’s talks are known to make you laugh one minute and tear up the next, inspiring her listeners to go confront their fears, identify their insecurities and push forward. She is regularly featured on the Huffington Post, gives interviews around the world and is listed as one of the top 100 photographers on Fearless Photographers, but it is her role as a mother to Byrdie Mae and wife to street photographer Gregory Bethmann that brings her the most pride and joy. Well, that and any Scrabble victory, which are countless.


  • Elizabeth says:

    I loved this breakout! I first saw Kirsten on CreativeLive and absolutely fell in love with her approach and resulting images so taking this breakout was a no brainer. She is an excellent teacher and gives very honest, constructive critiques that will change the way you approach and photograph a scene. Highly recommend this breakout!

  • I love so much Kirsten works; She is so generous and passionate in teaching and a very rich photographer.

  • Kirsten is such a strong teacher. She is thoughtful, thorough and completely transparent. Her advice comes from years of experience and a genuine commitment to pulling other photographers UP by asking more of them and encouraging them to want more from their work as well!
    Her voice is very much her own but she uses it in powerful ways to connect with her clients, viewers and students. The family photojournalism community is a pool of diverse perspectives that gets deeper and deeper all the time. If you’ve ever been curious about this approach to photography, let Kirsten Lewis’ breakout be a diving board to get you into that pool!

  • I am not sure there are any words that could efficiently sum up how incredible this breakout is. Kirsten Lewis is THE most talented family photojournalist…hands down! Therefore, it is a pinnacle opportunity *indeed* to have the opportunity to learn from her. I took Kirsten’s first Creative Live class back in 2014, and said class was the biggest game changer within my photography journey. She doesn’t just teach photography…she teaches one how to be genuine and honest with ourselves and with clients. Please note: This class does, in fact, touch on subjects that are *not* covered in Kirsten’s Creative Live classes. You will not be disappointed with this class, and you can bet your bottom dollar you will want to go through the materials, again and again, for inspiration!

  • Jolyn Laney says:

    Kirsten Lewis is a genius! And this breakout gets you into her head. You understand how she makes her photos. It’s NOT by accident, she works hard to get these shots and she tells you HOW! This changes the way that you shoot EVERYTHING!!!! Don’t miss this!!

  • I have been in both of Kirsten’s Creative Live classes as a live audience member and have learned so much from her rich teaching. I wasn’t sure this breakout would have anything “new” to offer, but of course it does! I really appreciate Kirsten’s clear teaching style and the passionate way she communicates with her students. She has definitely pushed me as an artist!

  • Rozsika Steele says:

    I love this breakout. It has been worth the investment.

  • Kirsten has done it again. I have watched both Creative Live tutorials and have still come away with more useful information and inspiration. Thought provoking and inspiring as usual!

  • There are a lot of photographers out there whose work is inspiring, and Kirsten’s certainly is, but there aren’t as many photographers who have real talent in the teaching department. Kirsten does. She explains things so clearly. Her content is more than just inspirational fluff- it’s nuts and bolts advice that help take your photos from “cute” to powerful and poignant. This class is worth soooooo much more than the small investment they are asking. I have photos I’ve taken of my kids that I would not have made in the same way. Priceless, powerful photos. I’m so thankful!

  • Anna Nodolf says:

    This is my first breakout and I’m loving it! I’m a big fan of Kirsten. Her methodology for approaching family pictures is both refreshing and beautiful. The way I look at making pictures has completely changed because of her. She formulated this breakout in such a helpful way. Rather than a class setting, we get to peek inside her brain to see how she approaches each shot. Brilliant.

  • Hannah says:

    I have loved every second of this breakout so far – the information is detailed and amazing and inspiring and I could go on and on. If you are curious about documentary/lifestyle photography, if you want to expand what you already know about it, if you just want to be inspired to take more MEANINGFUL pictures then BUY THIS BREAKOUT! Kirsten’s attention to detail and her motivation are so inspiring!

  • Sarah Howell says:

    Although I am yet to fully make it through ALL of the amazing content in this class, I am really loving the challenge that Kirsten (as teacher) has given to me (the student) in the PDF. I haven’t spent as much time as necessary to think of culling a portfolio of my family documentary work through the lens of the “print me out” questions. I have found myself really focusing on answering these questions for myself and thinking through how my own answers and point of view can be a driving force in what images really speak to me. This unique point of view is a great way for me to refer to when culling for my portfolio. Can’t wait to dive further into the critique videos and the contact sheet videos are new and unique content since Kirsten’s CL classes!

  • Ashley Ples says:

    Kristen has influenced my photography so much I can’t even tell you. If you’ve watched her on Creative Live, this breakout is a wonderful addition. She provides new content and a different perspective. And if you haven’t seen her on Creative Live, this is a great starting point to the world of family documentary photography. If you’re on the fence, don’t even hesitate to sign up for this class! You won’t regret it!!!

  • Keely Massie says:

    This breakout is my first foray into Clickin Moms; I was drawn in by the chance to learn more from Kirsten Lewis. I have caught parts of her other classes and follow her work on Facebook, but this was the first time the dates and cost were doable for me. I stayed up waaaay too late reading the material and watching the videos- so much to absorb! I’m glad I joined, not only for the great information and inspiration from Kirsten, but because it helped me discover all the wonderful stuff in the Clickin Mom forums. Wow!

  • Katie says:

    I’m halfway through this breakout and it is fantastic. I’ve completed both of Kirsten’s Creative Live classes and this content is fresh and new with plenty of images taken by Kirsten that I have never seen before. If you are a fan of Kirsten’s work, teaching style and approach, I would highly recommend this as it’s certainly not repeating what she has taught previously.

  • I absolutely love Kirsten’s breakout! I feel like I manifested it, I have been following her work for over a year now and have been soaking up all her goodness! The way she teaches is amazing, she’s just so honest, real and funny! She does a great job explaining not only the technically side, and rules of documentary photography, but also how to make a strong composition & image! This was so helpful when you are just starting out in documentary photography or even a year or two into it!

  • Carin says:

    I was so excited when I saw that Kirsten was doing a breakout class with ClickinMoms – such a great opportunity to learn from her (I’ve watched a couple of her Creative Live classes). There’s amazing material in this breakout, especially the photo critique videos which I’ve learned so much from. I can’t recommend this breakout enough!

  • Keely says:

    This breakout is my first foray into Clickin Moms; I was drawn in by the chance to learn more from Kirsten Lewis. I have caught parts of her other classes and follow her work on Facebook, but this was the first time the dates and cost were doable for me. I stayed up waaaay to late reading the material and watching the videos- so much to absorb! I’m glad I joined, not only for the great information and inspiration from Kirsten, but because it helped me discover all the wonderful stuff in the Clickin Mom forums. Wow!

  • Do not hesitate to learn at every single opportunity given from Kirsten Lewis! She will change the way you see the world around you and the way your images feel and translate to those around you! Be that your own family or your clients! My photography has came so far since knowing her name!!!

  • Claudia Alvarez says:

    I’m loving all of the information that is in this breakout! I have taken a few breakouts in the past and this one is by far the best one! The way she has laid out the information for this class, critique videos and PDF, make it easy to implement them in your everyday documentary shooting. You need to purchase this!! So worth it!

  • Ofelia says:

    I love all the new content Kirsten is sharing with this breakout. It’s really making me see a different side of my photography and the explicit examples she gives to guide you towards getting to know yourself are priceless. Perfect to bring all the previous knowledge from her other online classes to practice, with a deeper understanding of the why and how… Thank you so much for sharing!

  • I have previously purchased Kirsten’s courses from other sources and I was always very pleasantly surprised just how much I’ve learned and how invaluable it all is to me . I could go on about Kirsten’s awesomeness but most of you are aware of that. My reservations about this course was spending yet more much needed money on something I may have already heard or read, it just didn’t look that complex. I gave in at the end as I hate missing out and just going through the PDF, that alone, made it well worth it. There’s a lot of technical advice included which was a nice surprise. Not just what to shoot but how etc. And I know the videos will be great. What was I thinking not buying this in the first place I don’t know. :) Just get it.

  • This is my first CM breakout and I can’t imagine a better introduction than the insanely talented Kirsten Lewis! She will blow your mind into all the right pieces. I HIGHLY recommend this class to anyone interested in family, documentary, day in the life, or pretty much any moment/story driven photographer (which includes, um, everyone, right?) She’s so inspirational and you, no matter what your skill level, will learn so much wonderous things!

  • Loved Kirsten’s new class. The 77 page pdf and new critiques are a great addition to her CreativeLive classes.

  • Cori Roberts says:

    Kirsten offers a unique opportunity to see families in a whole new way. The concept of creating one image to tell an entire story is absolutely unlike anything I have ever been taught. This new way of viewing my families has completely stretched my brain. I am now seeing stories everywhere…even when I am not photographing! This class is definitely one that will stick with you forever!

  • Stephanie says:

    Kirsten Lewis nailed it with this breakout session! The video critiques are priceless, and are truly the best way to learn. I have gained so much insight and knowledge from this session. It was worth every penny!

  • Before I’d heard of Kirsten Lewis I was lost trying to find my way as a photographer. Learning from her has truly been a gift and she has sparked a passion I never knew existed within me. To this day I can edit and cull much faster, and am constantly looking at shoots I’ve done and learning what I could improve on for next time. I have seen both her Creative Live classes and attended a photo retreat with her and Jenna Shouldice which was life changing. For those of you who might think you don’t need this breakout because you’ve watched her on Creative Live, you are WRONG. This class has new information, material, and as usual, Kirsten’s amazing work to draw inspiration from. It’s definitely a must have! I’ll sometimes watch some of the videos before a shoot, to pump me up and refresh me on new ways of approaching moments.

  • Loren Haar says:

    I am really impressed with this breakout. The pdf has lots of good information — I especially appreciated the questions you can ask yourself that help you see and develop your own personal eye for documentary family photography. The videos are substantial and you will learn a lot from watching and seeing how Kirsten works. I recommend it.

  • Kirsten is the best teacher I’ve ever taken from. She is such a seasoned photographer and teacher. I have taken everything I can from her on Creative Live and group mentoring and still she rises to the occasion and provides even more and different information in this breakout. I’m never bored. She is fantastic and so is her work.

  • This break out is fantastic. Kirsten’s teaching style is like her photographs: easy to read, relatable, and funny. The PDFs are straightforward and informative (and not just a repeat of her Creative Live classes!) but the best part for me was the critiques. It is so helpful to hear her thought process on why a photo does or doesn’t work and concrete suggestions for how it could be improved (step over this way, meter for this spot, wait for this to happen). If you have any interest in documentary family photography for your own family or client work, this break out is a must have!

  • I have been following Kirsten Lewis for a couple of years now and I take every chance I get to learn from her. She has changed the way I shoot and how I feel about being a family photographer. She is very thoughtful in providing new material for each course she teaches. If you don’t know her, this is a great place to start! Even if you have taken courses from Kirsten before, this breakout will without a doubt make you a better and more confident photographer.

  • callie cooper says:

    Kirsten is a great teacher and it is totally worth the investment for this breakout!

  • Angie Gray says:

    I”m new to CM and this is my first BO. WOW! Kirsten was worth every penny and I have really enjoyed learning from her. The critique part is incredibly helpful and I will now be able to, not only shoot with more purpose, but be more efficient when choosing the stand out images. I gained so much insight to the way she approaches documenting families. After watching it, I almost felt like she was there with me, guiding me through my next shoot.

  • Linda says:

    I saw KL on CreativeLive and wow. What an amazing photographer and teacher. I knew I had to buy this breakout from her too. Thank you Kirsten for your wisdom, teaching and education for this documentary breakout.

  • Jenna Dallaire says:

    I’ve purchased about a dozen of Breakouts for different reasons, but this one dragged me out of my mental photography slump. The 3 hours of multiple photographers image critique allowed me to see my own images in a subjective manner, seeing exactly where I could grow. Her editing video almost gives you permission to walk away from presets. Her lessons on composition have already transformed my images. As a teacher she doesn’t hold anything back, always pushing you to make the most impactful story driven image. Add to cart, press buy now.

  • Susan White says:

    I first learned of Kirsten when I happened to catch the first live broadcast of her second CreativeLive class. I was blown away – family photojournalism – who knew? Certainly not me but it immediately spoke to me. I dove in and quickly joined her group mentoring classes where I quickly fell into the rabbit hole of wanting to learn more and more. The best thing about Kirsten is not only is she invested in seeing her students improve but her critiques are so incredibly helpful, even when she’s critiquing others’ images. When this class opened up it was a no brainer, I had to buy it. I was not disappointed. Kirsten packs so much incredible content into this breakout. There’s enough technical material for the beginner to get going and there is a wealth of information for the pro looking to improve in the family photojournalism space. Even though I’ve taken other courses with her, I still found new information here. And you have the added benefit of the critiques which stand on their own as an incredible value. This is very different from lifestyle photography; this is learning about how to reframe your mindset in documenting a family in its authentic form. If all of this sounds intriguing to you, I promise you won’t be disappointed and you’ll walk away a better photographer.

  • I am a documentary photographer and this breakout is full of so much great information. I was hesitant to purchase it because I have and LOVE Kirsten’s two Creative Live Courses and thought it this might be too similar. It is not at all. I LOVE this breakout too. It is totally worth buying. Getting a peek into Kirsten’s way of thinking when she’s shooting by having her explain her thoughts while going through her contact sheet was so much more helpful than I would have imagined. Her critiquing other photographers photos also helped me to look at what I am doing in each of my photos and to see how I could improve in so many different ways. If you are interested in documentary or even lifestyle photography, I think this breakout is a must buy. Really it could be helpful to any photographer, there is a lot information and lessons that could apply to any type of photography.

  • Jessica says:

    I love Kirsten’s work and was so excited about this BO! And it did not disappoint! The information in the PDF was phenomonal and the images were amazing. I love how she gives so much infomation in the videos and walks you through her thought process, which I found incredibly helpful. I love taking documentary style pictures of my day to day life and this BO certainly will help in the way that I approach things. Thanks for putting so much work into this Kirsten!

  • Lisa says:

    If you love documentary photography this is an absolute essential BO to have!! I have learned so much my head is spinning with all that I need to practice. What I love so much is seeing through Kirsten’s eyes which images she chooses from all she has taken, how she manages to get the most amazing moments and her video critiques are awesome! She has completely changed my approach to documentary shooting. Love, Love this BO!!

  • Gonda Meurs says:

    I’ve bought already a Creative Live class of Kirsten so I was doubting if I wanted to buy this CM Breakout session. But I am so glad I did! There is a lot of new content, especially the videos are great. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with other photographers Kirsten! I’ve learned, again, so much from you!

  • I cannot recommend Kirsten Lewis’s Breakout enough! I plowed through the entire videos and PDF in two days and I was so sad when it was over. She is a phenomenal teacher that really opens your eyes to how to critique your own photos so that we can grow as photographers in family photojournalism. I am so incredibly thankful for this break out and the tools she has provided in this new photography direction of family photojournalism.

  • Jen says:

    I really enjoyed Kirsten’s Breakout session. I really liked seeing how she culled through her photos and hearing her thoughts on which photos worked better and why. I also was relieved to see how she edited her photos- very simply! I felt at ease that I didn’t feel the need to spend hours of time editing client photos! She was really helpful in the forum in answering our questions.

  • Chelsea says:

    I was really lost until I found Kirsten’s various classes. Applying photojournalism to family photography was a game changer for me. I was so excited when she announced this breakout. There is so much new, helpful info in the class materials. Also, tons of critique video which I have found to be a phenomenal way to learn and grow as a photographer. This class packs a TON of bang for your buck.

  • Saskia says:

    For years I’ve tried to take ‘perfect’ photos. But these photos didn’t represent the real life of my family. Our life isn’t filled with gorgeous backlight, happy kids, yummy bokeh… Instead, it’s messy, loud, filled with action and interaction. So this year I decided to focus more on taking documentary-style photos that tell the real story of our family. This course has given me a great boost into the right direction. Kirsten’s critiques are honest and constructive, and the walkthrough of her own contact sheets are instructive. I’ve learned to look at photos in a new way and to focus on the moments that define our family life.

  • Nao says:

    It is my first purchase of CM Breakout and I am really happy I did it. The PDF is very beautiful and full of interesting information. Critique videos is really nice. After watching it, I am much more careful when I take pictures, paying more attention for both Moment and composition. I highly recommend this breakout to anyone interested by documentary family photography.

  • Lisa Coker says:

    Kirsten really sums up in a concise and straightforward way the essentials for making amazing and impactful photos. It’s not just about good light and composition, it’s all about the moment that’s captured because that is what will illicit an emotion for the viewer. Kirsten not only tells you how to do this, but shows you through her own contact sheets. I found the 3 hours of critique most helpful to identify what to do and what not to do, why a picture was successful and why it’s not, and how to improve. If you want to create photos that tell a story and make viewers feel something, sign up for this class! It’s such a great investment into your photography career.

  • Dilyara says:

    I am new to CM and couldn’t resist to joining this awesome community after seeing Kirsten’s breakout. I’ve taken her CL classes, but this breakout has completely new material in SO much new information! This breakout walks you through the process of making a point behind every single picture, of taking a picture that tells the story. Live critique videos are invaluable! We learn the best from our mistakes and watching Kirsten’s critique helps to get a pick of her thought process.

  • Toni-Maree Semat says:

    Kirsten has, by far, had the most influence on my photography. Through her two courses on Creative Live and now even further through this Breakout, Kirsten’s concise and clear instruction has pushed me to develop a vision AND to follow through on it. The 3 hours of critique provided are so valuable in analysing your own work, both in the field and in post production. The pdf has so much useful information to refer back to, I particularly enjoyed seeing her goal’s list, it is so helpful to me to develop one of my own. Highly recommend this breakout!

  • Sara Paolucci says:

    Being Kirsten the best family documentary photographer out there, i am following her everywhere. I have already attended other two online courses she offered, and this one has a very different content and it’s really worth the price. The 3 hours critique are very very useful, after watching them i am starting seeing my pictures differently and i am more concious of my mistakes. I strongly suggest to take this course if you’re into documentary photography. Thanks a million again Kirsten!

  • I absolutely love Kirsten’s critiques! In this breakout, you get to see a few of Kirsten’s contact sheets from real shoots. It was very insightful to me to see how she set up the frames, what she captured, and what how she culled. But by far, the best part of the breakout is the critiques. She weaves in great information about what to think about in certain situations and what would make the frames stronger. After hearing her critiques, I can hear her voice in my head when I’m shooting. This is perfect for those who just want to capture your own day-to-day lives, or those who shoot documentary sessions for clients. I guarantee it will give you something to think about that you hadn’t considered before.

  • Juliane says:

    For everyone who is interested in capturing the world they live in in an authentic, documentary way and learn to see the “decisive moments” I can highly recommend Kirsten’s BO. She is a really great and gifted teacher – she runs you through her thought process while shooting and going through her raw files. Watching her critiquing her own work as well as the work of others is extremely helpful and also very much fun to listen to and to watch.

  • Evangeline says:

    I’ve taken a number of courses and breakouts on CM – mostly focused on lifestyle photography, which is my wet-food. Kirsten’s breakout is one of my first forays into documentary-style photography. Honestly, I only made the purchase based on the advice of a friend, who raved about Kirsten’s influence as a mentor; I doubted I would find much in the material to resonate for me. I am now incredibly glad I bought Kirsten’s breakout. There is so much in the documentary approach that I plan to bring into my lifestyle practice. Kirsten has truly opened my eyes to the beauty in documentary photography, and she has transformed my approach to documenting my own family. I’ve been so enlightened by what I read, I’ve forced all my friends and family to listen to me go on and on about the discoveries I’ve made through the breakout material. I can also say Kirsten’s voice and critique is unique and to-the-point. It’s refreshing to listen to her describe the strengths and weaknesses of certain images; she provides meaty feedback that’s actionable. I have new eyes– thank you, Kirsten!

  • Piper says:

    I love Kirsten <3 I've loved her since seeing her on CL and and I was so excited to get this breakout, but somehow I still underestimated how amazing it would be. The PDF is wonderful and seeing her go through her contact sheet and generously share her thought process was so enlightening! Those two alone would have been well worth the money for the breakout, but the critique videos just make this breakout even better. It's one thing to learn and to try to absorb what you're learning, it's something all together different (and better) to see it in action. She walks you through image after image and thoughtfully critiques each one and I've taken away so much from seeing so many images and hearing her talk through them. I would definitely recommend it!

  • I have devoured Kirsten Lewis’s breakout Making Moment Driven Pictures. This breakout speaks to me on so many levels. Already I have begun to apply the lessons she has taught to my photographs. Thank you so much for such a great class.

  • Sabi says:

    I love this breakout, it’s the best that I’ve bought so far on CM. If you like photographing families, whether your own or the family of your client, this breakout will surely help. I have seen both courses from Kirsten at CL and am thrilled how she managed it to push me every time to get a better photographer. I find the videos of her contact sheets very helpful, especially the first because she explained exactly how she photographed and what her idea behind was. But I think her criticism helps out even more. She did a great job as always. I would highly recommend it!

  • Ebony Logins says:

    I love this breakout! Kristen gives the most thought provoking feedback. She makes you look at documentary photography in a whole new way! The videos feature 3 hours of intense critiques that will change the way you shoot and anticipate moments. Kirsten truly does approach each scene with purpose, and shows you how to do it, too. It’s a must-have!

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