A Day In Our Life - Commissioned Documentary Photography
A Day In Our Life ... ®
 ... commissioned documentary photography by B. D. Colen

Gallery Categories

Corporate and Editorial

I approach corporate and editorial assignments as I do the rest of my work - I document your reality. Whether you're looking for environmental portraiture, whether you want to capture the work of your executives, factory floor, or laboratories, or whether you want to show the life-and-death drama in your operating rooms or on your hospital floors, I will approach the subject in the same way:

I will shoot alone, without a car-load of equipment and assistants, using available light or a minimum of fill-flash, without disturbing the ongoing reality. And, what is vitally important, I will bring to your assignment 23 years' experience as a reporter and almost 15 years experience in health care and university public relations; I not only know what you want, I know what you don’t want.

To discuss commissioning me for your project, drop me an email at bd@bdcolenphoto.com.

A Day In Our Life

Why trust your memories to a shoebox full of snapshots?

... when A DAY IN OUR LIFE can provide you with a photographic document of your family life at the dawn of the Millennium.

If you commission me to document a day in your life, I will spend an entire day with your family - from when you wake up, to when you go to sleep - unobtrusively making candid photographs that truly capture family activities, interactions, and relationships. You may chose to have a typical weekend day of 'doing nothing' documented, or you may chose a family gathering, birthday party, or outing. What ever kind of day you select, and where ever you spend it, I will photograph all day and will then select 80 to 100 images that best tell the story of your day, and use them to produce a hardcover book your family will treasure for generations.

As you can see from the photographs in these galleries, what will make your book so special is not what you do on your day, but the fact that I am there to record it. These are images unlike any produced as part of a typical family portraiture or wedding photography sessions. These are images that you, your children, and your children’s children will look at decades from now and be able to say, 'Yes, that really was A Day In Our Life ...'

Weddings

I do not do 'documentary style' photography of weddings; I do documentary photography of weddings. I approach each wedding as A Day In Our Life, as a fly-on-the-wall with a photographer’s eye and a documentarian’s head. I will capture all the special moments, all the details, all the nuances that make your wedding day, or days, special, including those moments and events you may not even be aware of when they occur. I will take some quick, simple, group shots, but I otherwise will not direct you or the flow of your day in any way – the highest compliment you can ever pay me is to say after your wedding, 'I don’t know how you got these photos – we weren’t even aware you were there.'

But why take it from me? Here's the unsolicited note I received from the mother and father of the bride at my latest wedding:

'What a pleasure it was to have you at our wedding. You did such a fantastic job capturing every moment just PERFECTLY!! Everyone has said you did the best job ever seen. You were everywhere, but never 'in the way' of anything. You were like family to us and we loved having you as a guest. Your personality is so kind and patient - especially with nervous parents and the bride!

'You captured our special time. We are so thankful. It was a pleasure to have you. Let us know if you need any high recommendations!'


I offer a wide range of services and packages, and if you are having a large wedding, and it is appropriate, I can offer to engage a second photographer whose shooting style and behavior will compliment mine.

Please contact me to discuss your wedding needs.

Always Carry A Camera

In order to help my students understand why they should always carry a camera, I have developed an assignment in which I tell them to go out with a notebook - but no camera - to 'take' a dozen photographs. The assignment is to return to class with detailed descriptions of a dozen images they would have captured had they had a camera with them. The lesson is, of course, that it doesn't matter how perfect the image - if you don't carry a camera, you can't capture it.

Your Bio

From the time I was a young teenager I thought I was headed for a career in photography. In the summer of 1963, while still in high school, I covered the historic March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom as a photography intern for a small weekly paper in Connecticut. But after spending the following summer as a reporter and photographer for another weekly paper, I drifted into writing - and spent 23 years as a reporter, editor, and columnist, first for The Washington Post, and then for Newsday, where I shared a Pulitzer Prize for reporting. A medical writer for 17 of my years as a print journalist, I wrote 10 books on medically related subjects, and specialized in coverage of bioethics.

My passion for photography was rekindled in 1993, when I covered - and photographed, the famine in Somalia for Newsday, and a short time afterward I established A Day In Our Life, a photographic practice dedicated to providing individuals, families, corporate and editorial clients with commissioned documentary photography. Over the past decade I have produced photographic projects for clients ranging from families and bridal couples, to the New England Journal of Medicine and major pharmaceutical companies, and my photo journalism has appeared in major newspapers. Additionally, my work is included in the permanent collection of the Boston Public Library.

If I have a photographic philosophy, it can be encapsulated in an observation, and two quotes I include in my course syllabi:

The observation is that what matters most in photography is what the photographer sees – any light-tight box with a lens can capture an image;

The first quote comes from Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas, who commented during a lecture that “Far away is not a place;” we do not need to travel to the ends of the earth to do serious documentary photography – our subjects may be all around us in the unobserved moments of daily life;

And finally, there is this: We can never be objective, for all that we have been, and all that we are, is with us every moment of our lives, shaping all of our attitudes and our vision. What we can be however, what we must be, is fair. And that idea of fairness boils down to one word – honesty, the one thing that we owe our subjects.

I have only taken one photography course in my approximately 50 years as a photographer, and that was a week-long workshop with the great documentary photographer Eugene Richards at the Maine Photographic Workshops. That one week was invaluable, not because of any technique, or even philosophy that Richards taught. Rather, it was invaluable because Richards forced me to think very seriously about who I am as a photographer. I learned that I don’t have to spend a year with crack addicts, or travel to war zones to produce significant work. What I provide families, and wedding clients, is invaluable to them. And that is profoundly important.

Finally, I have created and teach a popular course called Documentary Photography/Photo Journalism: Still Images In A World In Motion, at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard University Extension School. I have also taught a course called "A Day In Our Life" at the Maine Photographic Workshops.


Welcome to A Day In Our Life. Take a few moments to allow these introductory images to cycle through. When you have seen them all, you will have seen what I see - and how I see it.

© B.D. COLEN