A Day in the Life: The Sutton Family | Astoria, Queens Documentary Family Photographer

Documenting a Family in the Truest Sense

As a documentary family photographer, the pinnacle of sessions is a full "Day in the Life" shoot. Spending an entire day, immersed in the life of a family, observing the love, the interactions, the unique characteristics, the humor, the challenges, the heart. It is during these long sessions that a family truly can relax, and let the beautiful reality of their life be photographed in the truest sense.

I have photographed the Sutton Family many times, going back about eight years, and continuing through their journey as expectant parents, then the birth of their son Dylan, and parents of a toddler. I had the opportunity to spend a full day with this amazing family a couple of weeks ago, and as I knew it would be, the hours (12 of them!) were filled lots of laughs, lots of love, and lots of singing and dancing! 

Life is a Cabaret

Chris and Lyn are both Broadway performers, who I met ten years ago when all of us were traveling with the first national tour of Monty Python's "Spamalot". I have always loved Lyn and Chris's strength as a couple - they are each other's biggest fans, they lift each other up and they love being together. Definitely two peas in a pod! When Dylan arrived on the scene three years ago, I've only seen their family unit grow stronger. I love seeing the experience Dylan is already getting as the kid of two performers (what three year old can sing and quote lines from "Chicago"??). What a wild ride he is in for! Chris and Lyn often work together on shows, and Dylan has already had the fun of traveling to Philadelphia, Connecticut and Florida for productions... the diverse experiences he will have (and already has had), I can already see are making for an open, adventurous, and compassionate boy - just like his parents.

A Love Affair with Astoria

Our session started at the Sutton's apartment in Queens, and I accompanied them throughout their day, which took us down to the waterfront in Long Island City for lunch and a walk, then back to the apartment for some gaming and a dance party.

As long as I've known Chris and Lyn, they have always lived in Astoria, Queens, and I can't think of the neighborhood without also thinking of them. I asked Lyn about what living Astoria means to their family:

"We love Astoria", she told me. "We have lived in Astoria for fourteen years. We love how convenient it is to everything. The restaurants are so fantastic. So much diversity - its great! Christopher and I dated, got married, and had a baby all in Astoria...so its a big part of us."

I also asked Lyn about what it was like to raise a child in a borough of New York City (as I saw Chris and Lyn struggling to get their stroller up and down the stairs of their walk-up apartment, and then carry a twenty-five pound car seat five blocks to their parked rental car).

Lyn said, "What we have loved about raising Dylan in the city so far, are all the opportunities available to him. Again, the convenience. We walk everywhere, all the time, as a family, and we love our space/apartment in Queens. Astoria has an energy without the Manhattan madness. I think sometimes the stairs and the stroller can be challenging, and I sometimes wish I had a backyard to go out to with Dylan. But the good thing is that our friends down the block have a yard, and plus we travel a lot, so he gets yard time. Astoria has provided us with many great things, and we are looking forward to discovering even more with Dylan."

Thank you Chris, Lyn and Dylan for inviting me to spend the day with you, and for the years of amazing friendship. I love you!

Here are some photographs and also a film I made of their day.

And their "Story in Motion":

If you are interested in a day in your family's life recorded in both photographs and video, please contact me for details!


Francesca Russell is a documentary-style family photographer and filmmaker located in Garden City South, NY. Head over to her Facebook page to see more of her recent work at https://www.facebook.com/francescarussellphotography/, or follow her on Instagram @francescarnyc. If you are looking for a photographer on Long Island or in the New York City area to document your family's story in photos or a film, please contact her for a session!