Lifestyle photography is a kind of portrait shooting that is about taking photographs of people in real-life situations (weddings, family or couple shoots) in an artistic manner without poses and that reflect sincere emotions and the art of the everyday. In lifestyle photography, people want to reflect the true nature of their relationships rather than focus on a place or the clothes they wear. In this article, you’ll find a few tips and creative lifestyle photography ideas that may help you take sincere and natural photographs.
Lifestyle photography is a style of portrait photography that aims to capture dynamic portraits of people in different life situations, real events and everyday life. The main purpose of these photographs is to show the lives of people in the real world. Lifestyle photographers usually know how to work with several genres at once (landscape, street photography, fashion, wedding, etc.).
During the “lifestyle” shooting, people don’t pose. They’re given a certain situation and the photographer should capture their emotional response (laughter, joy, surprise, admiration, etc.).
Make your lifestyle photos pop and moody in several clicks. Download these Film Lightroom presets to get this vintage look as if the photo was taken by the old film camera.
To take real lifestyle photos, you need to snap these blissful moments, such as kissing in the park, a baby blowing bubbles, or a child riding a bicycle or roller skating. The perfect lifestyle photo should demonstrate an object in the best possible way while, at the same time, keeping everything natural and alive, revealing the history of personalities, feelings, relationships, etc. Read the following 20 lifestyle photography tips to take amazing photos the very first time.
Lifestyle photography is quite unusual in its naturalness and unexpectedness of actions. Take a picture from the bottom or top, over your shoulder, or get a little closer. Show your creative vision, depending on the results it can bring you.
Sometimes I do a little cheating and tell my clients that I’m setting up my camera or testing out lighting, which allows me to capture some of their interaction when they don’t feel under pressure. I want my customers to trust me and my style of work; that’s why I do everything in my power to make their dreams come true. At the end of the day, I feel like these photos are their treasure and true embodiment of the precious memories of their lives.
Try to make some shots of people after a little chat about their life, and snap the in-between points of traveling to show a more authentic picture of the places you visit. It’s a nice way to experience lifestyle photography.
You have no time and no opportunity to re-frame and click the shutter afterwards, because in most cases you’re photographing families with children that aren’t able to repeat something again so that you can capture it. Besides, if you ask them to repeat a shot, the picture will no longer look so natural and won’t have real emotions in it.
When shooting lifestyle photography, it’s best to let the process unfold naturally. Don’t go for artificial lighting. Use natural light and if there isn’t enough of it, then try changing the position, the camera angle or a quick capture mode of the reflector.
You have to connect with real people, who are much more difficult to work with than inanimate objects (products, decorations, etc.). Thus, the settings of your camera should correspond to this style of documentary photography. You can never predict a precise moment to take a snapshot. That’s why a lifestyle photographer sets up the camera in such a manner that allows them to capture the moment without compromising on the sharpness and composition.
There isn’t a specific type of lens that works best with the lifestyle photos. The thing is that you have to take both close-ups and pictures from afar and there won’t be time to constantly switch between them. Therefore, it’s better to use a lens you are accustomed to working with and that is quick to customize. I use a variety of lenses but my favorites is the 24-70 mm, because it is ideal for street lifestyle sessions and for shooting the fast movements of children. Also, I consider 35 mm lenses to be ideal for lifestyle shooting due to their fast reaction and ability to catch the light perfectly.
To capture real emotions, you need to make friends with your models and gain their trust. Get to know them – their ideas, hobbies, traditions, etc. The best way to achieve this is to send them a questionnaire where they will answer all these questions. Find out what they are listening to and observe how they spend their leisure time together. I recommend watching The Complete Guide to Creating Natural-Looking Lifestyle Family Portraits by Elena S. Blair who will teach you to take natural-looking family portraits.
Ask about their likes and dislikes, activities that the whole family takes part in, and places they like to visit on weekends. Spending time with them and asking about their routine life is already the first step to building trust. This way, you enter their comfort zone and can inform them about your own lifestyle photography ideas.
After you’ve collected information about your clients, discuss with the couple/family/models what they want to capture. Maybe it's a trip to their favorite place, preparing homemade pizza and cookies, or any other activity. Since you are shooting real emotions, there is no need for a detailed plan of action, but exploring a location in advance would be a great idea.
Most of the time, people choose in home lifestyle photography, because it’s where they often meet each other, interact and show everyday emotions. Still, you can achieve a much greater effect with some families if you take a lifestyle shoot to their favorite cafe, park, shops that they like to visit, etc. In such places, you can capture real events from their lives.
Places for a lifestyle session should always be chosen by the customers. You can make some suggestions and ask about their favorite pastimes but the final choice has to be theirs. For example, if a family goes to the beach every weekend, then this is the perfect place to watch them spend their free time together and capture it on your camera.
You do not need to use any external details; just go to the apartment or the house in which the family lives and capture everything you see around. My favorite place for shooting lifestyle family photography is the children's room because it’s usually the one that the family spends most of the time in, especially if there are small children.
Read this Ultimate Guide to natural light photography to take amazing lifestyle photos from the first shot. Rachel Devine shares her tips for finding and using natural light to tell unique visual stories through portrait and lifestyle images.
The kitchen is also a great location; you can suggest the family preparing a dinner together, lunch or something sweet. It is a great way to distract them and to get to the core of their emotions. Everything you need to use for family photos is right in the house; just chat with your family and decide what is best for them.
A clean territory is an important attribute for many kinds of photoshoots. However, it doesn’t apply to the lifestyle photography genre. If you think about what is lifestyle photography at its core, you’ll understand that spilled juice or scattered socks will work out better for lively photos than a sleek background of a shiny apartment that looks like it was purchased just a few days ago. Take a photograph of a family in the children's room before dealing with a mess: the scattered toys, books and other little things will create a certain atmosphere of intimacy and show the family in their actual day-to-day life.
You will probably want to take a few lifestyle close-ups of people, but do not forget about the environment. The place where your customers prefer to spend their time is one of the biggest aspects of their lifestyle. I always carry a wide-angle lens with me to capture the environment and also pay attention to the details. Sometimes it can be clothes, accessories and other cute details such as lace on a dress or a beautiful hairpin. Other times it’s a baby's hand holding a father's hand, a child with a toy, or a family pet. The details give a sense of place and space. They are important for the client and help in telling any kind of story. Such examples of lifestyle photography are meaningful fragments of a complete picture, so be sure to capture them.
Do not wait for the perfect shot; start right at the very beginning and keep shooting until you get the best lifestyle photos. Since this style of photography cannot be planned in any way and thrives on experiments, a large number of images are needed in order to pick out the best, worthiest ones. After all, I do not use film cameras so we can afford many shots.
You can never predict the sincerest moments; for example, when a baby hugs and kisses a brother. Therefore, in order not to miss the best moments of family lifestyle photography, do not stop; rather, take pictures all the time, as some things last only for a second and you can easily let them slip away without notice.
Movement is life, especially for small children who cannot sit still and are constantly looking for adventures. Take pictures of children moving around the apartment, climbing stairs, playing hide-and-seek or catch-up. At such times, they definitely care little about you and these lifestyle photos look the most realistic. In addition, dark corridors with a little light coming out of the windows always impress more than a fully lit room, and they work well in a photo.
You should document the family/couple as they are. If mom wants to feed the baby and dad is making coffee in the kitchen, then there is no reason to stop them. They are at home and should feel like it’s a regular day from their life. Just follow them and try not to attract unnecessary attention.
If you try to entertain the family while telling them to behave naturally, you will fail. Practice shooting your relatives and friends when they aren’t paying attention to you. Set aside a whole day for the family shoot, starting in the morning when the family wakes up, has breakfast, bathes, rests, etc. After acquiring some skills, you will get an intuitive feeling about when it’s the best time to get your hands on a camera.
When your clients get busy, they don’t focus on you. It shifts their perspective and brings out their true emotions; they let go of control. Think thoroughly about activities that can keep them fully engaged and you’ll truly see what lifestyle portrait photography has to offer.
Many kids get bored when they are forced to participate in a routine family activity. You’re free to go and cheer them up or make a funny joke to bring a smile to their faces. A little harmless teasing goes a long way: simply say something witty about the cookies they’ve made; compare them with an animal or any other object. The goal is to make them laugh and have another opportunity to capture a genuine reaction.
You need to achieve a perfect balance between being invisible and directing a family when it’s appropriate. There’s no one-size-fits-all variant so you have to adapt yourself to every particular couple or family. Some of them require more guidance and others easily get into the desired “flow” state. Thus, in case your family knows what to do, turn on “ghost mode” and don’t remind them you’re there.
A lot of our customers are neither at ease nor relaxed in front of the camera during a lifestyle shoot. To make a family feel more comfortable and accustomed to the process, you need to give them something to start with. Some simple directions on what to do and how you want to capture them will be enough. Consider it a little warm-up before getting right down to business. While they’re preparing, I’d highly recommend you to get attentive and take the shots. The family will think that the photo shoot hasn’t started yet and they’ll reveal their true emotions. This small lie leads to satisfying results, so give it a try.
To edit lifestyle photos, I usually use Lightroom to do photo cropping and color correction. Here are 5 of my favorite presets that will help make your lifestyle photography editing much better and faster.
Adobe Lightroom Preset "Brighten" helps improve lifestyle photography and make it bright. Thanks to the effect of the old Kodak film of this preset, your lifestyle photos will look old-fashioned. In addition, you may play with shades and colors after changing the brightness and depth levels. Customize this vintage preset to make your photo look naturally edited.
Make your lifestyle portrait clear with this FREE Photoshop action in several clicks. Regulate white balance and temperature of your photo to make it warm and pop.
A perfect and high-resolution Photoshop overlay for your outdoor lifestyle photographs. Make the sky full of fluffy clouds to add a romantic or fairytale atmosphere to your photos.
This is a universal Photoshop brush for making hair voluminous and wavy. Download this FREE brush and apply it to your portrait photos quickly and easily. Natural and realistic hair is guaranteed.
Want to take a dramatic and stylish portrait? Play with this FREE Photoshop texture that can be used to make your lifestyle photos grungy and vintage.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.