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Lifestyle photography is a type of portraiture that seeks to capture the beauty and narratives of everyday life. This is done in an artistic manner but unlike most other types of portraiture, it tries to share the stories, places and people in an un-posed and natural way.
A quick search on social media will pull up a whole range of photographers working in this genre that focus on all aspects of life. This type of portraiture aims to capture everyday scenes and people in their natural environment but there is still plenty of room for the photographer to add their own artistic touch to the process.
These candid photos are a fantastic way to tell people’s stories and as the genre has gained in popularity more freelancers have been adding it to their list of portrait services.
Lifestyle photography is not planned like a normal photoshoot would be. Instead, the camera is constantly shooting, looking for those perfect moments! As a lifestyle photographer you should try to make your pictures feel as natural as possible. This allows you to capture the real lives of your subjects without the stiffness that often comes about when you’re working in the studio taking family and other types of formal portraits.
Of course, there is the issue that is hard to avoid – nobody feels completely natural while they’re being followed around by a camera. However, as long as you can build up a comfortable and casual rapport with your subjects then they’ll soon forget you’re even there, or at least become more relaxed with the camera.
To keep your photos feeling authentic you don’t want to be using any pre planned props, special studio lighting or posed positions. Lifestyle photography is a fluid type of portraiture and it will take some time for you to get the balance between natural looking photos and high quality artistic representations of reality as your subjects actually live it!
It might seem like a contradiction in terms but you are going to have to plan ahead a little bit before you can start to take authentic looking lifestyle photographs. You will have to arrange to meet your client at a certain place or time to conduct the photoshoot. Usually, you’ll be meeting them in their own home, at the local park or maybe down at the beach. Then you can stand back and let the magic happen!
There’s two main aspects to the planning process. Firstly, you’ll want to get to know your client. Find out what they like to do, where they might want to have the photoshoot and the type of activities that best represents their lives.
On the technical side of things, you’ll want to find out in advance what kind of lighting you’ll be working with on location. Are you going to be shooting indoors or outside at the local park? Depending on where you’re shooting you’ll have to adapt your gear to the lighting and location.
The more details you can find out beforehand the smoother the shoot will go. If you can, it’s always advisable to pay your client a quick visit before the day of the shoot so you can assess the conditions for yourself. It will also make it easier to work with them in a more relaxed way on the day of the shoot. This can be especially helpful if you’re working with a family, so that the children feel more comfortable with you being around taking photos!
Where Should You Shoot Lifestyle Photography?
You can work anywhere while you’re creating lifestyle photos although the most common place to work with a client is in their own home, at their place of work, or somewhere that they spend a lot of their recreational time. Generally, you want to be shooting in locations that they go to everyday or represent an important part of their lives.
You always want to shoot in a location where your client feels at ease. It should also be related to them and their lives. When you’re liaising with your client in the planning stage you want to find out the answers to these questions so you can come up with some locations in conjunction with them. It’s often a good idea to plan out two or more locations to work with so you can represent various aspects of your clients lives – for example, their living room at home, their backyard and maybe the local park.
Always Make Sure Your Client Feels Comfortable and Relaxed.
To be able to capture genuine and authentic photos you want your clients to be feeling relaxed. You’ll have to use your interpersonal skills to put your clients at ease, especially if they have young children who might want to be looking at the camera at all time instead of acting normally!
When you start the shoot you can try breaking the ice with small talk and if they have children, ask them about their hobbies or school work to make them more comfortable with the camera being there.
Working with families who have children can be more challenging however if you make sure that the photoshoot fits in with their schedule you’ll get better results. For instance, if the children normally have their dinner at 5pm then you won’t want to be shooting down at the park because they’ll become tired, hungry and moody! Speak with the family in advance to find out what the best time to plan the photoshoot is.
Should You Use Poses?
As a rule you don’t want to use planned poses in lifestyle photography because it will never look authentic. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give your clients any input and you can still direct their activities to some extent.
You can suggest that they play catch in the backyard with the light coming from the right direction so you get well lit shots; or ask them to read their children a book on the sofa. You could ask the children to show you their favorite game or direct the family to walk under the mottled light of the trees in the park!
While you are directing your clients still allow for the scenes to evolve in a natural way without getting overly involved – it’s a hard balance to strike at first.
Learning to Anticipate the Movements of Your Subjects.
In a funny way, lifestyle photography is a little like wildlife photography in that you have to learn how to anticipate what your subjects are going to do before they do it! This will help you to capture those precious, unexpected moments that will make your work stand out as a fantastic representation of real life as it happens.
You’ll have to learn to be ready at any moment to shoot the photo that perfectly encapsulates your subjects without getting too involved with the action itself. The best photos in lifestyle photography don’t normally last more than a few seconds so if you’re not ready you could easily miss the shot! Mastering these skills will allow you to stand out as a lifestyle photographer and with a bit of practise you’ll soon be able to pick out the moments that make the best photos.
Keep Your Eye on the Details.
In lifestyle photography it’s the details that make the outstanding photos. Be ready to use your zoom and focus on the small things in the scene that help to illustrate the personalities, action and life of your subjects.
Use the items that make up the life of your subjects in the photos – for instance, children’s toys, books on the table, trees and ornaments in the garden, a sleeping pet or other details that exist in their natural environment. Incorporating these details will give your photographs character and help to make them feel more authentic.
Keep the Dialogue Open.
It’s vital to keep your clients relaxed during the photoshoot and one of the best ways to do this is to keep up the casual chit chat throughout. Don’t over do it, but do give your subjects encouragement where it’s appropriate and when you see something or a situation that is working well then point it out.
As a photographer you’ll have to have great people skills and when you’re working in the lifestyle genre it’s doubly important! It’s rare that you’ll be working with experienced models and so your clients are unlikely to have the same type of confidence in front of the camera. A few kind words of encouragement and the odd tip on where to position themselves and what’s looking good in the photos will go a long way.
Lifestyle Photography is the Art of Telling Your Subject’s Story.
When you’re working as a lifestyle photographer you’re not expected to deliver a few formal family portrait shots! Instead, what your clients want is a set of narrative photos that tell the story of their day to day lives together. They’ll invite you into their home, or environment, and let you take photos so that they can treasure those small moments that make up their lives together.
You always want to be trying to make the photographs as authentic as possible; and although you’ll need to do a little planning in advance of the actual shoot itself, it should still be as free flowing as you can make it. During the shoot try to make sure that your clients are comfortable and although you should avoid posing your subjects they will need a little hands off direction to get the best results.
Have you tried lifestyle photography?