What is a lifestyle photography session?

Lifestyle has become sort of a buzz word in the portrait photography industry lately, and a lot of photographers call themselves lifestyle photographers, but their styles can vary, so what does this mean for you, the client?

According to Wikipedia, Lifestyle photography is a kind of photography which mainly aims to capture portrait/people in situations, real-life events or milestones in an artistic manner and the art of the everyday. The primary goal is to tell stories about people's life or to inspire people in different times.


Now photographers are artists, so they can interpret this in different ways.  I've seen many "lifestyle" shoots where all the pictures are posed and smiling, and others where they are purely documentary.  I find that I fall somewhere in between.  I think it is important to get some smiles and eyeballs in my sessions, but the art really comes alive when the subjects relax around the camera, and I as the photographer can start to play creatively, and capture unscripted moments.


I tend toward a combination of lifestyle and fine art portraiture.  I love to experiment with trying new techniques, and breaking the rules of photography, but I want my clients to get a variety of shots.  Some to tell a story, some to frame, and some to document the in between moments.  Most clients want the "holiday card shot" of the family smiling, and I will capture this for you, but I want to get to the heart of who you are, and if I could just follow you around with my camera all day,  I would.   I usually plan a few shots just to break the ice, and I always want a group shot, but not the one you would expect.  I call mine the "Family Smoosh". It's basically a group hug, sometimes tickling and always relating to one another.


If we are doing an in-home session, I find it useful to have an activity planned or to go through a particular part of your daily routine.  I will also guide rather than pose.  If I see a potential shot, or light I want you in, I will move you.

As for the inevitable "what to wear" question, I always want my clients to be comfortable and natural in an outfit that they really love, I recommend complementing outfits rather than matching, and I am pleased as punch when parents let their children dress themselves!  We may not love their choices but down the road, the memory of a favorite outfit or stuffed toy, will be a treasure captured.


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