You will see me use the term "lifestyle" to describe my approach to photography. This word is widely used in the photography industry now, but what it means can vary greatly from one photographer to another. I do not necessarily think I need a label to describe my art or that it has to fit perfectly into a defined box. But, I do believe that it is important for my clients to know what to expect from me. It will provide less stress during the session and will help you envision what your own photos could look like.
What is lifestyle photography?
Lifestyle is a hybrid between traditional portrait photography and documentary photography. Traditional portrait photography is what happens when as many elements in the frame are being controlled by the photographer. Think more traditional images of everyone looking at the camera, smiling, and posed. The photographer will control light, props, and posing down to the angles of heads. Documentary photography would be the opposite of this. It is capturing life as it is actually happening. The photographer would try to control as little as possible and stay out of the way of the natural interactions. Lifestyle falls in between these two types. Where exactly if falls on that spectrum is what is determined by the artist.
How do I make this style work?
I was a bit naïve when I first started family photography. I always wanted my images to look natural, exhibit joy, and connection. I assumed that all I needed to do was get everyone in one place and then all the connections would just magically happen. Dad would get his son to laugh. Mom would know to kiss the top of her son's forehead. The family would just know to go walking in a cute line while holding hands. What I learned quickly was that I still needed to guide & direct my families. Some of these things do happen naturally, but I needed to get everyone in the right place and give some directions so that they knew they were doing the "right" thing.
What lifestyle photography means to me:
- Connection is key; either with the families themselves or directly looking at me with a natural expression.
- Location is important to find the best available environment and light.
- Simple direction and communication is necessary. You will hear me say, "Squeeze together, but look at each other." "Dad, stand right here and lift your baby in the air." "Whisper a joke to your little brother."
- Posing with a natural feel and images with movement. Think walking, twirling, and playing games. Details like hair, hands, and eyes are important, too!
What lifestyle photography does not mean to me:
- Stiff posing. Perfect children with their hands in their laps and smiling.
- Props. I will use simple blankets and in-home sessions can include a favorite toy. I believe you and your family is enough to make a meaningful image.
- Forced Smiles or saying CHEESE. I focus on using interaction and conversation to get natural expressions. I have found some favorite images of mine are of children NOT smiling at the camera.
- That it's a "fly on the wall" approach. I will guide you to the best light, angles, and positions.
The bottom line is that lifestyle photography takes guiding and directing to deliver images that are consistent with my style. But it gives me room to express myself creatively while also offering clients images that go beyond a snapshot or a standard portrait.