Lately I have done a lot of explaining to potential clients about what ‘lifestyle photography’ is. So, I figured the best and easiest thing to do would be to write a blog post about this topic so that I could share it with everyone!
I started my business just over 5 1/2 years ago. Since then, my photography + editing styles have changed, but my goals have remained the same. At every session (and wedding) I want to accomplish these 3 things…
- Create timeless images. I want my clients to look back at their photos and see themselves… I don’t want them to see a trend that was ‘soooo 2015’.
- Have F U N!! I want my clients to feel at ease and enjoy their time with me! Over the years I have learned several techniques to help break down the wall that the camera builds between my clients and I.
- Document. Document. Document… I strive to capture the moments as they are unfolding as if I was part of the background and not even there at all. This is very important because so often the little ‘in between’ moments are the very best ones.
Most of the lifestyle sessions that I do are for newborns. So today, I am going to focus on that type of session. However, the basic understanding of lifestyle photography would still apply to doing a lifestyle portrait session.
*Disclaimer – Everything that I have written below is from MY perspective. This post does not represent all photographers and the way that they may photograph a lifestyle session.
WHAT is lifestyle photography? It is the art of documenting one’s life. So often as photographers, we work very hard to capture the ‘perfect’ moment. Little does anyone know that there is often complete chaos happening around the picture perfect photo op that we create! If you think about it, it is a lot like social media.
We all so often only share the highlight reel of our lives…
What the world never sees is our real life… the sink filled with dirty dishes more often than not, the toddler glued to the iPad because you need
a moment (hours) of peace, the other two children chasing the dog with a magic marker, and the pile of laundry that has been sitting on the couch for the last 5 days because you are too exhausted to put it away. I get it! Now, I am NOT at all saying that I strive to capture your messy home and the ‘imperfections’ of your life. But what I am saying is that I am not scared of it. In fact that is what makes lifestyle photography so freeing and interesting to me as a creative person. Once you take away the stress of creating the perfect moment, that is the precise moment when the magic happens. When you look back at the memories captured from a lifestyle session I would hope that you would have a clearer picture of what your life was actually like in those days than you would if I only gave you a highlight reel of your life.
Below: This Is Teamwork.Below: THIS is multi-tasking. #everydayhero
Below: This Is LOVE.Below: THIS is the face you make when you realize your heart has grown 1,000,000,000 times it’s original size.
Do you still POSE your clients with doing this style of photography? Yes! Let me just say that every newborn session is different from the last. Sometimes the baby is happy, sometimes not so much, sometimes they are wide awake, and occasionally they are asleep. A portion of the shoot is posed and a portion is me capturing those in between moments that are totally out of my control. Now, when I say ‘posed’, I don’t mean that you will look like you went to the local Picture People for these photos. No offense to them! 😉 I am just simply positioning you in the best light or having you sit or stand in a certain way. But I still want the posed moments to look as natural as possible. My goal with each session is to aim for 60% posed and 40% completely candid moments. It doesn’t always happen this way but I want to make sure that I have a good balance of the two methods.
Will I still get those ‘picture perfect’ photos of my newborn? I bring blankets and cheese-cloths with me to do a simple newborn photo set up. The difference now is that I am not waiting for the baby to fall asleep anymore in order to capture that ‘perfect moment’. If he or she blinks and looks like they are sleeping in the photo, I’ll take it! If he or she is awake and happy while I have them all set up for the shot, then that is totally fine with me too! No more waiting for ‘perfection’ because let’s be honest, it’s a baby. It doesn’t get more perfect than that and as their parent, I am sure you will think any photo of them is perfect!! 🙂
Here is a great example of why I love the ‘imperfect’ photo more than the ‘perfect’ one! He looks as if he is saying, “no more pictures!!” How stinkin’ cute?!?!
Do you take photos of moms breastfeeding? Absolutely, if that is what you want. I have done this several times. However, if you are not comfortable with this then that is totally OK with me. I respect everyone’s personal preferences in regards to the privacy of feeding their baby. You can let me know if this is something you want and I would be happy to document these precious moments for you in a respectful way. These images would not be shared on social media or on my website without your permission. Your privacy of this tender moment is secure and you will be the only one to see it unless you feel the desire to share. I am not saying this because I think it should be ‘private’, I am simply saying this to the mom that might want it captured but not put out there for all to see. 🙂
How do you handle fussy babies and/or uncooperative siblings? I pack up and go home…. 😉 No. I am TOTALLY KIDDING! Fussy babies are the norm and I am so used to it. I am more surprised when a baby isn’t fussy or older sibling actually cooperates! The beauty of lifestyle photography is that I am not sitting around waiting for the everyone to be on their best behavior. If you need to change a diaper, read them a story, rock them in the rocker, or feed them, I am in the background capturing those ‘in between moments’ as I like to call them. Sometimes you may find me photographing the older sibling(s) or your furry baby because while the shoot is mainly about welcoming the baby, it is also about the whole family.
THIS is lifestyle photography. Authentically documenting your life.
What rooms in the house do you like to use for the shoot and how do I prepare them for the session? I prefer to shoot wherever the best light is at that time of the day. The rooms that I typically shoot in are the nursery, master bedroom, guest room, and/or a living/family room. Now, these rooms do not have to be magazine worthy. Remember what I said in the beginning of this post? Our lives and homes are messy and that doesn’t scare me when it comes to doing lifestyle photography. But, for the posed photos, it does look best to have a clean background. All I ask is that you try to keep clutter to a minimum in a least the part of the room that is closest to the window. We can certainly move things around as needed, but it is helpful to not take a lot of time to do so. It is also a good idea to have a bed freshly made so that we can take some family photos on a bed. This can be in the master bedroom or a guest room, whichever one has the best light.
I do not use artificial light for photos. I only use all natural light from windows and doors. When scheduling your shoot, think about what rooms you would like to shoot in and what time of the day they have sunlight coming in them. One last thing to keep in mind is that colored walls give off a cast of that color on your skin. That being said, I prefer to shoot in white or neutral painted rooms in order to keep your skin tone looking as fresh as possible! If you only have one room in your whole house that fits into any of this criteria, that is totally fine! Part of my job is working with what I have. I am simply giving you things to think about prior to the shoot so that you are better prepared for where I will want to take the photos.
If the weather is nice, I also love to take you outdoors for a few photos as well!
What do you suggest for WARDROBE for everyone? I will go into specifics below. But I just want to say that you should not all be wearing the same exact thing. Don’t have everyone in the same color top and bottoms because that immediately looks very ‘posed’ which is the total opposite of what lifestyle photography is all about.
Check out my newborn Pinterest board HERE, you will see several photos of wardrobe ideas for the whole family! As far as colors go, I love it when the family is dressed in neutral or pastel color tones. I think it just looks so fresh and clean in photos. Dark gray is fine but avoid wearing black. In my personal opinion, it comes off as looking harsh next to the sweet delicate baby skin and I think a neutral or light color is prettiest.
* Moms – You literally just had a baby 5 minutes ago. You are still going to have a post-baby-baby-bump and that is OK! Nobody expects you to have flat abs moments after giving birth and you shouldn’t either. Don’t be so hard on yourself! It is my job to pose you in the most flattering way possible. I suggest figuring out your outfit for the shoot prior to giving birth. This way you aren’t going through your closet trying on everything that you own the morning of the shoot. I love clothing that is easy on the eyes and soft to the touch. Pants or a dress? This is for you to decide what you feel the best in. I love a maxi dress with a kimono or sweater on top to put you at ease with covering any ‘problem’ areas. I also love a cozy open sweater that you could snuggle the baby up in with you. You could even do cotton robe! You can find some beautiful floral ones at Pretty Plum Sugar that would be so beautiful for your shoot! That company also makes gorgeous tops and dresses as well!
* Dads – You guys are super easy. Jeans and a t-shirt or polo is totally fine (preferably without a brand logo on it).
* Older siblings – Stay within the same color palate as the rest of the family. No bright flashy neon colors. Their outfit should blend in and coordinate with the rest of the the family’s wardrobe choices. Put them in clothes they will be comfortable in, no need for them to be dressed up as if it is not a normal day at home.
* Newborn – Last but CERTAINLY not least, the itty bitty babe! If you are ordering 7 Etsy outfits for the shoot, I am not the photographer for you. 😉 I heart you, but we are not a good fit and that is OK! I would have been the photographer for you 2 years ago when I spent an average of 3 hours at a newborn session. But now I am all about simplicity! Honestly, a white onesie is perfection. I want the focus to be on the baby and the family surrounding them, and not have the clothing choice overtake the ‘moment’ of the photo. As I said, I bring several cheese-cloths with me to wrap the baby up in. So whether it is a boy or girl, they work wonderfully for photos. For girls, you may want to get a headband or two just to make it a little more feminine! But other than that, I don’t want you spending tons of money on newborn outfits on Etsy. If you find one outfit on there that you absolutely have to have, that is totally fine. Or if you have a family keepsake that you want them photographed in, that’s awesome. But basically I am saying don’t stress over it. Less is more. Keep it simple. I mean, I am giving you one less thing to worry about, right?!! Did we just become best friends?! 😉
I hope this post was helpful for you and that you have a clear picture of what to anticipate with your shoot! Below are some more photos from recent sessions, enjoy!
The photo on the left shows you what was happening behind the scenes as I was taking the shot on the right. 🙂