Lifestyle photography is a highly popular photography genre that dominates the internet these days. You can see it almost everywhere on a daily basis, from stock photography websites to your Instagram feed. Due to such high demand, it is a good idea for many photographers to understand how to work with lifestyle photography. This article will give you the essentials of lifestyle photography and useful tips for your photoshoots in this genre.
What is lifestyle photography?
Lifestyle photography is a genre that captures something that might be called the art of the everyday. Its subjects are regular situations, real-life events, and candid emotions of models or regular subjects. With lifestyle photography, you can communicate a strong message and make your images look natural, life-like and very far from staged photography. A photographer who shoots lifestyle photography usually aims to translate sincere emotions with the subjects of the photoshoot and catch spontaneous moments as they unfold.
What you can shoot as a lifestyle photographer
Lifestyle photography is a very diverse photography genre, and you can shoot a variety of things and subjects, depending on your interests.
- Portrait photography: Lifestyle photography can be extended to portrait photography and is often even considered its subgenre. If you work with portraiture but have never tried a lifestyle approach, you should definitely consider a lifestyle photoshoot. You can offer such shoots to your clients for sincere, unstaged photos. With lifestyle, you don’t really tell your models what to do as with your regular portrait sessions. However, you can still guide them to stand somewhere or move – for instance, when you see great lighting.
- Fashion photography, commercial photography, and advertising: Many successful commercial photographers use a lifestyle photography approach when they shoot fashion or for advertising. This helps them receive some interesting unstaged images where the models interact with each other.
- Stock photography: Despite the common stereotypes of typical stock photos (like a group of smiling business people intensely staring at the viewer), the contemporary take on stock photography is really variable and more artistic. Lifestyle photography is highly appreciated on stocks, and you can use it as a source of income if you consider uploading your works to a stock website.
Tips for amazing lifestyle shots
In general, lifestyle photography is very similar to portrait photography in terms of gear and techniques you need to use. However, it has its own unique features, and here is the list of things to keep in mind when you shoot in this genre.
1. Have a plan
Although your aim is to capture candid interactions between your models, you can and should prepare for your photoshoots in advance. Create a checklist or a plan with ideas on scenes and activities you want to shoot. You can also include a list of props you will use. Even in candid photoshoots, people you photograph will usually expect some advice and ideas from you, so a plan will help you structure and direct the session.
2. Occupy your models with familiar things
Since the idea of lifestyle photography is to shoot people in real-life situations, you should ask your models to do something they enjoy or interact with each other as if you are not on the scene. You can also bring them to places they are familiar with. For example, if you shoot a romantic couple photo session, invite your clients to walk somewhere they usually walk together. This will bring up memories of their happy moments and you’ll be able to take some beautiful and candid pictures.
3. Pay attention to details
While your models can and should interact with some things and objects, too many details can make a lifestyle photo look staged. Imagine you shoot a person who is reading a book or working on a piece of art. If you have too many objects with no practical use, your frame will look like it’s been carefully crafted and therefore obviously staged.
4. Appeal to viewers with interesting compositions
Avoid taking lifestyle shots in a way you would do with staged portraiture. You should try to find as many unconventional angles as possible to show the scene from different perspectives (and have more pictures to choose from in post-processing). If you want to actually appeal to your viewers and create interesting and candid images, think about the scene you shoot as much as about your models. Try to compose an intriguing composition that has a story behind it or explains something to your viewers.
5. Take advantage of natural light
The best light for lifestyle photography is natural light, as studio or outdoors lighting kits can create a slightly artificial look, which is fine for many genres, but might ruin the authenticity of a lifestyle photo. Experimenting with shooting outdoors during different times of the day can help you see what lighting conditions work best. Even when you shoot indoors, you can photograph your models near open windows or doors to get gentle, natural lighting.
If you want to make money in the profession, you should understand how to work with lifestyle photography. It is a highly demanded photography genre and you can use the lifestyle approach in many of your photoshoots. If you are a beginner, learning how to organize a lifestyle photoshoot can become your competitive advantage, so don’t miss out on trying your hand in a new genre.
Anna Pozdeeva is a graduate of Moscow State University with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism. Currently a writer at Depositphotos covering visual culture and topics on marketing.