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lifestyle-photography-4 Tips & Tricks

5 Quick Tips For Shooting Lifestyle Photography

By Michelle Bird on August 28th 2014

Lifestyle photography is, I believe, one of the most honest forms of capturing a moment – a sense of care-free and rawness can seep through in each shot. Photographing the world as a mere spectator of small interactions between people and the world around them. It’s an artistic way of photographing the genuine side of folks, those candid moments as they happen in an effortless wave.

Lifestyle photography has a few branches within it. There are those mere moments in your life in which you had your camera with you and you happen to capture a moment around you as it happened, and then there are those lifestyle sessions you booked with a family or couple that you are trying to incorporate that sense or rawness.

Now, when is that moment with your client(s) just a posed photo intended to look like a lifestyle photograph and when is it a real lifestyle session? When you’re clients aren’t doing something they typically do vs. something they do on the norm, that’s the difference. Which brings my first tip!

1. Incorporate the Real

When you’re talking to your client about places and ideas, let them choose something they enjoy doing together and also let them choose the place. Perhaps it’s a local park they like to frequent, a beach they go to on the weekends, an ice cream shop they visit on occasion, or just as simple as their own home. The place has a lot to do with just how real the photographs will look. They are not going to have the same connection with a park, a beach or a shop you chose vs. somewhere they frequent together.

2. Zoom In For Details

Those small details are just as important as the big picture. The tangible textures, that when your client looks back at them, they’ll be able to remember it as if it were yesterday.  A child’s feet, grabbing onto mom’s hand, the decor around the house or in a child’s room, a memorable toy, the family dog’s wet nose, the cat stretching after a long nap, icing from the cake all over the kid’s mouth – don’t be afraid to zoom in, these are special details.

3. Be Ready, Stay On Your Toes

Have your camera on hand, there’s no time to be thinking about reflectors and lighting, the light will change throughout your whole shoot as you’ll be on their schedule and moving about, so be ready to move with the flow. If you’re too concentrated on the technical side of things, you’ll miss a lot of those golden moments. Know your settings beforehand. Also, make sure you have enough memory cards so you don’t find yourself deleting pictures to clear up space as you go, and burst mode is your friend as it will certainly catch moments that your eyes might miss.

[REWIND: Traditional Vs. Lifestyle Engagement Portraiture]

4. Blurred Lines

Moments aren’t suppose to be completely sharp in lifestyle sessions, so if you come across a photo that has a bit of blur, don’t discard it. You have to deal with the available light, and sometimes it might be limited, or you might be shooting indoors; there will also be a lot of movement, so blurriness will be present and that’s ok. Getting that shutter-speed high enough might be difficult at times, but you can work it to your advantage.

5. The Observer vs. The Director

You need to find a good balance between being the observer with a camera, and being the director. You want to capture that genuine moment, but how do you get ‘genuine’ when your client feels awkward because they don’t know what to do or what to expect?

Encourage them, with positive reinforcement! Once you start encouraging your subject, they’ll feel more comfortable and the honest emotions will start showing. If a person knows they look great, they will feel great. Also, incorporate an activity, when people are concentrated in doing something together, they’ll forget you’re there. Tell them to sing their favorite song together, perhaps someone in the family plays an instrument and can bring it along, have dad tell the kids some stories, etc.

 I want to hear from you, what are some things that have worked for you while shooting lifestyle images? Leave it in the comments section below!



Michelle Bird is a Southern California based freelance photographer and writer, with a strong focus on music, editorial and portrait photography. She is the founder and creative force behind the music+culture online blog Black Vinyl Magazine, and can often be found in the photo-pit shooting the latest concerts in town. She has a strong passion for art, exploring, vintage finds and most of all animals. Connect with her through Email,
Instagram , or Facebook


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  1. Amber Lynn Cyr

    I love lifestyle shoots! My favorite to do. Awesome tips!

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  2. Susie Moreno

    Great tips. I want to gear myself more towards lifestyle shoots so it’s a good read on some basics.

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  3. Jeff Morrison

    need to try some of your tips

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  4. Tyler Friesen

    Going to a familiar place especially for semi shy people is a great tip.

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    Great article having clients in control and making them happy is a sure way to have a good relationship

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  6. David Lara

    As a wedding photographer, these are points that are critical to capturing the essence and emotion of a wedding. Sometimes you go on auto-pilot mode and have to shake yourself off. Great article and great reminders for all that shoot lifestyle and documentary.

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