What in the World is Lifestyle Photography?

March 22, 2021

So what is this thing called Lifestyle Photography?

A term that photographers throw around a lot is “lifestyle photography,” but if you’re not a photographer, you might not have any idea what this even means. So I’m going to break it down for you and explain what exactly is lifestyle photography!

pregnant mom during lifestyle photography session playing with her family and lifting up blanket so toddler son can run underneath

First, what are some examples of what lifestyle photography isn’t?

Lifestyle photography is technically a form of portrait photography, but the word portrait just sounds so stiff to me (I actually wrote a post about why I hate the word portrait). When you think of getting a portrait taken, you’re probably envisioning sitting on a stool with your back straight, hands in your lap, smiling sweetly at the camera. Your photographer directs you to move your head just slightly at a different angle. Turn your shoulder just barely to the left. It is very directed. That’s NOT what I do.

But on the other end, you have documentary photography, which is pretty much just letting things happen as they will and not directing anything at all. So you show up to someone’s house and you take photos of a family’s daily life without interfering at all. That’s also not what I do.

mom wearing a joyfolie floral dress hugging her 7-year-old son

So what exactly is Lifestyle Photography?

Lifestyle photography is somewhere in between portrait photography and documentary. Lifestyle is more about capturing a moment. It’s about photographing emotions and connection. But the photographer doesn’t just leave it up to the family to know exactly what to do, they will provide gentile direction.

Sometimes we may give a prompt and leave it open to interpretation so the family can make it their own. Other times we may set a family up into a pose, but then tell them to do something sweet or silly to get everyone interacting. Or we will have games for them to play to get everyone having fun together.

Movement plays a big part in lifestyle photography. A lot of times the prompts we use incorporate a lot of movement, because it looks beautiful on camera and provides something a bit different. Another benefit to keeping our subjects moving is that it gives them something to do and helps them to feel more comfortable.

family of three sitting on rocks near a river, mom putting clip in toddlers hair

Why should you hire a Lifestyle Photographer?

If you’re looking for photos that tell the story of your family…

If cuddling with your family and having photos that show your relationships with each of your family members sounds like something you would love to display in your home…

If you crave photos that show genuine laughter, fun, and interaction between your family…

then lifestyle photography is going to be right for you. Yay!

three photos of a dad and toddler son laughing together during lifestyle family photography session

Is every lifestyle photographer created equal?

Of course not! Everyone is different because we have different personalities, editing styles, shooting styles, etc. So when you are deciding on which lifestyle photographer to hire, these are the two most important things you want to pay attention to:

  • What is their personality like? If you want someone super fun who is going to bring out the laughter and genuine smiles of your family members, then you want to look for someone with a fun personality, who doesn’t take themselves too seriously and is easygoing. (P.S. that is me!). But if you want more emotive, calm and loving photos then you want to look for someone with that type of personality. And obviously there is some crossover. I’m not upbeat and silly the entire session, but if you think about your family and the type of personality they respond to best, then you can base your decision of which lifestyle photographer to hire off of that.
  • What is their editing style? Do you like dark and moody images? Light and airy? Vibrant and colorful? Warm? Cool? Every photographer has their own style, so take a look through their portfolio and see if their style is what you are looking for. And please do not hire a photographer and then ask them to edit your photos in a way that isn’t their style. There are so many lifestyle photographers out there, I’m sure you can find someone who aligns with what you want in all the ways.

lifestyle maternity photography with a mom in orange dress cuddling her toddler daughter

Family tickling and laughing on a blanket during their lifestyle family photo session in Portland Oregon

maternity lifestyle photo session in winter - woman wearing dress and cuddling in blanket with husband

Ready to book your lifestyle session?

If you’ve read this post, then you probably have a good idea if my personality is going to fit with your family or not. If I’m the lifestyle photographer you’ve been looking for, then I would love to photograph your family! Head on over to my pricing and experience page to learn more and then check out my booking calendar to see my availability. I hope to see you soon!

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