You probably have heard of street photography, but what exactly is lifestyle photography? In a nutshell, it’s you, capturing aspects of your lifestyle (or someone else’s). It’s not about making the perfect photo, or posing, or even consciously setting a scene. It’s mostly candid, spontaneous, and fun. Capturing those little moments that, as a whole, make up your life.
Think about it
If you go back through photos of your childhood, what do you see? Photos of you, siblings, parents, grandparents standing still, facing the camera. Was that your life? Did you stand around often, facing something? Were you always clean with your face scrubbed? Did you normally stand still – or run and jump? What things did you like as a child, are any of these included?
Lifestyle photography aims to photograph little things, such as favorite foods, fun activities, various stages of waking/sleeping/walking/running/falling. It’s about life, not capturing a perfect photo of you or your kids.
Lifestyle photography with kids
There are a few things you have to get used to when you approach lifestyle photography with your children as a subject. For one, you are not aiming for perfection. Life isn’t clean, it doesn’t stand still, and most of the time it doesn’t do what you want it to (sounds just like kids!). Your goal in lifestyle photography is to capture everything as-is, where-is.
Second, you’re going to have to let go of perfect focus. While in kids portrait photography a blurry photo would be less than ideal, in lifestyle photography it can work well – capturing hectic afternoons or just the joy of running.
Third, you’re probably not going to have time to compose, take, recompose, etc. Life doesn’t hold still that long. Learn to be fast. Carry your camera often, you never know when life will provide you an opportunity for a great photo. You might not always be able to apply all the principles of good composition, but you may be able to get one or two.
What to photograph?
Rather than focusing primarily on your child in this type of photography, look for little details. Are they picking flowers? Playing in the mud? Reading their favourite book? Eating their favourite food? What you’re trying to capture here is the essence of their character, what makes them unique and what makes your family special.
Sometimes you can make great lifestyle photos by only including one detail: a hand clutching a teddy bear, a favourite pair of shoes, dirty feet. Other times you might prefer to pull back and include an entire scene: game night in the living room, craft time, cooking in the kitchen, siblings asleep in the same bed – arms and legs akimbo.
In short, photograph anything that qualifies as “life” – even if it’s messy and imperfect, because that’s what life gives you sometimes.
Equipment and Settings
You don’t need fancy equipment for lifestyle photography, but it can help. More professional cameras can focus and shoot faster, giving you the opportunity to get moments before they pass. They also offer continuous shooting, so you can hold the shutter button and capture a series, or just get “that” photo – rather than the before and after moments.
As for settings, it depends on the scene. For the details-type images, you’ll want a large aperture (like f/4 or larger) to blur out the background. For scenes you’ll want a smaller aperture to get everything in focus. For blurry action scenes it depends on how fast the action is – you might want to start with the slowest shutter speed your camera/lens combo recommends for handheld shots (such as 1/50s for a 1/50mm lens or 1/85s for an 85mm lens).
As for lenses, again it depends on the shot – whether you are getting up close, shooting from far away, or getting a whole scene. Start with what you have, if you notice you are having difficulty getting a certain kind of shot it might be a sign you need to add to your kit.
Not Just Kids’ Photography
Lifestyle photography shouldn’t just focus on capturing photos of your kids, it also should include other aspects – whether people, plant, or pet. That grungy tent the kids love to sleep in the summer, the family dog after a bath, discarded toys on the lawn – it’s all part of your life. So are you – so if you want a complete picture you’ll have to hand your camera (or a point and shoot) to your kids or spouse so they can capture aspects of your lifestyle as well.
Print and Share your Lifestyle Photography
Putting the in the effort to take lifestyle photos of your kids and everything else, and then not sharing or printing them is kind of like making dinner and throwing it in the garbage – pointless. Here are some things you can do with your lifestyle photos:
– Have each family member pick a favorite, print and hang them in your living room. Every 3-6 months, repeat and update your photos (or add new ones).
– Create a 365-day photo calendar. You can tear off one page per day and stick them on a rec room wall – by the end of the year you’ll have a lovely photo collage.
– Create a photo album on Flickr containing just your lifestyle photos, to share with friends and to help you see your progress (also is a good back up method, just in case you lose originals)
– Upload photos to a memory card and get a digital photo frame to put all your lifestyle photos on display.
Lifestyle photos always go good with a photo challenge, such as a 365-day challenge or theme challenge (things that are red, happiness, nature, etc.). Keep at it and you’ll soon be rewarded with amazing results!
Of course, if you feel like you could use a hand getting a handle on photography techniques, you might want to check out a photography workshop before you dive into lifestyle photography.