My Lifestyle Approach
My lifestyle approach to photography might be similar to other photographers out there. I think it finds a sweet spot between what we might consider a traditional approach and documentary photography. Lifestyle to me still has some posing, but in natural ways. Rarely will a person be looking at the camera. If they are looking at the camera it is by chance, not because the photographer asked them to "say cheese."
Let's back up a moment. A traditional type of photography is where photographers set up their people just so and then ask them to look at the camera. The shot is not a "good one" unless everyone is looking at the camera, smiling. This is what I think of when talking about a traditional photo. And I use to take these photos all the time, every time. I tell you what, it is stressful and kind of fake. Now, I do like an occasional traditional photo, and I usually do one or two during a session still. However, I can't help but feel like the photos we will cherish more than ever, and years down the road, will be those photos where we catch the feeling and connection of those in the photo, rather than the front of everyone's faces.
Now when I am at a session, using my lifestyle approach, I am trying to create a pose that is going to allow closeness and interaction. Sometimes I step way back to catch the "whole picture." Sometimes I step up way close to capture just two out of the family. A lifestyle photo can look something like this: Mom holding baby, dad has big brother on his shoulders and dad is kissing his wife on the forehead. Both parents have their eyes closed and kids are being kids. This to me is an example of lifestyle photography. The moment is real, but the image is guided by the photographer. So sure, during a lifestyle photography session, there are some moments that just happen and I notice them and capture them. I love that! However, many times, the parents are walked through how to hold the baby and the parents are asked to close their eyes or to look at each other, etc.
Here there is really no guidance and as a photographer, you just photograph the events as they happen. As you are documenting an event, there is focus on the steps and stages of the event. Documentary photography to me happens over a long period of time. Like if you were documenting the first year of a child's life, you are going to make sure to capture one of the first times they roll over, sit-up, crawl, first steps, etc. This could be a series of photo sessions. In lifestyle photography, the focus is on the present time of the session and not leading up to the session or after.
Back to my lifestyle approach, in the photos below I helped stage the outcome. I chose this locations, because I knew it would be a fun place for him to explore and I wouldn't have to do much instruction. Mostly I followed him around, but sometimes I saw a moment I wanted to capture, so I would ask him to go this way or walk through here or jump on that. Kids love the lifestyle approach to photography. It gives them space to do what they want and allows them to be close to a parent when shy. Lifestyle photography is more flexible and meaningful. I hope you take the opportunity to be a part of a lifestyle session someday.