My Lifestyle Approach is Between Traditional and Documentary Photography.

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."

Nevada family hugging on a grassy hill

You can usually expect everyone looking at the camera in traditional photography

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 can really add stress to session, for everyone. Have you ever been a part of a photo when one person just won't cooperate and look at the camera? Usually a young child, sometimes a teenager. This makes parents frustrated. I know, I have been one of those parents. 10 years ago, my oldest child was four and not for anything would he look at the camera. That year, our Christmas card had a nice family photo of everyone smiling at the camera, except for my son. Everyone got to see the back of his head. After the session, I walked away thinking, oh well, he is four and it is what it is. Then it took me another six or so years to start transitioning to a more lifestyle approach. There are many reasons it took me so long to make the transition, but I am so glad I did!

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.

Lifestyle photography is guided with natural looking photos

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.

I do not ask families to look at the camera, with the exception of a "Christmas card" photo I try to get at the beginning of the session. So, in this type of session, don't ask your kids to look at the camera throughout the session. Just love them with hugs, play with their hair, smile at them, etc.

In documentary photography there is usually no posing, but just capturing what is happening.

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 can happen 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.

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 flexible and meaningful. I hope you take the opportunity to be a part of a lifestyle session someday. Click HERE if you want to chat about a lifestyle session.

daughter is hugging her mother's arm and smiling at the camera