In today’s article, I will talk about a type of photography that has become very fashionable in recent years, lifestyle photography. I will talk about what it is, what the recommended material is, and tips to start doing relaxed lifestyle sessions.
And in case you still don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s time to make those little definitions, so let’s go there.
What is Lifestyle or fashionable Lifestyle Photography?
Fashionable lifestyle photography is a photographic discipline that portrays people performing daily actions, the same ones they do every day, to tell stories and, above all, emotions with them.
The idea is that whoever sees a lifestyle photoshoot understands the person’s lifestyle (or people) that appears in the photos and the emotions they feel when performing these actions.
It is essential to convey emotions that have to do with the lifestyle, day-to-day, of the person portrayed. And that is precisely why this type of portrait photography is powerful and used within many disciplines.
And it is also essential that the previously mentioned emotions are transmitted through a story told in our photographs, which will provide feedback, enhancing the emotions above.
Types of lifestyle photography
In this section, I will talk about what lifestyle photography is used for, more than the types that exist.
Lifestyle photography is used in different photographic techniques or styles, with particular purposes, always starting from the basis used to tell what the daily life of someone is doing a specific activity and, therefore, telling a story about what you do feel in the process.
Lifestyle photography in advertising
Since lifestyle photography transmits so many emotions and, in addition, it is very close to a global audience. Therefore, it manages to generate empathy in it and, therefore, that it feels identified with the people who appear in the photograph.
What does this mean? What does this have to do with advertising?
Nowadays, advertising is no longer like it used to be. Today, there are many selling products more subtly, getting closer to the public, without them feeling attacked by aggressive advertising focused 100% on selling. For this purpose, lifestyle photography is perfect because it shows a product/service. Still, it also makes the viewer identify with the person who is consuming that product in the photography/advertisement. Therefore, it is much easier interested in it.
We see all this in greater detail in the article on advertising photography and all the types.
Lifestyle sessions for weddings and couples
Obviously, and how could it be otherwise, it is very fashionable to use lifestyle photography in the wedding/couples sector.
Why? Starting from the basis that what is sought with lifestyle photography is to tell a story and transmit strong emotions in the viewer, it is used in wedding and couple photography for two main reasons:
. In the first place, the end customer and the direct and primary consumer of these photos/services are the brides and groom/couple/marriage. And thanks to using this type of photography, you will be able to make them excited more than ever, thanks to telling their story most excitingly.
. On the other hand, and since most couples let you use the photos as publications on your website / Instagram, you will be able to awaken similar emotions in future couples who are, therefore, potential clients. And if you manage to awaken those emotions in a potential client, they may end up being a client in the future.
Lifestyle photography in travel
Lifestyle photography has become very fashionable when it comes to traveling.
Many years ago, traveling was relatively similar to photojournalism, street portraits, etc., which consisted of portraying the people of the place to which you are traveling.
However, travel photography today relies heavily on lifestyle photography. The difference here is that it is based on the interaction of the person traveling with the new culture or, even, the day-to-day life of the destination traveler.
The aim is to tell what the people do, but their day-to-day is traveler perceives it and interacts with the destination.
Lifestyle in fashion
In fashion, lifestyle is also the order of the day. If it is done on the street, it is called street style, and in this article on fashion photography, I explain it in detail.
Lifestyle is widely used in this type of photography since fashion photography is still a subtype of advertising photography. Therefore, its purpose is to sell a product.
And it is no longer just about the lifestyle photography used by fashion companies, such as blogs, magazines, clothing brands, stores, etc., but about the photographs taken by influencers and fashion bloggers. These types of photographs are 100% lifestyle.
The synergy between social media and lifestyle photography
This section is closely linked to all the previous sections since social networks appear in all of them.
Social networks are the common thread that allows a product or service to be sold in a more efficient and concealed way to the end customer.
In addition, we are talking about selling products as such, but about selling how extraordinary the lives of the people in the photos are, even if it is an ordinary user who uploads a lifestyle photograph.
In my case, it is something that gives me a bit of anger from social networks, especially Instagram, whose purpose is to pretend instead of teaching. Still, it is reality, and I cannot avoid it.
Lifestyle photography in stock photography
Since I’m into the world of stock photography, I can tell you first-hand that the best-selling sessions are the lifestyle ones (in addition to the business ones, of course).
And this makes sense in the world since stock photography is used, for the most part, as advertising photography. So if you are one of those who do stock photography, do not leave here because this article will interest you greatly.
Now that we have seen the uses given to lifestyle or lifestyle photography, it is time to see what material is necessary to achieve these photos.
Necessary material for lifestyle photography
Now that you have realized that lifestyle photography is a type of fluid, casual, natural photography and that it is used in many other photographic disciplines, you can get an idea of what material is needed to do it.
I generally go much further in articles like this on a particular photographic technique. However, in this, I am not going to elaborate much since the material you are going to use for this type of photo depends significantly on the rest of the photos you will use with that material.
In other words, lifestyle photography does not require a particular material beyond the fact that it helps you get what you want.
However, I do have two nuances to do in this regard.
. Since most lifestyle photography aims to sell something, be it a product/service or just your lifestyle, you have to have a team that focuses correctly. So, it would be what I would prioritize when choosing photographic equipment for this purpose.
. On the other hand, and since you are trying to tell a story, you must ensure that the person is integrated into a location. Therefore, you need it to be seen, even partially. That is why I see the use of medium focal or angular lenses as essential.
And it is for this last point that I am going to recommend objectives exclusively in this section.
Lenses for lifestyle photography
If I had to carry a single lens (for a Full Frame camera) to take lifestyle photography, this would be a 50mm 1.8f without a doubt, for different reasons:
. It is a very versatile focal length since it allows you to blur the background if you open the diaphragm and make it look the same if you close it.
. Without a doubt, it is the cheapest focal length of all, and the quality-price is milk.
. They don’t weigh nearly 50mm 1.8f.
. With a 50mm, you will be able to make relatively closed shots that, together with the blurring of the background, will allow you to eliminate from the background any element for which you would need to have a contract for the transfer of image rights. It is a preference for me as I practice this discipline in stock photography. However, it does not generate shots that are closed enough so that the place is not appreciated.
If you are more demanding, you can take a 50mm 1.4f (since they tend to provide better image quality). Of course, these are more expensive and heavier than the 1.8f.
If I had to carry a second lens, this would be a 35mm, since it gives me a wider field and, therefore, I can integrate that subject more with where it is.
As you can see, I am only recommending fixed goals. Does this mean that zoom lenses are not good? NO, not at all.
TRICKS to take lifestyle photos
In this section, I will talk about the different tips or tricks that I can give you so that you can do lifestyle sessions and be as professional as possible. So let’s go there!
Be clear about the bases of photography.
First of all, it is very logical, and it is to be clear about the bases of photography. You can fully immerse yourself in photography and start with this type of photo. Still, you will not take advantage of the sessions as much as if you already had the bases of photography established.
Create the right atmosphere
Since lifestyle photography tells a story that arouses emotions in the viewer, the best practice you can do is create a suitable atmosphere in which the models are perfectly at ease.
To do this, I recommend that you do the following:
. The first thing you have to create is to create situations. That is to say, put the models to do something that they tend to do often, which is familiar to them. In the middle, you can try to generate some situations during the activity in question. For example, if a parent usually plays basketball with their child, take them to a basketball court and take pictures of them while they play. And about creating a more specific type of situation, you can bring a fan to pretend they are blowing the ball together. It would be beneficial for stock photography sessions, for example.
. Add elements that enrich the image. In other words, elements typically found in the situation above; For example, if you usually play on a basketball court where the baskets have hoops but no net, you can take a net and add it. In this way, you will be improving the atmosphere and making it more aesthetic. Another example is buying appropriate clothing for the type of session you want to do and, later, return it (or keep it, of course).
. Ensure that, even knowing that you are there, the models have enough things to do and that they are entertaining so that they are not aware of you. Let them entertain and enjoy themselves, that at times they forget that there is a camera out there.
Configure your camera for the type of lifestyle session you are doing
In the same way that I told you before that you have to have the bases of photography clear, now I tell you that you have to know how to configure your camera ideally to take advantage of the session to the maximum.
Specifically, I would look at the following aspects:
. Camera mode: you can use manual mode, aperture priority mode, or speed priority mode.
. Exposure metering: I recommend the central weighted; although it depends on the situation, you will use one or the other.
. Focus mode: it depends on the camera you have and how it works; you will use one or the other. I always recommend continuous focus, and if you have eye-tracking focus, it’s ideal.
. White balance in automatic or manual (especially if in addition to photos, you are recording video).
. Shoot in RAW every time to have the most significant margin for error when editing.
Of course, there will be many other things that you have to configure concretely. Still, it is not an article on how to configure your camera, so I will not extend more and make it endless.
In addition, many times, you will find that things will happen that were not foreseen. Well, you have to be prepared for them. And for that, there is nothing better than having the camera configured in warrior mode permanently, prepared for any situation.
Choose models with experience in lifestyle sessions.
Once you have the knowledge and the limiting factor, you know that it will not be you when taking the photos in the session; you have to become more selective when choosing the models.
A good model can improve a session or even save it. To leave friends and family aside and look for more experienced models.
If you do lifestyle sessions for clients, logically, you will not always be able to choose professional models since you depend on who asks for the session. Still, suppose you do lifestyle sessions for stock photography, for example. In that case, it is in your power to choose models. That is, stop pseudo models and choose accurate models.
I leave you here an article to explain how to get models for stock photo sessions (it works for any session, really).
Don’t be afraid to intervene in the session.
It is something amateurs often fail at as well.
When you are in the middle of a lifestyle session, although you have to let the story flow, you are the one who has to create a path, who has to modify what is happening to transmit the story you want to the fullest.
Make any modifications so that the models are comfortable with the change, of course.
EXAMPLE: Do not ask a model in a session that consists of cooking at home to do a headstand because it will not know how to do it. It does not make sense for that particular session. Of course, in a breakdance session, you can ask for it because you will know. Most importantly, you will feel comfortable doing it. Therefore, it will fit perfectly into the story you will be telling.
Lifestyle sessions are also planned.
It is an essential soul that people forget many times, and therefore the sessions do not go as well as they should.
The idea for a lifestyle session
When you plan a session, as a general rule, you start with the idea, and from there, other things occur to you.
Well, even if you have chosen the idea and the model, the idea, the place, the idea, the model, and the clothes… IT’S NOT ENOUGH! There is still a lot to plan.
Of course, I recommend that you have the idea or the essence of the session written down on paper to integrate all the other missing elements in the session.
The lifestyle model
It is the next thing to choose. When an idea occurs to you, as I have told you, it is accompanied by the model. One day, you get inspired and say: X model would fit well in Y site.
And if not, I’ve already told you before how to get models.
Be that as it may, always write down a list of possible models to contact several of them for the session.
And if you are still not sure which models you will contact, at least make a list of what type of models you are looking for (tall, women, redheads, blacks, blondes, fit, etc.).
The important thing is that you have everything as straightforward as possible.
The place is significant for a lifestyle session.
At this point, we go back to business as usual. Take the model to a place where she is comfortable doing an activity that she likes / likes.
It is a perfect option to choose a familiar place, from your home, your gym, your neighborhood, your workplace, etc. … Of course, this place will depend on the type of session you are going to do.
And if the place does not know it, it seems correct at least.
Also, consider the lighting of the place and the hours it is available, and if you need permission to take photos in it.
To find out if you need permission, I leave you here an article about the contracts to transfer image rights for stock.
Clothes may have been the first thing that occurred to you, next to the model location, etc.
However, if you have not decided on the clothes from moment one, make sure you choose them in a way that matches the place where you are going to do the session.
For this, I recommend that you take a look at the different color harmonies that you can find, and that will help you combine colors in a way that will enhance your photographs.
Another essential thing to keep in mind is makeup.
It is a lifestyle session, and, therefore, it has to resemble real life. If you take photos of someone doing sports, they should not be wearing makeup.
And if he is doing any other activity in which he would take it in real life, try to take the minimum possible, enough so that you have to edit the minimum.
And speaking of editing, I’ll be talking to you about this in the lifestyle sessions very soon.
Choose the time that interests you the most.
This point is also critical. Choose the time at which you are going to hold the session. For this, you have to take into account the following factors.
. Lighting depends on the time of year in which you are. If the session is outdoors, you will have a different light at each hour of the day; that depends on what you want to transmit. You will use one or the other light. Therefore, you will choose one or another time.
. You also have to consider what time the models/clients can attend, of course, since they are the protagonists of the session.
. On the other hand, depending on where you are going to carry out the session, it is possible that in the place you have a few hours in which you can enter it. In this case, this will be a limiting factor when conducting the session. I recommend that you not only choose a time when the place is open but that you choose a time when there are not many people in the place (except that it is part of the essence of the session).
Enhance the atmosphere with editing
Remember that the atmosphere is created at the time of the session. However, when editing it, you can improve it without any doubt or even correct some errors that you have had when shooting in the session.
I recommend that you start working with Lightroom. However, you can also do it with Capture One or Camera Raw (which works in a very similar way to Lightroom).
Don’t exaggerate the situation.
Sometimes we have seen a photo on Instagram or anywhere else. We want THAT photo, but it is not always possible. Suppose it does not come naturally or relatively easy when trying to achieve it. In that case, it is best to ignore it and continue with the session we were doing, avoiding that photo that we wanted so much to achieve.
The model has to feel comfortable. If you ask him to do things that he is not comfortable with, it will be reflected in the photographs. Therefore, the natural photos that you are looking for will not come out.
Lifestyle is about telling stories.
Make sure that you don’t just take photos of what is happening, but that you try to connect them so that if someone watches the entire session, order, they will be able to perceive what is happening perfectly.
We often make the mistake of going for the photos we want, forgetting about the story behind each photo that is, among other things, essential to evoke emotions in the viewer and that, after all, is what we are interested in lifestyle photography.
Don’t forget the details.
It may seem that in lifestyle photography, you only work with people, and the rest of the elements are useless, but it is ultimately a lie.
Sometimes a lifestyle photograph doesn’t have to contain a person.
. EXAMPLE: imagine a photograph with a table, a cup of coffee, and a book. Although there is no person in it, the photograph tells us about the lifestyle of the person who usually sits there. He tells us that that person has breakfast, drinking coffee/tea while writing in his journal, checking his schedule, etc.
And if you then take a photo person does appear, you will tell the story in more depth, from before to after.
The composition is essential in lifestyle.
The important thing is to convey emotions through storytelling in lifestyle. Still, we must not forget about photographic composition since it offers us a lot of techniques and tools that, in addition to making the most aesthetic photos, help us tell better stories.
If I had to advise you five photographic composition techniques or compositional resources to use in your lifestyle photographs, they would undoubtedly be the following:
. The law of thirds is fundamental; it cannot fail.
. Undoubtedly, the visual weight is the most basic concept that you have to be clear about and all the factors that influence it.
. The law of the gaze is closely linked to the law of thirds, just like the next one I’m going to talk about.
The third is the law of the horizon, and this will help you minimize errors in your photos. These errors give the feeling of unprofessionalism in the photos.
. Negative space, this resource is significant, especially in stock photography, and can be very useful for lifestyle photography.
And with that, I end this article on lifestyle photography. If you have information to provide or any questions, you can leave a comment. So feel free to do it.