What is Lifestyle Photography

My Approach to Portraits

When I tell people that I am a Lifestyle Photographer, I get a lot of "Uh, what is that?" and "Oh so you just like follow people around and take picture?", (The answer to the 2nd question is no!), so I thought I'd write a blog to explain my style and approach for portrait photography.

Portraiture has been such an important part of society for a very long time. As humans, we have a need to document our lives and tell our stories. This isn't new, think cave drawings, commissioned paintings, etc. Selfies aren't even new (although the obnoxious term is), it's thought that Robert Cornelius took the first photography selfie, back in 1839 (Hannavy, John). Point being, portraits have been part of our culture for a long, long time. Pictures are a large part of how to we tell our stories and pass on our history. The British dictionary defines portrait in two ways 

      1. a painting, drawing, sculpture, photograph, or other likeness of an individual, esp. of the face

      2. a verbal description or picture, esp. of a person's character

I wasn't able to find an exact, non-wikipedia definition of lifestyle photography, but personally, I think lifestyle photography fits the second definition of portrait photography. A picture of one's character - that is what I strive to create when I photograph. I've found that for me, photos that share a story are so much more valuable than stiff, highly posed portraits. It's why I choose to shoot on location instead of in a studio.  It's also why I fully encourage princess costumes, favorite stuffed animals, family pets, etc., at children's photo session.

This image is one of my favorite from a previous lifestyle session I photographed.Before the photoshoot, Anika's mom and I talked about how much Anika loved her stuffed animals. We decided to incorporate them into the photos, along with the antique red wagon belonging to her grandma. Her mom picked out the cute, coordinating outfit and was sure to include Anika's favorite red necklace. This photo captures her sweet personality, and will be a wonderful memory of her at this age. 

This image is one of my favorite from a previous lifestyle session I photographed.Before the photoshoot, Anika's mom and I talked about how much Anika loved her stuffed animals. We decided to incorporate them into the photos, along with the antique red wagon belonging to her grandma. Her mom picked out the cute, coordinating outfit and was sure to include Anika's favorite red necklace. This photo captures her sweet personality, and will be a wonderful memory of her at this age. 

No two sessions are the same, and it's important to me that each session is personalized and truly reflects you or your child. With every client, I like to sit down prior to your session and get to know you a little bit better. It may not always be possible to meet, but I've found that it helps both you and I feel more comfortable. During our meeting (many times over coffee), I'll get to learn a little about your personality, hear your stories and discuss what types of photos you're looking for. You'll get learn a little bit about me and get some insight into what your session will look like when the day comes.  During these meetings we also spend some time brainstorming creative ways to showcase your personality in a way that is meaningful and beautiful.  We'll also discuss some of the logistics of the shoot such as location, outfits, and props.

In the photo above, Mira is sporting a princess crown from her favorite dress up collection while her brother Yusef follows her with his favorite toy train. Not only do props add personality to photos, but they can also help kids feel more at ease in front of the camera.

In the photo above, Mira is sporting a princess crown from her favorite dress up collection while her brother Yusef follows her with his favorite toy train. Not only do props add personality to photos, but they can also help kids feel more at ease in front of the camera.

While planning is an important step in the process, it is really just a building block to a great portrait session. I like to think of planning sessions as loose guidelines for the actual shoot. A lot of times, when the day comes, we may decide to take a different direction, and that is completely okay. I have a strong background in photojournalism, and it still heavily influences my work. Being able to take creative freedom is what allows me to produce a photo you'll love.

This is one of my favorite recent photos - in fact it was an honorable mention in the Duggal Portrait Photo Contest this year. I love this photo because it is such a genuine moment. Beckett's mom had brought bunny, his favorite stuffed animal as a prop, but I wasn't planning to do such a serious photo. However, this was such a sweet moment, and it ended up being a favorite from the session. 

This is one of my favorite recent photos - in fact it was an honorable mention in the Duggal Portrait Photo Contest this year. I love this photo because it is such a genuine moment. Beckett's mom had brought bunny, his favorite stuffed animal as a prop, but I wasn't planning to do such a serious photo. However, this was such a sweet moment, and it ended up being a favorite from the session. 

This cutie is a favorite of mine. He was such a smiley, busy, sweet kid to photograph that we came away with so many great photos. When I was editing all of the cute smiling photos, I came across this one. This is an image that I snapped quickly while we were taking a snack break (I always recommend snack breaks during photo sessions with young kids) and it's one of my favorites.

This cutie is a favorite of mine. He was such a smiley, busy, sweet kid to photograph that we came away with so many great photos. When I was editing all of the cute smiling photos, I came across this one. This is an image that I snapped quickly while we were taking a snack break (I always recommend snack breaks during photo sessions with young kids) and it's one of my favorites.

As far as portrait sessions go, my sessions are a bit different than a stereotypical photography session. I find that often, people expect to arrive on location and immediately start taking pictures. So they stand someplace pretty, smile awkwardly, and wait for me to take a photo they are going to love. I've found that this just isn't a good formula for a great photo. If you need proof of that, check out my driver's license photo. Or my passport photo. Or really, most of my school photos. Point being, cheesy, forced smiles don't make for beautiful portraits. So I don't run my photo sessions that way. When you arrive,  we'll chat a little bit, and take a few test shots. While this may feel like a waste of time, I promise it's not. It gives me a chance to get to know you. This allows me to document your story in a genuine way. Perhaps more importantly, taking time to chat helps you relax and be yourself. It can be a little awkward in front of camera, and it is my job to do everything possible to ease that awkwardness. I work to be as unobtrusive as possible. That being said, don't worry, my session's aren't totally pose-free. I'll help you with posing, and will absolutely make sure you that you look your best - I just promise not to get so caught up in posing that we end with a photo that isn't really your style.

If you have any questions, please shoot me an email and I'm happy to answer them.

 

Erin

Sources

1. Hannavy, John. "Cornelius, Robert." Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography. New York: Routledge, 2008. 339-40. Print

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