Random person: What kind of photography do you do?
Me: I’m a lifestyle family photographer.
Random person: *blank stare* huh?
Most of the time, I just say that I take family portraits, and I try to explain that I go for an authentic, unposed style. But technically, the genre is called lifestyle family photography.
So what is it? Lifestyle family portraiture is a hybrid of traditional posed portraits and documentary style photography. With traditional portraits, the family is typically posed, often in a studio setting, and staring straight at the camera and smiling. In contrast, documentary style photography is unposed and seeks to capture the realism of family life, with little direction from the photographer, who basically acts as an observer.
So back to lifestyle family photography. As a hybrid of traditional posed portraits and documentary style, the lifestyle genre captures authentic moments and interactions but usually with the photographer giving direction on things like posing and location, as well as interacting with the family to elicit genuine moments. Maybe a little wardrobe guidance.
Every photographer has their own spin on lifestyle family portraits. For me, I try to capture a family authentically, but in the most flattering way possible. This means that I find the best light and help pose the family in a way that looks good, but then I take a step back and just let them “be.” With that said, not everyone is comfortable in front of the camera (myself included), so prompts and interaction can help people relax and have fun. I focus on making sure the kids are happy, because when the kids are happy, the parents are happy. For that reason, my sessions are very much “child led” because have you ever tried to tell a 2 year old to do anything? Yeah, it doesn’t work. 😂😩 And they make their own magic if we give them enough space to be themselves.
I know that no family acts or looks perfect all the time (contrary to what social media would have us think), but we all have perfect moments. One thing I love about my sessions is that families are forced to slow down for an hour and just be together. No cell phones. No tv. No distractions.
To me, lifestyle photography means helping families create beautiful and authentic portraits by providing a session that is both fun, natural, and child led. I know I’ve succeeded when at the end, the kids are still playing and dad says to me “That wasn’t so bad!” 😂