Lifestyle Photographer Northern California – What is a Lifestyle Session?

I love to capture my son in his natural element. I know that since he’s two, and he is very busy, and his attention span is about 3 seconds -unless he has a brand new toy where the novelty hasn’t worn off yet. Well, I don’t have the budget nor the room to buy him new toys all the time to keep his attention span on something, nor would I want to (well I would like the budget and the extra room – let’s just be real). What I want for him is to explore, to learn, to experience.  This is where giving my son a task and photographing him doing his thing the way that HE wants to do it, and documenting that, can give me some great shots of him and give him the freedom to be a kid. I’m not constantly there telling him, “Look at me!”, “Over HERE”, “sit down”, “smile”, “Look Look Look (insert funny noise here)”, “no, come back here”! Whew! Just thinking about doing that ALL the TIME with my little guy to get a great photo is overwhelming! This is where Lifestyle Photography comes into the conversation. Lifestyle photography is more documentary than posed, and more freedom instead of constraints and rules.

Lifestyle sessions can take place at your home or a park where you bring a picnic and let your kid color, or dance, or sing, or be silly and play. You could do it at the beach, where your kids will play in the sand, baking cookies in the kitchen with mom or dad, reading books, taking a bath. It comes down to, let’s give you an activity, and you do it and live your life how you do and I will document it in an artistic way. I will follow at a distance that you feel that you can be your authentic self. I might coach some shots, but it won’t be a “sit here, put your legs there” type of session.

Lifestyle Photography is the opposite of look-at-me-and-say-cheese type of portraiture. If you have something to do, then we are setting the stage for your personalities to show and you will have natural expressions. There is something about the authenticity of capturing a family or couple in the warmth of their own home, and I do a happy dance every time I get the opportunity to do so!

Lifestyle photography brings its own challenges as well. After all, not everyone has swoon-worthy gorgeous lighting or decor inside their own homes! I think this is the number one thing that keeps more people from booking lifestyle sessions. The excuses can be easily found: we don’t have instagram perfect homes, there’s still that “one thing” we need to get done, or the lighting in that awesome room sorta sucks.

While those excuses may be true, I am here to let you in on a little secret. Ready for it?

It doesn’t matter.

Seriously!! It doesn’t matter!! Your house may not be perfect, but with a few tricks and tips, you can HAVE those gorgeous lifestyle images of your own! As far as clutter, that comes with kids. You might want to pick up that granola wrapper, but as for the  fuzzy blankets, the doll and the cute bunny pillow – LEAVE THEM! Those will be treasured details in years, and it would be a shame to ‘clean up’ all the reminders of the childhood treasures that they love so much.

Although lifestyle photography is care-free, in the moment, real, & raw, there are still things you can do to help your lifestyle shots shine.


Tips to Make Your Lifestyle Session ROCK!

  1. Look for that good light! Whether we are doing a session in your home, a park that your family frequents, the zoo – we want to set up for when we have the best lighting. For lifestyle photography, I don’t always like to use flash. I will if the light is not what I need it to be, but I find that it distracts little ones, so they aren’t able to focus on the task as much as they would be if it wasn’t going off. So #1 is GOOD LIGHT!
  2. Don’t tell your kids what they have to wear…make it be their idea.
    But fill their closets with stuff you like so the chances are greater that they go for something you approve of 🙂
  3. Let me direct – don’t tell kids to look here or look there. I’ll get some amazing shots if we let the kids be in their element, not all tensed up because they think they have to sit still and listen to directions. We are actually going to do things a bit different for this type of session. Instead of saying, “hey put your arm around your brother”, I might say, “Hey, can you tell your brother a secret?” or, “I love hugs, does your brother love hugs? Why don’t you go give him one?”. Trust me, we’ll get some great shots!
  4. Have an activity planned. So I suggest simple things for just in case there’s a lull in the action, like artwork, snack time, outdoor time, or with older kids, they can show me their hobbies (toward the end…otherwise you’ve just signed yourself up for a 2-hour Lego shoot). Holidays are perfect for this kind of thing, because you can decorate the tree, carve a pumpkin, rake leaves or bake cookies. Anything that’s dynamic and involves everyone is a good choice, but there’s no need for a show. Most children 5 and under will lead the way naturally. Simple, daily actions photograph beautifully and help us focus on relationship images.
  5. What to do with your house (if we’re shooting in your home)
    I do not care about the condition of the house, I understand that you have a life, and I don’t want to show up to a house that’s so clean it looks sterile and visually boring. I just need to be able to walk through a room, so clear a path of toys, and try to make at least one bed somewhere in the house, but that’s about it. I’ll work around everything else.
  6. Let the kids take the lead.
    If you’re including young kids in your photos, you probably already know that you have to be a little bit flexible because kids often have their own plans.  Sometimes kids start off shy around me, but once they get comfortable they’re often eager to show off — share special toys or games, or just jump around and maybe get a little wild.  As long as they’re being safe, I love when families just let the kids set the pace for the session.  Don’t worry about whether or not they’re on their best behavior or taking direction well; if they feel free and excited, it shows through in the pictures.  I’ll convince them to sit still and smile at the camera when the moment is right, and in the meantime we’ll get the photos that really make our hearts feel full.

That’s pretty much it. We’ll get some magical shots, I promise!

sorry, we’re potty training! 

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