There is a lot of buzz in the photography world about how to capture genuine smiles and expressions from your clients. Capturing authentic connection is one of the things that can separate a good photo from a great one, and is something I plan to write about soon. But today I want to tell you about the sure-fire way I have found to take the authenticity of your photos to the next level: Lifestyle photography. Lifestyle photography is a fantastic way to capture your clients in an authentic way, and is also a great alternative to traditional outdoor portrait sessions during these colder winter months!

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What is Lifestyle Photography?

When I was first drawn into photography, it was because I was compelled to document my children’s everyday moments and turn them into art. I wanted to remember the beauty in the fleeting moments of their childhood. As I stumbled through learning photography in the walls of my own home,I realized that I wanted more from my photographs than snapshots of our life. I wanted my photos to have meaning. A story. “Lifestyle” is a term that gets tossed around a lot by photographers, and can mean something different depending on who you are talking to. Many use the term to describe a style that is relaxed and candid. For me, lifestyle photography takes place in a client’s natural environment, most often in their home, and captures more than just candid smiles. This type of photography can freeze time and document a client’s most cherished fleeting moments.  Don’t be afraid to step out of the box and tell your client’s story through photos!

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Tips for a Successful Lifestyle Session

 Prepping the scene: When I am doing a lifestyle session, I instruct my clients to open the curtains and tidy up, but not to alter their home in any way. This is a time to embrace the backdrop of their home and the season of life they are in! While that stack of toys in the corner may seem cluttered now, years from now it will be gone, and it’s presence in these photos will be a sweet reminder of life with little ones.

Give a little guidance: Before the session, I have my clients brainstorm what they would like to capture during our time together. During a lifestyle session, the last thing you want is everyone awkwardly staring at you, not sure “what to do next.” With a little bit of planning, your clients can know ahead of time exactly what elements of their life they want to be sure to capture, and all you have to do is hang back and let them do what they do best: live life.

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Utilize your perspective: One thing I love most about lifestyle photography is that there are so many ways to tell a story. Pull back and capture the whole scene. Zoom in and get the tiny details. You can really take your client right into that moment by the perspective you use!

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Don’t hunt for smiles.  Allow yourself to capture real emotion, the good and the bad and the in between. Many of my lifestyle photos are of the fun, everyday moments. But sometimes important moments aren’t full of smiles. Embrace the emotion when you’re documenting life. Remember, you’re telling a story, and everyone’s story has highs and lows.

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Include some outtakes! I always include a few outtakes in my lifestyle galleries! What can be more true to life than the hilarious faces or the crying kids?!? I have been told by my clients that this is their favorite part of their gallery!

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I just love capturing these real, raw moments with lifestyle photography. Whether you’re doing this for clients, or even just for your own family, it’s such a special way to document every phase of life. Is this something you’re doing already? And if you do, what other tips would you add? Let us know in the comments below!

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