Lifestyle Photography, A Career Overview And Tips For Success.
In my teens, I have had a keen interest in photography. However, in the beginning, as for many, it was nothing but a hobby for me.
It was a couple of years when I decided to take my photography from a fun pastime to business and got my break as a lifestyle photographer shooting for Clarks Shoes.
At the very beginning, there wasn’t much information about specialising in lifestyle photography just lots of generic photo magazines like Practical Photography.
What is lifestyle photography
This is the kind of photography that aims to capture portraits or people in situations or real-life events. It also involves the capturing of milestones in a manner that is both artistic. The photos should not take away from the genuineness of the moment.
The moments can be captured through the lens or in the form of a painting. In this kind of photography, the photographer gives some direction and later documents the natural responses. The aim is always to put the subject of the shot in the best light. Commercial lifestyle photography, also known as lifestyle advertising photography, involves taking photos for commercial use.
The photos taken during this kind of photography are used in advertisements, merchandising, and product placement. It is also applied in corporate leaflets, brochures, billboards and of course websites and social media.
As a commercial lifestyle photographer, my work is not only to take photos of portraits of people but also to tell stories through my shots. I also thrive on making sure that the story I tell through my lens leaves behind a legacy.
My lifestyle photography success tips
In my experience as a commercial lifestyle photographer, I have found the following tips to be helpful;
This kind of job requires a lot of passion and dedication. It is through a passion that I have been able to capture several moments and work hard towards making sure that the shots are perfect in more ways than one. Prowess in portrait, landscape, and other kinds of photography has also come in handy.
- Don’t wait for something to happen
In this type of photography, I have found that I do not have to wait for an occurrence to capture it. All shots that I take should are spontaneous. I always anticipate that something is going or is about to happen when taking the shots least I end up missing the moment. For instance, if I see a bird on a tree and want to capture it during its flying. I don’t sit and wait for it to start flying before taking the photo. Starting to take some shots, and when the bird takes off, it helps me to be able to capture the moment immediately. Therefore, I ought to always be ready to act.
- Capture the before and after moments
This kind of photography aims to capture real-life events as they occur. The trick to being an incredible lifestyle photographer is to tell a story with every picture.
For instance, when I am are looking to capture a kiss between a parent and his child. I try to capture the moments before and after the kiss.
By doing so, the photos will be able to tell the emotions of the party accurately, whether or not the kiss was well-received, anticipated, and what happened next.
By doing so, I can tell a story without using any words. I find that such photos have more impact than the latter, especially in lifestyle advertising photography.
- Environment is Everything.
My visual style of photography often means the location often plays as much a centre stage to the image as the models except of course when I’m shooting more of a type lifestyle portrait.
Personally I avoid wide-angle lenses preferring something slightly longer for a more compressed softer perspective.
The only issue with this is that sometimes to get the extra width that a 24 or 28mm lens would have given I have to shoot the background separately and combine several frames to get the width with the perspective I want.
- Master Photography Lighting
Lighting is an essential element in photography. I find that the best thing to do is to take advantage of the natural light. However, in this kind of job, moments occur both in the day and night. This means that there are moments that I am forced to work when the light is not too appealing.
As a professional with deadlines, I often have to take the best images whether or not natural lighting is appealing.
This doesn’t mean that I have to compromise on the quality of my shots it means bringing in supplementary lighting and working out the best solution.
- Creating the moment
In the years you have been in this business, I have learned that to capture moments accurately, I need to create an atmosphere that will bring out the moment. For instance, while working on a commercial lifestyle photography project in which I needed to take shots of a moment where a family is laughing and having a good time, I found that asking the models to burst into laughter does not bring out a natural look. It took me a couple of shots and changes to realize that the problem was the fact that I hadn’t created a family atmosphere. The experience taught me always to use props to bring out a romantic scene or the likes. That is the only way to take good organic photos. Playing some music, talking to my subjects, and making jokes always helps a bunch.
- Paying Attention to Details
In this field, the trick to success is often paying attention to many details. Some of my most successful pieces are where I have paid keen attention to details like colours in a dress, beauty spots on the body, lines on the face, strands of grey or the stray hair, and the likes. Other details like water vapour on the grass also make the moment real. When editing photos, I try as much as possible not to take away the things that indicate realness. For instance, facial lines during laughter help to bring out the intensity of the moment and what makes the laughter genuine. The details are what help to tell a story that can be cherished.
In the brief retouching video below you will see the many details that go into a location lifestyle shoot including digitally ironing creases out of the male model’s shirt in post-production as the iron broke during the shoot!
Read more about this shoot in the blog St Paul’s Chapel And Post Production Ironing.
- Make Sure you Subjects are Active
Lifestyle shoots are not like those where you ask your subjects to look directly at the camera and smile. In this kind of shots, the trick is to make sure that your subjects have something to do. I have learned that I take better photos when my subjects are active. Therefore, I always set a stage for their personalities. Doing so always helps me to show their natural expressions.
- Camera at Hand at All Times
People ask why I always have my camera with me at all times. As a photographer, it’s not just a job it’s something you love to do plus you never know when an image will present itself. I have learned that the best way to get incredible shots is to always have my camera with me and never miss any!. When I am working on a project with a client, it starts the moment I arrive at the venue. For instance, if the shots are to be taken inside the client’s workplace. From the moment the door opens to the time when the door is shut behind me, I’m ready so I can capture real-life moments and be able to tell a clear story.
- Using More than One Viewpoint
This kind of photography is all about the unusualness and naturalness of a moment. To be able to achieve this, I always try to capture the same moment from a variety of angles. From the top, bottom, over the shoulder, close and far, whatever it takes to tell the story in the best light and explore all options. It’s extremely important to cover the clients brief but once that is fulfilled it’s important to explore other possibilities that could give even better options. It also means you are showing your not just a camera operator but a creative wishing to go beyond the brief.
As a commercial lifestyle photographer, my photos have to sell a product. My approach is to either focus on the design of the product or the uses of the products. When focusing on the design, I make sure to capture the features that stand out and portray sturdiness in the photos. On the other hand, when focusing on the uses of a product, I try to stage moments where it is applicable and real-life events.
When working on a brief where I have to promote a business, the technique I apply depends on the desired outcome. It may be either to promote the business brand or aspects of the performance of the business.