One of the great things about lifestyle photography is you have the option of shooting pretty much anywhere people would be. The beach, a dog park, an art studio, your parent’s house, cultural activities…As a lifestyle photographer the world is your oyster. Fortunately, you don’t need to travel far and wide to practice. If your friends and family aren’t too camera shy, they’re the perfect candidates to help you learn the ropes of lifestyle photography and improve your skills.
Since you already have a relationship established with the people in your life, you’ll likely be pretty comfortable in one another’s company. That in itself will make it easier for you to capture authentic moments, thus helping to tell the story of your subject’s day to day life that much easier. The hard part can be finding creative ways to make some of the more mundane things us humans do interesting to look at on film.
Here’s a few tips to get you started on the right path.
The Power Of Suggestion
In my opinion, candid shots are essential to a lifestyle photo album. They’re kinda like the bread and butter of lifestyle photography, but as creatives, we want more than just the staples. That means, at times, you’re going to have to interact with your subjects. In my experience, making simple suggestions (such as how to pose or to do a specific action) is more effective than giving precise instructions on what your subject should be doing. By suggesting they try something different, you’re still allowing them freedom of expression to perform the task as they see fit, which usually results in a more natural, true-to-self photo.
That being said, something to remember about the power of suggestion in relation to lifestyle photography is that it works both ways. Don’t be the only one suggesting new ideas to try out, listen to your subject and ask if they have any ideas for photos–this can be a great way to bring out your subject’s personality.
Put Some Distance Between You
Take a step back and shoot from a distance. This will allow you to capture the “bigger picture” of what’s going on and allow you to incorporate some the surroundings into the image. These kind of shots are great for establishing a sense of place in lifestyle shots.
They’re also perfect for snapping candid shots since you’re less likely to be interacting with your subject if you are quite a ways from them. My absolute favorite lens is my 35mm 1.4 prime lens, but shooting wide angle lifestyle shots from a distance can be extra challenging to get a nicely composed image. That’s not to say it isn’t possible–and there’s certainly a lot to be said for mastering that skill–but, since we won’t always have the luxury of taking all time we need to compose a candid shot on the fly, a good zoom lens is best. It will give you more focal length options when you’re composing your shot, which can actually help speed the process up.
But, Don’t Forget The Details
Lastly, don’t be afraid to move in close to the action every now and then. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say they are a necessary part of the package. Adding a handful of detail shots, or close-ups of a particular action, are the perfect complement to any lifestyle photography portfolio–and they don’t even need to include people.
Lastly, let’s not forget what a boost practicing detail shots can give your eye for composition. When you’re looking at things on a closer level, examining the details, you’re developing the good habit of finding the beauty in the smaller, more often unnoticed, aspects of our lives–the day to day if you will.