Lifestyle photography is a satisfying style that gives lovely candid shots. It can be quite similar to documentary photography and street photography at times. So where is the line drawn?
I don’t think there can be any definitive difference between these shooting styles, but a key discerning feature of lifestyle photography is when you are shooting for paying clients. Digital Photography School has a nice resource on how to get the most out of your lifestyle shots.
Depending on the type of camera setup you’re working with – I’ve got a couple of recommendations.
What is lifestyle photography (with examples)
Lifestyle photography is a style that captures real-life events, candid moments and everyday situations that occur naturally in the life of the subject(s). For the lifestyle photographer it’s important to incorporate scenes and activities that are typical of the subjects.
Taking them out for a shoot to a park they’ve never been to frolic on the beach if they aren’t beachgoers doesn’t ring true to accurate lifestyle photography. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t still get great shots doing those things, but it’s not really lifestyle photography.
The trouble with trying to put a definition on lifestyle photography is that its definition will probably change depending on who you ask. It can be a broad term with different subgenres that lend themselves to differing ideologies. Family and couples lifestyle photography for instance is likely to have vastly different outcomes as opposed to fashion lifestyle photography.
It’s a gorgeous, cute photo, there’s no doubt about it. But can you call it lifestyle? I don’t think so. The pose is great and scenery lovely, however it has an unnatural feel to it. How frequently do children stand atop a hill and wrap their arms around kissing their sibling or friend on the cheek?
Not many is my guess.
Does this type of activity define their lifestyle? Probably not. Frankly however, the client would probably be very happy with shots like this of their children, so why bother about semantics? That’s a question the photographer must ask themself.
This has a more lifestyle feel to it. The pose is more natural and typical of couples in a loving relationship, the balloons don’t feel too out of place as it could be Valentine’s Day or an anniversary. The backdrop too seems familiar and fitting to the subjects.
50mm Is KING
My latest project I self-published, Salad Days, was shot almost entirely with my 50mm lens. If you were to get just one lens to shoot lifestyle photography, this would have to be it. I’d call it more documentary in style, but isn’t documenting a lifestyle therefore lifestyle photography too? I guess the key difference for me is that I didn’t have paying clients.
For the Canon you’ll want to look at the 50mm f1.4 which is moderately priced.
If you want to get the cheapest of the lot then the 50mm f1.8 is so cheap you can’t afford not to get one.
If you’re shooting film then you can’t go past the 50mm f1.4 FD for under $100 shown below.
For the Nikon you’ll want to take a peek at the 50mm f1.4 FX.
Or for under half the price the 50mm f1.8.
Damn Sony’s lenses can be expensive. I guess that is to be expected when you team up with Zeiss. But their entry level 50mm FE f1.8 is a great start. Looking to go to the f1.4 level then you might want to give Rokinon a try unless you want to splash over $1,000.
Do you shoot another system?
Well you probably get the picture, find a 50mm lens ideally with an aperture of f1.4, otherwise f1.8 will do the job fine too. It’s just nice to have a little extra speed in lowlight conditions.
So how do you prepare for a lifestyle shoot?
Meet with them before the shoot and learn as much as you can about your clients and understand the type of photographs they desire. Meeting will help to break the ice with them and allow them to become more comfortable around you and the camera.
Planning the shoot is a smart idea with several locations and potential scenes thought out.
Try to break the ice with them and help them be comfortable with a camera around them.