with Courtney Slazinik
8 Lifestyle Photography Tips For Beautiful Photos You Will Treasure
8 Lifestyle Photography Tips For Beautiful Photos You Will Treasure

I LOVE lifestyle photography.  Lifestyle photography is real. It captures things that are relevant in one’s life & freezes genuine, candid moments.

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

What is Lifestyle Photography?

Lifestyle photography is when you focus on capturing people in their real-life. There is very little posing as the idea is to photograph a family or couple in a natural state. Ideally, you as the photographer are trying to tell their story. Think of it as art of the everyday lives of a family.

As a photographer you may give some direction but ultimately you want to allow the people to act naturally. This is not documentary photography so you can adjust the setting and give a little direction.

child hands holding exploding kittens cards

8 Tips for Creating Fantastic Lifestyle Photography Shots

1. Although you aren’t going to pose your subjects or tell them “smile!” with lifestyle photography, you can still seek out the good light & direct them to that area.

Turn them until you find the light on their face. I LOVE backlight but sometimes you just have to keep turning your subject until their face is illuminated nicely.

family backing with red kitchen aid during a lifestyle family photography session

2. Do whatever you need to do before hand so as not to call attention to yourself.

If you want to de-clutter, open curtains, etc. do it before the pictures begin. Kids can sense when pictures are about to happen. If you are doing all of that in front of them, they may close themselves off & be less open to the camera being out.

This is especially true with lifestyle family photography. You want to get everything the way you would like it prior to the session starting. Communicate with the family so they understand what you are doing and ask if it’s okay to de-clutter or open the curtains.

By taking care of everything ahead of time, this allows you to be a fly on the wall and enjoy the real life events unfolding around you.

child sitting in window light on edge of window during lifestyle photography session

3. Have your camera out & handy as much as possible.

You never know when something great will happen so be ready so you can snap before the moment is gone.

It’s important to make sure your settings are ready as well. I recommend adjusting your settings for the light and subjects you have available. If the light doesn’t change this allows you to be ready to freeze the candid moment verses missing it because you were fumbling with your settings.

4. Think details with lifestyle photography.

With lifestyle photography, don’t just take the safe shot. Take the safe shot, then take several more variations of the same shot. Focus on details, use creative compositions, get close up, get the big picture, shoot from the side, stand overhead…be artistic!

I recommend changing your angle as well. Challenge yourself to tell the story from at least three different angles. They may not all work but it allows you more of a variety of storytelling images.

children enjoying hot coco at a coffee shop

5. Don’t tell your kids what they have to wear.

It’s easy to get caught up in wondering what family picture outfits to wear. Instead of stressing out about that, allow your kids to pick out their own outfits. If you worry they may get too creative you could always lay out a few choices.

However, if your child’s absolute favorite outfit is something that doesn’t necessary coordinate with the rest of the family, don’t worry. The whole point of lifestyle family photography is so you can document who your family is at this stage of your life. Let them show their personality through their clothes.

6. Think of activities your subject enjoys (that would keep them in the same spot for several minutes) then just wait for the sweet expressions to unfold!

When thinking of the activity to capture it helps if you think of something that the whole family can participate in. Maybe that’s baking cookies, reading stories or celebrating a favorite holiday tradition. Either way, you can encourage your kids to focus on an activity while will allow you to have those quiet moments arise so you can get those candid shots.

child reading wings of fire during lifestyle photography session

7. Instead of saying “ok, now put your arm around your brother” or something similar, if I feel that my subjects need some help I change my words to make them sound less deliberate.

This helps me get a more genuine moment on camera. I might say “aaww, that is so sweet how you love on him like that – makes my heart melt!” or “I loooove it when you snuggle your brother…it’s so adorable!” then he is likely to do it again without me really asking.

By complimenting your subject, you give them the power to feel as if they are in control of the moment. You may be surprised to find them more willing to cooperate and be a part of the photos.

8. Lots of the time with lifestyle photography we are indoors. Embrace the grain!

Don’t be afraid to crank up the ISO because shooting with proper exposure will help your image not suffer too bad. even though it’s okay to shoot your lifestyle photos with a high iso, still try to seek out the best light possible. Even in dark houses, pockets of good light are out there, you just have to find them.

Now I want to see your lifestyle images! If you care to share in the comment box below, I’d love to see!

  • October 19, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    I love and am inspired by this collection.

  • October 20, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    Love lifestlye photography! I wish I posted more of our own house, but the declutter factor eliminates it! By the time I clean up, they have everything taken out again :) Love every minute of it though!

  • October 20, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    I love that picture of the kids bathing in the sink. Thanks for the great tips. I do always try to keep my camera handy because as you said you never know when your going to want to capture the moment.

    I just did my very first storyboard tonight…http://emilysworldofthoughts.blogspot.com/2012/10/storyboards.html

  • October 20, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    loved the post. thank you. esp #5 ;-)

  • Cristin
    October 20, 2012 at 8:15 AM

    When I think of lifestyle, two photographers come to mind…Tara Whitney and Kelly Garvey!! That first photo is from my FAVORITE session you did!! Seriously, it makes my heart smile!!

    I’m curious, is there a certain lens you go to for lifestyle shoots? I’m smack dab in the middle of Ashley’s LIfestyle w/Kids WS over at CM, and I’m pretty convinced I NEED the 35 for indoor shooting. I’ve noticed a huge difference in noise level between my prime and zoom lens indoors at high ISO’s! (I’m comparing my 24-70 2.8 to my 50 1.4, using my full frame body)

    Thank you Kelly for sharing!

  • October 20, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    Great post! Good things for me to remember as I try to capture my son on a day-to-day basis.

  • October 20, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    Love these Kelly!

    A few of my lifestyle sessions are http://www.coliejamesphotography.com/search/label/lifestyle%20photography

  • Jen
    October 21, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    I always love coming here because it gets me inspired to get my camera out. Now that the weather is getting colder, I have to experiment more inside.

  • October 22, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Gorgeous images. My absolute favorite style of photography. Thanks for the awesome tips!!

  • October 22, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    I photograph for fun, I am a true novice, but your tips are really helping me!
    Thank you

  • October 22, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    This is such a great post Kelly! You really excell in lifestyle photography, which takes talent to think outside the box and get away from the posed stuff. I am hoping to get better at this. Thanks for inspiring me as always! You are the bomb sista!

  • October 26, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    I love lifestyle and am always trying to capture the ‘unstaged’ moment.. I do a daily with my son that has helped me immensely improve my lifestyle photography skills on my personal blog –
    I thought it was so so hard at the beginning and how was I possibly going to do an entire year. but now I’m on day 217 (I didn’t start in january..) and it gets easier and easier each day.
    Thanks for these great tips. I LOVE the photo of your two boys in the sink.

  • Courtney
    October 27, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    I adore you lifestyle shots!! You are one gifted lady!!

  • October 30, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Love lifestyle photography! Your images are fantastic. I’m always trying to improve my skills…

  • January 29, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    Thanks for this article and tips. This is my style. I wonder though if clients will want posed shots as well. Do you do both or only do the lifestyle? Also wonder what type clients its best for- I want to try it with newborns and babies and I know it would be great with all age kids and families. Could it work with seniors? I could see doing the posed shots but it would be great to get them doing what they love in the moment too.
    Question- do you ask the family to pick things to do that they love while you are there photographing? how does that work? I was thinking when I saw your image of them baking in the kitchen- that must have been a bit planned. Or do you literally just have them go about the day ? how long does a lifestyle photog shoot for ? a day?

  • October 11, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    I looooooove your lifestyle images Kelly!!! These are really great tips!

  • December 26, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    This is such a timely post for me, with the kids home, more time on my hands and a new lens to play with I am ready to experiment. Great advice thank you.

  • TK
    December 26, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Love the post but as a late bloomer I didn’t start until my kids were older! Would love some tips to capture teens or older kids. They definitely don’t snuggle anymore!! ;D

  • December 27, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    Brilliant photos and tips. So helpful. Thank you

  • January 19, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    Thank you for the great tips! :) I love learning more about photography! :D

  • February 17, 2014 at 5:13 AM

    Thanks so much for this post. Such an inspiration on helping me take better photos of my boys. Check out my blog and see what I’ve been up to. I’m just still a novice at this.


  • May 20, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    Thank you so much for this post! I got my first DSLR camera and I have been loving taking pictures of my kiddos. Still learning how to use it, but practice on my girls has helped. Your pictures are beautiful <3 Going to start implementing some of these tips :)

  • Kit Williams
    June 24, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    Hi Kelly – Just want to say – your tips are really good. And your own photography absolutely stunning!
    Have a very nice trip to Europe – it has been glorious weather for the past week here (uk) so I hope it continues for your trip.

  • Shael
    June 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    Thank you – lovely ideas!

  • Amy
    June 24, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    Lifestyle photography is really my favorite. I love that it’s authentic but still art. Thanks for a really great post! Here’s my lifestyle image to share: http://www.choosingourownadventure.com/2014/06/project-365-everybody-wants-some-granny.html

  • June 24, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Thanks for posting about lifestyle today! I like to do a mix of posed and lifestyle in my family sessions!


  • June 24, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    I loved this post. Thanks for sharing tips. Lifestyle has become my favorite style. It just seems real to me. I would love your feedback on my photos. You can see them on my blog http://twodozencookies.blogspot.com.


  • June 24, 2014 at 10:07 PM

    Love this article, i love the natural, capturing the best when least expected
    great job

  • Melissa Herring
    June 25, 2014 at 6:38 AM

    I’m a Nana, and I love to photograph my grandchildren. I’m assuming what I do would be considered “Lifestyle” photography….. Sharing.

    Loved your tips! Thanks so much!




  • June 28, 2014 at 9:17 PM

    Great tips! Here is one of my favorite lifestyle sessions that I’ve done:

  • chad
    June 16, 2015 at 3:20 PM

    GreAt idea on what lifestyle photography is.

  • Grace
    January 3, 2016 at 8:57 PM

    Great tips! Really needed to read #7! I often ruin a moment by being like “oh, that looked good! do it again please!”

  • Meg B.
    February 7, 2018 at 9:01 PM

    I also love tip #7. It is so important when you want natural photography moments that you don’t make your poses deliberate. I am learning to do that with my lifestyle newborn photography.

  • Mihai Simion
    February 6, 2019 at 2:01 AM

    Great tips for wedding photography shooters.

  • Natalie
    May 5, 2019 at 2:27 AM

    Thank you for sharing your tips. I’m just a hobbyist photographer but have found myself gravitating towards lifestyle and child photography as they are what interests me and I have access to.

    Here’s the photos I take of the children in and around my life;


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