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Lifestyle vs. Portrait Photography... Which one is right for you?

Updated: May 3, 2023

When it comes to choosing the right #photographer, one of the best questions to ask yourself is what style they use, and how it works best for you and your family. No one style is better than the other, however, there are styles that photographers are better at capturing than others. Here at #PhoenixFamilyPhoto, I believe that there is a secret world in between #LifestylePhotography and #PortraitPhotography that enables our clients in the #Phoenix, #Scottsdale, and surrounding areas to feel as if their photos have the candid qualities of a lifestyle shoot, mixed with cinematic and epic feeling that comes along with posed portrait photography.

What is exactly is Lifestyle Photography?

When it comes to true #Lifestyle #photography, #authenticity is the name of the game. This is for the folks who aren't worried about having posed photos, faces acknowledging the camera, or the pomp and circumstance of bothering to put on a dress and full face of makeup. Frequently, a lifestyle photographer will come to your house, and photograph you and your family on location, rather than trying to capture you in a studio or during golden hour at a gorgeous location. In instances such as this, the best Lifestyle Photographers find a way to be a fly-on-the-wall who just happens to also be photographing the 'normal' daily routine(s) of your family. The #idea behind Lifestyle photography to me is really #beautiful. It is the archetype of freezing that moment in time and recognizing how beautiful your family is, even if your 4 year old put their shirt on backwards, didn't comb their hair and still has yogurt on their face. The daily grind can be messy, but it's your daily grind, and that makes it #beautiful and #worthremembering. Even better, there's no fuss or muss trying to get your kids to behave or "say cheese" or pose for the camera. Instead, they just do their thing, even if that means jumping all over the bed (highly encouraged for great shots).

Despite loving the concept of Lifestyle photography, I have found that it doesn't come without challenges as well. For some kids (and Dogs), ignoring that strange person in your house following you around with a camera is just darn near impossible. The reality is your photographer is not an actual fly on the wall, and truly being able to ignore your photographer go about life as normal takes a lot of #experience. To aide in this process, your Lifestyle photographer might take a couple different approaches. They can visit as a "family friend" and play games with everyone before the camera gets whipped out, or they might provide some minimal direction to help get the session started. Here are some examples:

"Hey kids, why don't you all go jump on the bed" or "Everyone go give mom gigantic group bear hug right now" "Everyone go play 'Ring-Around-The-Rosie' in the living room"

As a final consideration, the #environment you invite your photographer into matters as well. If the #lightingconditions are too #dark, capturing moments without them being blurry will require the use of #flash or cranking up the cameras internal light sensitivity (#ISO for all my gear-geeks out there) to a very high level. Depending upon the gear your photographer is using, a high ISO can make an image look #grainy as higher ISO's are more sensitive to #noise. To combat issues like this, try to open curtains, turn on lights, or make adjustments prior to the time your photographer arrives. The more changes your photographer has to make to an environment to make a session work well, the more it feels like a formal #shoot which is not what you want people thinking about during a #LifestyleSession.


Reality: A little bit of both goes a long way

Like so many things in life, we have found that the sweet spot between these two different Photography Styles lies somewhere in-between.

Portrait Photographers: How are Portrait Photographers different from Lifestyle Photographers?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is posed #PortraitPhotography. This is photography that follows more in line with what you think of when it comes to #traditional family photos. Typically, you'll all get dressed up and head to a photographer's #studio or designated spot where they will shoot you on location, and the photographer will #guide you and place you in a variety of different poses. Posed portraits can be anything from super formal to semi-formal and likewise the posing is either very strict or very loose and relaxed. Albeit not the #laissesfaire approach that Lifestyle photography has, Posed Portrait photography isn't reserved for sticks in the mud or only people with a stiff upper lip. Posed portraits can be super cute and you can get some great creative poses that make for the perfect #HolidayCards to #print off and share with everyone you know!

The perfect permutation: Prompting incorporates the best elements of Lifestyle + Portrait Photography

Like so many things in #life, we have found that the sweet spot between these two different #PhotographyStyles lies somewhere in-between. In our view, true Lifestyle sessions without any direction are just kinda sloppy and really not worth having a professional shoot them. In terms of portraits, the photographers' vision in terms of how they pose you might not be an authentic representation of you and your family. Posing could appear stiff, and smiles forced, and there ain't no #photoshopping that out, sister. Instead, we utilize the concept of "prompting" with our #clients. Prompting can be used with just one person, a couple, or a group. Without giving all of my prompts away, one example is where I ask you guys to skip toward me. It's simple, but it gets you and your co subject thinking about something other than standing there stiff in front of the camera, wondering if your smile is looking real or not. When we look at a photograph, there is an #emotional response that catches our #focalpoint. On the #sciencey side of things, these are typically what has the most contrast & brightness. On the emotional side, our eyes tend to follow whatever the subject is looking at in a photo. So a couple looking at each other is going to be way more interesting and highlight each #subject member. Or if a subject is engaged in some sort of activity, that's going to trigger an even greater emotional response than people just standing and looking at the camera. Those photos have their place also, and we take them, but we also get so much more. Prompting incorporates authentic emotion and relationships, while still incorporating the pomp and circumstance of bothering with paying a #ProfessionalPhotographer to photograph your session.


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