Lifestyle photography. You've probably heard the term, but may not know what it really means. . . The easiest way I know how to describe it is 'guided documentary photography'. It's not true documentary photography - because it is staged in that we're chasing light and pretty backdrops and are dressing better and typically looking more put together than we do on a regular basis ;)
Lifestyle photography means different things to different people. For me it means capturing the in-between moments - the more candid shots. The smirk, the eye roll. The tiny details that are fast to fade from our memories. I shoot primarily families with small children, which I adore because those little people haven't typically developed the self-conscious tendencies we carry later in life. It also generally means fake smiles and a refusal to look directly at the camera when prompted. If you want pictures of your kids smiling - you do things that make them smile and trick them into taking pictures you'll cherish. Kids these days are well used to camera phones and the prompted 'look at me and say cheese' - and while there are some kids that love the camera and know how to work it - they are not the majority. So while I strive to get a handful of the typical posed shots - I don't stress the kids and parents out trying to get the perfectly posed shot.
When I first started my business I took my oldest daughter out to take pictures often. I would get mad at her for not wanting to take pictures. Snap at her for not looking at the camera. Force her to stop having fun so I could get the picture I thought I wanted. I cringe looking back at them. Because while a stranger may not know any better, I know that behind that smile is a kid who wanted to be doing anything but faking a smile for my camera. A not so fun lesson to learn but an important one all the same. For that reason a photo-shoot to me is equal parts the resulting images and an enjoyable experience.
I don't want my clients to look back at their pictures from our session and think 'wow they came out great but that was such a stressful nightmare! I don't want to have pictures done again for a long time!' . . I want them to look back at their pictures and see their children enjoying themselves and smile not only because their family is beautiful, but because the remember the time the images were taken and what a fun experience it was. I don't want the people in front of my lens to just look like they are happy and having fun - I want them to actually be happy and have fun.
I don't bring large lighting equipment and reflectors to shoots. I carry a flash if I need it (which I seldom use) - but that's it. I like to be able to have my clients move and play about and if I am busy setting up or moving that equipment I believe I miss the little moments. I miss the heartbeat of the family. I am constantly adjusting my camera settings as we move into different lighting situations and while I can adjust my camera by sheer muscle memory these days I still fret that I take too long and will miss that golden moment while I'm bumping up my shutter speed to catch toddlers jumping around.
I show up to my shoots in stretchy clothes. Always. I by nature am a no makeup messy bun stains on my shirt type, and I generally arrive to shoots as I exist in my regular life. I run around and chase my clients like a goober. I make crazy sounds and faces and a complete fool of myself. I assure you there is a method to my madness.
Reprimanding your kids is without a doubt a part of parenthood, and life with children. Oh is it ever. But the beauty of photography is how it allows you to remember the joy that also exists in this phase of life. Lifestyle photography aims to shine a light on that genuine love and joy, not bring about more stress.