What Are Lifestyle Photos And How To Capture Them

What Are Lifestyle Photos?

In recent years lifestyle photography has become a phrase more commonly heard in the world around us. With the growing trend of capturing authentic moments and showcasing experiences, it’s easy to see how lifestyle photography has become so popular. This photography genre captures the real moments of everyday life without posing, fancy lights, or preconception. Much of this genre is captured as real moments unfold and is a genre known for captivating images.

Lifestyle photography is a genre that focuses on capturing everyday life in artistic and captivating ways. With the help of compositional techniques, a lifestyle photographer can capture everyday moments in thought-provoking ways. Ranging from life at home to adventuring in the outdoors, lifestyle photography is known for a diverse type of imagery, all aimed at capturing the human experience.

In this article, you’ll learn what lifestyle photography is and the type of photos this genre is known for. Afterward, we’ll discuss a few actionable lifestyle photography tips and ideas to help you capture better lifestyle images for yourself!

Let’s get started.

What Is Considered Lifestyle Photography?

Lifestyle photography is considered anything that documents the human experience, unposed and without prior planning. This photography style can range from capturing the mundane beauty of life at home to more unique experiences such as camping in the mountains. Any image that captures a raw and real representation of everyday life can be considered lifestyle photography.

The most common example you might think of is people at home doing regular tasks. Things like cleaning the dishes, changing a diaper, or dealing with a crying child. In other instances, lifestyle photos capture other everyday things like getting a haircut or going to the store.

Although none of those activities are necessarily exciting, a great lifestyle image will make it appear captivating. With the use of different rules of composition, natural lighting, and intentional lens choices, a photographer can turn a mundane moment into something more thought-provoking.

With that said, lifestyle photography can be more than just hairdressers and family. Since it’s all about capturing the experience of life, there is a limitless range of images you could find in this genre.

For example, let’s say you were taking photos during a long road trip. You might end up with images of friends laughing around a campfire, looking depressed at a truck stop, or salivating over something tasty. Since all of those images capture the lifestyle of being on a road trip, it’s safe to consider those images as “lifestyle” type photos.

Now you start to see how broad this genre can really go. Humans like to do a lot of different things, and lifestyle photography can cover all of them.

Types Of Lifestyle Photography

Although lifestyle photography can be a broad genre, it breaks down into three different types called everyday, urban, and outdoor lifestyle photos.

– Everyday Lifestyle

Everyday lifestyle photography captures regular moments from someone’s day. Things like cooking dinner, going to the store, or changing a baby’s diaper. The mundane parts of our days that make for surprisingly thought-provoking images.

This is the most common type of lifestyle photography and is where this genre has its origins. Using natural light and thoughtful composition to turn the regular parts of life into something beautiful.

– Urban Lifestyle

Urban lifestyle photography is the second category in this genre. This type captures lifestyle images in a city or other urban settings. For example, someone smoking a cigarette on the balcony of an apartment tower. The hustle and bustle of business peoples quickly shuffling down the sidewalks.

These images blend with the genre of street photography, working to capture the everyday moments in an urban setting.

– Outdoor Lifestyle

The third type of lifestyle photography is outdoor lifestyle. This can range from hiking, skiing, camping, or any other outdoor activity. Essentially anything that captures people outdoors and spending time in nature.

An example of outdoor lifestyle photography would be a group of friends sitting around a fire, someone riding their bike down a trail, or perhaps hosting a backcountry cookout.

Outdoor lifestyle photos are often seen in adventure or action sports publications. Especially when sharing a story of an epic ski descent, for example, you’ll see action photos and outdoor lifestyle shots to accentuate the story’s narrative.

12 Lifestyle Photography Tips

1. Try To Capture An Emotion

A great lifestyle photo captures some kind of obvious emotion. Whether it be serenity, chaos, boredom, or love, it’s important that there’s some kind of emotion. Without this, it’s easy for your viewer to disconnect and not find your image as interesting.

By capturing emotions, people will automatically resonate more with the image. It might make them think about an experience they had or bring back an old memory of their kids growing up.

You can capture emotion by always keeping a close eye on the people you’re shooting; by getting good at “people watching,” you can better predict how they’ll react throughout the shoot.

2. Look For Candid Moments Rather Than Posing

The beauty of lifestyle photography is that it feels raw and candid. Especially when you’re hired to photograph a lifestyle shoot, it’s best to avoid posing your subjects. After all, when you pose a regular person, they end up looking posed. There’s no way around it.

Instead, focus on giving your subjects an action to keep them occupied as you shoot. If you’re shooting more authentic lifestyle images of regular, everyday life, look at what people are doing.

You’ll be able to capture a lot of great candid moments just by snapping photos when your subject least expects it.

3. Make Your Subject Forget About The Camera

For a lifestyle photo to look completely natural, you want your subjects to forget about the camera. Try to make it invisible, so they completely forget you’re taking pictures.

When I say invisible, I don’t mean to hide it in your coat when you’re not shooting. Instead, engage with your subjects as if you have no interest in photographing them. After a short while, people’s minds lose focus on your camera and they begin to act more naturally.

Once this happens, that’s your cue to start snapping photos when the moment arises. Perhaps they’ll become preoccupied with another task or be having a conversation with someone else. Alternatively, maybe you say something to them that you know will get a specific reaction.

Whatever you do, try your best to make your subject feel like nothing’s different. You’re just hanging out with them, and the camera has no real significance.

4. Be Aware Of Your Lighting

Lighting is essential in photography. After all, bad lighting can make or break a photo. That’s why it’s especially important to be aware of the lighting when you’re taking lifestyle photos.

Since you won’t be working with flashes to help set the scene, you’re faced with the task of only shooting with natural light. This can take some getting used to, but ultimately, you need to remember where the light direction is.

For example, the main source of light outdoors is the sun. When you’re photographing your subject, different highlights and shadows will be created depending on their orientation to the sun. Since you can’t necessarily tell your subject to move (as it will remind them of the camera), move your feet and try to find where the light looks best.

With a bit of practice, you’ll start getting a knack for figuring out how to compose your shot with lighting in mind.

5. Give Your Subjects An Activity

Particularly when you’re hired to photograph a lifestyle shoot, the best way to get authentic images is to give your subjects an activity. Just think of how awkward it can feel to be told to “be yourself” while knowing a lens is pointed your way.

To ease the tension, giving an activity helps get your subject’s mind off the shoot. Better yet, it helps them to forget about the camera.

Let’s say you’re photographing a family lifestyle shoot; it can be hard to get kids to cooperate the way you want. However, you can turn things into a game, and you’ll end up with heaps of candid reactions to photograph. Something like doing a race or seeing who can draw the best butterfly are easy examples of this.

The same thing goes for adults. By suggesting any type of activity to occupy their thoughts, it’s far more likely that you’ll get the candid reactions you’re looking for.

6. Always Be Ready To Take A Photo

The interesting part about taking lifestyle photos is that you never know when the perfect shot will be. Since you’re not in control of posing your subjects, interesting moments can unfold at any moment. That’s why you always have to be ready.

The best way to keep yourself ready is by staying on top of your camera settings. Try using a semi-automatic camera mode if necessary to help speed up the process. One mode I love shooting lifestyle images in is Shutter Priority (Av or S).

In this camera mode, I can set a shutter speed manually; then, my camera will take care of the rest. That way, once the perfect moment arises, I know I’m set up and ready to go.

7. Capture People Doing Something They’re Passionate About

The best way to capturing genuine reactions is to capture people doing what they love. For example, let’s say you want to get lifestyle photos of your family. Perhaps your mom loves cooking, so you know that capturing her doing that would be a great option.

Alternatively, think about the excitement in a kid’s face when they’re doing something fun. Maybe running around a playground or jumping off a dock at the lake.

These are the types of moments that lifestyle photography is all about—real, authentic moments, capturing the spirit of human life.

8. Keep The Shoot Light-Hearted

Whenever you’re taking photos with people, paid or not, it’s a good idea to keep things light-hearted. Try not to force any expectations on your subjects, or it can make things feel tense.

Instead, act casually when shooting lifestyle images. Pretend like you don’t have any particular agenda, and you’re just hanging out. Once again, this helps your subjects act more naturally and forget about your camera completely.

9. Mix Up Your Angles

It’s easy to get so caught up in capturing a moment that you don’t consider other angles. After taking a few images from one position, try finding another spot you can shoot from.

The change doesn’t have to be that significant. Simply shooting higher or lower or turning your camera sideways can completely change the feel of your image.

Ultimately, you want to capture a series of great moments, but make sure they each have their own unique perspectives. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an entire shoot with a bunch of similar-looking images.

10. Don’t Stage The Environment

As a photographer, you probably feel the need to make everything look “picture perfect.” You might want people to fix their hair, change their shirt, or tidy up what’s going on in the background. When you’re shooting lifestyle photos, you have to resist all of those urges.

The purpose of lifestyle photography is to capture real moments as they happen. Not how you wish they happened. If the background is a mess, or people aren’t wearing the perfect outfits, so be it. That’s how things are.

And since the goal of lifestyle images is to document the every day, you’re doing just that by not staging the image. Everything in the image should look the way it naturally does. Otherwise, that completely defeats the purpose of capturing life as it happens.

11. Look For Unique Features In A Space

Composition is one of the most important parts of lifestyle photography. Without thoughtful framing, it’s unlikely your images will have as much impact. However, every space you shoot in will have different elements to work with. From doorways, street lights, or messy floors, it’s all different.

As you’re shooting, keep an eye out for features of an environment that make it unique. In a house, it might be a unique shaped staircase. In the city, it may be an interesting pedestrian tunnel. In the outdoors, it may be a beautiful mountain backdrop behind your subject.

Whatever it is, identify what makes the space you’re in unique. By working with these unique features, you can guarantee more interesting lifestyle photos.

12. Take A Lot Of Photos

It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll capture one or two photos and end up with the perfect lifestyle shot. Don’t be afraid to be a little trigger happy and take a whole whack of photos. Each photo you take increases your odds of capturing the perfect moment.

With mirrorless cameras that have silent shutters, you can try using a continuous shutter to ensure you never miss anything. However, on DSLR’s, the loud rattle of a shutter clicking 8 times per second can be intimidating.

That’s why for DSLR shooters, it’s often better to leave your camera on single-shot and only press the shutter multiple times when necessary.

Now you know a little more about what lifestyle photography is, and 12 actionable tips to take better lifestyle photos. This is a unique genre of photography since it documents rather than creates. However, it’s a lot of fun and builds many useful skills as a photographer that can transfer over to other areas of your work.

Happy Shooting!

Brendan 🙂

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. You can view my photography portfolio here.

These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

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