what is lifestyle photography san francisco photographer tarah little boy pulling mom's red skirt in urban

What is lifestyle photography? According to Wikipedia, lifestyle photography is a style of photography that mainly aims to capture people in real-life moments in an artistic manner.

What does this mean? Well, it’s up for interpretation by the artist. But lifestyle photography lies somewhere between documentary and classic portraiture. Let’s quickly demystify what those genres are.

Genres explained: documentary and classic portraiture photography

A documentary photographer is simply an observer or bystander photographing what’s happening. There’s no interference from the photographer such as giving direction for poses or moving items within the setting. This type of photography is similar to what you see in the news or during a wedding ceremony.

A classic portraiture photographer takes full control over what is being photographed from the lighting to what’s in the background even down to the minute details of exactly how people have their bodies posed. This type of photography is what is used for traditional school and headshot photography or formal posed shots such as prom, most studio photography, formal photos with people sitting and looking directly at camera.

what is lifestyle photography san francisco tarah photography pregnant mom in the forest and newborn yawning

My approach to lifestyle photography

So, what is lifestyle photography to me? My approach to lifestyle photography is a mix of the two. I orchestrate real-life moments by giving people lots of direction and prompts. It’s not the actual pose or prompts that I aim to photograph but the connection and emotion that happens within those prompts. I’m orchestrating moments that could really happen in real life. But without my interference I wouldn’t be able to capture a wide variety of images in such a short amount of time. I basically jump-start the process.

What I do:

– Creating moments. The magic happens when people are engaged and flow like they would if I wasn’t there. Therefore, I am very verbal and give suggestions as a starting point for how to interact and pose to get clients to engage.

– Wardrobe is an important factor in elevating the look of the final image as well as how people feel during the shoot. I help expecting couples and families select a wardrobe that is photogenic and true to their style.

– Location. I choose a location that has the type of lighting I want within a photogenic setting be it nature, urban or beach. Inside of a home, I’ll choose the room or area that has the best light. This allows me to control the light to capture professional images in my artistic style.

What I don’t do

– No props are used especially during newborn session. Instead, I use what my families already have. Like a special lovey for a small child to hold or a newborn swaddle they already own. No gimmicks. Just real-life.

– No on demand smiling. I want my expecting couples and families to interact and engage with each other. If they spontaneously look at the camera it’s because I’ve said something, not because I’ve asked them too.

– No poses. No stagnate poses, that is. Posing is a starting point that I encourage my clients to move through. For clients who need extra help achieving this, I’ll give them two or three actions to do within a pose. My goal is for clients to authentically engage with each other – which can be a scary thing to do in front of a camera! When I want to capture a portrait of a person alone, such as an expecting mom or child, who doesn’t have anyone to engage with, I work to create an image that conveys an emotion or feeling. Even if the person is standing still, I’ll provide direction to pull out an emotion and use light and composition to amplify a feeling. For families, I give lots of prompts that are activity related to keep the children engaged and excited. It’s basically a 45 – 60 minute long play session with their parents – the people they love to play with the most.

Have questions about my style or approach? Or are you still wondering what is lifestyle photography? Shoot me an email or comment below.

Book Now

what is lifestyle photography san francisco photographer tarah family at beach playing in the ocean in santa cruz