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What is Lifestyle Photography?

A family of three is walking towards a sunset in a field at North Park.

I mention that I'm a lifestyle photographer several times on my website, but I remember before diving into the photography world I had no idea what that meant. And before you book a photographer, it is so important to know what style you like and what style of photos you will be receiving from your session. So, what do I mean when I say I'm a lifestyle photographer? It means that I'm doing more than posing you and asking you to smile at the camera. I'm doing more than telling you and your kids to stand still for your photography session. Chaos is totally OK, and it's OK if a photo isn't technically perfect if it exudes tons of emotion. Because in all reality - that's life! It's not perfect. Life is silly, unexpected, beautiful, and many other things - that's what I want to preserve in your session.

My goal as a lifestyle photographer is to document your unique personality and relationship with those that you love. I do not want to deliver a whole gallery of images of everyone smiling at the camera. I want to tell a story - YOUR story. And that's what is so great about lifestyle photography. It's unique to every family, every couple, every newborn. It's yours alone. But, how do you know lifestyle photography is right for you? First let's look at the different style of photography. The most common styles of photography are traditional portrait, lifestyle, and documentary. I also want to mention that there is no right style of photography. It truly comes down to what your preference is. Let's take a deeper look below.

Four kids are running under a blanket that their parents are holding.

Styles of Photography

There are more than just three styles of photography, but the below three styles are the most common used for family, maternity, and newborn sessions.

Traditional Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is the most traditional style of photography. And it's most likely what most of us grew up with. Portrait photography is a posed style of photography where you as the client is likely looking and smiling at the camera, and is perfectly posed by the photographer.

Documentary Photography

Documentary photography is at the totally other end of the spectrum than portrait photography. In documentary photography, your photographer won't be directing you much at all, but will only document what unfolds during your time together. Don't get me wrong, the photographer is still artistically framing each image, there will just be much less directing and posing than other photography styles.

Lifestyle Photography

I like to think of lifestyle photography as in between traditional portrait photography and documentary photography, which is why I love it! The photographer is still very much directing and posing to extent, but then there is a lot of interaction and storytelling through your photographs. There is so much FEELING and LOVE shown in the images. I personally prefer images of my family looking at each other, and if there is someone looking at the camera, then it will be a genuine smile or laugh. It's perfect for sessions with kids, because the goal isn't perfection - it's to get a glimpse of your kids' personality. You can read my tips for having a successful session with a toddler here.

A boy is running near a pond at Succop Nature Park.

What Style of Photography is Right For You?

How do you know what style of photography is right for you? It depends what you want to put on your walls. Do you want artwork of everyone in your family smiling and looking at the camera? If so, you probably want a portrait photographer. Or would you prefer unposed, candid images? If so, you want either a documentary photographer or lifestyle photographer. As a lifestyle photographer, I do a mix of both posed and unposed, but the majority of the images you will receive will be unposed.

This is why it's so important to look at a photographer's work before you book them. Browse their website and their social media. By looking at their work you will know what kind of photographer you are booking! Happy researching! And if you want to reach out about a session in the Pittsburgh area, contact me here!


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