As photographers, we take time to hone in our craft and practice many hours getting it right. When it comes to photographing people, there are two main approaches in directing clients to get the photos you want. I’ll explain the difference between both, and how to apply the two during the same session to get the most variety in the final gallery that your clients will absolutely love!
What is lifestyle photography?
Lifestyle photography is when you capture your clients a little more naturally than you would if you were posing them. It’s all about letting the session unfold naturally all while you photograph your couple, family, or individual being themselves.
It’s also about showcasing the person in their daily life or routines too. For example, joining a family as they casually hang out at their home and bake together. Or joining a couple for coffee and a stroll through the park.
Lifestyle photography can be both natural or styled. Styled simply means curating the look so that even though the person is hanging out drinking coffee on their sofa, they are dressed and using items that make the photos have a cohesiveness.
Much of what you see on Instagram can be considered lifestyle photography.
What is posed photography?
Posed photography is when you are directing your clients to sit, stand, and well, pose exactly how you would like them to. This gives you a more controlled and directive role in addition to being the photographer.
Posed photography can be really beautiful and usually lies in the editorial, fashion, or fine art styles of photography. However, posed photography can be used in every session where you want to control the final pose in your photo.
How to mix both styles to get variety
In a portrait session, it doesn’t matter if it’s family or just one person, mixing the two styles can really help add variety in the final images that you deliver to your client.
When you’re starting the session, begin with posed photography because most clients are nervous at the beginning of a session. Getting them comfortable posing, and being more direct in how you want them to stand can help them to feel more comfortable in front of the camera.
While you’re posing, show your client exactly how you want them to pose rather than merely instructing, which can get confusing.
For example, instead of saying “put your left hand on your right elbow,” you would instead go over to where they are standing and show them how you want them to put the left hand on their right elbow.
This is a quicker way to help your client visually see what you want them to do.
After you’ve posed your client enough, and they seem a little more comfortable in front of the camera, go for the lifestyle approach.
Tell your client to relax and walk around the area. If it’s a family, for example, ask them to walk and talk to each other while telling a funny joke. Make sure to keep your camera at the ready during these times. That way you can achieve photojournalistic style photos that make lifestyle so meaningful.
As you go through the session, keep alternating between posed and lifestyle. You can also pose your clients, a couple, for example, so that they’re facing each other, take a few photos and then ask the couple to say one nice thing about the other.
This is a great way to transition from posed to lifestyle. You will get authentic expressions from the couple because you are putting them in a particular pose then giving them something to do that will seem natural. It’s a perfect mix of the two styles at the same time.
If you’re more comfortable with lifestyle and candid photography styles, don’t be afraid to stop your clients in mid-walk, hug, or whatever they are doing naturally to hold the pose. This is a transition from lifestyle to posed.
Mixing the two styles offers your clients more variety as well as an overall great experience. They will feel more comfortable being in front of the camera because they were allowed to be themselves while you also stopped to make sure to get posed photos as well.
Using both styles will give the session a more fluid flow and also allows your clients to have a good time during the session. This is especially important when photographing children. Letting them play and have a good time while mixing in posed photos will give them a fun experience.
Mixing the two styles, lifestyle and posed photography, will add variety to your client’s photos and will also ensure that they have a great experience without feeling stiff or uncomfortable in front of the camera.