7 Lifestyle Photography Tips

7 Lifestyle Photography Tips


7 Lifestyle Photography Tips

Lifestyle Photography has been around for as long as there were cameras, but it was called Photojournalism and was mostly seen only in the newspapers. During those times, most Portrait Photographers captured their subjects posed and “perfect”.

Once DSLRs infiltrated the market at lower price points, everyone and their grandmas (okay, maybe not all grandmas) had one. Digital photography allowed the birth of this new form of portraiture – Lifestyle Photography – by allowing people to shoot freely without the worry of film and film development costs. Now with smart phones and other electronics that piggyback a convenient camera, snapping photos about your life has become mainstream.

True Lifestyle Photography, however, is more than taking candid shots. It is about capturing images that reveal a story. A personality. A relationship. A feeling.

7 Lifestyle Photography Tips:

1. Anticipate what’s going to happen

Don’t wait to take the shot until you see something happening because some things last only one second and you can miss it.  Be ready.

Annie Tao Photography Tips on on Lifestyle Photography Anticipate whats going to happen

2. Capture the second before and second after an anticipated moment

Annie Tao Photography Tips on on Lifestyle Photography Capture the moment before or after

3. Know your light at all times

When capturing Lifestyle, it’s often best to not disturb what is unfolding naturally. So if your subject is not in the best light, then it is up to you to make it work. It may be changing your shooting position, your camera angle or quickly grabbing a reflector.
Annie Tao Photography Tips on on Lifestyle Photography Know your light at all times

4. Help create the mood

Just because the photo shoot started doesn’t mean your couple will instantly jump into a romantic moment or a family will burst into a fit of laughter.  Help create an environment for those scenes to happen.  Talk to them, play music, be silly, etc.

Annie Tao Photography Tips on on Lifestyle Photography Help create the Mood

5. Don’t forget the details

Get a close-up of the lace on a dress, the way someone stands or the way a baby grips a parent’s finger with his entire hand.  These shots are pieces of information that help tell a cherished story.

Annie Tao Photography Tips on on Lifestyle Photography Dont forget the details

San Francisco Bay Area East Bay lifestyle baby photography family of four portrait of their lower half baby is slipping

6. Pay attention to the environment

I carry a wide angle lens with me to all my Lifestyle shoots because I like getting a shot that includes the environment. Often we think of close-up shots when we photograph people, but step back and look at the environment too. Those are just as important.

Annie Tao Photography Tips on on Lifestyle Photography Pay attention to the environment

7. Give your subjects something to do

Lifestyle Photography is the opposite of look-at-me-and-say-cheese type of portraiture. If your subjects have something to do, then you are setting the stage for their personalities to show and they will have natural expressions.

Annie Tao Photography Tips on on Lifestyle Photography Give subjects something to do

If you have an example of a Lifestyle image, feel free to share it in the comments below. I’d love to see it!

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Annie Tao is a Professional Lifestyle Photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area who is best known for capturing genuine smiles, emotions and stories of her subjects. You can visit Annie Tao Photography for more tips or inspiration. Stay connected with her on her Facebook page

  • Annie Tao Photography

    I like the motion you captured with her feet. And the little girl looks so happy being able to run freely, which is one of the reasons why I love Lifestyle Photography for kids! My only tip is to leave more space above her head. 🙂

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Yea, I love it. If these are your kids, then I’d frame it! 🙂 The light is also very beautiful.

  • Jason N photography

    Thanks again, Yes they are mine. 🙂

  • Jennifer M

    Thank you so much for the tip!

  • Eric Catolico

    Thanks Annie!!!

  • Anil

    Thanks Annie for the detailed feedback and the white balance tip. Really appreciate it.

  • Annie Tao Photography

    The mother’s emotion is what made the image more interesting, in my opinion. Nice.

  • Thank you 🙂 I think children are the best in lifestyle photography because they show real emotions, I was lucky to capture two of them in one shot 😉

  • Jason N photography

    So what caught your eye when you were taking the picture?

  • Girl’s eyes, she’s amazing 🙂 but boy in the backgraound too, I meant I was lucky that they both stand next to each other (or rather should I say their parents stand so close holding them in their arms ;))

  • Jason N photography

    Precious! I have a couple photos to share when I get back on the desktop. Caught my boy with a funny look on his face and another of my daughter at a “Meet Elsa Night”.

  • Sounds great, share! I see that for many people lifestyle photography is all about kids, and I’m not surprised 😉 They’re lovely!

    (If you’d like to see more of my pictures:

  • Kristy

    Here is one I took of my son in our backyard. I am just beginning to take my photography to the next level in going in it for business. I wondered what my “niche” was and since I loved taking pictures outside of the kids, and just following them around as they played, I really believe I could have a blast joining other families to document their cherished memories. I believe this was the SOOC shot since my watermarked edited one was larger than the space allowance for this comment.

  • Rebekah Corral

    She started to cry and that’s how I got this gem. Great read, thanks for the tips!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    No one looks like they’re crying here, so nice capture! 🙂

  • Ivona Kostyra

    Few months of learning ,from not many sources other than internet,my first dslr

  • https://500px.com/photo/109275249/bella-giggling-on-walk-way-by-mike-swartz

    One of my older daughter giggling with late afternoon sun diffused through trees.

  • Gina Lynn

    i want to learn more about lifestyle photography. Here is a photo i took of my daughter. She stumbled down and i told her to wipe off the dust from her hands.

  • Chris Jennings

    There are some stunning photographs here. Interestingly most are children / family subjects. I am very new to this genre, here is one I took on a recent photography holiday. A member of the group pensively considering his options. After snapping this on the fly, I asked him to pose this so I could improve the shot – but it was not nearly so good when artificially posed. What do you think of it?

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Well, first off, I want to say: your daughter is SOOO CUTE! Look at her cheese and her hair. 🙂 Adorable. I love that you captured in action wiping the dust off her hands. You even have motion blur on her left hand, which is great.

    I think overall, this is a nice shot and one that will make you smile when you look at it, which is the most important! 🙂

    If you want to improve it (for future shots), I’d compose it a tiny bit differently. I’d get down lower, so you are looking directly at her (instead of downward at her, like you are in this shot), so you can see her face more. If you move down to her level, you will also change the way the lines behind her are positioned (e.g., line of the fence and all the different level cement, which “cuts” her in different parts of her body). Also, her face would end up being more of the main focal point.

  • Annie Tao Photography

    The sunlight here is dreamy! Love the angle of the shot too (eye-level). I even like the detail of her toes. 🙂

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Your son is really cute, and you captured him well! I can tell he just blew on that! 🙂 I also like that you focused on the dandelion. My only tip for you (for the future) is move your camera slightly back (or zoom out if you are using a zoom lens) so you capture his entire hand. I know this is hard when shooting a child, especially a little one who moves fast! But that’s my only tip here since you focused on the dandelion, so you notice the partial hand more. If you had focused on his face, I wouldn’t notice the partial hand as much. Overall, it’s a nice shot! 🙂 Happy shooting!

  • Annie Tao Photography


  • Annie Tao Photography

    I completely agree. Unless your subjects are models, people usually look stiff and unnatural when they are preparing to be photographed. It’s much better, in my opinion, to photograph people in a candid way.

    I like how you composed the image with the man on the right side. It balances out with the tree on the left. And the lines of the wall/railing brings your eyes from the man to the tree. Nice!

    There are some harsh shadows on the man, which could be resolved with a reflector, off camera flash or a refective surface; however, this is a candid shot, so there may not have been anything you could do! haha. Keep shooting…this is good!

    Oh, and most of the examples in my article are of families and children because that’s what I specialize in! 🙂

  • Chris Jennings

    Thanks Annie – appreciate the encouragement! I am hosting creative holidays here in Portugal – as a side benefit I get to join in and learn! We are always on the look-out for photography tutors – as well as eager students! for info see http://www.sozoarts.org/courses/photography/

  • Mark Kumar

    Lifestyle photography is definitely a great style and helps you capture all those special moments…I love it..

  • Candy Tetrault-Hill

    This is one I caught of my daughter and grand-darling. I know it is a little blurry someone bumped into me.

  • Deb Damm
  • Amber Rachelle Deffenbaugh


    This is one of my very first sessions I shot. I put out a model call for breastfeeding moms who would be interested in a free session (I was building my portfolio) and this was one of my clients who responded. I shoot using a Canon EOS T6i with 18-55mm kit lens. I love this style of photography!

  • Amber Rachelle Deffenbaugh


    This was one I did for my little sister and her boyfriend…I happened to catch this sweet moment while we were getting set for a different shot. 🙂 It’s one of my favorites to date!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    It’s true that Linda’s WB is a little cool, but that can be easily fixed in post or you can do it in your camera next time (ie, shoot in RAW or you can tweak your WB by using the Kelvin mode).

    For me, I think capturing ‘a moment’ is more important than getting every setting perfectly because most can be corrected later, but you can’t create a moment later! 🙂

  • Annie Tao Photography

    I love this shot, Amber, because I can tell they have a deep relationship (even if you hadn’t told me). The tight crop makes this feel more intimate. And I love that you made it BxW because that keeps my attention on their faces. Beautiful.

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Having a model casting call is a great way to get new clients and also for portfolio-building! Choosing to photograph breastfeeding moms is interesting too because it’s a specialized niche of clients.

    I think your choice of BxW was a good one, but if you’re looking for some feedback, I would be careful where you crop. In this situation, you may want to get closer (with a zoom lens or longer telephoto lens so you don’t disrupt the tender mom and baby moment) or go wider to avoid cutting the image at an awkward places (ie, cutting off at a joint is generally a no-no in photography). For example, you could zoom in on the baby’s hand against her mother’s breast or get a closeup of the girl’s face in total concentration, but you’d see just enough of the mom to have context. A wide shot is also fun bec showing their surroundings can tell a different story.

    Happy shooting!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    I LOVE THIS! The dogs look so relaxed and I can tell the woman loves them dearly. Your daughter in law is gorgeous by the way.

  • Annie Tao Photography

    I can’t tell it’s blurry at all. I love this shot! I can always tell when a shot is set-up, and this one wasn’t. The little girl’s face is sooooo cute. She has a look on her face like she’s happy, but a little embarrassed (or maybe it’s proud)? I don’t know exactly, but I love it. There is so much emotion and the framing is great. Thanks for sharing, Candy!

  • Henosis Brands

    “True Lifestyle Photography, however, is more than taking candid shots. It is about capturing images that reveal a story.” I agree. Lifestyle photography is indeed the new thing. What matters is the content that tells the story.

  • Jennifer Carter

    My eyes are watering reading your tips, I love lifestyle photography so much. Trying it as a hobby! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f712aabb61441a33ccdb215defbdf28241eed9c5ce3bd29a0b7c3a30049d8b68.png

  • Jennifer Carter

    I absolutely love lifestyle photography and came across this post. Might be a bit late to the party haha. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c786d1af53a1ddbd942fcd2d6615b43e6f36df8402c2986e8c269e04028e5e91.jpg

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