Lifestyle Photography has emotion, it has memories attached; it is your moments captured in a split second!
If you continue reading I hope you’ll understand more of why I chose to be a lifestyle photographer instead of posing people and newborns.
The more I’m delving into work as a photographer, the more I’m realising, how saturated this industry truely is, and that’s just in Perth alone! When searching for a specific photographer in google you might type: “Newborn Photographer Perth” for example, and then try and word it in a number of different ways to try and vary your results such as “Perth Newborn Photographer” or “Newborn Photos in Perth”, typically you’re likely to still get very similar, if not the same results on the first two pages, leaving you to think that’s all that there is out there. When, the truth is, if you look hard enough, if you get creative with what you type into google, if you search the hashtag Perth Newborn Photographer on Instagram, even jump across to Pinterest as well, you’re going to come across a whole lot more newborn photographers and still that’s not all of them. There are literally endless possibilities when it comes to finding a photographer and at the same time, there are clients for every photographer out there too! You will find photographers with varying price points, some might give you a whole digital package, others will expect you to purchase stunning framed prints to hang on your wall. Some will pose your baby in their studio, others will bring the lights and props to your house. Some will do lifestyle photography outdoors and others will do it indoors. Some might include video with their packages. Some might include a maternity photography session with their packages. Some might be more focused on allowing their creativity to shine through their work using different techniques such as free-lensing or objects such as prisms. Some might prefer to only deliver black and white, while others swear by colour images. The point is, every photographer has something slightly different to offer and it’s up to you to know exactly what you want and why, before you’ll find the perfect one for you. So I’m going to tell you my story about how I discovered my preference to be lifestyle photography and why I have chosen to only photograph these lifestyle-inspired images vs the beautifully posed images that other photographers will create. I’d love to hear your thoughts afterwards, and whether you agree with me or not.
Lifestyle VS Posed Photography
When my daughter was born, we had posed newborn photos taken. If it wasn’t for a girl I used to work with that had just had a baby a couple of months before I was due, then I wouldn’t have thought to have any photos taken at all - I knew nothing about photography when I was pregnant but had seen a few of this girls photos and thought they were super adorable and instantly decided I needed some too. So I hunted high and low to find someone who would photograph my daughter all posed in a bucket for a Christmas Card (she’s a December baby). I did not know people dressed up to have maternity photos, I did not know people would come to your house to photograph your baby, I had no clue that lifestyle photography was even a thing, I did not use instagram enough to understand the hashtag/algorithm side of it, so it never occurred to me to search through that app and I had only been in Perth a short while, so to reach out and ask people on facebook was not really an option as my contacts in Perth were very limited.
So now that you know all that, you can understand why I automatically thought that working as a newborn photographer with all the props, lighting, backdrops etc was the only way to go, for that was all I had ever experienced. So after the initial investment of actually buying a camera (because I didn’t even own one when my daughter was born) and learning how to use it properly, then deciding that there was a possibility to turn this little hobby into a career, I started to read blog after blog and invested time and money into many online workshops to learn the art of posing and what I needed at a bare minimum, to start posing and photographing newborn babies.
A friend of mine eventually fell pregnant and had a baby, and I got my first go at photographing someone else other than my partner and daughter. I did a couple of maternity portraits and a couple of posed newborn portraits for her. I thought I liked it, and that it only didn’t feel ‘right’ because clearly I needed much more practice. Fast forward a few more photography sessions with friends using props, outfits, and posing and even a couple of paid shoots; I just wasn’t feeling comfortable. I did a lot of comparing to the work I would deliver to my friends, vs the work that I would produce for myself. It wasn’t the same. It felt boring to me, and there was way to much time spent editing in photoshop - something that took me a long time to get the hang of as it was! Also, I pride myself on being fairly stress free, and having a decent amount of patience, but spending 2-3 hours during a newborn session, having to be super quiet and making sure the room is the perfect temperature for a sleepy baby and the propping of all the props - that just wasn’t me and I’d get home feeling exhausted instead of inspired and excited.
One day I decided, I didn’t want to do posed maternity or newborn shoots any more and instead I wanted to only create images that were real and authentic. I wanted to create images like the ones that were plastered all over my own wall. These are the images that excite me to create and they’re the images that people can look back on to remember life and feel something. It was then I learnt that this type of photography was actually a thing and people called it lifestyle photography or documentary photography (these are actually two slightly different styles of photography and I’ll explain another day). So the next thing I did was sell my back drop stand and didn’t take my beanbag to the next newborn session I did. It went great! I was happy, and I felt at ease when I was shooting, something I struggled to find when I was posing. I still posed the family, but I’d probably prefer to use the word directed, rather than posed. Posed implies perfect, I don’t want to create perfect images, I want to create images that evoke emotion and movement and simply put: I want to create images that show Life!
And there, I had found my niche. I’m still very much, working on honing in on finding my exact my people that I want to work with, but I am a lifestyle-inspired family and newborn photographer. You bring the people and I’ll bring my camera. No props, unless we’re doing an outdoor session, then a blanket to sit on might be necessary. Because I never got the chance to have a newborn lifestyle photography session when my daughter was born, I feel like I’m missing out on something, and don’t want others to have that burden. That newborn period can be such a whirlwind and having photos that document that time of life are just so important, because before you know it, that kid will be 1 and you’ll be asking yourself, what just happened?! I love the photos I received from my posed session, I’ve only got 1 of them hanging on my wall and the others are in a photo album, but, they don’t bring me real memories from those early days, they just don’t! I didn’t own a camera until my daughter was 2 1/2 months old and I struggle so much to remember anything from before I had that damn camera. Our posed photoshoot was in a studio, instead, it could have been in our small dark rented apartment - it was definitely a dark dungeon of a place, but a good photographer would have been able to work with it, and deliver images and memories that I so desperately crave from that time in my life.
For those of you out there that beg to differ what the difference is between taking your own family photos with your phone, point and shoot camera or maybe you even have a DSLR, vs hiring an experienced lifestyle photographer to take your photos, then I’m here to tell you there’s a lot! The first and foremost point of mine is that it means you get to be in the frame with the rest of your family and I get to capture your real smile for you to see. I could go on and on about this point in particular, but there’s just so much to say, that I’ll save that for another blog post, another day. Now say you did set up a tripod or you just utilised a friend or even hired a posed portrait photographer, sure, then you might get one or two really good shots, even more if you went with the professional and that’s great, but do these images capture emotion and detail? Do they have a story attached to them that you can draw on to re-live the memory a couple of years later? Remember to tell a story you need a beginning, a middle and an end and that’s pretty much what a lifestyle photographer will capture. An experienced lifestyle photographer understands light in ways that you just don’t and they have learnt how their camera handles it and how they can manipulate it to create beautiful eye catching images. An experienced lifestyle photographer will edit their work, to help draw out as much of the emotion as possible, and lead your eyes directly to the subject or action. Another good point for hiring a lifestyle photographer vs doing it yourself or hiring a posed portrait photographer, is that after your session, you should not feel worn out. You should feel like you’ve just had a nice hour or two connecting with your family without the likes of technology stealing your time. A posed portrait photography session will not offer that connection, and likely have more stress attached to it as the children act up because they’re being told to do something that is NOT fun.
Never the less I know I have used newborn photography as the common theme throughout this blog post just to keep it all tied in, but I could have easily put the same message across using mummy + me photography or family photography sessions, just telling a different story from my past learnings. Lifestyle photography is where my heart is and it brings me so much happiness when I get to deliver your final galleries. So if there is anything you can take away from this - it is to seriously consider hiring a lifestyle photographer for your next family or newborn photography session. Save the posed stuff for your modelling or acting portfolios.