With lifestyle photography it’s all about getting the family poses to appear ‘natural’.
Of course this can be a challenge if you have excitable kids, bad light and nervous parents. There’s a lot to consider, but don’t panic you’ve got this! The key to any great shoot is to create natural looking shots of all the family – which any great photographer will tell you, aren’t always natural! Family portraits with all the family looking relaxed and happy are the images that REALLY sell, so it’s definitely one to master from the offset.
It’s always good to have a handful of easy-to-achieve, professional looking shots that you know you’ve got in the bag and are your GO TO shots before you start getting creative.
The key when you are starting out is to memorise your favourite poses that you feel confident in achieving successfully in almost any situation, and then practice, practice, practice repeatedly and know how to work them into any location.
Remember, you don’t have to have everyone looking at the camera for the shot to be successful. Children have a difficult time looking natural as soon as they see the camera, so it’s best to engage them naturally and shoot as the action takes place. Get one or both of the parents – to stand behind you and be silly… making them laugh. This way it looks like they are looking in the direction of your camera but actually they are naturally laughing at Dad pulling funny faces or telling silly jokes. One thing for sure is you never ever ask a child to smile…. and you also politely encourage the parents to never ask them to smile either – that is a sure fire way to achieve the opposite of natural!
By genuinely finding some action that you can encourage your family to authentically create, and when you create that with your ideal backdrop in your ideal lighting situation, then you have mastered the natural family photograph…. one that will sell time and time again. Finding something the family can sit on climb on, such as a gate or a fence or a fallen log gets them into action mode. With Mum & Dad involved the children are more likely to engage happily and naturally, so it’s always best to start with full family photos before moving on to shots of the kids together and individually.
To create genuine lifestyle photography images, you need to work hard at capturing authentic moments. Avoid using staged props and over styled poses – use natural light and find a location that the family knows well and will feel comfortable in. Your direction on the overall final ‘look’ of the photography should be subtle yet impactful – so direct the action rather than the actual pose. Anticipate every moment, and be ready with your camera set with the best settings, to capture the moments as they happen. We will cover the best settings in another blog post but you can start by watching Getting Out of Auto Mode Part 1 for some tips.
Pay close attention to the details – the lighting, the background, the overall composition – but most importantly when you are starting out focus on the faces and making sure they are sharp. This will draw the viewer into the image, and this is how you create authentic, natural photos your clients will love. We cannot emphasise enough – it’s all about practice in the early days to master the basics before getting more playful and creative.