How do you decorate your home? How do you choose to fill the walls in your favorite spaces? Do you have that perfect statement piece with just the right colors to accent the room, or perhaps a scene that calms you or fills you with joy when you look at it? Do you hang photographs? School pictures? In my home growing up, my mother had a hallway filled with photo collage frames. The frames contained images of all of our friends and family. Everyone loved being in that hallway. Those images were snapshots of our lives. The pictures took us back to the happy memories they captured whenever we looked at them.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love a good traditional "look-at-the-camera-and-smile" portrait with an authentic expression. I keep albums with my children's school pictures and more formal, milestone portraits. When I look at them, it helps me to remember what my children looked like and see their growth. But what I love to fill my home with, is art. Personal art that reflects my story. Lifestyle photography encapsulates those memories that tug at my heart strings in a way that no other style of art can. Something about the way it moves beyond simply capturing how things looked, to preserve emotions, personalities, and relationships. I love how it melds everyday life moments with light and emotion. These are the moments I choose to hang on my walls.
1. It's laid back, fun and easy! Let's face it; photo sessions can be stressful. Choosing outfits, getting everyone dressed, ready, and out the door on time, trying to make everyone behave, sit still, smile, and look at the camera without blinking all at the same time is a lot of work. Now imagine skipping all of that. You have permission to stay home, drink coffee, maybe even wear your pajamas, while your photographer comes to you. No one has to look at the camera, and they will probably be smiling or laughing while they are being photographed, because they will be relaxed and truly enjoying themselves. Oh, and you will still end up with beautiful, artistic images at the end.
2. It tells the best parts of your story. While there are other genres of photography that tell your story, Lifestyle photography can tell the best parts. You and your photographer work together to decide how best to weave the most memorable, important, fun parts of your story into a tapestry of images. If morning coffee and evenings baths are on your list of things that you never want to forget, or perhaps a trip to the local book store or even Target, you can work together to make sure these things get incorporated into your story with the best possible light, during the best time.
3. It's authentic. There is a huge difference between the 'say cheese' smile, and a genuine one. While I know it's possible to get a real expression from a child in a studio session (I have done it many times before), I think most people would agree it's much easier to get a real smile if you ask a child to play with their toys, have a tickle war, or jump on their parents bed. And just because you moved 7pm bath time to 10am for better light, doesn't mean the baby smiles and splashes will be any less genuine. A fun and easy experience for the kids means a more relaxed you, which translates to real smiles and laughter!
1. Have a shot list. I like to find out what someone's 'lifestyle' consists of. What makes the list of things you never want to forget? This list could include everyday tasks such as bath time, cooking a meal, reading books, nursing or rocking the baby, drinking coffee, playing in the snow, or it could include special activities like a trip to Target, Barnes and Nobles, or going out for ice cream. What little things will you miss the most someday? For me, I love how my youngest is always on my hip or at my feet looking up at me. He loves to get into our bottom kitchen drawer and pull out the spatulas. (These things actually annoy me as well, but I know one day I will miss them so.) I love way my daughter cuddles her 'b' (her blanket) fiercely and the way my oldest loves to read with me and is constantly in motion. Cuddling in bed or on the couch, jumping on furniture (I know it's probably not allowed, but they do it anyway, right?), those adorable red cowgirl boots that won't fit forever... what makes your list of must have documented memories?
2. Have an In-home consultation before your session. Even in my own home, I am constantly checking light. In a clients home, I have to see it to get a vision before I can shoot. A few weeks before a session, I will go to a client's home and discuss their list in person, as we go room to room deciding where the best light is and what rooms we will use during the session. If you're like me and the thought of someone coming over stresses you out because you'll have to clean... relax. While there is a difference between purposeful clutter and messy clutter, my house is filled with messy clutter most of the time, so I am NOT one to judge. If the only thing keeping you from a lifestyle session is a messy house, we will work around it. I use three methods to deal with the clutter; Incorporate the clutter into the story, shove it all out of the way/pile it into a corner, or photoshop it out. The last method is my least favorite, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. If you're one of those amazing moms who always has a clean house, the 'clutter' part doesn't apply to you and we can talk about when you're available to come clean my house next... (kidding!)
3. Let everything go. Your children don't have to behave, your hair doesn't have to be perfect, no one has to look at the camera and smile. Just let it all go and embrace the moment. Enjoy each others company and just connect with each other. That connection is what makes the most powerful images. Those moments are what makes up your story. Be in your memories.
Why lifestyle photography? For me, the answer is simple. Because it's genuine. Because I want my favorite parts of my story told. Because if not now, when? Every time I blink, someone popped a tooth or lost one, grew another size, moved up a grade, or learned how to pronounce the letter "L" correctly. They are growing so fast, my heart aches just thinking about it. I want it all to slow down and last forever. I'm sad that it can't, but I'm glad to have these images of their youth forever.