Using Lifestyle Photography at Home

Lifestyle photography is an absolutely ideal way to photograph your own life and family.

As a professional portrait photographer for many years, I found that when I first had my son it was so tempting for me to take “portrait” style photos of him every time the camera came out. I wanted him smiling at the camera and the perfect shot.  It was only after developing this course in beta (clear back in 2010 for my local community) that I grasped the value of shooting this way in my home life.  This class transformed my entire approach and vision of photography.

  • Imagine a home life where the camera comes out, but nobody notices…because no one is being instructed to pose or look at the camera.
  • Imagine a home life where the camera comes out, and everyone gets excited…because it means that they get to keep having fun playing or doing their projects.
  • Imagine a home life where the camera comes out, and you end up discovering beauty and blessings in the small details because you’re not only focused on photographing people.

I strongly believe that lifestyle photography can be a powerful tool for building relationships in our homes.  But there are a few rules that have to apply!

1.  Keep it real.

The moment we start giving posing directions, tell people to look at the camera, make elaborate sets or stylize things…our chances of authenticity are reduced.  I still love shots of people looking at the camera, but I’ve learned to intentionally interact through questions, jokes, stories, conversation, and games in order to get them.  You can do the same for posing. Never give direction like it’s “direction”.  The more real you make the experience, the more authentic the expressions you’ll get and the more cooperation and positive feelings will be present for the experience.

2.  Have realistic expectations.

Not everyone will always be in the mood to interact.  Forcing people to participate who are not interested never brings a good picture. It usually brings tears, yelling, and conflict.  If I have a difficult personality that I’m working with I usually turn my attention to focusing on photographing details, other people,  or take a quiet approach and photograph them from a distance.

Sometimes I have to be careful that I AM NOT THE ONE WHO GETS TEARS AND YELLS!  

If my expectations are such that I have a specific vision of the photos that I want and they’re not happening because of the lack of cooperation of those around me, I need to take a chill pill and remember that this isn’t what it’s all about.

The real purpose of these photos is to create memorable experiences together.  Not to create photo’s that force perfection at the mercy of everyone’s happiness.  

The goal is to have my family look at the pictures and say, “I remember that day! We had so much fun jumping on the trampoline while you took those pictures and video…”

I’ll be honest. This has been a growing process for me. The first photo/video that I made was my Music Time video that you’ll see posted below.  What you see is the good moments. What you don’t see, is all the video footage of me yelling at my son because he was about to knock down the tri-pod, or he wasn’t dancing in the right part of the frame, or he wasn’t staying in the room.  (There’s no better parent reform than seeing yourself on video being upset!).  I really learned a lot from that experience and have since had much better experiences as I have learned to just let things be and unfold naturally, and remember that this is about having fun together–not creating perfect photos.

We really do train our children and family in their perspective of photography.We train them to love the time the camera comes out or to hate it.  And it largely depends on how we treat the experience.

If photography experiences in your home up until this point have been less than happy moments, don’t lose hope!  Everyone can be re-conditioned, but it will take some time and some reform on our part as photographers!


Lifestyle Photography at the Snow Home:

Below are some of the ways that I’ve tried to incorporate all the lifestyle principles into my home life photography and videography.  Can you spot the conflict, character, details, point of view, less is more, conceptual contrast, decisive moment, and self portraits?  I’ve had great fun using these same story elements for video. If your camera is capable of video, look for ways you can capture moving footage of those same story principles and watch how the still shots and the video can compliment each other into telling an even greater story!

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