I asked my Facebook followers for feedback on why they would or, more importantly, why they wouldn’t want to book a lifestyle session. I got some really great feedback, which made me stop and think about how I could explain what I do and why I believe it is so important. And not always what you expect.
First of all, I should explain what lifestyle photography is exactly. There are lots of different interpretations, but for me a lifestyle session means less posing and more real moments. I love to shoot families, kids, whoever, just doing something together. I still direct (I’ll get into that in more detail in another post), but for the most part it’s totally relaxed. There are no backdrops, no fancy props, no fancy clothes, just your family maybe in a place that means something to you (your home, an outdoor location etc). You may have heard about documentary or storytelling sessions too, which to me means no posing or direction at all.
Now that you understand what a lifestyle session is, I’m going to address some of the concerns that came up from my fans. This post is all about one of my favourite locations to shoot, in your home. I have shot a few in-home lifestyle sessions now, and I shoot a LOT in my own home. So I know that there are some challenges. But I also know that they are not deal breakers. I’d go as far as to say they are myths, because they really aren’t problems at all. I can work with pretty much any home, no matter what you may think its limitations are.
#1. I hear it all the time. “My house is so messy!” or “I just don’t want to (or have time to) clean up before a session.”
Guess what? Who cares? I sure don’t. If you are thinking about booking an in-home lifestyle session that probably means you want to document your life. Maybe you’ve seen my photos of my kids bathed in window light or jumping on the bed, and thought you want that for yourself or your own kids. Well you know what else? My house is NOT clean all the time. Not even close. And I don’t go on a big cleaning spree right before I take pictures. Sure, I might move some things out of the way or toss the dirty laundry in the closet, but for the most part what you see is what you get.
It would be the same at your house. We can do a quick tidy before we start shooting, but I believe that the “mess” just means you are living there and it’s part of your story. These are YOUR photos after all, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.
#2. “I worry that my house is too dark and the mismatched colours wouldn’t look good.”
That is definitely a valid concern. I hated taking photos in our last house because it was so dark. Until I starting looking for the light. There is always light, even in the darkest homes. Before a lifestyle session I send my clients a questionnaire. It helps me get to know you, but also helps me get to know your home. I want to know what your favourite rooms are, where you spend most of your time, and where the best light is. Most people don’t observe light the way a photographer does, but just pay attention to it throughout the day and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that there is light where you might not expect it.
My very favourite lens to shoot with is a 35 mm lens that is amazing in low light situations, and a camera that can handle the dark too. I do make a point of shooting near windows if possible and I find angles that work the best and turn off artificial lights that might create ugly colour casts. I try to create images that are natural but with the help of a bit of direction and taking the light into consideration.
If the colours are distracting I have an easy fix – convert to black and white. I LOVE lifestyle photos in black and white. By converting to BW, you strip away all of the distraction and leave only the emotion, the connection, the details that matter.
#3. “But my house is so small!”
This is an easy one. Yes, tiny rooms are not ideal for shooting in, but it really doesn’t matter to me. My amazing low light lens is also wide angle, so it’s perfect for small spaces as well as close up detail shots. I love getting in close to capture things like the freckles on your daughter’s nose or your son’s hands as he colours. Some images will not show any of the room at all. I shoot from many different angles to get the best shot as well as the creative shot.
Below are some examples of images I have shot indoors. Read the descriptions to get an idea of what I was going for in each set. I hope you can see that the concerns you may have are not really a problem, because what does matter is the memories you are making.
Read the others posts in this series:
These first shots have all been converted to black and white. Some because I wanted to take away the distraction of colours and focus on the moment being captured. Others just seemed to make sense as black and white because of the light or the moment itself.
This image is an example of when I converted to black and white because there were so many distracting elements in the background that didn’t contribute to the story at all. In the final edit your eye is drawn to the light on her face instead of the background.
I took this image when I was going upstairs and saw the light streaming in, and Grace standing right in the middle of it singing. Sometimes things just work perfectly for a beautiful image.
These shots are proof that a messy or small house doesn’t really matter, and in many cases can add to the story you want to tell. Playtime, clean up after supper, bath time, they are real moments in my life that I wanted to document. If I had waited until my house was clean I would never have these images.
This is an example of a simple way I use window light for a beautiful portrait. I love to sit children next to a window and give them something to do while I snap away.
These two black and white images were taken in the same room just minutes apart. I can create a completely different effect depending on where and how I shoot.
This was one of my favourite in-home sessions because I got to just follow this sweet girl around as she played and “helped” with her baby brother. I used window light as much as I could, and positioned myself in the best place to catch the moments without losing the effect of the light.
Interested in your own in-home session? Get in touch!