11 Lifestyle Photography Tips

by Paul Skidmore
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lifestyle photography

Lifestyle photography can be tricky – this genre of photography has no set guidelines or end results. It can encompass a wide variety of photo types and inspires great creativity.

In essence, lifestyle photography aims to capture the natural actions and behaviors of humans. These could be specific milestone events such as birthdays, weddings, or anniversaries. Alternatively, it could just be something simple like a family trip to the beach or natural shots at their home.

Lifestyle photography is often used commercially – individuals and families may pay for photoshoots to capture special moments. Photographers may also naturally take lifestyle shots when using their camera – it is a discipline of photography that presents many unexpected opportunities.

Despite the vagueness of this genre, there is a host of commonly used lifestyle photography tips. You can use certain techniques and skills to improve your lifestyle photography and we have listed 10 useful hacks below:

1. Understand the purpose and aim of the photos

For each instance you take lifestyle photos, there is a purpose. It is important to understand this purpose so that you can have in mind what effect you want to achieve. Moreover, this allows you to tailor the setup and take specific photos to achieve your desired results.

Even if you are simply testing your camera and taking some photos of your family, it still pays to think about what you want to achieve. There are many different purposes – wedding shots of the happy couple, children playing together, or a baby taking their first steps, for example. Be aware of WHY you are taking these photos.

2. Ensure the involved people have something to do

The main aim of lifestyle photography is to create natural shots with natural behavior. The shots can be posed like a school photo, but generally, the movements should be free. To facilitate this type of photography, it is therefore important that the participants have something to do. There is nothing worse than trying to take photos of natural behavior when the people involved are simply stood looking blankly at you.

Give them an activity. Provide them with props and objects to interact with. You could even organize a specific outing like a walk through the local park, or playing a board game in their home.

3. Consider the surrounding environment

Whilst lifestyle photography concentrates on individuals and their actions, consideration must be given to the surroundings. Consider this – even if you zoom in on a child playing, there will still be a background area framing the child.

What can you see in the background? Is there anything that looks out of place? Are there any objects that would detract attention from the child? Look at the whole photo and don’t get lost on the human element. The best lifestyle photos have a fantastic balance of natural human behavior that takes place in a suitable surrounding.

4. Lighten the atmosphere and encourage natural behavior

For commercial work, lifestyle photography can be awkward. The people involved may be nervous. Furthermore, they may not really know what is expected or how to behave. It is your job as a photographer to lighten the mood and make them feel comfortable.

Do whatever you can do instill positivity and excitement in the participants. Crack a joke, have a laugh with them – talk to them on a personal level and show that you are just another approachable human.

5. Look at natural lighting

As with any type of photography, natural lighting is essential. Natural lighting creates vivid photos. Furthermore, it adds depth and interesting features such as shadows, lens flare, and reflections. With lifestyle photography, you have to consider the lighting and act accordingly.

You cannot expect the subjects to move to accommodate improved lighting conditions. You must move instead and figure out the best angles to maximize light. Be active – don’t stay static.

pretty woman lifestyle photo
6. Anticipate behavior and be ready to shoot

One of the best lifestyle photography tips we can give is to stay alert and be ready to shoot. Obviously, you cannot keep asking the participants to perform their actions repeatedly. You must be ready – it is your responsibility to capture these moments and be ready for whatever opportunity presents itself.
Try to anticipate the different actions and behavior. Think about what they may do next, or what the consequences could be of a specific action. This takes time and concentration.


7. Take photos before and after the action

Sometimes you may miss the actual action even if you are concentrating. It is therefore important to try and take photos before and after a specific action. This ensures that you have a greater chance of capturing specific moments. Furthermore, the moments before and after can often lead to fantastic photo opportunities in their own right. This follows on from the tip we have listed below – turning your camera to burst mode.

8. Consider using burst mode on your camera

A DSLR camera has a range of different shooting modes. It is prudent to test these shooting modes out and use them to your advantage. One particular mode that is beneficial for lifestyle photography is burst shooting mode. This camera setting takes a series of photos in sequence.
All you have to do is press and hold the shutter and the camera will continuously shoot at defined intervals. Using this mode allows the photographer to capture action sequences with greater detail. Instead of taking one shot, and risk it being unusable, you can take multiple shots using burst mode, and choose the best photo afterward.

9. Try to tell a story through your photos

Exceptional lifestyle photographers can create a story through their images. They can create a sequence of photos that effectively show what the moment and event was all about. Furthermore, they can convey ideas and paint a picture for the viewer. This is what you must strive to do in your lifestyle photography.

Think carefully about the purpose like we mentioned before. You can then start to craft a story idea in your mind and take photos that contribute to this overall theme. For example, you could build up a story of a fun family outing at the beach. This could start with photos of the car being packed in a haphazard fashion, and continue with shots of the anticipation building in the car. You could then use photos to show the sheer joy and fun the family had at the beach and in the glorious weather.


10. Look for different perspectives

Finally, perspectives are hugely important in lifestyle photography. As a creative photographer, you must try and look for unique perspectives. Furthermore, you should strive to take photos from a myriad of different angles. This gives your photos a variety. Moreover, it ensures that you capture a wide variety of behavior and actions. Don’t simply stand in one position and shoot from shoulder height.


Lifestyle photography gives both the photographer and the participants a heap of fun. And that in itself is the key – lifestyle photography should be fun. It shouldn’t be forced, or a chore – it should be natural and everyone involved should have a fantastic experience.

Put these tips into practice and test out your lifestyle photography skills. You don’t have to organize a professional photoshoot. The next time you are with friends or family, take your camera – make them aware that you wish to take some pics and have some fun. Small steps like this can help improve both your confidence and your photography skills.

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