What the heck is lifestyle photography, anyway?

When you decide you want photos taken and start searching for a photographer, you’ll probably come across terms like: lifestyle, documentary, photojournalistic – but what do these even mean??

Well have I got you covered! I’m going to break down the different styles and terminology so you can find the perfect photographer for you.

What style of photography is best for you? A toddler makes a cute confused face and throws her hands in the air.

We’ll start with the most basic question: Do you want posed photos? Or more candid?

If you’re looking for picture perfect photos, you may want to search for “studio” or “posed” photography.

We’re talking pictures of everyone smiling at the camera, most likely wearing matching outfits; babies asleep in a basket with their hands tucked perfectly under their chins; or actor headshots with paper backdrops and studio lights.

If this is the style you’re looking for, I can absolutely help point you in the right direction, but between us, I don’t think I’m the right fit for you. And that’s totally ok!

If you’re leaning more toward candid, unposed, and moment-based photography – and my guess is that you are, since you ended up on my page! – that’s where you’ll want to start searching for “lifestyle” or “documentary” work.

A fall family lifestyle session. A mother holds her newly adopted baby daughter and looks to her right at her husband who is carrying their son on his shoulders.

Both lifestyle and documentary photographers look to capture those in-between moments in life, like when kids are dancing and parents are laughing. They capture those quiet, sometimes subtle, moments of real life.

And while the look of lifestyle and documentary photography are similar, the biggest difference to me is the level of involvement from the photographer themself.

As a lifestyle photographer, I’m an active participant! I’ll set you up in an aesthetically pleasing way and then give you prompts and games to play so that you breathe life into the photos. 

A collage of photos from a lifestyle newborn session, taken outdoors in Ohio. In one photo a mother cuddles her two young daughters. In a detail photo, a middle sister with adorably messy hair counts her new baby brother's fingers. A candid photo of the whole family. Another detail shot of the oldest sister holding her newborn baby brother.

And here’s the thing: I’m still going to capture those pictures of everyone looking at the camera and smiling. I know how important those are too. Just because you pick a lifestyle photographer doesn’t mean you’ll *only* get the candids! But know that the priority on a shoot with me is all about having fun and being perfectly imperfect. I want to capture those in-between moments of joy so you have that memory in a photo. 

You can still having smiling photos at a lifestyle photography session! The same family from before is pictured in a wide group shot where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling, and the bottom photo is a close up of the two young daughters smiling right to the camera.

Someone who is strictly documentary or photojournalistic is going to be more hands off. They will likely follow along like a true fly on the wall, capturing little moments as they go. Your session might be more activity-based, and your photographer won’t pose you or give you direction, but simply watch as your life plays out as authentically as possible.

A few snapshots from documentary-style photography sessions. The top photo is a wide shot of a boy and his father playing with toys in the middle of their living room floor. The middle two photos are of a mother brushing her daughter's hair and painting with her. The bottom photo is of a toddler girl running away from her parents with a balloon tied to her wrist.

So if you’re still unsure, just ask yourself:
Do you want someone to wipe the drool off your kid’s cheek?
Someone to be honest with you if your bedspread and your pillows clash with your outfit?
Someone to quickly pick up the trash on the floor?
Someone to tell you if your hand looks awkward or your husband’s socks have holes in them?

If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, you may want to look into a lifestyle photographer, someone like me! So pop into my inbox and let’s chat about what to expect before, during, and after your lifestyle session.

For Clients




What the heck is lifestyle photography, anyway?

  1. […] I am super hands on!!! Like I’ve said before, as a lifestyle photographer I’m an active participant in each session. […]

  2. […] is the must-have newborn photo we’re all here for! Whether you’re interested in a studio shoot or lifestyle work, a newborn session isn’t complete without at least one perfect portrait of your […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *