Lifestyle is a genre of photography that simply aims to capture real-life situations in an artistic manner, producing the perfect representation of a scene in a natural way, reflecting everyday emotions whilst also including elements of the surrounding environment that contribute to the story. Traditionally, lifestyle photography is thought of as a style of relaxed and natural portrait photography but, for me, the perfect lifestyle photographer would generally be required to combine various disciplines of photography, including classic portraiture, photojournalism and landscape/ cityscape photography.
Over the coming pages, I’ll take you through my process of producing original, unique and powerful lifestyle imagery – from the prep work to the shoot and, finally, the delivery and presentation of your work – to produce lifestyle images that will blow your clients away.
PLANNING YOUR SHOOT
Before you pick up your camera, some advance planning and a storyboard will help both you and your client understand the brief
Prior to undertaking any shoot, I like to have a meeting with my clients to brainstorm, and produce a brief and a creative direction that we all agree on. To produce the type of images my client requires, I need to be sure that I fully understand their requirements.
You hear horror stories from clients and photographers, and most of the time it’s due to a lack of communication between the parties. Once you have a clear and precise brief, produce a storyboard for the shoot. For me, it’s one of the most important processes in the planning stages, as it guarantees that I’ve understood what the client wants – they see my storyboard prior to signing off on the shoot. A storyboard also acts as a constant source of direction and creative inspiration throughout the commission.
Finding the right locations for your shoot is imperative to its success. You’ll be looking to evoke a certain feeling or emotion, and the setting plays a huge part in this. Not only do you need to make sure the location is correct, but also the time of day when you’re shooting, so that you can capture the correct ambient lighting in line with the brief and storyboard.
A client will usually have a style or message they’re trying to get across. Remember that you’re shooting for someone else, and it’s not all about what you like, so try and put yourself in their shoes during the creative process.
MANAGE CLIENT EXPECTATIONS
Managing expectations is a trick I’ve learnt to incorporate into my workflow. In such an image-rich world, clients are often, understandably, unaware of what level of images can feasibly be achieved in a particular timeframe. The tendency is to think that it’s just a case of clicking a button, and that almost every shot from a pro should be perfect – as we all know, this isn’t the case. A simple conversation to explain the process, and what’s actually involved in creating their vision, usually goes a long way in managing expectations.
WORK WITH A CREW
You don’t always need a big crew, or even a crew at all, but when you do, my advice is to make sure you spend some time doing your research to find the best people for the job. Everyone will have their own requirements, but I always look for people with experience, a good work ethic and, above all, someone I’m confident I’ll get along with. We’re going to be working long hours together in close quarters, so it’s important that we gel.
CHOOSE YOUR GEAR
There’s no right or wrong setup for shooting lifestyle photography, but a few fundamental items can help you to capture better results
In terms of the kit you use for shooting lifestyle, it’s a matter of what works best for you. Personally, I carry two Nikon Z 7s, with a range of lenses covering everything from 14mm to 200mm.
In general, one camera body will be fitted with a wider-angle lens around the 24-35mm region, and the other with a 70-200mm lens. This allows me to quickly switch my focal lengths depending on the scene.
The main source of lighting for most lifestyle shoots is natural light, but there will be occasions when you need to incorporate a lighting rig into your setup. I carry two Elinchrom BRX 500s with large and strip softboxes to fill light, a range of adaptors to focus the light, and a beauty dish for any portraits that may be required. I also carry a tripod to make sure I have the perfect frame, and that my composition doesn’t change even slightly.
SHOOT A WIDER VIEW Use 24-35mm for a different perspective
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