How I define "lifestyle photography" versus portrait-style photograhy, by Kate Olsen

We all know a portrait when we see one: the family is lined up cleverly, kids in their places in front of the parents, everyone's doing their best to smile and keep their eyes open. The photographer is guiding the family to the right a bit or left, or fixing a loose strand of hair that's escaped, a backing of a necklace that needs to be wound back around the neck. The light is just right or the photographer is doing their best to make it just right. Then everyone holds! and the shot is taken. 

And those shots are lovely. They capture a series of moments when people come together to have their photos taken, their love documented, looking their best, getting their kids to look their best--even if it's a challenge at times. In my personal experience, portraits are usually taken outside of the home, somewhere pretty or interesting that matches the personality or interests of the people being photographed. 

What is lifestyle photography then? I'll share with you my definition of lifestyle photography because just like any art and vision, definitions can change depending on who you're talking to. This definition is not the whole definition or the correct definition, but it's my definition. 

Lifestyle photo sessions have an organic feeling to them. They're usually shot in someone's home where families spend most of their time. Sometimes people like to capture the beauty in the seeming routine of life: making pancakes in the morning in pajamas, putting kids to bed at night and reading books with the family, making and eating a big spaghetti dinner, or just hanging out with the family in the living room being goofy and playing joyfully. And sometimes, instead, they're shot during an event outside the home that was not staged for the sole purpose of having photos taken: a day at the pool; going out for ice cream; visiting a farm and riding horses; going to a pumpkin patch; going Christmas tree shopping. Many times, outfits are not coordinated; people wear what's comfortable and what they'd wear normally for exactly what they're doing. My lifestyle sessions are partially guided when needed and partially documentary. When a family books a lifestyle shoot with me, I help with a little info about what to expect ahead of time so that we can make magic happen naturally. I also at times get in on the fun during a shoot by offering some guidance or ideas to get people to take action they way they naturally would as if I wasn't there, and as the fun escalates, I step back and capture the moments as the emerge. 

To me, both lifestyle and portrait-style photography are beautiful, joyful and special. Portraits usually are still and sharp with well-chosen lighting. Lifestyle photos can have movement, blur, are not always perfect, but they always have heart. They tell a story and sometimes leave others asking for more details. I seem to be a person who can't decide what I love more (in many areas of my life), as a result, my portrait sessions have many candid moments captured and my lifestyle sessions also have posed shots. For me personally, I would do a family session twice a year--one portrait-style and one lifestyle, then switch the order of the type of shoot for the next time. Investing in capturing special moments of your life with those you love by a professional is never something you'll regret. So, I hope this helped define lifestyle photography a little bit, or my version of it. Feel free to contact me with any additional or lingering questions. (Oh! And friends, don't forget to PRINT your photos. Do it. Fill your spaces with memories of all the love and joy in your life.) K thanks bye!