Indianapolis Lifestyle Photographer | What is Lifestyle Photography?

Indianapolis Lifestyle Photographer | casey and her camera

You’ve seen and head the words ‘family photographer’ and ‘lifestyle photographer’ tossed around. You’ve heard of this type of photography before, but you’ve never tried it. You’ve searched online for an Indianapolis Lifestyle Photographer and an Indianapolis Family Photographer, you’ve emailed a couple of them, you’ve even gone through the list of what to ask before booking a photographer questions. The photographers you’ve been communicating with have described their style as ‘documentary’ or ‘photo journalism’ or ‘story-telling’. You like the way their images look, but you’re really not sure what Lifestyle Photography is and whether or not it’s for you.

Indianapolis Lifestyle Photographer | casey and her camera

You know you need some updated family photos – it’s been a year since your last set were taken and the kids have grown significantly in that year. Plus, it’s always nice to have some updated pictures of you and your spouse. You want to get some good ones of the family that you can use for greeting or holiday cards, and you have a spot planned out on the living room wall for this year’s canvas.

So how do you know if you want to book a lifestyle session or family session? If you do try lifestyle photography, how do you know it’s for you?

Lifestyle Photography

From the photographer’s perspective: Lifestyle photography is more candid. As a lifestyle photographer, I coordinate with families in advance of our scheduled session to ‘set the scene’. We choose a couple of activities that are significant to them and plan our time more like a get-together than a photo session. Images are more natural – they tell the story of the memories these families are creating. They are actively engaged during the shoot and aren’t focused on the camera. Images are more artistic – they focus more on capturing the emotion than on capturing a portrait. Lifestyle sessions capture moments in time that are natural, everyday, and real.

Now, that’s not to say there is no preparation involved in a lifestyle photography. These sessions are often held at the client’s home or at a location that they frequent (a museum, park, cafe, etc.). Backgrounds should be cleared of clutter if sessions are held at the home and lighting is key. Rooms with big windows are always a plus. 😉

Indianapolis Lifestyle Photographer | casey and her camera

On a personal note: As a lifestyle photographer, I typically recommend lifestyle photography to couples or families with younger kids. It’s more natural, more comfortable, and a lot less stress on the parents if kids are involved. Lifestyle sessions are active, fast-paced, with a lot of energy and movement. They are especially popular during the winter months when families want updated portraits but the weather outside is… less than ideal. Lifestyle photography is also perfect for couples without kids who want photos of them without the feel of an ‘engagement’ shoot.

Indianapolis Lifestyle Photographer | casey and her camera

Since I always check in with the client before shooting – I find out what they want out of their shoot, how they plan to use their images, etc. – I can always shoot a handful of ‘posed’ or ‘set-up’ portraits for the holiday cards or grandparent’s gift if they need a few shots.

Family Photography

From the photographer’s perspective: Family photography is more planned – more posed – but it doesn’t have to be ALL posed. As a family photographer, I work with client’s in advance of our shoot to pick a location that fits what they are looking for. Holiday photos can be done at Christmas tree farms, family photos are awesome in the fall against colorful foliage, couple portraits held are private and romantic spots in nature create emotional portraits. There is more direction at a family session – more attention paid to angles and chin tilts. Families are set up carefully to create proper spacing (or lack thereof), lines that draw the viewer into the subject of the image. There is more time spent making sure the lighting is hitting accurately on the subject’s face and set ups are often shot at several different angles to get variation before changing poses. Participants will ‘hold’ a certain expression or stance to ensure the image is achieved.

However, that doesn’t mean that family sessions need to feel ‘stiff’ or ‘lifeless’. Every image doesn’t have to have the subjects looking directly into the camera or with a perfectly smiling face. Interaction, touch, motion, and expression are key to making a family session feel natural and produce powerful results.

Indianapolis Family Photographer | casey and her camera

On a personal note: As a family photographer, I recommend family photography to families who are looking to have updated shots of each of the kids (individual shots), a couple of family portraits for cards, prints, canvases, etc. (group shots – standing, sitting, etc.) and variations of the groups of the family (a shot of all the kids, a shot of mom and the girls, or dad and the boys, or any combination in between). I run through a mental checklist during family sessions making sure we’ve covered every grouping of individuals so the family has the most well-rounded approach.

Indianapolis Family Photographer | casey and her camera

Of course, my style often creates a sort-of ‘lifestyle’ feel within a family session. I like to chop off heads in compositions, crave eye contact and physical interaction between my subjects, and seek to create images that speak on behalf of the emotion in the moment.

In conclusion, always ask questions, ask to see samples of work, and be open with your photographer about what you want out of the session and what you are comfortable with. There’s no reason you can’t have the best of both worlds.


casey and her camera is an Indianapolis Lifestyle Photographer specializing in family, couple, lifestyle, senior, and wedding photography for Indianapolis, Indiana and the surrounding areas.

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