Have a look at my portfolio; you won’t see a blank white wall, high key lighting, contrived styles and Anne Geddes style props. That is because I don’t shoot in a studio, instead I choose to shoot entirely on location either at my clients homes and gardens or else in the natural environment wherever that may be.
This genre of photography can go by various terms; environmental photography, on location photography, natural light photography, reportage, documentary and so on. To be honest, it is all the same; that is, natural story telling photography and in my case of children and their families.
There is a difference between this style of photography and a snapshot of course. Depending upon the age of your child, I will direct them towards the most appropriate backdrop and light. I will set them up in a scenario or suggest a game or something to think about. These little things then allow them to have something to do which usually develops. Expressions and emotions are so important as these are the characteristics that make your child and this is what I am trying to capture for you. For family images, there will inevitably be some gentle posing and arranging, but it’s all in an effort to get your personality to come out.
So a snapshot is a grab shot, a good snapshot is that 1 in 100 image that is in focus, has a good background and is sharp and the subject is doing what made you take the image in the first place. A lifestyle shot is capturing life as it happens but through the eyes of someone who is constantly watching for the correct light, the correct background, the correct composition to add drama and art to the photo.
I recognise we all like to have a couple of images where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling, I usually do this as I know they are often favourites with relatives but these are more what I consider as record shots. They don’t necessarily tell the story.
A good lifestyle photograph should warm you from the inside; it should be emotional, it should move you in some way to feel something… and hopefully in 5 or 10 years time bring those memories and feelings back too. And for me, that’s the key.