There's a certain style in photography called "lifestyle". Back in my day (yes, I just said it), we all called that "photo-journalistic" meaning taking pictures of life and moments as they happen. Being a fly on the wall and not interfering too much with your subject. Just allowing life to be life and recording it as it is. This is a style I closely mesh with as I am not into super posy shots when doing my own photos. Of course I do have to pose people and if someone is standing funny, I will tell them. But as a general rule, I try to allow my subjects to do their own thing. A lot of "lifestyle" shoots take place in average settings, like a living room, the park, or any area that a person would generally feel comfortable to be themselves. Since this is one of my preferred ways of shooting (both with clients and on my own) I thought I would discuss some tips to achieving this look naturally.
1. Lighting is key. In case you haven't seen it, I did a guide to Finding your best lighting in every situation. With lifestyle photography, you generally want to keep the lighting completely natural. The above guide will give you some tips for getting just the right light indoors and outdoors. You'll definitely run in to both with lifestyle photography.
2. Wait for the right moment. If need be, don't take a picture for a minute or two. Just keep looking through that viewfinder waiting for the sweet moment to happen. Whether it's a father kissing his child on the cheek, or a girl laughing, lifestyle is all about capturing natural moments.
3. Plan an activity or have your subjects in action. Your subjects will end up too posy if they have nothing to do or keep them busy. Whether it's playing on a swing set, walking through the park, making sandcastles at the beach, etc. Make sure they will actively have something to do.
4. Make sure your subjects know that you are there to observe. If you want them to be looking away from the camera, direct their attention somewhere. Give them another activity to do. If I am shooting a session completely "lifestyle" I usually start by saying, "I'm just here to hang out, you do your thing!"
5. Encourage any sweet moments. Laugh with them to create more laughter. If people hear you laughing or saying "perfect", they will know that their current moments are looking beautiful and they can relax more. Positive reinforcement is always a good thing. Make sure your subjects know that they look great!
6. Details are important. Capturing little details are a big part of lifestyle shooting. If it's a couple hanging out in a coffee shop, snag a picture of them holding their drink. Or a child playing outside, get a shot of their little feet running. It's all about stepping outside of the "posed" mind set and capturing moments.
7. Be sure to always change your perspective. Shoot from above, maybe lie in the grass and shoot, stand on a chair, try it all! It's always good to have a variety.
8. Consider shooting with a more wide angle lens. Lifestyle shots tend to be taken with a wider angle lens allowing for more background to show. Since the shots are all about capturing moments and not necessarily close up portraiture, shooting wide angle is your best bet. My favorite "lifestyle" lens is my 35mm 1.4. It gives me the perfect perspective for my subject. Another alternative is the 35mm 1.8, a very inexpensive lens! If you are unable to shoot with a wide lens, don't fret. Just remember to take a few steps back to see a larger picture. Of course this isn't a rule and you can always do close ups, but it's a good place to start!
9. Keep trying new things. It can be difficult to break outside of that stigma that all photos need to be smiling or look into the camera. Not that that's a bad thing. I still shoot that way too, but knowing that they don't all have to be that way can help you better adapt to shooting in a casual, lifestyle manner.
10. Have fun! Keep it lighthearted and relaxed. Enjoy yourself!