Get started with family photography and more.
If you’re interested in becoming a lifestyle photographer, begin by taking lots of pictures of your friends and family members. Practice taking candid shots and learning what works and what doesn’t. “When you’re starting out, have your camera with you as much as possible,” Rivera says. That way, you’ll start thinking in terms of photos, so whenever you see something that interests you, you can take a picture of it.
As far as subject matter goes, focus on whatever you’re most passionate about. “If it’s the outdoors, get yourself a van and go chase people around who are really good at or passionate about what they do,” says outdoor photographer Justin Bailie. “Focus on people doing real things they care about. That’s how you’re going to make the most authentic photos.”
You can also pursue a job or internship with photographers who are further along in their careers. Bailie started his career with an internship. “Getting to see how somebody with super-high standards works, how they edit, how they talk with clients, and getting to be out in the field with those people, there’s nothing that can replace that.”
When you’re ready to send out your photos, be a ruthless editor. Bailie suggests, especially when you’re just starting out and building that photographer/editor relationship, narrowing down your portfolio to your best 15 or 20 photos to show that you’re mindful of an editor’s or art director’s time.
How to make the most of a shoot.
Lifestyle shoots can feel like high-pressure situations, especially if you’re working for a specific client or facing challenging conditions. Here are some tips for success:
Make sure you understand the assignment. What does the client want from the shoot? Is it clear? Then make a shot list, and have a good idea of the story you want to tell. “I have that information ahead of time so I can prep myself,” says Rivera. “I think of ways to direct the talent. A lot of it is about direction and interacting with the subject.”
Rivera also recommends bringing a bounce, or portable reflector, so you can make use of natural light and reflect it into the scene. It doesn’t hurt to bring a few different lenses either, so you can go wider or tighter as you need. She uses a 35mm wide-angle lens, a 50mm lens, and an 85mm lens for close-up portrait photography. Also, she bumps up her camera’s color temperature to about 6300 K (standard white is 5600 K) to make the scene a little warmer.