Lifestyle Portraits - 3 compelling ways they’re better than traditional portraits, by Geelong photographer Michelle McKay

 

 
A stunning lifestyle portrait, photographed in a standard backyard in Geelong, Victoria 

A stunning lifestyle portrait, photographed in a standard backyard in Geelong, Victoria 

 

Lifestyle photography - especially the more photojournalistic style of storytelling photography - is fairly new to Geelong, the city where I live. For this reason, when I find myself chatting with people about what I do, I get a lot of questions. 

People are intrigued and interested in the style (I think lifestyle photographs resonate with us all), but before having seen it, they sometimes struggle with visualising what the session will be like, and more importantly, what they’ll have to show for it when all is said and done.

Quality family photographs are an investment, so understandably people crave the reassurance they’ll end up with a product that’s not only beautiful, but also something they’d like to frame, or send to grandma. 

This is a primary reason some people tend to turn to traditional portraiture. It somehow feels safer - they can guess from the onset what they’re going to get.

However, although they might initially seem more unpredictable, the portraits resulting from a lifestyle photography session may just be more valuable, more meaningful and no less framable than your standard traditional portrait.

Let me explain...


 
When we step back and allow a child to be themselves, we are so often surprised and rewarded by stunning results.

When we step back and allow a child to be themselves, we are so often surprised and rewarded by stunning results.

 

1. Lifestyle portraits show your child’s personality.

Sometimes I’ll capture your child smiling. 

Sometimes I’ll find them lost in thought, staring off into space. 

Sometimes they’ll be laughing, or other times the favourite photograph will be of them pulling a face that is so completely them that when you see it, you'll feel like someone has taken your very heart in their hands.

Always, I will manage a photograph of their gorgeous face, their lovely large eyes looking right back at me, their sweet features frozen for all of time.

Always, this face will be the one you best recognise. 

The one you have kissed tens of thousand of times. 

The one that’s etched in your mind and your soul and your heart for all eternity.


 
Lifestlye portraits may not *always* show your little one smiling, but that's okay. They may just show you something more.

Lifestlye portraits may not *always* show your little one smiling, but that's okay. They may just show you something more.

 

2. Environmental portraits tell us about your child and their life.

Traditional portraits are often shot in a studio space, or else a pretty field, found by the photographer for the purposes of your shoot.

You’ll have never been there before and you’ll likely never return.

It will bear no significance to you and your family outside of being the backdrop to your annual family portrait.

The benefit of a storytelling session is the portraits we capture will be environmental portraits.

This is when a portrait is taken in the subject's own environment. It’s special, as it not only captures the subject authentically, but it also tells us something about their life. 

It may be in your child’s bedroom, on the trampoline, it could be a portrait of them draped over the back of the sofa. 

Maybe it’s at the park on the corner of your street, or the beach where you’ve spent every summer evening since the day they learned to walk.

Wherever it occurs, it will show us something about the life your little one lived on that day, during that time in their beautiful ordinary life.

And it will exist forever. For you and for them.

Only gaining value as the years fly on.


 
They may not be smiling for the camera, but this photograph tells it's own story. 

They may not be smiling for the camera, but this photograph tells it's own story. 

 

 

3. Lifestyle portraits are not captured under duress.

In other words, you child will be their happiest, most relaxed self. 

Having your family photographed is something that is so often considered a stressful ordeal. 

You wrangle your children into outfits they don't like, take them somewhere unfamiliar, and then spend the next hour or two instructing them to ‘stand still!’ and ‘smile!’ and ‘hug your sister!’  - all the while feeling a little bit bad and more than a little bit stressed yourself.

Lifestyle portraits aren't taken this way.

And it shows.

When you have an in-home storytelling session, I come to you. 

Your children are in their own environment. 

They’ll show me their cubby, their cool toys, their favourite hidey-hole behind the garden shed where they hoard their best treasures. 

They’ll bounce on their bed and ride their bike and show off a little bit by jumping off the side of the sofa.

They’ll be comfortable. Relaxed.

Authentically themselves.

And I’ll be there to capture it.

 

If you’e the kind of family who appreciates something a little different, a little unconventional, lifestyle portraits are for you.

If you’re a family who hope to keep a record of this time and this life and this story, lifestyle portraits are for you. 

If you want to remember your children as they are - if you want photographs that capture the essence and the heart and the very nature of them?

Lifestyle portraits are for you.


 
Lifestyle portraits need not be conventional, either. But let's save that idea for another day. ; )

Lifestyle portraits need not be conventional, either. But let's save that idea for another day. ; )

 

Are you in Geelong or Melbourne and looking for a family photographer who can help to tell your story? Get in touch to secure a Family Storytelling Session for your own little tribe here