What is Lifestyle/Documentary Photography?

IMG-54 *warning: long post :)

Have you ever had a portrait session that went well? One where you got your photos (or digital files) and while you really did love the images, there was just something missing? I could have even been the photographer. It is ok! Maybe the images were perfect technically, but you just felt like something was missing. That is where lifestyle or documentary photography comes in. Lifestyle is a little more directed while documentary photography is really showcasing your everyday life with no direction from the photographer. I relate documentary as more of a photojournalistic approach. Personally, I prefer an in-between approach. These styles may not be for everyone and there is nothing wrong with having a perfectly posed portrait, if that is what you want.

2015-03-06_0002Morning TV on Couch

Let's think back to when we were growing up. Try listing some of the most memorable moments you had as a child and some memorable moments you have had with your own children. These memorable moments are most likely (with a few exceptions) from everyday ordinary activities. When I think back to growing up I remember the trail rides my dad & I took on the weekends. Or camping at Deep Valley with my family and neighbors. I think of all the time I spent playing at Granny Georgie's. Such as the snow days where all the neighbor's kids would stay at her house and play cards and other games for several days. Or the board games played with my sister and parents. Memorable moments with my son include things like feeding the animals, playing in the dirt or at the shelter, the way he "farms" with his little tractors on the couch, going to the ball park to play on the play ground. In my life, these are the moments I want to capture and remember. It has, however, taken me awhile to realize this.


Currently, I am working on updating my portfolio to show more of this type of photo. What I want to do for my clients is capture these everyday seemingly ordinary moments. Now, some people may be wondering how these are different than regular snapshots. The truth is the subject matter may be the same as in snapshots. However, the actual images will be much more. By using different photography techniques such as learning to see and use the best light, the most ordinary of activities can be captured in an extraordinary way.