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Just Say No to Posing: Why I Prefer Lifestyle Photography
Whenever I meet with potential clients, I always emphasize the fact that I am a lifestyle photographer working in natural light. Translation: I capture moments, and not fakey fakey smiles. I also tell my clients that my love of lifestyle photography stems from years of going on family vacation whereby I was prompted to stand in front of a monument/mountain/fountain/waterfall and smile. Case in point, check out Exhibit A below. Please pardon the quality - I was too lazy to scan it, so I took a picture of the picture with my iPhone.
This was taken in 1989, when I was 10 (quick, do the math to figure out my age!), at Niagara Falls.
Fast-forward to 2013, and our recent Alaskan cruise. One of the things about this cruise is that there were photographers EVERYWHERE. I'm sure that this is true of most cruises, but I suspect that photographers are even more prevalent because every, there were scheduled times in which children (and adults) could line up to take photos with their favorite Disney characters. In addition to the character photos, you could have your photos taken before boarding the boat, before dinner, at dinner, after dinner, and on deck in front of the beautiful scenery.
One of my sister-in-law's goals for the cruise was to have formal family portraits done, with a dress code to boot: blue tops and khaki-colored pants. It is no secret that this isn't my style, but I still rolled with it. :) And since we were already all dressed up after taking our big family formal photo, my hubby, daughter, and I also got formal portraits done of the three of us. The end result...
It's cute and all, but something bothered me about it. And it wasn't until I posted it on my personal FB page that a friend pointed out what had been nagging at me all along. The smiles were fake! And I ultimately ended up taking this down from my personal FB page because this photo doesn't represent my family's style, or my own photographic style, for that matter. That and there's a total lack of genuine emotion. For all you know, we were all pissed off at each other and were pretending to be happy. (NOT the case, by the way, but I'm just trying to illustrate a point). Anyway, I respect the fact that different people have different photographic preferences when it comes to family photos. And that's why it's great that there are many different types of photographers out there to meet peoples' needs.
Yet, even for those of us who like the candid and relaxed nature of lifestyle photography, I, as a photographer, have to keep in mind that people still like their "everyone-looking-at-the-camera" pictures. Or, what I like to call the "grandma-and-grandpa" pictures, because many (not all) grandparents EXPECT family photos to have a certain formality to them, and in many cases, that means having everyone looking at the camera. Which is why I will always take a couple of family shots with everyone looking at the camera.
And speaking of looking at the camera, check out another family picture that we had taken while on our cruise.
I actually prefer this one a lot more, because a) it's not at a studio, and b) it's a little more relaxed. Sure, the smiles are somewhat "forced", but they look a lot more natural to me than the formal portrait above, don't you think?
And now, to further illustrate my point, I present you with Exhibit D below, taken with my little point-and-shoot.
It is by far my favorite photo from the entire cruise, and man, does it ever capture emotion! No amount of posing can ever capture this. Can you see the absolute, unconditional love between father and daughter? THAT is what I'm talking about, my friends. I rest my case.
Very cool. The last one made me a bit emotional. I guess that's the sign of a great photo!
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