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Lifestyle Photography 101: Everything You Need to Know

Lifestyle Photography 101: Everything You Need to Know

Lifestyle Photography continues to trend in 2018. Authenticity is what the industry is looking for, not just personality. Candid moments and careful planning might seem like an oxymoron, but this is exactly what you need for snapping the best slices of life.

In order to become a successful lifestyle photographer, you need inspiration, the right equipment, and patience. At first glance, the idea of snapping everyday photos of people and places seems like a breeze. What many people miss, in between those “life moments” is the amount of downtime and planning necessary to capture that moment.

If you’re reading this guide to improve your skills at capturing life’s energy, passion, and joy, then you’re in the right place. Everything you need to build a solid foundation as a lifestyle photographer will be discussed in full detail throughout this guide.

We’ll cover the definition of Lifestyle Photography, list photography ideas, cover recommended gear, blogs to follow, and more. Follow along:

What is Lifestyle Photography?

You may have noticed some photographers include themselves in this category, but only photograph still life. Others focus primarily on family photos and candid interactions.

You’ll notice a lot of flexibility as to what is exactly defined as “lifestyle” photography. Take Mark Delong’s portfolio (a lifestyle and celebrity photographer), for example:

mark delong portfoilo

His work blurs the line between catalog photography, travel photography, and lifestyle photography. There is definitely an audience out there seeking this style of photography, it just might not be what you think of when defining the category.

For the sake of this article, we’ll define lifestyle photography as capturing people, places, and things in candid moments. It has to have some sort of human connection to it.

The important part here is to be authentic and not stage anything you shoot.

Lifestyle Photography Ideas

Life happens all around you. It’s your job as a photographer to be in the right place at the right time.

If you’re new to lifestyle photography, then you’ll find that it can be difficult finding subjects. Finding that combination of interesting, exciting, and unexpected is the ultimate goal. Here are a few ideas to consider:

That “Inner-child”

lifestyle photography idea 002

(Source)

If you want an environment that is loaded with these three qualities, look for a place where children gather. A playroom, amusement park, or playground are all great places for creativity and expression. Nothing is staged here, just pure unbridled joy and curiosity on display.

lifestyle photography idea 001

(Source)

Expect the Unexpected

You shouldn’t set out on a mission to capture any specific moment or interaction. This is especially true for photographing children. What you should do instead is go into your session ready to capture anything.

You can try to prepare for hired photoshoots by taking a survey of the clients, learn about kids’ personalities, life stories, etc. This also works both ways, it’s a good idea to collaborate your photoshoots with parents and young adults. You might be inspired by their ideas—after all, it is about capturing their most precious moments.

Ideally, you should set aside a few hours to get to know your clients. Being able to have a conversation and relax with them will make snapping their pictures easier. You don’t want them to constantly have it in the backs of their minds that you’re there taking to take pictures.

For children, it’s definitely a challenge to sit in the back of their rooms and take candid photos. Toddlers might be a little less concerned with your presence, especially if they’re distracted by an activity, their parents, etc.

Capturing the curiosity and competitiveness from a family trying out something new together is a great idea. Other things like swimming, karaoke, sports events, building furniture, and holidays are always good environments to be a fly on the wall.

lifestyle photography idea 003

(Source)

Be Dynamic and Ready

From the start, your camera should be set and ready to shoot. There’s going to be a small window of opportunity when you first arrive where you’ll be able to capture some candid shots before anyone notices. Even if your arrival is planned, you should start out in scout-mode, looking for shots.

Those shots where children are laughing and playing in the background before you approach are timeless. Remember, you don’t want to spend all day looking for good shots, but you also don’t want to rush anything. It might even be worthwhile to plan your photoshoot around a lunch or dinner. This can open up opportunities for you to sit behind and observe meal-prep, conversation, sharing, clean-up, etc.

lifestyle photography idea 004

(Source)

Lifestyle Photography Camera Settings

While there are no specific settings to lock yourself into when shooting lifestyle photos, the settings below will help get you started (then, you can tweak from there):

Shutter Speed

If you use a slow shutter speed, you’ll likely end up with a blurry image. That’s why we recommend a fast shutter speed, especially if you’re snapping pictures handheld.

Start with a shutter speed between 1/125 to 1/200 of a second. Your shutter speed will also depend on the sync speed of any flash lighting you are using (many have limitations on how slow or fast they can sync). If you’re trying to capture a fast-moving subject (like a person running or riding a bike) you may need to use a quicker shutter speed (like 1/1000 of a second).

Aperture (F-stop)

Your aperture setting will depend on the lens you are using and what needs to be in focus. If you’re trying to achieve a blurry background, you will want to use a fast aperture (ex. f1.2 to 2.8).

Additionally, if lighting is a concern, a fast aperture can allow you to capture a brighter image (since a fast aperture allows more light to come through the lens)

If you need a wide image to remain in focus, you’ll need to use a slow aperture (ex. f8 to f11).

Experiment with different settings to find the best result.

ISO

Ideally, you want to use the lowest ISO setting possible. However, when shooting in a dark environment or even on a cloudy day, you may need to bump up your ISO level to ensure your image is properly exposed.

Increasing your ISO allows you to brighten an image but doing so will add more noise to your image and degrade the quality of the final result.

Some cameras handle higher ISO levels better than others (ex. Less noise in higher settings). As a rough example, though, the image below provides a better look at the lighting increase with each ISO setting as well as the noise added:

iso example

(Source)

Again, you will need to experiment to find the best results. But with most cameras, you will begin to see noticeable noise at ISO 800 to 1600.

Recommended Gear

These recommendations fall outside of basic gear like your tripod, a nice neck strap, extra batteries, memory cards, etc. Here, we’ll focus on gear that gives you an edge or makes your adjustments easier. Having great lenses and lighting make a world of difference when it comes to lifestyle photography.

Best Lenses for Lifestyle Photography

Prime lenses should be your go-to for lifestyle photography. Prime lenses minimize guesswork and allow for quicker intuitive snaps. Getting impressive depth of field and bokeh on shots is less of a problem. Even outdoor shoots work great with prime lenses.

It’s hard to be a lifestyle photographer without a 50mm prime, for example.

50mm lens

(Source)

If you’re set up in a home for some play time with kids, TV time with older siblings, or in the kitchen with the parents, you can get amazing depth and background blur that takes any busy details out. This accentuates those candid moments, bringing them to life.

35mm vs 50mm

(Source)

Wide-Angle Lens

Outside of prime lenses, it’s good to have at least one wide-angle/focus lens (like 10 or 11 to 18mm). This lens makes for great multi-scene captures. If you want to get an entire living room, a cross-section of two rooms, or across a field, this is what you need.

lifestyle photography idea 005

The image above was taken with a wide-angle lens (Source)

Lighting Equipment Suggestions

Don’t assume that just because you’re going for more authentic shots of your subjects that natural lighting is all you’ll need. We want to capture authentic moments in their best setting.

Don’t look at it as staging an event, look at it as setting the stage for one.

Speed Lights

Speed lights, also called TTL flashes, help control the lighting in spaces that aren’t well-lit or have unreliable lighting. Outdoor spaces are where you’ll need a speed light the most.

ttl flash

(Source)

Speed lights are also a handy tool to get the perfect amount of backlight for scenes in dark corners. They probably won’t be the best solution for young children trying to play with their toys, of course.

All the major brands have their own that perform the same, but make sure to find one that has tilt and swivel motion.

Light Modifiers

light modifier

(Source)

There are a number of methods you can go with to modify the harshness or softness of the light in a room. You can use reflectors, scoops, domes, and softboxes. All are made to refocus your light and give you better control.

A traditional lightbox kit can be bought for as low as $50 online.

UV Filters

UV Filters are a must-have for controlling light in outdoor settings. When shooting outdoors, you already have to struggle with exposure levels enough as it is. Throw in the issue with UV exposure and color values and you have two big factors that amateur photographers struggle with everytime they shoot outdoors.

If you’re in open shade, your subjects will have a bluish tint to their whites and neutrals:

photo in shade

The image on the left was take in shade. Notice the blue tint. The image on the right has been color corrected. (Source)

It’s all about how certain materials absorb UV light and reflect it back. Rather than trying to fix all of this in post-production, an aggressive UV filter can balance everything out. This results in a more accurate exposure and proper flash levels.

Don’t forget that you can also apply UV filters to the flash as well. This will require some experimentation to find the best color balance and light for your outdoor shots.

Tips for Taking Better Lifestyle Photos

With a solid setup, you will be equipped to take the best pictures on a technical side. When it comes to being mentally-ready to take these pictures, you have to prepare as well. This means arriving to your photoshoot with the right attitude and mindset.

Lifestyle photography is about being in the moment. This includes you too. Not just your subject.

For example, if your client or project involves capturing morning routines and midday activities. Then, naturally, you would want to be there as a guest. Sit at the table with them, have breakfast, talk with them around the coffee table, etc.

lifestyle photography idea 006

(Source)

View your job as more of a documentarian than a photographer trying to snap good pictures. The tips below will help you do just that:

Get Everyone Involved

It’s easy to become content with always sticking in the background. The truth is, though, the most successful approach would be to include your subjects in what you are doing as much as possible. You don’t need to direct them or even suggest what they should be doing.

Just give them a basic overview of what they can expect a day with you will look like. This prevents awkward, tense, or confused energy during your session. Your clients should know what they’re getting and what you will deliver.

Time, Money, and Expectations

Yes, taking pictures as a lifestyle photographer will vary from day to day, but it’s good to have an established base. The client should know how payments will be calculated and how long they can expect the session to go.

Be mindful of scheduling conflicts and the day’s expenses. This is without accounting for potential delays or rescheduling due to uncooperative children, weather, etc. Do your best to convey to the client that this isn’t an exact science and you are flexible.

Being too rigid or cold as a photographer is rarely good for business, let alone as a lifestyle photographer.

Wardrobe and Props

We mentioned how some fabrics can interact with the sun’s UV rays outside. Choosing clothes for a photoshoot should be two-parts client’s decision and one-part the photographer’s decision. That is, you should only be there for refining or providing suggestions to help bring out their best qualities.

Not many clients will understand things like color theory and how to play with lighting, so be their guide.

Watch the Background/Backdrop

With all the attention on what’s happening in front of you, it can be easy to forget what is hidden in the background. Depth of field can help you avoid unattractive clutter or business from TVs or patterns. Keep your position in mind when waiting for a great moment to capture.

If there are no flat or blank surfaces behind your subjects, try going for a top-down or bottom-up view. These are fun angles when doing lifestyle photos because they emphasize the third person POV (either a short or tall person looking over).

Smile and Enjoy Life!

It’s hard to capture all the great moments around you when you are operating like a technical robot. It shows up in your photos too. If you’re in the mix, laughing, playing, and having fun with your clients, they will forget about the camera. The best shots are made when eye contact and genuine emotion is recorded.

It doesn’t matter if you’re:

  1. On a luxury yacht shooting young people diving into a pool.
  2. In front of a playpen getting the wide-eyed curiosity of a toddler who just stacked up a group of blocks.
  3. At a wedding manning a tripod in silence, panning to capture all the emotions as it proceeds.

You have to be present in the moment to truly capture it.

It’s your job as a photographer to make your clients look good, but it’s also your job to turn them into time-travelers. With your photos, they can return to that exact moment in their life and relive it all over again.

Lifestyle Photography Blogs to Check Out

We want to include some useful resources that you can refer to whenever you’re stuck, uninspired, or looking for the next big step as a photographer. These blogs and specific articles are great references to check on when shooting lifestyle photography:

Get Out There & Start Shooting Lifestyle Photos!

As with everything, practice makes perfect. When it comes to lifestyle photography, practice helps you learn the best settings to use and how to prepare. It may also come with a side of the “feels” or potential life-long connections.

Falling in love with your subjects (in a platonic way, of course) is easy when your job is just an extension of your passion.

Product Photography Ideas

10 Product Photography Ideas to Copy for Your Next Shoot

10 Product Photography Ideas to Copy for Your Next Shoot

Shooting on a white background doesn’t always have the “go to” for product photography. You should aim to mix it up a bit and consider the uses of your product photography (will the images be used for an e-commerce shop, advertising, or social media?).

To help you come up with some ideas for your next shoot and inspire your creativity, we’ve put together this list of 10 product photography ideas for you to try out. Give them a look, and if you have any of your own ideas, leave them in the comments below to help out the rest of our community here on Grid50.

Shoot on a White Background

I know! We just said there are other options besides shooting on a white background. But, we at least need to list the most obvious and most popular choice for product photography.

Shooting on a wide background is the “go to” choice for most photographers capturing products for an Amazon shop or an e-commerce website. The white background allows the product to stand out and ensures the background is not distracting.

There are many different ways to shoot against a white background. Keep in mind, though, all methods will still require a bit of editing. Even when shooting against a well-lit white background, the background will not be completely white in the final image. The images levels will need to be brought up in post.

Here’s the basic process for shooting against a white background:

  • Set up the white background. You can do this by:
    • Using a photo lightbox. These are relatively cheap and work for smaller products.
    • Using a white muslin or paper backdrop. A white seamless paper backdrop is usually best but it can be tough to store.
    • Using white foam board. This can be purchased for under $10 from Walmart.
    • Using a white piece of paper. If the product is small, you may even be able to get away with just a few sheets of paper.
  • Set your camera’s settings manually. When adjusting your settings, you should:
    • Set your camera’s ISO as low as possible. This will reduce grain in your images.
    • Set your exposure manually. Make sure your histogram shows that the white or black levels are not blown out.
    • Use a tripod. More than likely, you’ll need to shoot at a low shutter speed which will result in a blurry image if you’re shooting handheld. Using a tripod will eliminate this problem.
  • Shoot your image
  • Edit the image using Lightroom, Photoshop, or a similar editing program. For some shots, you may just be able to bring up the levels of the image but for others, you may need to remove the background completely and replace it.

Examples:

White Background Product Photography Example

Image source: New Balance

White Background Product Photography Example

Image Source: Rudy’s Barbershop

Shoot on a Colored Background

Shooting on a colored background can not only give you a different look but it can make editing easier when shooting lighter products. Let’s say you’re shooting a light product such as a white t-shirt and you want to replace the background completely.

Shooting this on a white background and editing it later will be difficult since the white shirt will blend into the background. You will have to spend a lot of time manually selecting the product in order to delete the background.

A workaround can be to actually shoot on a colored background such as a light tan or gray background. Bright green backgrounds are often used for this purpose, but when shooting light objects, especially white clothing, it can cast a green hue onto the product which can be difficult to remove later.

However, by shooting on a  light tan background, it’s much easier to remove the background in Photoshop. You can use “Select Color Range” to select the tan background and remove it that way. Or, if you’re simply using the selector tool, the tool will have a much easier time discerning the background from the product making it easier to select.

Examples:

Colored Background Product Photography Example

Image Source: Glamour

Colored Background Product Photography Example

Image Source;: Wired

Shoot in an Organic Setting

Now, we’re moving beyond the standard e-commerce shop look. In this idea, you would actually place the product in an organic setting as it might be seen. This can be great for additional images on a product listing or for use on social media or in advertising.

An example might be shooting a bottle of shampoo in the bathroom.

Examples:

Organic Setting Product Photography Example

Image Source: Kicks on Fire

Organic Setting Product Photography Example

Image Source: 1800 Vodka

Use Props or Add in Complementary Products

Going right along with the idea above, you can also add some props to the frame. If again you’re shooting a shampoo bottle, you might throw in a colorful shower cap, bath bombs, or any other products you might see in the bathroom.

You don’t want to distract from the product but you want to set that stage a bit. On top of using props to create a unique shot, you may use the opportunity to subtly add in complementary products.

For example, with our shampoo bottle, if this company also sells hair conditioner or body wash, you may add those to the background of the image.

Examples:

Product Photography Example

Image Source: Amazon

Product Photography Example

Image Source: Bacardi

Shoot All Products at Once

While this idea won’t work for every company’s line up of products, this type of shot can be great for use on a company’s website (such as the featured image on the homepage), for advertising purposes, or on social media.

The idea is to shoot a group of products all in one shot. For example, if you’re shooting a line of scarves, you could lay the scarves one over another and shoot them in a horizontal, landscape shot. If you’re shooting a line of bathroom products, you could line all of the products up in a “v-shaped” line on the bathroom counter.

This idea is great for showing off product lines.

Examples:

Product Photography Example

Image Source: Dove

Product Photography Example

Image Source: Things Remembered

In-Use Product Shot

Another idea is to capture the product in use. For example, if you’re hired to shoot a bottle of lotion, you may shoot someone applying it to their leg. If it’s a pair of headphones, you may shoot someone sitting on a couch and listening to music with the headphones.

These are great opportunities to showcase products in advertising and for posting on social media.

Examples:

In-Use Product photography Example

Image Source: New Balance

In-Use Product photography Example

Image Source: Morganbullard.com

Shoot Different Angles

This might seem like an obvious one, but often companies only shoot products straight on. If you’re hired for a job, you should recommend the company to take multiple angles of their products. Potential customers often want to inspect the product as closely as possible and having multiple different angles will allow them to do that.

Consider what aspects of the product are important to capture. For example, photographing the side of a lotion bottle may not be necessary but photographing the side of a phone would be (since it would show help show the thickness of the phone and the button placement).

Examples:

Different Angles Product Photography Example

Image Source: Autonomous

Different Angles Product Photography Example

Image Source: Amazon

Shoot Close-Up or Macro Shots

Running right along with the idea above on shooting multiple angles, make sure to shoot close-ups as well. This gives you the opportunity to really show off the fine detail of the product.

For example, on a pair of jeans, you might take a close up of the pocket stitching, the pants zipper, or the button.

Examples:

Close-Up Product Photography Example

Image Source: The Jeans Blog

Close-Up Product Photography Example

Image Source: Odyssey

Take a 360 Degree Shot

360-degree photography is becoming more and more popular. Having a 360-degree image allow potential customers to really inspect the product and view from any angle.

In most cases, you will need a rotating table to do this type of photography. Here’s a helpful video to show you how to take 360-degree photos:

Take a Ghost Shot

This type of shot can work well for clothing. You will need a mannequin or a model to do it. The idea is to shoot the product, in this case, let’s say a t-shirt that is placed on the mannequin.

To create this shot, you would set the lighting and shoot the image as normal but later in editing, you would remove the mannequin from the image. This would leave just the shirt so it’s “floating” in the image.

It also gives the clothing a more “3D” look and overall it more eye-catching.

Examples:

 

Ghost Product Photography Example

Image Source: Uniqlo

Ghost Product Photography Example

Image Source: Amazon

Now, it’s your turn. We want to hear your ideas for shooting product photography. Leave them in the comments below!

The Best Place to Sell Used Camera Equipment

The Best Places to Sell Used Camera Equipment

The Best Places to Sell Used Camera Equipment

Looking to get rid of some of your used camera equipment but still get the most amount of money for it? Then, you’re in the right place.

In the post, we’ll cover some of the best (and worst) places to sell your used gear so you know where to get the most back for your equipment and which places to avoid. So, let’s right into it.

Sell Your Camera Gear at These Places to Get the Most Money:

Grid50

Grid50 is a marketplace website catered specifically for photography and videography people. The site lists all different kinds of camera equipment including lenses, lighting, DSLRs, pro video cameras, and more.

It’s similar to eBay in that people can list their own used or new equipment and browse hundreds of listings of equipment to buy from.

However, unlike eBay, you’ll keep a lot more of your money when you sell your gear on Grid50.

Whereas eBay charges 10% of the final sale value, Grid50 only charges 3.5%. So if you sold a camera lens for $100, eBay would take $10 of that sale. Grid50 would only take $3.50.

grid50 screenshot

This can add up when you list an expensive piece of gear (and we all know how expensive camera gear can be) or when you sell multiple items. You’ll keep a lot more of your money when you list and sell on Grid50.

Additionally, since it’s marketplace website built specifically for photographer and videographers, there’s likely a good chance there’s someone looking for exactly what you’re selling. In other words, there is a target market of potential buyers and you’re not limited to selling to only a specific geographical area as you are with a site like Craigslist.

Craigslist

Craigslist can sometimes get a bad rap. While there have been some horror stories from people meeting on Craigslist, these are rare and Craigslist still remains one of the best places to buy and sell camera equipment.

If you’re worried about meeting someone in person, just make sure to meet in a public place. If you’re buying or selling an expensive item, bring a friend or two along and keep your money in your car at first.

Personally, I’ve bought and sold over 100 items on Craigslist and I have never had a problem.

Probably the biggest advantage of Craigslist is that there are no listing or selling fees. So you’ll keep 100% of your sale.

In addition, with Craigslist you don’t have to worry about shipping the item. Which in a lot of cases, can be more convenient than shipping. You can simply meet up with the potential buyer to sell your gear.

Lastly, you won’t have to deal with Paypal transaction fees as you would if you sold your gear on Grid50 or eBay (Paypal charges $0.30 + 2.9% of the total sale value on transactions).

Avoid Selling Your Camera Gear at These Places

eBay

eBay can be a great place to sell your gear if you want to get rid of it fast since the marketplace website has such a large number of users.

However, if you want to make the most amount of money from your sale, then you should avoid eBay.

As mentioned above, eBay charges 10% of the total sale fee. So if you sell an item for $100, eBay will take $10. If you sell something for $1,000, they will take $100. It should be noted, however, they do have a max fee of $750. So if you sell a really expensive item, the most you will be charged is $750.

ebay listing fees

That is still a lot of money, though, and it adds up when you sell expensive items or list multiple pieces of gear. The large percentage that eBay takes from your sale could be money invested into higher-quality camera gear, additional lenses, etc.

Your Local Camera Store, KEH, B&H, or Adorama

All of these places are camera stores that will buy your used camera equipment, then turn around and resell it for a profit.

In order for any of these places to make a profit, they have to buy your gear at a low enough price point to ensure they can resell it and still make a decent enough profit for it to be worth their time and investment (they often will clean the equipment afterwards, take quality pictures, list the item online, and keep it in their inventory until the item sells). There’s also a certain amount of risk if they can’t sell the item.

This concept means that you won’t get top dollar for your equipment from any of these places. Therefore, you can expect to earn about half of what the used value of your equipment is worth. So if you could sell your used camera for $500 on eBay or Grid50, you might get one of these places to give around $250. Of course, it varies by each store.

If you need to get rid of your gear fast, either because you need the money right away or you don’t want to hold onto the equipment until it sells, then these places are probably your best bet.

But, if you want to get the most money back from selling your used camera equipment, these places should be avoided.

Tips for Selling Your Used Camera Gear

Include the Original Box

When listing your camera gear online, if you have the original box it came in, make sure to include that in the item listing and even include a picture of the box.

Listings that include the original box tend to sell more quickly (and for a higher price) because it shows the owner is organized and likely took good care of their equipment. The original box may also be helpful to the new owner in terms of warranty information.

Clean Your Gear

Clean up your gear as best as possible. If you’re selling a camera lens, make sure to wipe the glass clean. If you’re selling a camera body, try to clean any dust and debris out from the cracks. It only takes a few minutes but it will make your listing more attractive to potential buyers.

Take Quality Pictures

It might seem obvious, especially to many of you who are photographers, but taking the extra time to take a few quality images of the gear you’re selling can help it to sell more quickly. Buyers appreciate when there are a lot of detailed pictures. It puts any worries at ease that there may be damage to the item.

While many of us don’t have a professional studio, there are still a few things you can do at home to capture quality photos. First, make sure the image is well light with natural lighting. You can do this by snapping pictures near a well-exposed window.

Next, make sure the image background is a solid color and free from clutter. Messy backgrounds can distract the buyer and they may not click on your listing.

Lastly, take multiple pictures from different angles. This will give buyers the chance to really inspect the item. If there are any scratches or other damage to the item, make sure to include those so they buyer knows what to expect.

Be Detailed & Honest

It will do you no good to leave out any important details about the condition of your gear. The buyer may receive an item that wasn’t properly describer and you’ll then be in a dispute over the item. Which will likely result in a return and refund of their money.

To make sure the buyer knows exactly what they are getting, be as detailed as possible about the item you’re listing. If there’s something wrong with it, just be honest. State that X feature doesn’t work or there is a large scratch on Y.

In conclusion, if you want to get the most from your used camera equipment, try selling it on Craigslist or listing your gear on Grid50. Signing up for Grid50 is free and you are only charged when and if the item sells.

We hope this post was helpful to you, and if you have any tips for selling used camera equipment, leave them in the comments below. We’d love to hear them!

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