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Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 13 of 31

Gear Recommendations for Shoots

Emily Lucarz

Lifestyle Family Photography

Emily Lucarz

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Lesson Info

13. Gear Recommendations for Shoots
Dive into camera settings for lifestyle portrait photography in this lesson, including ISO and shutter speed, along with using a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field. Then, jump into camera gear, including cameras and lenses. Learn why a fast, wide-angle lens is often great for lifestyle portraits and what focal lengths for prime lenses are best.

Lesson Info

Gear Recommendations for Shoots

So what we kinda talked about just now, what am I looking for? I'm looking for connection, right? So we just, on how we were looking for connection, them connecting with the camera, them connecting with each other, them connecting with themself by just giggling and being fun, okay? Any time you see any sort of connection you're gonna wanna keep that image as long as it's in focus, okay? We're all human with moving, flying feathers, and flying children; things are gonna be out of focus. That's okay. Just make sure you get enough shots to get the ones that really, if that means slowing down, you know, really figuring out your camera. You have to know your camera really well in order to do, little, you know to focus on. That's really important, okay? So my shot list. When I'm doing a session in a family, what I typically do is... Like we'll go through our shot list first, okay? Mom et cetera. So we kinda, I'm always thinking about in the back of my mind and we're gonna cover our shot list...

, but, keeping did I get mom, yet? Did I keep mom, did I get mom and dad yet? Dad's are the fun ones, right? So, did I get all the fun dad shots yet? So that way if something happens during the session and somebody needs to walk away, you can mentally go, whatever you had planned on your shot list to get, okay? And that's what I'm looking for, what I'm calling my images as well. Making sure you're getting all of those images, okay? Get wrapped up... What we love compositionally, what looks cool lighting-wise, but that might not always be the best for the client. Different perspectives of each situation. Grab a perspective. We talked about that. Random, fun, you know, random things. Like, you know the silly laughing ones, those are, sure that everybody looks flattering in it when you're doing it. In focus, out of focus, people look, looking at each other. All of these things, looking for, okay? The ISO, we talked about keeping that ISO high enough where you can maintain a faster shutter speed, where your shutter speed doesn't go too low. Kelvin white balance we touched on that already. Kelvin works really well for in-home sessions. You don't have to carry around a gray card, you can kind of change it on the fly as you move around in different lighting situations in the home. Shutter Speed. Again, make sure that you don't let it go too slow, okay. Shooting wide open. I will shoot wide open sometimes if I need more light. Most of the time, with, depending upon what you're shooting in a home for a lifestyle session, you're gonna want a little bit more in focus than a typical outside, background blur, beautiful wide open shot. But many times you're gonna need to have that wide open shot in the home for the sake of light. You know, when we talk about aperture it's not just for depth of field, it's also for light. So, just kind of keep that in mind when you're picking your lenses, which we are gonna head into now, okay? I'm gonna show you our gear list. Does anybody have any quick questions on that before we head over to gear? Do it. We're good, okay. Okay, so I primarily shoot... with the D5, here's the D5. Now, in the studio yesterday I shot with my backup camera which is the D4S. The reason I have, well the reason I have this camera is 'cause my dog knocked the other camera off the table, but, the reason I have a camera this awesome is because I need to be able to have a camera that can support really high ISO capabilities, okay. So this camera can go up really high with my ISO and I don't have to worry about external lighting. I don't have to worry about reflectors. I use reflectors sometimes, just to fill some harsh shadows in situations where we may need them. But I don't have to worry about it with this camera. I can take it up high enough and not worry about grain. Now, that being said, I love grain in some images and I might take the ISO down, specifically to get that look, okay. Obviously I know everybody can't get the D5. There's so many other cameras out there though. The D700's amazing, the D800 is amazing, the 850, and then obviously a ton of Canons, as well, okay? So this is not an entry level camera by any means. So then, I mean it doesn't look any different, but this is my back up camera and this is the D4S. So this is the back up camera that I have, this is the one that Nikon sent me when my 4 broke. And this is obviously a fabulous camera as well. We can go really high with the ISO, so that's why I have this, this camera, okay? Now in terms of lenses, just gonna bring two up at one time and I'm gonna show you why. This is the 17 to 35 millimeter lens. This is a wide angle lens that I used to use all the time when I was shooting lifestyle sessions. I've stopped using this lens because the edge distortion is so significant for me that I was finding that I had little people, you know, like these little three-year-olds that would just run off into the corners and then they would be distorted in the frame, and that doesn't look good. Another issue I was having. If you do decide to widen your lens up like that you're aperture number goes up. So your focal length goes, you know, longer, so you can't let as much light in. So I try to stick with prime lenses, which is the 35 millimeter right here. This is the 35 millimeter lens. I love this lens because it's a little bit further away than the 50 but it's a prime lens, it's a 1.4 35 lens, it's a 35 1.4. I can allow in a lot more light with this lens. I'm also finding that I don't have to back up as far, you know, with this lens, with the 35 millimeter. My most recent purchase, which I've, we photographed the family in the home... with this lens, and this is, it's actually on my film camera right now... This is the new Nikon 24 millimeter. They have the Nikon 24 millimeter 1.4 lens, but it was so expensive so I didn't buy it because I had the 35 millimeter. But Nikon recently came out with the 1. and for me 1.8 is plenty wide to let light in because of the camera body that I have, right? If I were gonna be shooting a significant amount of things, you know, with a 24 millimeter that I needed background blur for or something, then sure I'd invest in the 1.4. But this was about half the price of the 1. and for what I need it's perfect. So I use the 24 a lot. Now, a lot of you are probably wondering, okay, so the 24 millimeter's wide, right? It is, it's technical wide angle. But the edge distortion on this is so much less than a 17 to 35, okay? Any of those zoom lenses you just get that distortion, okay? I know, there were some higher entry, a higher level lenses that don't, but... Okay, now these are my two fun lenses. The Lensbaby, here's the Lensbaby right here. I love my Lensbaby. We do these shots on beaches mainly, but it's a lot of fun. I shoot it with my kids a lot. You have to manually focus it by turning this thing and it gets kinda crazy. It's good for people who like to, kinda free lens on their hip, you know? It's a cool, it's a cool lens. And this is my fish eye lens, it's the 16 millimeter lens. It looks so tiny, right? The Nikon fish eye lens looks tiny compared to the Canon one. The Canon one is way cooler than the Nikon one, but it works really well. So those are my lenses. Those are what I use for lifestyle sessions. When I'm shooting outdoors I obviously use my 50 and my 85 and my 70 to 200, you know the bigger lenses? Sometimes I'll pull my 50 millimeter into lifestyle sessions, but not commonly. The other thing that I bring with me, gear, is my step stool. I'm only 5'6, I need to be elevated a little bit. I cannot get high enough on things to shoot down on families for that more flattering angle, so I bring a step stool, okay? Some extra goodies that I bring, sometimes I'll bring dog treats for dogs, just as back ups, just in case the family's downstairs and we're upstairs in the moment, I'll grab 'em out of my bag. I'll have skittles for kids sometimes, you know, I ask parents if that's okay, obviously. We need to be able to bribe them sometimes, obviously. So, well I'll bring gum. We'll sometimes have a dog squeaky toy to get some, you know, just so it's right there and I have it with me. Obviously families have that stuff for themselves, but it's nice to have it right there. I always have an extra hair tie, phone charger, you know. Basics. Okay, so we talked about this just a second ago, but the 35 millimeter 1.4 for obvious reasons is you don't have to back up, it lets in a lot of light, it's a great standard lens, okay? The 24 millimeter, also great, gets a little bit more of the room in the picture. I'm finding myself loving that one even more than the 35 right now. It's kind of my go-to lens past few months. The 17 to 35 2.8, while it's a great lens, I just have not, I'm probably gonna get rid of it. Too warpy on the edges. My Fish Eye which we talked about, 16 millimeter, and then the Nikon 50 1.4 I will bring sometimes to in home sessions if they have a larger home and I have room to back up quite a bit, okay? Good on that? Somebody had asked actually, could you tell us which Lensbaby that you have? I have the Composer Pro. The Composer Pro, thank you. Yeah. Okay, is that it? Okay, so the wide angle. Now I love wide angle lenses like the 24 millimeter. And again, we need to talk about you can use a wide angle really, really well, but you need to be careful about edge vignetting. As you guys notice you get that dark ring around your photos. You can fix that in Lightroom, okay? You can take that into Lightroom and click fix edge, you know, fix the edge, and it fixes that, the proportion of your lenses, okay? So it gets ride of that warping on the edges. Not enough to my liking for that one lens, but it does help that. It gets rid of that edge vignetting. So if you do use a wide angle, keep people away from the edges as much as you can, unless you want some of that weird look. Get close, if you want to, for really fun perspectives. That's always really fun to do, just to get kind of funny pictures, you know. Get further away to make things smaller. So if you wanna have, you know, somebody look tiny in the room and you want to see the room as the focus, step away. And like I said, click lens profile correction in Lightroom and in Photoshop to kind of get rid of that edge warping and edge vignetting on a wide angle lens, okay? Wide angles are really fun for lifestyle sessions I think. We good on there? Okay, so here's just some pictures with the wide angle lens. That one I was really close to him with the fish eye on, that top left corner, just for a fun perspective. And obviously if it were like a mom, we wouldn't do that 'cause, not be flattering, clearly. But for a little boy, so fun, okay. So just some perspectives with wide angles.

Class Description

  • Capture authentic lifestyle family images
  • Plan for a successful lifestyle session
  • Create genuine interactions even with the littlest family members -- and pets
  • Edit for beautiful skin tones and stunning portraits
  • Build a successful lifestyle photography business


If you're looking for a portrait photography class to master studio lighting and perfect posing -- this isn't the class for you. Ditch the stiff, boring portraits and create genuine smiles and real family moments in Lifestyle Family Photography with Emily Lucarz. Learn how to create memorable images of real family moments.

From planning the shoot to post-processing in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, dive into the world of lifestyle photography. Learn how to tour a home while looking for light sources, then use window light for bright, beautiful images. Gain techniques to create genuine smiles from kids. Determine the gear you need, from great portrait lenses to cameras.

Whether you simply want to take better photos of your own kids or you want to build a career in lifestyle photography, this class provides the foundation. Learn lifestyle portrait photography alongside one of the Midwest's most in-demand family photographers, the engaging and fun Emily Lucarz.

For photographers turning a passion for family photography into a business, gain valuable insight into creating portrait packages, setting prices, and displaying your work. Learn how to build your portfolio and how to manage a photography business.

  • Budding photographers ready to turn a passion into a profession
  • Parents that want to capture better images of the everyday moments
  • Professional photographers ready to do more with lifestyle images


Like many family photographers, Emily got started after her first son was born. Now nearly a decade later, Emily is one of the top family photographers in the Midwest -- booking often nearly a year in advance. She's known for the way she works with young kids and families to create genuine interactions, along with capturing fun perspectives. Emily's charisma and easy-going teaching style has allowed her to lead workshops across the U.S. Learn from Emily right where you're at in one of CreativeLive's top-rated lifestyle classes.



Emily reignited my passion for lifestyle photography and gave me the tools that I needed to give my business a creative and profitable boost. Seeing how effortlessly she interacted with families and the efficiency of her workflow was inspiring. I'm excited to shake things up and make some positive changes in my business that I know will lead to success. Thank you Emily and thank you Creativelive for this fun and informative class!


Watching Emily on CL - I rarely comment, but wanted to pop in and say what a great class it is! Full of helpful information and good content. One of the first classes that moves at a perfect pace, keeping things interesting & engaging. I tend to lose interest quickly when classes drag, but she really does such a fantastic job, which is refreshing. Makes watching the class really enjoyable! Thank you!


I was just hoping on here to post how much I loved this class. I used to be a portrait photographer, veered away for a bit to focus on more conceptual art photography but i still am interested in lifestyle photography. Emily is very inspiring, her bubbly personality was a joy to watch how she interacts with families especially the kids. Her work is phenomenal! (in response to one of the bad reviews, about her cutting off children shooting on a live workshop while tethered and teaching can easily explain this away as you can tell from her portfolio that she always has compositionly beautiful images) This class has renewed and inspired my love of lifestyle and i have been shooting so much since the class! Definitely used her tips and tricks to improve my pictures! highly recommend this class!