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Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 3 of 31

How to Get Started in Lifestyle Photography

Emily Lucarz

Lifestyle Family Photography

Emily Lucarz

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Lesson Info

3. How to Get Started in Lifestyle Photography
Photography's which-came-first-the-chicken-or-egg question is this: How do I get started if I don't have any images in my portfolio? Emily walks through the essentials to getting started in this must-watch lesson for beginners. Learn when it's okay to use photos of your own kids, the best ways to practice, and why you don't need a Pinterest-worthy home to create great lifestyle images.

Lesson Info

How to Get Started in Lifestyle Photography

Okay, so are you established or new? How many new photographers are in the audience and how many established? Who's new? Couple new, who's established? So we have a good balance, so that's good. So the questions are gonna be different and that's good. So you have to think about, how many of you guys are doing lifestyle already? How many want to add lifestyle to their portfolio? Okay, so this part's for you. So how in the world do we add this without losing clients? And that's a hard, you know that's kind of a balance. This is how I did it. I got some families, very specific families because you don't have time for things not working for portfolio building, right? It's great for practice but it's not great for actually adding content to your portfolio. So grab a family, this is what I tell people to do, who would be interested in modeling for you obviously you need to have people that are okay with practicing. Come up with an idea. Say okay so what is your daughter's favorite toy right ...

now? Say it's having a tea party. Say great, can we go set up a tea party in your home, would you mind if I came over, took a look at all of your windows, figured out the best lighting and we dressed your kids up and we took pictures? And who's gonna say no, right? So what you do is you start with an activity and you take the one best shot, not a ton because they're not all gonna be good. Take one amazing shot, post it to social media and watch the reaction. There is, it's night and day difference. For Facebook, with people who are showing photos with interaction versus a portrait. And it's gonna get natural movement. So you're gonna find the right client, you're gonna pick an activity, and then you're gonna have to showcase that somewhere. Whether it's Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, or Snapchat, I know Snapchat's kind of a younger generation right now. But pick your social media platform and go for it. And then also encourage your friends cause these will all be friends that you wanna practice on, to share that picture. And just start kind of like gradually talking about hey, look how much fun we had. Oh my gosh, they love each other you know. If you sound really excited about it, they're gonna be excited too. You'll notice on the majority of my social media posts, there's smiley faces and hearts and exclamation points cause that's how I talk. So I have to talk on paper how I talk in real life. So just if you sound excited, they'll be excited, okay? Show personal work. As you all know, clients they wanna see you. They wanna get to know their photographer. There is no better person to practice on then your own child because they're hard, they want to be having, they don't want a camera in their face cause it's probably there all the time. So they're gonna set up situations for you that are a little bit trickier and so it's great practice. So this picture, that's Zachary and that is Tyler. They had just gotten out of the shower and they had no idea I was there. They are absolute best friends, and I had my long lens on at this, this was my 70 to 200. I happened to have my camera in the office which was down the other way, they were in my room, they had just gotten out of the bath and they were snuggling. And I'm like the light's amazing, my kids are amazing, I'm like where's my camera? So never put your camera away, trust me. So I grabbed my camera and I got this picture and this is like, this is them right? So show your personal work, because you guys are gonna be around your kids all the time. You're not gonna be around clients all the time or your friends' kids all the time, but you'll be around your kids all the time. So grab it all. Show what's possible with in home sessions. And we're gonna kinda show you some pictures here in a minute. Some possibilities, you know, get a bubble bath, grab something fun, stand above 'em, get a fisheye lens, get some fun lenses, it's so inspiring when you can grab a lens and just do crazy stuff, because it's fun for you, it's fun for the clients to see some different things. Capture moments other people might not think of capturing. You can have the best camera in the world, you can have the best lens in the world, you can be the best photographer at getting the perfect exposure in the world, but if you can't compose an image you are going to struggle with connection, okay? Composition and we're gonna go into this in depth over as we go, all the meat of this you know, how to get all of these moments, but you have got to be able to compose an image. And I'll show you some phone images in a minute. We have some funny stories, but always have your camera ready because this to me is my children and this will be on the cover of my Facebook probably forever, cause it's them. Yes? The questions are starting to come in. Yay, questions. Alright so you're talking about showing work and building your portfolio, do you ever have times where clients have certain expectations because you're showing so many different families and homes versus you know, just a studio? Is there a way to manage that client expectation when their home might be different than that other client's home? We are gonna be going into that in depth, about preparing your client. However we just have to reassure families that this particular activity was what was important to this family, okay? If you have two boys, you're not gonna be having a tea party I mean maybe you will, but typically they're not having tea parties. Typically they're battling it out with some kind of like war heroes or something, right? So we just have to remind the clients that we are gonna completely plan their session around what's important to them. I mean that's a great question, cause I get it all the time. More practice at home. So more of my children cause I'm around 'em all the time. That was the boys in the bath tub a few years ago. I think my ISO was at like 15,000 or something on my D700, I mean it was grainy and I loved it because I caught the moment. I let go of the grain, I caught the moment. And I put my fisheye on. And with fisheyes you even let less light in, right? So I turned it to black and white cause black and white can fix a lot of stuff (laughing) when it doesn't look great, but I didn't care right? So that was that. So show clients this kind, you know you have to kind of be okay with your kids being on social media. This is Zachary, this is the bunny. Everybody knows bunny, okay? Bunny is Zachary, bunny will be with Zachary in college. This was, I am kind of a hybrid photographer now thanks to the wonderful Ashley Crawford, thank you very much. She's amazing and she got me into film. And this is some Acros film. But I had my film camera sitting there and he thought he was a pirate but he never puts down bunny, and thank goodness I had my camera there because this is him. This make me wanna cry, cause I just ugh, this is him. He's a little monster and he never leaves bunny. So be okay with practicing with your children. Here is Zachary again, film. He was getting ready to go outside to play. This was just this past winter, he's like my little lovebug and he was just sitting there looking outside. And you can tell this was in the middle of like nothing. I didn't need a pretty home, right? It's his jacket, this was like a bird blanket and I think Kenny's leg is over there. But you know, if you compose it correctly you don't have to have a Pinterest home. For the majority of the shots that we're doing I'm not stepping back and taking a picture of the entire scene all the time. And we can tell our clients that you know, if you're not totally excited about your home which a lot aren't, I don't want my kitchen photographed yet so I'll get close in my kitchen for now cause I don't want the whole thing. Tell your clients that. We'll zoom in on things, we'll set things up in front of a window, we'll be moving furniture, it'll all be about your children, don't worry about your home okay? Is that not cute? I love Zachary, my little guy. Here they are again. We were at Disney and they were wrestling before we had to go see the parade in the morning, and I happened to have that same roll of film in there because it just seemed to last forever. And they were getting ready to go to Disney, but as you can see it's showing their natural interaction and connection, right? You can see how they love each other, I'm really blessed. And there's Tyler's Mickey Mouse which he doesn't leave home without. Tyler's and that's Mickey, and then he had bunny. There's Tyler, I totally busted him. I was upstairs getting ready and he was supposed to be getting ready, getting dressed for school. And he was like sitting there looking at Disney or something you know, Mickey Mouse or something, and I looked down and I'm like Tyler! And I had my camera because I knew it was gonna shock him but this is Tyler, I can not get him to get dressed to go to school for the life of me. So we captured it, right? Something real. So these are the things you need to tell your clients. All of these little moments that they know but you don't know are the things that you're gonna be finding out on your questionnaire ahead of time. And we're gonna get into that in detail. I just wanna kinda show you what inspires me which are these two monkeys, okay? He was so busted. This was on my phone in the middle of the night. There's bunny again, we're gonna get to know bunny really well. Practice composition all the time. You guys on your phones, on your husband's phones, on your iPads, and stuff is not gonna look good because it's dark. This was dark, this was in my bed. Zachary crawls in my bed every night at three in the morning I don't even know that he does it, and I wake up and there he is with bunny seriously, I had to take, how can you not take a picture of that? So do that with your kids too and show those things to your clients, you know? This is the kind of thing we'll be doing but with my camera. Practice all the time. Anybody have any questions, yeah? We do, we do and keep those questions coming everyone. Grab a mic if you've got one in the studio. So a question about finding portfolio images to show in terms of your style, if your style is sort of light, bright, airy, white homes, how do you go about finding those specific types of looks that you're looking to build in your portfolio? You literally just ask people. I mean you have to because you're not gonna, so all of your clients won't end up having white, light, bright, airy homes, right? That'd be amazing if they did but that's not real life. So you're gonna have to learn how to shoot in darker homes, smaller homes, larger homes, sometimes larger homes are harder because the people that have the larger homes tend to have everything put away so it's not as like cluttered and exciting, you know? Some of those smaller homes actually end up being more fun I think. But when you're trying to develop that look, you just have to ask you know, I'm looking for a home that has a lot of light, you know you just have to be really specific, because portfolio building time is a very specific time to what you wanna show in your work. So you just flat out ask. And so when you are portfolio building, and don't have a lot of clients yet to show on social media or your website, how much of your personal work can you show? A ton, when I first started all I put up were photos of Tyler and Zachary. That was it. They were being cute, Tyler was a baby. I thought I knew what I was doing, I kinda knew what I was doing. But I thought I was good and I just kept showing pictures and showing pictures, and what ended up happening was I had some friends that said hey those are really cute, will you take some pictures of my kids and will you take some pictures of my kids? And that's how it you know, that's how a lot of us got started. So yeah, put a ton of your kids up. Borrow family's kids, you know your friend's kid's friends. Borrow anybody you wanna borrow. Sorry, hi I'm brand new so that's how my questions are gonna come out. Yes, great. But do you have any best practices on how you are either choosing your photos and then what platform you're sending them out, so like these ones will go onto your website and these are how many I put onto my website? This is how I use Instagram and so on? I do and we're gonna kind of talk about that when we go over composition. After the sesh, we're gonna be shooting a family in the studio in a little bit and after that, we're gonna go over the culling process which means going through the images and deciding which ones I'm gonna keep. And we will talk about which images I'm gonna throw out and which images I'm gonna keep and why, and what I would do with them. So I think that's gonna really talk to you a lot. Because there's a lot of times that I'll keep an image and people would never have kept that image, but you know I'm very fluid when I'm shooting and there are times where I may crop things to compose it a little bit better that the situation allowed me to do. When we did the family shoot that we're gonna show later later, it was so funny cause you guys know I'm obsessed with dogs and kids in pictures, it's kinda my thing, so I was laying here and the dog kept charging my camera cause it wanted to lick my face so you'll see some of those really funny ones I kept where a lot of people would toss 'em, and we will go over that a lot. And that's gonna be kind of tackled when we go over composition in a little bit. Does that answer your question? Yep. Okay, great. Okay, alright. Okay, now what do we need to start doing this? Number one we need a wide, a wider lens. I say go wider than 50. 50 is your standard portrait you know, standard ratio lens right? I always say grab a 35 millimeter lens or wider, that's number one. I shoot mainly with my 35 and my 24. I am a prime lens person, because I wanna allow in the most light. A lot of the zoom lenses, your aperture number goes up which allows in that longer focal length but it allows in less light. So I really like to keep my primes if I can just for lighting purposes, and I like to keep things wide open when I shoot. Pick an activity that your kids love, okay? And then shoot everything. So grab your lens, grab your kids, pick an activity and go. That's step one, kind of step it up okay?

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!