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Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 11 of 31

Live Shoot: Introduce Fun Activity

Emily Lucarz

Lifestyle Family Photography

Emily Lucarz

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Lesson Info

11. Live Shoot: Introduce Fun Activity
Introducing a fun activity creates authentic smiles and interactions. In this live shoot, watch Emily create a feather-filled pillow fight in the studio. Learn how to plan ahead for a fun activity -- and how to get a sharp focus when there are feathers flying in the air.

Lesson Info

Live Shoot: Introduce Fun Activity

Okay, here's the deal with these. We don't shake until I say go, okay? This is gonna be so much fun. Feathers are gonna go everywhere. Are you excited? Will they cover me? Yeah, totally gonna cover you. Alright. And me? Okay, so what I'm gonna do is get rid of half of these feathers. Because wait til you see how many there are. I strongly suggest that if you guys do a pillow fight with feathers that you only use a minimal amount of feathers. Make sure that the clients aren't allergic, obviously, step one. But they are so hard to clean up that you just don't want a million bajillion feathers, okay? And I always cut off a little bit at the top and then a little bit kinda towards the right here. Okay, you ready? You gonna start sneezing? Oh, I'm good. Look at this. That's a lot. It is a lot. Okay. Okay, there's one. This studio's gonna be really pretty when we're done. Alright, don't touch, hold on, not yet. We're gonna get the other one for your sister. Alright, don't tou...

ch. This is gonna get crazy, guys. Here we go. These are really great pillows. I'm gonna move those scissors too. Okay? Guys, I'm just getting some of the feathers outta here. There's just too many for the sake of the cleanup crew here. They should shove heads in there. Alright, I'm gonna move these scissors obviously. Okay, here's the deal, both you girls up. You've got my camera. If you can hold that for me... Now, the trick with anything like bubbles or feathers, or anything that's flying in the air, is your camera wants to catch focus on whatever's flying in the air, okay? If there's something that's in front of your subject, it's gonna try to catch focus on it. Don't worry about it, about half of your images are gonna be out of focus. And it just, it is what it is, and that's why I shoot like I do. Because I want to make sure that we can capture them in between the stuff, okay? And just do your best to do that. Alright, you guys ready? Come over here for me. Grab that pillow, hold on, okay, stand up for me. Okay, we're gonna do a pillow fight in just a minute. If these aren't open enough, we will... I'm gonna watch you holding the pillow right down here, and you guys are gonna do pillow fights, okay? I'm gonna tell you when, okay. Hold it down here a little bit. Okay, you guys ready? Hold on, we're just gonna hold it down here like a normal pillow, okay? Here we go, ready? One, can we have spotters? Two, three, go. (shutter clicking) (laughing) (shutter clicking) Keep going, keep going, keep going. Uh oh. See, you guys, how I'm going up and down? Make sure you get every perspective okay? Oh my gosh. (shutter clicking) (children's voices) Okay, I have an idea, hold on, hold on. Let's freeze em, that was so cute, wait til you see these pictures. Hold hands, we're gonna jump up, hold hands, we're gonna jump up and land on our bottoms like this, we're gonna jump, one, two, three, and land on our bottoms, just like that, but together, and throw the feathers, okay? That hurted. It hurt? It's poofy, you're okay, you're okay. Is it a feather? Did it poke your tush? No, I just fell and it was hurting my butt. On the bed? Yeah. Here, hold hands. We're okay, we're okay, ready? Okay, ready, we're gonna land on our bottom. And one, two, three, go. (shutter clicking) Okay, let's do it bigger than that. Sillies, let's start jumping and then I'll say crash, okay? Let's do that instead. Alright, start jumping, go, look at me! (shutter clicking) Hold on, don't crash til I say crash, okay? We're gonna start jumping, you guys look at each other and laugh, okay, go. (laughing) And crash, go. (shutter clicking) (children laughing) Okay, oh my gosh, it's so funny. Hold on, same thing, that's great, good job. Look at me and do it, one, two, three, throw the feathers. (shutter clicking) You guys see how I'm changing perspectives at home? Do the same thing, throw it again for me. This is why it's so important to have that wide angle lens. Aya? Oh, hold on. Come over here and throw them right at the camera, okay? Ready, set, oh. (shutter clicking) Had to catch that. (shutter clicking) Oh my God you guys are going to have a car ride. Can you throw them at me? Can you throw them at the camera? One, two, three, go. (shutter clicking) Awesome. Okay same thing with you. Come here kiddo. Hop up. Throw them right at me. Wait, hold on, wait for your sister, wait wait wait. Let's each get a handful. These are what make for really really fun photos, but beware because the minute you post on of these into your portfolio section, everybody's going to want a feather shoot. And then, your Kenny will be really happy to help clean, just so you know. Okay, get closer. We're going them right at me on the count of three. Hold on I don't want you to fall now. Right there. On the count of three, you're going to look at me, and you're going to throw them at the camera, cool? Alright, one, two, three. (shutter clicking) Awesome, big hugs, big hugs, big hugs! (shutter clicking) Okay mom, now what I want you to do is we're going to have them hugging and snuggling, (infant blabber) and I'm going to have you over here shaking feathers on them, okay? He's coming across the rink. Okay, you guys ready? And you guys are going to reach for the feathers, okay? But face me, face me. Mommy's going to come over here and just shake the feathers, okay? But look at me, look at me, don't look at mom, and go. (shutter clicking) Look at me, big hug, big hugs, big hugs. (shutter clicking) Aw, fall down, fall down, fall down, fall down. Crash, crash, crash. (shutter clicking) Okay, awesome, come here you two. They're so well behaved. Oh yeah you're going to play without-- oh, adorable. Hold on, right up my nose. Alright, come here you, come here. I wanna do one more, and we're gonna do one more because I wanna get one more connection shot. Sit down for me. Okay, we're going to pile these feathers around us, okay? It's kinda like snow, we have the random brown feather. Scoot your bottom together, scoot your bottoms together. Get a big pile, and you are going to throw them up really, really high like snow, okay? On the count of three, you ready? And you guys what I Hey, hey! Hold on, kiddo. Do you see how they're, she's behind her? I want to make sure they're both on the same focal plane. It just makes it easier for you because your camera's already going to be working really hard to focus with all of the stuff going around, so if you can keep your subjects kind of on that same focal plane, you're going to have a lot better chance of getting everybody in focus. Just even if you focus on that front person, cuz focus falls backwards, you're still, with all of the stuff, I've found that focal plane is really important when you have flying objects, like feathers. Okay, you ready? Grab the feathers. Alright, ready? One, two, three. Start throwing them up in the air, go! (shutter clicking) (laughter) Okay give each other a kiss, go! (camera shutter) (laughter) Okay, one more time, feathers. What I'm trying to do guys, right now, I'll tell you in a minute. Throw feathers, go, go, go, throw them! Okay kiss, kiss, kiss! (shutter clicking) Got it. What I wanted was the shot of them kissing, with feathers flying everywhere, okay? So that was a natural progression. Throw the feathers, have some cool composition, and then have them kiss, and then they got connected, okay? (exhale) I think we're good. That was so much fun, I cannot wait to see these. I can't-- that was so much fun. (exhale) I'm hot, this hurt my voice. When I'm shooting, the minute that I get the shot that I want, I move on to the next shot because kids-- I want to give them a hug. Kids do not last long and we know that so, We could tell little Charlotte kind of was done so, that's why I made the decision to put her out, but you have-- the big thing with lifestyle photography, and we're going to be going over this a ton in a little bit is that you have to know your camera so well, because there's constant movement. You have to be able to change in manual mode, to be able to change your shutter speed for exposure. I try to keep my aperture the same. Typically, just because I don't want to have to worry about focal issues, so sometimes I'll leave it kinda at 3.2, today I think I had it around two today, because I didn't have to worry about so much, cuz we're not moving around too much. But it's so important to know your camera so well. Whenever I do my mentoring workshops, everybody's shocked at how fast I'm moving my fingers in the back of the camera. And here it's a little bit easier in constant flat lighting. We don't have any directional lighting going on. It's more flat, and it's bouncy, so it makes it really, really easy to do a session. Now when you have a room that doesn't have this much light, you have got to constantly, constantly, be changing that shutter speed. Now be careful, I have had sessions where I have made my shutter speed too slow, because I didn't have my ISO set high enough, and when you get kind of going, you're not really thinking about ISO, so make sure that when you start any lifestyle sessions, that you set your ISO high enough that allows you some flexibility in that shutter speed, okay? And I cannot stress that enough. A lot of times you'll go home and you'll see that your images are out of focus, and it's not because of you missing focal points, it's because your shutter speed was 1/30 and you had no idea, right? So that's really important, and we're going to be going over a lot of that when we talk about camera stuff. You could kind of see it today. The only thing that I was really changing-- they could see my settings right-- was shutter speed. For the most part, and I had set the ISO at-- let's see what I was at today-- 400, and that's because of the very well-lit environment. And you can get creative too. So, if you know you're good at holding your camera still, and you wanna see some motion blur with the feathers, that would be amazing. You just have to make sure you have that shutter speed slow enough, right? So there's lots of creative things that you can do, but at least you got to see how crazy I am during photo shoots. (laughter) Well, like you said that, people are super impressed watching you, so can you, can I ask you a little bit of Yeah. technical questions? Are you using back button focus? How are you focusing? Toggling. Just, you're toggling? Super speed (shutter clicking) So impressive, cuz you're going from high angles to low angles, Yeah. All of that. Yeah. Okay. I'm sure I'll have have carpal tunnel. And then, are you on, are you, you said you leave your aperture pretty much the same. Are you on aperture priority or are you totally in manual? Totally in manual, totally in manual. Totally in manual. Great, people are, yeah that's awesome. I shoot jpeg and I shoot kelvin so, my kelvin, I put it in here Yeah talk about that please, about your Kelvin. 5560 is what we kind of decided was appropriate for in here today so, I was kind of started around 5500, then I go higher or lower depending if I want it warmer or cooler. And are you taking a white balance reading of sorts, or are you just looking back at the camera and Yep, yep. determining the right kelvin? It's simple, easy, it's faster. Love it. I have, I use white balance in the studio sometimes, but once you kind of get in an area, you can kind of get a good setting and you know your camera well, you can do a whole scene and not worry about white balance. So in terms of that, in terms of the focusing and the mode that you're using, are you in continuous mode? I am continuous, oh yes. Okay. I'm in continuous. I'm in low continuous, though. Low continuous. Not super continuous. Okay, and then, the focal point is, you're doing, I'm, yes Right. And I matrix, I matrix or I spot meter. Normally in homes I'll spot meter. Here I don't need to. Okay, okay. [Mentee] Awesome. Yeah. Lots and lots of questions Yeah. about "How did she do that?" It's crazy. So, I have a lot of energy. Help. So can you talk a little bit about, I know we're going to see you photographing in the home in our pre-recorded sessions later in the class, however you do this in the studio as well. And somebody had written about this being, is this lifestyle photography, because you have set up, they're coming in their pajamas or there were, we're utilizing a bed and the pillows. Can you talk a little bit more about "life-inspired" and how you can do this in the studio too? Yeah, so the difference is with lifestyle we obviously wouldn't be planning this much. So everybody has a bed in their home, so this was just kind of an example of things you can do in a client's home as well as a studio. So, we give them direction on things that they like. So say the family likes bubbles or the family likes to play, I will let them play, I will capture all of that going on, but I'm going to set the activity, right? We're going to set the activity so that action that we're doing causes reactions amongst the kids. So my biggest goal during these types of sessions is to capture their natural laughs, capture their connection with each other, but I guide them there, right? I don't just let them stand there and just naturally snuggle cuz it could take four hours, right? So, that's kind of the difference between real lifestyle and life-inspired and guided. Thank you. Okay. And so, one more question on the, again, on how you're photographing, because of, you're toggling around, do you have it on a single focus point or is it a little bit wider so you can capture, On my kind you can go all over. So there's 54 points. So but you have it on a single focus versus, Oh yeah yeah yeah. a nine, Oh I use single focus. You do single focus. Oh Yeah I'm, I was a piano minor, And is it, My fingers are (laughs) Is it on the child or the person who's closest to you Yep, always. on their eye? Is that where you're focusing? Always the person that's closest to me or if I want something compositionally a little bit different, sometimes I'll focus on the child in the background and blur the foreground a little bit just to give it a little bit different composition, but if you want to maintain standard focal point rules, you always focus on the person closest to you, and depending on how wide you're shooting, focus falls back. So if you focus on something behind something, it won't be in focus in the front ever, so you always want to focus on that person in the front and typically their eye falling back. And lots and lots of practice (laughs) And lots and lots of practice. Lifestyle shooting is hard, and you, it's not, you have to really, really know your camera. There's no substitution for not knowing your camera. I mean, you'd take, I mean it would, you would lose so many moments, so that's the most important thing for photographers to really, really know your camera well. Great. Angie Garcia says, "I don't know why, "but this session is bringing tears to my eyes." Don't cry baby! "It's because I'm a mom." Lovely. Congratulations. But as we were seeing the images as you were shooting them, and just, incredible. But see I can't feel my camera. Well, you'll see them. I know You'll see them. (laughs) This is a game changer not being able to chimp. I am a big chimper. I check all the time, Do you? and it's such a bad habit. But I'm like everybody else. It's habit. Do you ever show the back of the camera to All the time the family? Cuz I know that's a hot thing, whether you do or you don't. I always do because I get so excited, and it makes them excited. In the videos that we're going to see from the family that we did a photo shoot of, you'll see, I showed the family, and I had goosebumps and I just, I don't know, I love it, and I love people and, I just get excited. When we get, when they kissed with the feathers, was that shot cool? I don't, hopefully. Was it cute? Such a darling shot. But how did we get there? We didn't say, "Okay sit next to your sister, "and giver her a kiss." It was, "Let's get them excited. Let's get them engaged," and then sneak that in there while that activity is going on, and you get such more real moments, even though it was planned. So it's not a true lifestyle, right? Life-inspired, which helps parents feel better about things. Speaking of parents, normally when I leave sessions, they're like this, cuz we're all exhausted cuz it's crazy, and they said, "Did we get anything?" I'm like, "I promise we got a lot." And then I'll show them, and they cry and cry and cry, cuz it's always chaotic but it keeps the kids going, and it keeps meltdowns from happening. So the times where you wanna do the "mommy snuggle shots," and we didn't do too much of that, but you have to really bring yourself back down, decompress a little bit to set that mood again, cuz we've been so elevated, we need to bring everybody back down, and when that happens, a lot of times we'll step into another room, mom will kinda take one of the kids into the other room, and just give hugs, so we bring everybody's energy back down, because the family's energy completely feeds off of your energy, so that's critical. Now you have a very strong personality where you love people and all of that. Do have any suggestions in terms of that energy reading for people who maybe are a little bit more introverted, or what could you suggest for people when they're trying to make those connections? If they're trying to make the fun ones happen? Yeah. So it's more difficult for introverted people to kind of have that, those moments. But if you create an action, kids are going to get excited no matter what. That pillow fight, I mean, we could've had somebody just, we could've had a cactus staring at them and they would've been excited. So I think if you create the right activities, even if you can force yourself, step out of the box, right, a little bit, have a little bit of coffee maybe, and then try to get the kids to engage with some sort of activity, I think you're going to get natural reactions without having to insert yourself so much. Okay and the big question everyone wants to know. Is your camera strap? (laughs) Tell us about the camera strap It's from, oh we just looked it up last night. It's called the Vintage Clothespin The Vintage Clothespin, yes They're amazing. I love these straps. It disperses the weight, so I have, this one's the D4S, but I normally shoot with my D5, and when I put my big-girl lenses on here, it is so heavy for newborn shoots. This thing's amazing. Alright everyone so Vintage Clothespin all those of you asking, it is The Vintage Clothespin, and you can find them on Etsy. The Vintage Clothespin. [Photographer] Tell them you found us here. That's right. Maybe they'll send you one. (laughs) I warned her last night, I'm like, "People might like your camera strap. Beware." Cuz it's amazing. Can you tell us a little bit about what, maybe, again, top level of what did and didn't work in that particular scenario. Okay so, as, normally, we would not be having a child that's small jumping on the bed with cement floors. In my studio we have a big huge rug right there, and we have spotters around, so we just need to make sure, we had spotters today so I wasn't worried about it, but those little ones tend to try and jump off the bed, so just be mindful of that. Another thing that wasn't working too well, I think they just got over elevated, so I found myself trying to kind of decompress, and how that helped to get those two older-sibling pictures was just to remove the distraction, which was Charlotte at the time. We were kind of losing her, and what happens is everybody kind of directs their attention that way. Another thing that I found is they were kind of looking at mom. I always, if I can, have mom and dad either behind me or not in the room, and Kenny will spot or, if we need a spotter obviously they're there, but if I'm trying to capture the kids, I'll try to remove the parents a little bit because they'll just pay more attention to me, and I found that happening, but we needed them here for safety purposes obviously, but I think it went pretty well. This is a little messy.

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!