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Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 15 of 31

Plan an In-Home Shooting Session

Emily Lucarz

Lifestyle Family Photography

Emily Lucarz

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Lesson Info

15. Plan an In-Home Shooting Session
Going into an unknown location -- someone's home -- and getting great shots requires planning. Walk through the process of planning a lifestyle portrait session and learn what to plan ahead of time. From deciding what rooms to shoot in, to talking to clients about clutter, learn the essentials to planning for a successful session.

Lesson Info

Plan an In-Home Shooting Session

Now we're gonna enter the section where we're going to be kind of entering into the videos here pretty soon. I'm gonna talk to you about what we did about planning the session for this family that we're going to be showing. We're gonna go over lighting, we're about to talk about the clutter, your flow activities and engagement tips, okay? Aren't those little girls cute? This is called falloff light. Are you guys familiar with falloff light? So what falloff light is, and this is a good trick to use in homes where you have minimal lighting, I'll just talk about it since the picture's right here and we're about to go into lighting. Falloff light is when you have, like there's a shadow right here and then there's the light essentially. So when you're shooting a family say outside, a lot of people make the mistake of bringing their subject too far under the trees back into the shade. What you do is you go all the way to the edge of the shade, so you're still under the tree, you get that loo...

k, but then you have the light fall onto their face from the sun right there, that's called falloff light. And you can do that in homes, too. So we did that with these little guys right here. Girls, I should say. Aren't they cute? The falloff light's hitting their face but we still got a cool lighting situation with the shadows, okay? And use those kinds of tricks in homes. They make for interesting pictures. Okay, planning the session. Read the questionnaire. So you're going to read over your client's questionnaire. Okay, we talked about the questionnaire. What do the children like to play with? What does their house look like? What colors do the kids like? You know, all those sorts of things. Read over everything, really get to feel like you know the family before you call them or plan your session, 'cause you really need to kind of know them before you do that. Plan a time to reach out and call your client. Kenny always asks, "Hey, is there a great time "for Emily to reach out? "She's free from noon to five today. "Is there a good time that Emily can call you?" I like to have parents ready when I call them 'cause I don't catch them off guard like changing a diaper or doing something, so set up a time to call and talk to your client when they're ready. Then you start your planning. The biggest thing is also, take notes. So it's so easy for us to talk on the phone and not take notes while we're doing it. Make sure that you're taking notes while you're doing it. I like to take notes right inside IRIS, because then it's all there in their client portal that we talked about earlier, so that's what I like to do. Time of the day, this is critical to planning your session. You have to walk around, and you will see this in the videos, how I do this. When you talk to your clients, say, "Hey, I like to shoot in bedrooms, "I like to shoot in the kitchen sometimes, "sometimes we like to shoot in the kids' rooms, "sometimes we like to shoot, you know, "wherever family life happens. "Can you tell me which way do the windows face "in your family room? "Which way do the windows face in your kid's room?" And this is so critical because if it's a bright, sunny day, and you have and east/west facing house, if the sun rises on the east, and it is so bright in there in the morning to the point of you're getting window pane lines on the ground, 'cause those are things you can't avoid in homes, right? You don't want to start a session in that home at nine a.m., okay, you'll want to wait till like when the sun's come up a little bit but it's still illuminated in there, okay. So which way the windows face is really critical to planning. A lot of newer lifestyle photographers will go into homes and it's an east/west facing house, and they go say at 10 a.m. or nine a.m. and all the rooms they want to shoot in are west facing, so even worse, it's totally dark, right? So north-/south is pretty much constant light, so you're okay there, but east/west you really need to think about and prioritize which rooms you want to shoot in when according to the light. Another thing is you need to make sure we're shooting around naps. We don't want crabby kids. Crabby kids are gonna happen on their own terms, we don't need them tired, too. So go around nap schedules, be flexible, okay? Parents, a lot of times, since I shoot only during the week, dad will come home during lunch and we'll do the session, and then he'll go back to work. So be flexible with parents and their work schedules. Type of session that you might want, do the parents really want a breakfast session? Is the kitchen pitch black in the morning? Do the breakfast session in the afternoon. You don't know what time it is in the pictures, right? Just because it's dark in the kitchen doesn't mean that you have to do that scene then, okay? To clarify, I know you talked about this a little bit yesterday, this is from Mirror, why not talk to the client before, during the inquiry process, before the prices are given? Can you tell us again why you give those prices-- We kind of do, we kind of do. The problem is, if you go over so much information before the pricing, and you spend say two hours, and then they see your price, and they're like, "Oh, I don't want it anyways." Well then they just got all of your information, now they know how to prep for a session if they want to reach out to a, you know, it's just kind of touchy that way. So I like to make sure that they, you have to make sure that they can, it's a financial decision first and then if they can go for it, then we go into the planning. So the rooms to shoot in. Now, we kind of touched on this a little bit, but decide which rooms they want to be photographed, and base that upon light as well, when you're gonna start those rooms, when you're planning your session. Know before you go about which way the windows face. Start thinking about activities that you can do in those rooms, okay? If we've decided that we're going to shoot in brother's room, what do you think we're going to play in there? Probably something with dinosaurs, or if it's an older kid, a lot of, I've done shoots where they're like, they've got record players or cool earphones and they're hanging out, listening to music, that kind of thing for older boys. So plan your activities with your clients based upon the rooms, when the light comes in, it's all very important, you know. Talk to your clients about clutter and purposeful clutter. A lot of clients are very concerned about getting their house super perfect, but super perfect isn't real. You want to make sure some things are out, like shoes by the front door, that's normal, that's fun, right, that makes for a cute shot. What you don't want are like dirty dishes everywhere and those kinds of things, but if they have things that are typically out, tell them "leave them out, because that's you, "and we'll probably use some of it, so leave it out." Clothing. There's two choices that I tell clients, this is just me. Are you a colorful family or are you a neutral family? And that can start us on do we want neutrals or do we want colors, okay? A lot of people will say both. So then what we do is okay, let's get the kids in fun color, and how about you as parents stay a little bit more neutral. And it kind of eases them a little bit. A lot of people want to change clothes. I'm okay with it if we don't have six kids, right, because then it would just be crazy. If I feel like it's a right family for clothes changing, then I'll say, "Hey, have the clothes out. "If things are going great, then we'll change some outfits." And some people just want to throw an outfit on at the end, that's fine. The times that I do change clothes are if we're doing like the PJ shoots, so jumping on the bed, they're in pajamas, then obviously we're going to need to change into regular clothes for the rest of the session. So that's an example of when I absolutely would have people change clothes. Another thing with clothing, we want layers. Layers make for fun images. On a side note for newborns, I always tell moms, don't wear bright colored shirts, because you'll colorcast that onto their baby, so we stay away from, with newborns we tend to do more neutrals. I don't want my clients matching. And I also don't like them in like khaki shorts and khaki pants and you know, work stuff, right. That's not, we don't live in work stuff, right? So, I tell people, just do what you can do, just don't match, and you're always gonna have a matching family. You know, I've got a good friend, she matches her kids. I love her dearly, and she's probably watching, but I love them, but they always match, like to a T, but if that's real life for you, yes, match your children. But if it's not real life, don't match your children, okay? Your kids are individual people, let them be individual people, okay? You can color coordinate, you know, some people get pajamas, the same thing but different colors, you know, that's okay. I would prefer to kind of have some more dynamic in the picture. Clothing does not make a break a shoot, however it does help it aesthetically to the eye. You can plan an activity, and if somebody's sitting there in boring clothes like a brown shirt and brown shorts, it's not gonna be as fun if they're in something fun and colorful, and it just, it can really bring up the aesthetic of the photo, 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!