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Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 25 of 31

The Importance of Photo Composition

Emily Lucarz

Lifestyle Family Photography

Emily Lucarz

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Lesson Info

25. The Importance of Photo Composition
Composition keeps the viewer's eye on the subject -- and it's essential when working with an in-home session to eliminate distractions. Build compositional techniques like negative space, leading lines, texture, and juxtaposition into your lifestyle portrait photography.

Lesson Info

The Importance of Photo Composition

Okay, connection and composition. This little guy was adorable. It was at a workshop, I was stepping back, taking a picture of him looking at somebody else shooting him and I loved this picture and it was so blown out, I didn't care. I'm like, you know what, I like it, it was compositionally, it was cute, right? So I kept it. Okay, how to keep your viewer's eye directed. Okay? We'll talk about composition as we go, but there's a few tricks to keep your viewer's eye where it belongs. One of them being negative space, okay, what doesn't belong? Which is really juxtaposition, is that the word? Leading lines, keep your viewer's eye directed, and filling your frame. And we're gonna go through and talk about all of these things, okay? Connection, using light, perspective, again. Fluidity. We need to be fluid with everything that we're doing. Okay? We were walking to our next setup. Remember, people move, what happens when people move? Fun stuff. She was carrying this little guy. Grab that sh...

ot, ya know? When you're transitioning from location to location, have your camera because fun things happen, you know? Somebody steps on a toe. Something happens. In this, she just was carrying him like that and I just thought it was adorable. Okay, so let's talk about negative space. It forces your eye to the subject. If you add negative space, which is up there on the left-hand side, somehow it got bumped over. On the left-hand side, it focuses the eye to the subject and it can tell a story, okay? It just forces the eye to that direction. The thing with a negative space, is you have to think in a rule of thirds. If you have a big grid right here, here's the dots, negative space, you wanna put something on one of those focal points in the rule of thirds. But it needs to have meaning, right? This would not have looked correct, that picture, if she would have been on that side of the frame, right? Because she's reading to that direction. So if you have little boy walking on a tree or something, they're walking in that direction, the negative space needs to be on that side of the frame. Don't just add negative space to add it, because it's supposed to be there, okay? Juxtaposition, so the dog was randomly there, she was snuggling, I literally was getting my shot set up and it was hilarious to me, so I took it. Because that dog's cute. Everything looks awesome but one thing in that room, okay? Leading lines, I don't know how those got bumped on here. There's leading lines in the crib, right? It visually directs you to the subject. Again, filling your frame, okay? Texture. It brings interest to an otherwise boring image, right? That could have been boring with her just laying there on a white rug. But having those fun geometric things below her, makes it more fun, okay? So use texture. Perspective. Take that texture and get different shots, right? Same kid, same rug, two completely different shots. This is the way you guys keep adding to your galleries. Take one thing, and get different ideas, okay? So take something visually interesting and create multiple moments. Keep in mind the location of the perspectives. So this, I wanted, that one with the mom? I wanted that backlighting. My vision was, I want something ethereal, and pretty, she just adopted him, she was so in love with him, and I just wanted to capture that, right? And that's what I did. I put her in front of his window, we put some sheers up, and we got that image. Then, I went over, I pulled the rug away from the wall, right, because it was too bright over there to shoot down on him. We would have had harsh shadows and I needed even light. Brought the dog over, and what'd the dog do? Lo and behold, licked his face. I about died. I mean, because you can't plan that, right? But, we got two beautiful shots with one rug, which is great. Okay, so take one cool thing and make different shots. More texture, change your perspective again, okay? Shoot from above. Those are the babies with the beads. Same kids. Okay, changing perspective. More perspective. Okay, this is during a workshop. Take yourself and move yourself around the bed. Go around the bed. Go over the bed. We talked about this a lot. Shoot through things, okay? It gives more visual interest. Stand outside the door. Get a little part of the door. Creep in, because then you can tell that you're behind the doorframe, okay? Throw stuff up and shoot through it, okay? Laundry. Throw laundry up and shoot through it while the kids are jumping on the bed. Doesn't have to be feathers and bubbles, we just did that because it's easy to do and fun. But there's other things you can throw up in the air and have the kids have fun, right? Because they're looking up, it creates visual interest, and it's fun. You can even shoot the person in the back, and let the person in the front remain blurry, that's another, you know? People think it's a big no-no. But if it creates cool composition, tells a story, it's yours. Do it. Everybody's scared to kind of step out of the box, and you can't be. Same situation, this is all during that same workshop. You get low, got the dad with the kid up high, right? Cute. Arms, body. Go from above. This was all in the matter of a minute, all four of these. Go from behind. They're playing patty-cake, see them playing patty-cake? You could see her shooting, this was a workshop, again. But we were playing patty-cake. Go to the side and go from above, okay? Just always be mindful of locations. Okay, using light in perspective. Don't forget to shoot straight on, okay? You can be boring, too. It's fine to be boring. You can put people on the middle of the picture, just make sure they're doing something, or make sure it's purposeful, okay? You don't just wanna stand someone in the middle of the wall. If you have a blank white wall, I would much rather see an image of a kid on the blank white wall, sitting on the ground with his hand on his leg, with a whole big white wall, right? Than a kid standing here at the white wall. Take the white wall, compose it to give it some visual interest, okay? Dramatic lighting. This room was that Chicago room, with the babies, remember, we talked about the twins? I had her turn to look at dad, actually, I'm pretty proud of myself for (mumbles) She turned to look at dad because I couldn't see her face, so if you can't have her face in the picture, because it's too dark, so look at dad, I wanna see what she's doing, and I love this lighting, and we did. And you can see the side of her face now, because it illuminated correctly for backlighting, because I didn't have a reflector or anything yet. I still love that.

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!