To those who have finally decided to take the plunge – shoot lifestyle images – here are a few tips to help you along. Assuming that you have never done this before, that you are a non-professional photographer using friends or family members to be your models, take note of the following points before you shoot:
1. Prepare well for your shooting
Check that your models are properly and smartly dressed for the activity/situation you have planned. For example, they should be in sporty tennis outfits for a tennis shot; casual outfit with an apron when posing as a housewife, correct school uniforms for children in primary school, etc. It will be a shame to have a beautiful shot rejected on the grounds that the attire is not appropriate, too loud, dirty, etc. If the model is a young child or baby, check that the diaper, T-shirt or shorts is clean and dry, preferably not showing the logo or brand name. Many a time, I have seen images of beautiful, smiling babies flawed because the attire is wet or dirty. The bottom line is that all your shoot has to be planned and created to look natural, candid and spontaneous! It is almost rare and near impossible to get a perfect candid shot of a child or baby without forethought, planning and conscious effort with the camera all set and ready to aim and shoot at a split second. Take a lot of breaks when dealing with a small child, and make sure you bring a few toys for them to play with. The more comfortable the child is, the better the images will be. Here’s an excellent article on photographing children.
2. Check your backgrounds
Check the background and lighting. If the shot is taken in a bedroom, living room, kitchen, etc., check that the place is neat and tidy and there is enough light for a good shot. Very often clients are reluctant to spend money to replace the background of an otherwise good image because of poor lighting. So to avoid rejection of your image, check the lighting before you decide to go ahead and shoot. If the shot is taken outdoors, watch out for litter on the ground, rusty steel bars or broken swing in a playground, garbage in a market place to name a few.
3. Shoot the same view from different angles
Create a few different shots during one shoot. Change the situation, the activity or the outfit if possible. For instance, if the child is wearing a cap for a few shots, take some without the cap. If the child is playing with a toy, you can change the toy or get the child to do a different activity like reading, drawing, drinking, etc. At the same time don’t forget to shoot a few close-ups of their faces while they are concentrating on their activities.
4. Pay attention to your models
Be alert for funny and interesting facial expressions. Always look at the face closely and wait for the moment to click – the mischievous smile, the smiling eyes, the dimples or the cutest antic of the child. And while you are watching the face, especially for children and babies, watch out also for the drool, the runny noses and any indecent exposure! Those are things not to shoot as stock images.
Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts resulted in a lot of rejects and no sales. It is not easy to meet the high standards of art directors who are always looking for that one elusive, perfect shot when it comes to lifestyle images. Keep on trying. You will improve when you keep at it long enough. The old cliché that practice makes perfect is true in this case.