Lifestyle vs Portrait vs Documentary Photography... what's the difference?

There are a lot of different types of photography out there. People hear different photography industry phrases and buzz words thrown around all the time. I get asked a lot what lifestyle photography vs portrait photography is. And what the heck is documentary photography?

So today I’m here to break it down for you.

Portrait photography
Portrait photography is exactly what it sounds life. People are posed and put into positions for a portrait. Most of the time, the photographer will tell you where to stand, who to stand next to, where to look, hand positioning, leg positioning, etc. You, as the person being photographed, will probably feel awkward because you don’t normally sit/stand that way. It’s totally normal, and you will end up looking great! Most portrait photography is formally posed whether it’s in studio or outside.

Think of it this way… if everyone is looking and smiling at the camera, it’s portrait photography.

Lifestyle Photography
Lifestyle photography is that middle ground between portrait photography and documentary photography (which I’ll get to next). Lifestyle photography isn’t formally posed, but more guided posing. Your photographer should be telling you where to stand and what to do. The photographer will give you prompts such as ‘everyone laugh’ or ‘walk towards me but look at mom’ or ‘throw your child into the air’ or ‘whisper a secret into someone’s ear.’ The entire family might not be looking directly at the camera but at each other instead. There’s more action and movement in lifestyle photography. Good lifestyle photographers will bring out emotion within your family and capture small, special moments rather than posed, smiling at the camera photos.

Lifestyle photography… informally posed with prompts from photographer, not everyone always looking at the camera.

Documentary Photography
Documentary photography is exactly how it sounds. A photographer is hired to document you and your family over a period of time. There is no direction given by the photographer. They are more there as a ‘fly on the wall’ scenario to capture your everyday life or a special event as it is lived. There is zero formal posing going on. Documentary photography typically last hours or a whole day (such as a Day in the Life).

Documentary photography… no posing, documenting life over a long period of time.


So now the big question… which type of photography is right for you?

Whatever you want!

Honestly, it depends solely on your personal tastes and preferences.

Some people only want posed, formal photos which means portrait photography is right up there alley! Others want to see emotion come through their photos, so lifestyle or documentary would be a better approach for them. I’ve noticed the Baby Boomers prefer portrait photography while the Generation X and Millennials often prefer Lifestyle and Documentary, but that’s not hard and true.

You, as the client, has to decide what type of photographs you like and want to capture. Then find a photographer who captures it in a style you like!

I photograph a combination of Portrait photography and Lifestyle Photography. I’ve found that combination works best for me personally as a photographer and artist. And I’ll usually do it within one sessions. I’ll formally pose a family, then start giving them prompts to get a little more interactive with the family and kids.

Check out this family session I photographed with Portraits and Lifestyle photography.

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The power of the printed photograph

When I was growing up, there was no such thing as digital photos.  Everyone had a film camera with 24 or 36 exposure shots on it.  I took the photos on with my camera, dropped off the roll to get developed, then waited 2 weeks to get the roll back to see how my photos turned out.  There was no instant display or multiple shots to get the perfect image.  You had one, maybe two chances, to get your picture, then crossed your fingers and prayed all was well.

And the excitement of going through all the prints when the roll was finally ready to be picked up was amazing!  Sifting through the photos, laughing at all the cuteness or ridiculous faces you captured on film was priceless.

Nowadays, we take pictures with our phones, see them instantly, then retake if we decide the photo was off or someone wasn't smiling or we just don't like the way we look.  And I'll admit, I am 100% guilty of doing this as well.

But today we tend to forget the most important part of the whole reason for taking photos, and that is the printing of them.

What's the point of capturing your family's memories if you're not going to display them for everyone to see?  The answer is, sadly, not much.

Printing photos is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, your kids, and the next generation.  Seeing a photo on a wall, book shelf, or even a fireplace mantel gives a whole new meaning to keep your memories alive.

At my parent's house, my mom has a couple of dozen photo albums full of 4x6 or the old school instant Polaroid prints where you can write on the bottom of the photo (you know you remember those old instant Polaroid photos that you had to shake to dry off the ink and hope you accidentally touch and mess it up).  Anyway, I love those old photo albums.  I love looking at my childhood on print, take the photos out, and have a trip down memory lane.

I want that for my own children and (fingers crossed) their children one day.  To show them the prints of photos of their childhood, awkward years, and fun everyday memories to share and reminisce.  My own children love going through the photos I've had printed and figuring out how old they were and what were they doing. I just have to get those photos into an album, and I'll be set!

I love the fact as a photographer I can offer my clients the digital prints of their families and newborns so they can print as many photos as they want.  I want they to print their family photos and share them.  Not just keep them on a hard drive for years to come.  It's awesome to see my clients send me photos of their home wall galleries and see their photos on display.

It saddens my heart to think the next generation is losing out of the power of the printed photograph.  Nothing makes a house a home like seeing your families history on the walls with photos.

Whether it's a snapshot you took on your phone or your family photos you had taken by a professional photographer, print them out!  Display them!  Put them in albums for everyone to look back upon and remember the fun times!

And if anyone ever needs a recommendation on where to have your photos printed, email me at emilyingallsphotography@gmail.com  I'll be happy to recommend a some consumer labs to you!

My family Christmas photo from last year! 

My family Christmas photo from last year! 

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Emily Ingalls is a professional photographer in Round Rock, Texas.  Emily specializes in family and children portraiture, family lifestyle photography, and newborn lifestyle photography.  She loves traveling, coffee, and martial arts.

My Crazy Summer... home construction, playing chauffer and more!

Hello!  It's now July, and I feel this summer is both flying by and crawling at a snail's pace.  

I've spent the entire month of June under construction.  Now me, personally.  But my house.  My husband and I have been in our home since 2013.  We went bought it my biggest issue was 'the pantry'.  I mean it was small, like tiny.  It was less than 2x3ft.  And seeing as my family has 4 children, three of those being boys, it was definitely not big enough.

I had food and other sundries in the laundry room, taking up cabinet space in the kitchen, and the coat closet, no joke.  Yes, I had stuff that should be in the pantry in the coat closet.  It was quite frustrating for 4 years going into various rooms to make lunches for school.

Finally, we found an awesome contractor to work with, and the construction began.  Not only did we expand our pantry to triple the size, but we also closed in the formal living room made it into an office and separated the new office and formal dining room.  Check out Amthor Construction and talk to Dane Amthor.  He's awesome!!

I can't even tell how excited I am to have this finished!  It was a little bit of a living hell (for me) to live in a construction zone when I like everything clean, put away, and organized.  But now it's done, and I have an awesome pantry!

Now the pantry, office and dining room is done!  I have an actual office with a separate desk and computer from my husband (yeah!).  I love my husband, but having to share a computer and desk with him drives to a little nuts.  Especially when I have to work and he has to work (cause he's in the tech industry), it didn't work out well.  Now, we have separate desk and computers, and I'm a very happy wife.  Anyway, I'm still here and alive!

Between the construction, the kids being home for summer, being a chauffer between camps, activities and general summer stuff, I'm not just getting time to sit down and write.  And I can't begin to tell you how much I've missed writing and blogging.

I'll be back soon with more writing and more wit!

I can't be the only one with a crazy summer going on.  Tell me how your summer has been!
Have you gone on vacation?
Are you at home with your kids?
Are you like me and have been playing chauffer?

 

One of the many lunches we ate upstairs while the construction was going on.

One of the many lunches we ate upstairs while the construction was going on.

It's moments like these I wish I could bottle up and review when I hear them fighting.

It's moments like these I wish I could bottle up and review when I hear them fighting.

Proof we did make it to the pool a few times!

Proof we did make it to the pool a few times!

Smash Cake In-home Lifestyle Photo Session | Round Rock, TX

This little man turned 1 year old!

This little man had a blast making a huge mess at his first birthday party surrounded by his grandparents, parents, and aunts.  I was able to photograph him before the cake capturing his 1 year old milestone photos.  After his 1 year milestone photos, I shot a few family photos.  Then the cake came out!

Little man had no idea what to do with it after first.  His Grandma and Aunts helped him out after he tried to put out the birthday candle with his fingers.  The cake ended up everywhere, but he had a lot of fun making a huge mess.  And I had a blast photographing his birthday cake smash!

Trip to Rome, Italy!

I'm really behind on sharing these photos!  My awesome husband took me to Rome, Italy back in October 2017.  We went with my brother and brother-in-law.  We had an amazing trip!

I stepped out of my comfort zone and focused on street photography.  I photographed all the big landmarks and all the interesting stuff I was able to find on side streets and all over the city.  We hit all the tourists attractions like the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, several fountains, and Vatican City.  We also just walked around Rome and did our best not to get hit and run over by the crazy moped drivers (and there were a lot!).

And the food!  Oh Italian food is spectacular!  I highly recommend going to Rome just to eat amazing food for a week straight!  We ate gelato everyday, and I have no regrets.

Enjoy a photographers paradise (or one of them)... Rome, Italy!

The flight to England and subsequent layover at Heathrow took it out of these three.