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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To all my clients... Thank you!

As my busy season is slowly winding down, I can’t be more grateful to my amazing clients who return to me year after year!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

When I set off on this journey of creating my own photography business, I didn’t have an understanding of how hard it can be to run your own business. I knew there would be difficulties. However, nothing really prepared me for the constant ups and downs of it. There’s the fantasy version of running a business where it just takes off without any hiccups or perils along the way.

Then there’s the reality of starting up your business from scratch and keeping it going even when you want to hang up your hat and say ‘I’m done.’

Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of tough days. I’ll make no illusion of it being all rainbows and sunshine all the time. Because it isn’t. It is hard work, grit, and the drive to keep doing better that keeps me going. And my wonderfully, supportive husband who stands behind me.

For all of my clients who have stayed with me through the years,
All of my new clients who have trusted me with their family photos,
And all my future clients who are dying to hire me ;),
Thank you!

Without all of you entrusting me to do my job, I wouldn’t have a business.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday season!

Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukah!
Happy Kwanza!
Happy Holidays!
And Happy New Year!

Emily

Family Photo Session | Cedar Park, TX

Family photos are wonderfully timeless.

Doesn't matter is you were sporting rainbow bangs in your family pictures or if you were wearing matching jumpsuits. Those were the fashion of the times. We rocked them or they rocked us!

Looking beyond our fashion mistakes of our youth, we still see and remember the good times when looking at photos. Which is why, not matter how painful it might be, you should always make time for your family to have photos. Your kids will want to see the printed version up on your walls and picture frames. they’ll look back and think the same things you are thinking about your family photos. But your kids will remember the good times or laugh at how crazy mom was getting everyone dressed and ready for the photos. Either way, they will have a smile on their face!

Enjoy these family photos of this awesome family!

And remember, photos are timeless and priceless.

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7 Tips to get kids to cooperate for a photo session!

It's that time of year!  Family photo time!

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Time to get the annual family photo session taken for your Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, or whichever Holiday you and your family celebrate, so you can put it on your Holiday card and mail it off to family and friends in December.

Most parents love and dread having their family photo taken.  They love it because those photos create memories of how their kids (and themselves) look and acted that particular year.

But let's be real, it can be a tad stressful on Mom and Dad.  It’s tough coordination schedules, games. Then you have to find a photographer who’s work you love, book your the photo session, and gather outfits for the family.  Not to mention bribing, threatening, and begging the kids to behave, smile, and act nice during their photo session.

Sound familiar?

It's pretty common.  I can't tell you how many times I've had Moms and Dads stressing about how to get their kids to cooperate for their family photo.  And with four kids of my own, I completely understand and can relate!

So with the busy season of photography starting, I compiled a quick list to try and make everything go a bit more smoothly at your next family photo shoot.

  1. Make sure all your kids are well fed.  Yes, it sounds like their pets, but it works!  Kids who are hungry are generally not willing to cooperate.  Does the term hangry sounds familiar?  So make sure they eat a good meal or heavy snack before the photo session.

  2. Kids should be comfortable in the clothes they are wearing.  If that gorgeous shirt/dress/skirt itches and irritates your child's skin, it's going to show in the photos.  If your little girl doesn't normally wear a hair barrette or headband, but you want it on her for the photos, chances are she's going to constantly be playing with it or taking it off.  If you're kids are comfortable in their clothing, they'll be more relaxed and willing to cooperate.

  3. Bring snacks!  If you have young children, snacks are always a good motivator for them.  As a parent, I know I can feed my child a full meal and 30 minutes later they'll be hungry again.  It's normal.  So having non-messy snacks handy during a photo shoot works wonders!

  4. Talk to your kids before hand about your photo session.  Surprising your kids with a family photo session never goes over well.  Tell them what's going on and what to expect at the photo session.  If they know your expectations from the beginning, they're more likely to cooperate.

  5. Bribes and Rewards.  As a parent, I'm not above bribing my kids sometimes.  Is it ideal?  No.  Does it work? Heck yes!  Promising them ice cream or a special treat afterwards usually gets kids to cooperate better during a photo shoot.  My kids love Dum Dums (even the older ones), so I'll grab a handful and promise them one when we're done.

  6. Allow your children to smile naturally.  I can't tell you how many times I've had parents behind me tell their kids to say cheese.  Although their children smile, it's not natural.  It's my job as a photographer to photograph your kids natural expressions.  I promise I can do it even on a bad day.  Plus, they're natural smile is a lot more photogenic than a 'cheesy' smile.

  7. Just relax!  If you as a parent are tense, your children are going to feel it and be tense too.  Family photo sessions can be a lot of fun and interactive.  A good photographer will guide you naturally through your session and have fun as the same time.  Don't sweat it, I've got ya!

Although these suggestions are more of a guideline than hard rules, they'll help you and your family get through your Family Photo Session with ease.  Just enjoy the moment and allow us photographers to capture your families memories!

I still have a few spots available for Fall sessions. Email me at emilyingallsphotography@gmail.com or contact me here to book your photo session today!

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Family Photo Session | Pease Park, Austin, TX

Family photo sessions are some of my favorite sessions to photograph.  The interaction between parents and children, the smiles and laughs, the inside jokes amongst the family, all of this makes a family and comes out through their family photos.

This particular family photo session was extra special to me!  I photographed this family while they were in the NICU.  I volunteer with an organization called The Tiny Footprints Project.  I photograph preemies in the NICU and their families to give them happy and special memories during what can be a stressful time.  This strong, little girl came into the world a bit early and has grown into a full blown toddler.  Her parents are the sweetest people!  And they brought their dog with them, which I got to love up on.  Enjoy this sweet family photo session I shot at Pease Park in Austin.