One of the things that draws me to lifestyle photography more than any other kind is that I love detail shots. Whilst I also enjoy a good portrait - and I think that they are just as important and beautiful to photograph too - I believe detail shots can be just as beautiful as any other type of images, and as it requires you to slow down and be a little bit more purposeful when shooting, really allows you to see the beauty in your everyday life.
Here are some tips for helping you capture the details in lifestyle photography.
1) Change Your Shooting Perspective
Take images from different angles and perspectives to try and tell the whole story. Shoot from above, eye-level, below, close up, far back and so on. Doing this allows you to see details that might otherwise go unnoticed or just tells the story slightly differently. For example, this first image below shows the mess left behind after baking - no other angle apart from above would have shown it as clearly. And the image of the backpack lined up the hallway ready for school wouldn't have had the reflection and symmetry if I hadn't shot from down low.
1) Capture Surroundings and Object Details
As well as focusing on your subject, it can be lovely to add in a few environmental details too. This could be anything: decor in the room, the way the light was shining in through the window, flowers in the field, street signs, the school books on the table - It all helps gives a sense of place and time and / or adds context to your story of that day or activity.
3) Get In Close
Make sure that you get in close and capture the smaller, finer details of the story. This could be hands holding the paintbrush, the paints lined up in a row, eyelashes, mucky hands, the trousers stained at the knee from playing on the ground. Watch your aperture here - once you get in close your depth of field closes right up, so you need to be extra careful with focus!
4) Consider switching lenses
Wide angle lens are great for capturing the whole scene, but for getting in close for the details, you may want to switch to a longer focal length so you are not right up against the action! Lifestyle photography generally has you not being involved in the activity (instead you are just letting things unfold naturally) and it can be hard for your subject to feel relaxed when they have a lens inches from their face!
5) Photograph details when your child isn't there
You don't necessarily have to be photographing an activity to capture the details. When your child isn't there, capture a detail of them that you want to remember: Their favourite lovies lined up on the bed. The mess they leave behind at breakfast. The cowboy hat hanging on the door waiting for them to come home. The book ready for reading at bedtime. The wonderful thing about photographing your own children is that you have the time to really look around when no-one else is there, and see the details that matter. If you are shooting clients, you can still do this: take a moment whilst they are getting ready or taking a break to shoot some of the details that you can see - these type of shots work wonderfully in a photo book!
6. Photograph details of your own day too!
Of late, I have found myself not just capturing my child's life, but also little details of my own life too. Slowing down and really paying attention to the details ALL THE TIME will help you enormously during "sessions" (whether that be photographing an event or activity within your own family or a client session) as you will have trained your eye to see them. I personally also think it helps make household chores a little more interesting :)
7 . Don't worry about chopping off heads!
Whilst you should still pay attention to composition and avoid awkward chops in detail shots, I do believe you have a lot more leeway than with "traditional" photography. I have no problem chopping into heads as long as I have a clear reason for doing so.
Capturing the details adds an extra element to your family photos or to client sessions, plus it's a wonderful way to encourage your creativity!
Want some more ideas? I have a FREE ebook with 100 child lifestyle photography prompts - it should give you some great ideas of what to shoot!