Decoding Photography Styles: Which is Right for Your Next Family Session?

July 12, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Family portrait of a mother, father, two daughters, and son in a park. Family photography stylesFamily portrait photography
Have you ever heard photographers use terms like “Fine Art” & "Lifestyle" and "Day-in-The-Life?” Maybe you’re vaguely familiar, but also not too sure exactly what these terms mean? 

Allow me to clear things up! By the end of this blog, you'll be able to identify each photography style and select the one that will best preserve your family's precious moments!

Although photographers frequently use jargon like "Lifestyle", “Fine Art” and "Portrait," it can be hard to truly understand what types of images these terms will produce. 

So, what does it all actually mean?

Just like you wouldn't wear a tuxedo to a beach party, some styles just work better with certain moods and moments. 

First up, let's talk about the Classic Style also known as Portrait Photography.

Classic Photography is timeless, a little more formal, and almost always more posed. This style usually has a lot of emphasis on the pose, so you would expect to see more rules than creativity. 

Picture your grandma's vintage photo hanging on the wall - that's a perfect example of traditional portrait photography. 

Generally, this is the “holiday card photo.” You can clearly see everyone’s face and everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. 

Candid photograph of a father and a son in fall. Creative portrait photography.Father-son candid portrait Next, we have Candid Photography, or some call this Lifestyle Photography. 

It’s all about capturing spontaneous moments - the giggles, the funny faces, the sudden burst of dancing in the living room. 

Usually this is done on-location or in studio, but your photographer might use more casual prompts and poses in order to get laughs and reactions from those being photographed.

This style is perfect if your family loves a more casual look to their photos. You might not be able to see everyone’s faces and some people’s faces might look goofy, but that’s the point of candid photography! 

It's less about perfection and more about authenticity.

Canvas fine art portraits of a couple and their two young children.Fine Art Photography One you might not hear too often is Fine Art Photography. This is a style that emphasizes beauty, creativity, and artistic expression. 

It's a genre of photography that's often compared to a fine painting or sculpture, with each image carefully composed and thoughtfully designed. 

The photographer may use lighting techniques to create a certain mood or emotion, and the subjects may be posed in a way that highlights their form and beauty. 

The goal of fine art photography is to create a work of art.

If you’re looking for a unique image to display, this style is for you! 

While it may not capture the spontaneous moments of candid photography, it offers a different kind of beauty and depth.

Home water birth, with mother holding newborn baby and young sons looking on. Day in the life photography style.Birth photography with the whole family Finally, for those who love activities, “Day-in-the-life” Photography could be your perfect match. 

This style aims to capture real-life events or milestones or activities in a storytelling manner, often set in personal and outdoor spaces. 

So if your family loves to hike, camp, or picnic, lifestyle shots will catch those special moments. 

With day-in-the-life photography, there is generally no posing or prompting at all. The photographer really is a fly on the wall while your family participates in an activity you all love doing together. 

I particularly love day-in-the-life photography for families with toddlers because it’s so much more fun to do an activity they love than trying to ask them to sit still and smile for a more classic type of photography session.

Birth photography definitely falls into Day-in-the-life photography! It’s capturing one of the biggest days of your life, right? The day you meet your baby!

Now, here's the fun part: deciding on the best style for your family! 

This isn't about choosing 'the best' style out there, but rather what's best for your family (and this might change depending on the season of life your family is in).

If your family is a lively bunch that's constantly on the move, candid or lifestyle photography might work best. For families that love tradition and formality, portrait photography could be the way to go.

But hey, who says you have to stick to one style? Now that you know the terms photographers use for these types of sessions, feel free to ask your photographer if they do these types of photography and if they’re willing to mix and match. 

For example, I generally include both “classic” and “candid” in my portrait sessions because my clients like a mix of both. I bring in the fine art aspect by guiding clients through the process of turning their images into works of art through printing large wall pieces for their home.

As you ponder over your next family photo session, let these styles play in your mind. 

You don’t have to choose just one style, but it’s always helpful if you can let your photographer know which way you’d like to go with your session.

I can't wait to see you and your family in front of my lens, capturing those moments that will become treasured memories! 

For more tips on how to find the best Traverse City photographer for you, read this blog post: 4 Qualities To Look For In A Family Photographer


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Welcome to the blog of Crackerjack Photography Studio and photographer, Jamie Kirschner.  I'm a portrait photographer based in Traverse City, Michigan who loves learning and retelling the stories of others. I practice this through birth photography, family portraits, headshots and event photography.



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