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Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 17 of 31

Develop Your In-Home Session Flow


Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 17 of 31

Develop Your In-Home Session Flow


Lesson Info

Develop Your In-Home Session Flow

Let parents know tips and what will happen during the session. When you arrive you know you let your clients know you'll be walking around to peek at their house. The first thing I do is I say, "Okay I'm gonna go run around your house a little bit." You know, I get to know the kids, mom's still getting ready. I'm gonna go kinda check out the light with the kids. I'll be like, "Hey Sally-Sue! Can you take me to see your room? Can you take me to see the kitchen?" Little do they know I'm really looking at the light. But I'm also getting to know them at the same time. Okay "Go show me your favorite room, you know, unicorn in your room." So you can kind of do this do it at the same time. Let them know that you will be directing everything. So they don't need to worry about filling dead space, okay? Dead space, besides sometimes we just need some dead space, right? Everybody needs to re-group, it's fine. Mom can go touch her make-up up if she wants to whatever. Chilling for a minute is fine.

We don't have to be constantly moving. It's and I always tell clients, "Don't look at me. Ever. Unless I tell you to. Ever" So I want them connecting with each other, not with me unless I tell you to. And I'll tell people to. I'll do Peek-a-Boo I'll do the 1-2-3 trick that we did earlier in the studio in that session earlier. But I do not want clients looking at me because they always feel forced to. What ends up happening and this happened the other day is everybody's interacting and engaging and here's dad like staring at the camera. So you have to tell everybody, "Don't look at me unless I tell you to look at me." 'Cause they'll all be interacting and you'll have one goofball you know smiling and that looks so weird. Like, you don't wanna do that. I'll purposefully tell people to look at me 'kay? Anybody have any questions about that? I have a question about the lighting. Would you suggest maybe parents sending you photos of the rooms beforehand so you can kind of get an idea of the light or the clutter and make suggestions Yeah we sometimes do based on rooms, yeah We sometimes do A lot of times they'll text me pictures. They text me while they're outfit shopping [Laughs] So, you know, it depends on the client. If I have a client that's specifically concerned about lighting in their home during booking like they're really really concerned sometimes I'll make a drive out there. Just to make 'em, to make sure. 'Cause there are some homes that legitimately are dark and might not be the best home, you know? Everybody wants to make it work all the time but sometimes you just have to let it go and it might not be the right situation. You have to be okay at telling people that too, you know. You have to be okay with saying no. And that's hard, you know, for newer photographers especially. But there's a lot of clients that I'll be like, "You know I don't think that this is gonna be the best situation, however, let's take everything your family loves to do and take it downtown, okay?" Or take it into the studio if they want to. Or we'll pick a really fun location that's special to them. Go in an ice cream shop, okay? Let's all go to a cupcake shop, you know do something fun. We can still get lifestyley life inspired pictures outside their home. Shot List, okay. Here is my Shot List. Each child I want to make sure I get each child by themself, okay? I wanna get all of the kids together obviously that's the goal and I tell parents there are some kids there are some as we know we just cannot, I've bribed before poor Kenny I'll be in the background, "We're gonna buy your kid a puppy like we're gonna buy a puppy!" And the parents are like, "Hun, just, it's okay." Like we get in there, you know, we do anything we can to get those kids to sit together. But because we know the parents want that, right. But if we set those expectations to the parent ahead of times, "Look if you have kids that just aren't fans of each other we are gonna do our best to get them engaged in an activity where they're connected with each other but you might not get the shot of everybody looking." And if you tell them that before the session happens you feel better, they feel better. You know, 'cause I think part of the time parents think that we're trying to get that shot when they didn't really care. So you need to have all of those expectations set before you get in there, okay. Family shot, Dad with kids, Mom with kids, once you've gotten all these go to town, go play. That's when you get crazy, pull out your wide angles, go up go down. A lot of times I'll be like, "Hey pick a kid" and then we'll go play. You know, 'cause we've got all the standard ones done. Some kids need to go take a break grab the other kid. You can grab whoever's in front of you. 'Cause we've gotten all of the standard shots done, okay? All right session flow. This is where it's really important to get to know the kids in the beginning. Because it keeps your flow going 'cause they trust you. They kinda feel like you're friends. Take the kids away again, let the parents finish getting ready, get your standard shots done and then be flexible, okay? It just it's really important for your clients to feel relaxed if the kids feel more comfortable with you. So that's why it's so important to me to get to know the kids at the beginning of that session, okay? So that's step one. Siblings, okay, have each child get a photo in their rooms if you can. There are gonna be some kid rooms that have complete Darkout shades that can't be moved. I try to make sure that that's talked about ahead of time. It never fails there'll be a room that's just too dark, you know. There's only so many, you know, room space, different directions. And if we're in a North facing house but the child has a room on the West side but we've picked the morning. It just, you know, that happens. You can't accommodate every single room. And that's why it's so important to make sure that you plan the activities that they want the most around the lighting. We talked about that a little bit earlier. If they really really want his room you need to really make sure that you talk about the direction of that room. 'Cause you don't want to get there and have the room be pitch black. Have each child get a photo in their rooms, allow the siblings to be together, let 'em interact. Just put 'em in there see what they do. Sometimes they won't do anything and they'll stare at you. So you can just give 'em a toy, right? Get a dollhouse out. Give 'em some books. Have 'em read to each other. Read to their dolls. Have the dolls beat each other up. Do something, you know? However siblings naturally interact, do it okay? Step out of the room. Step into the room. Go close to them. All of those different perspectives, okay? Sometimes depending, let's see. So letting go of the plans gonna help you out a ton. So if they're not working well in there, put 'em into the other bedroom, right? That's fine just be flexible, 'kay? Okay so help them engage each other naturally. Let them know it's okay not to look at the camera. With the family this is huge like we talked about. Let them have fun. We'll go on, we're gonna go onto how to compose all this in a minute. But let these people have fun. We were playing Peek-A-Boo behind the sheers and it was so cute and that room over here on the bottom. It was so dark in there but the back lighting was so pretty. So the reason we did this a lot of people are gonna wanna put people right in front of a window with back lighting. But if you don't have any bounce if you're not using a flector or a reflector which tends to kind of blind people anyways. You're not gonna see their eyes very well. So whenever I have back lighting situations I always turn my subjects because then you're not worried about their facial like their eyes and stuff. And that's really easy to do with families especially. So they can look at each other. So not only are you getting interaction, you're getting a beautiful back lit shot and you're getting, it's just you know, it's a whole bunch of things at once. So make sure that you tackle the best of everything that was kind of lightly planned in your session with the families. Families are hard I mean, parents are hard, dads are hard. It's hard to get everybody positioned correctly. But as long as they're kind of in that same focal plane I'll have a kid probably get elevated on shoulders. Somebody'll be snuggling a kid. I'll be like, "Okay ready set let's tickle Joey. Right and everybody look at Joey, let's tickle Joey." And then while that's happening I'm gonna be like, "Joey Joey." 'Cause I want him to look at me. So everybody's looking at Joey and Joey's looking at me, okay? So that was the one time that I got somebody to look at me. And without it's always happens, Dad will look at me too when Joey looks. Dad's always look I don't know why. It's kind of funny. Maybe 'cause we do all the planning with moms. We need to tell moms tell dad, right? But that's how I get families to engage. We kind of pick one of the family members to engage with and then let the families naturally interact. Session Flow 'kay pets. Now as you all know I'm obsessed with pets and pictures. And pets with the younger families were typically there first right so the pets are kind of like a child. So don't forget the pet. No matter who it is. Dog, cat, I put Fido. That's kind of biased towards dogs but. Grab a fisheye, grab a wide angle. This was my wide angle lens. It distorted it and it made it fun, right? They're playing in the background. Befriend the dog, like the dog's your friends too. Have those treats with you, you know. And you're gonna see in just a minute the live video of me interacting with this dog. It was so funny, the dog was on the bed and kept charging me 'cause it kept wanting to lick my face. So you know how I shoot I go "Click click click click click." So it's like "ch ch ch ch ch" and I have this dog coming. It's really funny so don't go anywhere 'cause it's pretty funny. Befriend the dog so come up with activities to engage the pets. Now the biggest tip of advice I can give you with pets is do the pet scenes on the bed. And a lot of parents say, "We don't let the dog in the bed." I'm like, "'Kay but you're going to today." So they do and what we'll do is if they don't want to get their comforter dirty we'll just put a different sheet on or something. We had a client that this happened to and she's been texting me this past year. The dog will never leave the bed now. But we got the shot so. Just be in control. Be okay with telling your clients, "Well if you want that picture we're gonna have to do it, 'kay?"

Class Description

  • Capture authentic lifestyle family images
  • Plan for a successful lifestyle session
  • Create genuine interactions even with the littlest family members -- and pets
  • Edit for beautiful skin tones and stunning portraits
  • Build a successful lifestyle photography business


If you're looking for a portrait photography class to master studio lighting and perfect posing -- this isn't the class for you. Ditch the stiff, boring portraits and create genuine smiles and real family moments in Lifestyle Family Photography with Emily Lucarz. Learn how to create memorable images of real family moments.

From planning the shoot to post-processing in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, dive into the world of lifestyle photography. Learn how to tour a home while looking for light sources, then use window light for bright, beautiful images. Gain techniques to create genuine smiles from kids. Determine the gear you need, from great portrait lenses to cameras.

Whether you simply want to take better photos of your own kids or you want to build a career in lifestyle photography, this class provides the foundation. Learn lifestyle portrait photography alongside one of the Midwest's most in-demand family photographers, the engaging and fun Emily Lucarz.

For photographers turning a passion for family photography into a business, gain valuable insight into creating portrait packages, setting prices, and displaying your work. Learn how to build your portfolio and how to manage a photography business.

  • Budding photographers ready to turn a passion into a profession
  • Parents that want to capture better images of the everyday moments
  • Professional photographers ready to do more with lifestyle images


Like many family photographers, Emily got started after her first son was born. Now nearly a decade later, Emily is one of the top family photographers in the Midwest -- booking often nearly a year in advance. She's known for the way she works with young kids and families to create genuine interactions, along with capturing fun perspectives. Emily's charisma and easy-going teaching style has allowed her to lead workshops across the U.S. Learn from Emily right where you're at in one of CreativeLive's top-rated lifestyle classes.


  1. Class Introduction

    Learn what to expect in this class in this quick intro lesson. Get to know your instructor and dig into why authenticity -- and lifestyle portrait photography -- matters.

  2. What is Lifestyle Family Photography?

    An easier way to think of lifestyle photography is life-inspired photography, Emily says. Dig into what lifestyle family photography is, why it matters to the client, and why the genre is beneficial to you, as the photographer.

  3. How to Get Started in Lifestyle Photography

    Photography's which-came-first-the-chicken-or-egg question is this: How do I get started if I don't have any images in my portfolio? Emily walks through the essentials to getting started in this must-watch lesson for beginners. Learn when it's okay to use photos of your own kids, the best ways to practice, and why you don't need a Pinterest-worthy home to create great lifestyle images.

  4. How to Market to Your Ideal Client

    How can you market your work? In this lesson, Emily goes through different marketing options, starting with your portfolio. But, don't just market to anyone, learn how to market to your ideal client. Dive into putting out model calls to build your portfolio, and creating the type of work to attract the ideal client.

  5. How to Book Your First Client

    Happy clients start with realistic expectations. Emily walks through how to set those expectations from the start -- the booking process. Walk through what Emily tells her clients at the booking process. Then, go through the process, from that first client email to add-on sessions.

  6. Pricing for Lifestyle Photography Sessions

    Tackle the dreaded price list. Learn what works and what doesn't without making those mistakes yourself by following Emily's pricing guide. Find out where to set your prices, and when to raise your prices.

  7. Steps to Book a Client Using Iris Works

    Managing lots of clients takes time and organization -- learn how to use studio management software Iris Works to help manage the workload. Walk through the process of using the software to book new clients and keep track of new leads.

  8. The Client Questionnaire

    Every family is different. The client questionnaire helps you walk into that family's home prepared to work with that particular family. From learning what that family likes to determining the best time to schedule the session, dive into the essential client questionnaire.

  9. Why Use a Family Guide?

    Spend less time warding off frequently asked questions and more time ensuring the session starts off on the right foot by using a family guide. Learn why the guide is essential and what to include. A sample guide is also included in the class' bonus materials.

  10. Live Shoot: Family In-Studio

    In the first live photo shoot, go behind-the-scenes for environmental portraits in the studio with a family, using soft light from a window. From working with young kids to creating genuine interaction between siblings, gain valuable insight into the process of capturing authentic lifestyle portrait photography.

  11. Live Shoot: Introduce Fun Activity

    Introducing a fun activity creates authentic smiles and interactions. In this live shoot, watch Emily create a feather-filled pillow fight in the studio. Learn how to plan ahead for a fun activity -- and how to get a sharp focus when there are feathers flying in the air.

  12. Image Culling Process in Bridge

    Go from shoot to cull in this lesson using Adobe Bridge. After the live session, sort through all the photos and pick the keepers. Learn what to look for when choosing which photos to edit -- and the easiest way to sort through all those images.

  13. Gear Recommendations for Shoots

    Dive into camera settings for lifestyle portrait photography in this lesson, including ISO and shutter speed, along with using a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field. Then, jump into camera gear, including cameras and lenses. Learn why a fast, wide-angle lens is often great for lifestyle portraits and what focal lengths for prime lenses are best.

  14. Tips to Create Authentic Shooting Sessions

    Jump into lifestyle portrait photography tips to create authentic images. From letting go of perfection to arriving early, pick up on essential tips to create a fun session with great images.

  15. Plan an In-Home Shooting Session

    Going into an unknown location -- someone's home -- and getting great shots requires planning. Walk through the process of planning a lifestyle portrait session and learn what to plan ahead of time. From deciding what rooms to shoot in, to talking to clients about clutter, learn the essentials to planning for a successful session.

  16. Activity Tips for In-Home Shoots

    Planning a family activity helps create that genuine interaction. Generate some ideas for in-home activities, then learn how to tailor those activities to that particular family instead of creating a cookie-cutter formula.

  17. Develop Your In-Home Session Flow

    What happens when during a lifestyle portrait photography session? Learn how to get started with your session and how to keep the session moving. Read through Emily's shot list to build your own.

  18. Live Shoot: Find In-Home Natural Light

    Evaluate a home for the first time by walking through the home with Emily as she plans where to shoot in the session, eliminating the locations with harsh light. Learn how to work with natural light instead of artificial portrait lighting by considering what direction the windows are facing -- and turning off all the lights.

  19. Live Shoot: Engaging Children in Fun Activities

    Watch a live shoot as Emily interacts with the youngest clients. Learn how to keep the shoot moving by introducing several short activities that create genuine smiles and interactions between siblings.

  20. Live Shoot: Introduce In-Home Activities to Shoot

    After introducing fun activities with the just the kids, create interactions among the entire family with this live shoot. Follow Emily as she works with the family in the master bedroom for some snuggly family portraits, from lens choice to composition. Learn how to work with the family together -- including the dog -- as well as how to create one-on-one images.

  21. Live Shoot: Implement In-Home Shooting Flow

    Flow keeps the session moving and the family from getting bored -- which is especially important with any families with young kids. Go through the essential shot list and then dig into the last live shoot, working with the family in the living room. Then, examine the images from the live shoot, from colorful compositions to emotional black and white, to see the results.

  22. Tips for Engaging Clients

    Engagement is key in lifestyle portrait photography. Gain valuable tips for creating that engagement, beyond the live shoots. From the details to look for ways to build that engagement, this lesson contains valuable lifestyle portrait photography tips.

  23. Photoshop: Edit Live Shoot Images

    Getting the shot is far from the last step. Learn lifestyle portrait post-processing using Adobe Photoshop. From perfecting skin tones to eliminating color casts, watch essential editing techniques for polishing lifestyle images while maintaining that natural look.

  24. Lightroom: Edit Live Shoot Images

    Moving that post-processing into Adobe Lightroom, many of the ideas are the same -- but where all those tools are located may be a bit different. Learn basic Lightroom edits using curves, HSL and more.

  25. The Importance of Photo Composition

    Composition keeps the viewer's eye on the subject -- and it's essential when working with an in-home session to eliminate distractions. Build compositional techniques like negative space, leading lines, texture, and juxtaposition into your lifestyle portrait photography.

  26. Get Clients to Connect Naturally In Photos

    Lifestyle photography prioritizes natural connection over getting every detail perfect. Explore techniques for creating a natural connection in the images, from connecting with kids to developing a relationship with the parents.

  27. Example: Successful Family Shoot

    Go beyond the live shoots and walk through the results of this real-life session. From preparation to the results, take a look a full lifestyle family portrait session and everything that went into making those images.

  28. Example: Perspective in Shoots

    Perspective carries power in portraits. Learn how perspective changes an image -- and how to quickly decide during the shoot what perspective to use. From capturing that close-up to shooting from a tall angle, dig into how perspective plays a role in lifestyle portraits.

  29. Incorporating Pets Into Family Photos

    The four-legged family members were often the families first "kids" -- and are important to the session. Gain valuable insight into working with different types of pets in a lifestyle family session.

  30. Sales Techniques That Work

    With the session finished, how do you maximize the income potential by selling prints? Find valuable insight into easy, actionable sales tips for lifestyle portrait photographers.

  31. Sellable Products and Packages

    Build a pricing list for lifestyle portrait packages. Learn why your middle package is often the best seller and how to build the best packages for your business.



Emily reignited my passion for lifestyle photography and gave me the tools that I needed to give my business a creative and profitable boost. Seeing how effortlessly she interacted with families and the efficiency of her workflow was inspiring. I'm excited to shake things up and make some positive changes in my business that I know will lead to success. Thank you Emily and thank you Creativelive for this fun and informative class!


Watching Emily on CL - I rarely comment, but wanted to pop in and say what a great class it is! Full of helpful information and good content. One of the first classes that moves at a perfect pace, keeping things interesting & engaging. I tend to lose interest quickly when classes drag, but she really does such a fantastic job, which is refreshing. Makes watching the class really enjoyable! Thank you!


I was just hoping on here to post how much I loved this class. I used to be a portrait photographer, veered away for a bit to focus on more conceptual art photography but i still am interested in lifestyle photography. Emily is very inspiring, her bubbly personality was a joy to watch how she interacts with families especially the kids. Her work is phenomenal! (in response to one of the bad reviews, about her cutting off children shooting on a live workshop while tethered and teaching can easily explain this away as you can tell from her portfolio that she always has compositionly beautiful images) This class has renewed and inspired my love of lifestyle and i have been shooting so much since the class! Definitely used her tips and tricks to improve my pictures! highly recommend this class!