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Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 27 of 31

Example: Successful Family Shoot


Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 27 of 31

Example: Successful Family Shoot


Lesson Info

Example: Successful Family Shoot

What we're gonna do now, we're gonna move on to some real life sessions to see how I've implemented these in the past, okay? (coughs softly) With this shoot, we decided we were gonna do breakfast in Pjs, okay? This is probably one of the very first sessions that we did the breakfast, the PJ bubble thing and this is why this is used so much on my marketing materials. This is actually for a workshop and we talked in depth about what we were gonna be doing. We decided that they love making breakfast together and so we decided that we were gonna go ahead, Thank you. We were gonna go ahead and dress them in Pjs. They love to snuggle, mom is a big snuggler. So we're gonna do snuggle time. We're gonna go over some of the kids favorite things and we'll talk about some obstacles that we ran into during this session. (coughs) Excuse me. As you can see, they're a lot of fun. So let's move to the, to our shoot. Okay, so when we plan this we decided that the activities they were gonna be doing for ...

the day, we were gonna be making pancakes which makes sense to do in your PJs, right? Having some snuggle time in bed that's when we started the whole coffee gag. Kids are gonna snuggle. We we're gonna do some activities in the kids room. Some things that they love. We were just kinda go with the flow and see how they did. How the kids went throughout the day, okay? So for this particular one you can see just some things that we were doing. Down below, that was kind of a shot that we did in the kitchen just to give you some ideas. We were about to start baking pancakes, they were being cute. Right now she's really obsess, one of of the daughters is really obsessed with lemons and juggling and she kept doing it. I'm like, "We need to do this on the counter in the picture." Right? So take something fun that they like to do and make it part of your fun story, right? 'Cause that made for a cute picture. Remember the sneaking dad kissing shot? Totally just happened, okay. Just to show you that real life. She was hanging up there because I want her to sit there with her kids is what I told her. And then I told dad, "Hey go to there and sneak up, and grab Laurie and give her a smooch on the face." okay? She's a polo photographer, she's amazing. And so that's what happened. In the mean time, we have kids juggling on the counter 'cause who doesn't juggle on the counter, right? Up there the kids we're just being really cute in snuggling. Down below, same thing with the snuggling. And then up there obviously, they're bouncing on the bed. Okay? Here's some more from that shoot. He was crying, the little guy up there and I just grabbed, he's always in his dad's shoulders so I kind of grabbed that shot. We did grab one from the other side as well. She was just sitting there being sweet, waiting for everybody to come back. She was just hanging out and I saw her sitting near on the bed and that was one of those in between shots that I went to go grab, okay? I think mom is actually consoling little brother 'cause that happens, right? Especially with little guys, little girls, either one. There we are again, the standard family shot everybody's looking. He had his thumb in his mouth that he always does, who cares? It's cute. Then I did the annual, the snuggle shot. I do the first standard family shot and then I say, "One, two, three, go snuggle." And we get what we get and we don't throw a fit, right? Same thing here, this is one of my workshop students. She was standing above that's always a better angle to shoot at like we talked about. You never wanna get down to a level down here. Where you're straight on, where you have a chance of shooting up somebody's nose. It's not good to do that. Or standing above just gives a little bit more of elongation towards moms. It makes us look longer, right? And every mom wants to look longer. So stand up this, when you stand up like this you see us doing this quite a bit. Standing up like this and it just elongates everything. It's more flattering angle for everybody, okay? Getting down low right there. We we're trying to get that little guy to engage with the photographer while dad was snuggling him, okay? He was snuggling him, kind of tickling him. I always instruct my parents, "Do not talk too much because we end up with the best shot but dad's mouth is open or mom's making a weird face. Saying some weird vowel." So I always try to just instruct them to snuggle, give kisses, blow in their ear. If they're gonna talk, say something silly in the kid's ear so they laugh but when you start letting people talk to each other you get weird faces, okay. So you can see he looked right at the camera when that happened and she got a great shot. (coughs) kay. Here's some more snuggle on the bed. Where I just wanna show you guys this because perspective lots of shots from one scenic. Can't say this enough, this is how you guys are gonna fill your galleries, okay? And you need to do this because kid's don't last that long so you need to be able to get a ton, ton in one situation because have him for bed we're transitioning to the next room and we lose a kid. And that happens, it's we're people. So make sure you guys are really, really utilizing that one set-up for as many perspective as you can. Mom and dad, and as many those shots you talk about, with our shot list like dad and mom. Do all of those shots dad. Get all of that done if you can in one room. You're gonna have a lot more shots and you're gonna have a lot more success rate without losing the children. You can see he was kind of having a hard time for most of the day. You'll see what we ended up doing. I kinda took his hand and took him in his room on purpose because we were kinda having a hard time. I think I lived my workshop, they're only eight people in there but it's enough that when you have eight photographers standing and we take turns, it takes time 'cause we're going everybody's camera settings and checking every. It takes time so to expect these kids to do that with, I was amazed. But I love this about him because he's like this all the time and this actually ended up being mom's favorite picture. 'Cause this what he, this what we as a mom see, right? We might not think it's a standard look at the camera, "Oh my child's so happy all the time." You're gonna hear that all the time, "Oh my kids so smiley all the time." I know, I know, I know but it's picture day so that's what happens on picture day, right? Without fail but those are important shots to get so don't leave those out, okay? Here's some more, I just wanna show you all of these pictures from the same set-up, tons, right? Different perspectives, laying down flat, right? Random, I mean who would shoot that? It's random but they're cute. They're all laying there being silly, right? So they went from that to that, okay? Just different perspectives, okay? You can see different, there we go. Let's go to the next one, snuggling again. Mom's snuggling her little guy 'cause this is what he kept doing. So remember we got that picture of him by himself doing that? I said, "Laura, hey." Go head up there and go snuggle him because he, listen he snuggling and you guys snuggle and remember on your questionnaire? You told me you wanted to snuggle a picture with your little guy. This is the time do it, okay? 'Cause he was already sad so she went up there to go try to cheer him up. Next one, same thing and you guys can kinda see where the photographers were, okay? We take turns during the workshop, four will come in and four will come out. Shooting that same perspective. Are you guys trying, starting to see my shoot, what I shoot? Right? And it's interesting because we can shoot the same things but the pictures never look the same. The kids will never do the same thing. They look different, they interact different. Some are older, some are younger. He's doing airplane with just his feet. A lot of people do airplane with hands or hands and feet. It will never look the same. So having all of these types of shots and now you're gonna see my stuff on Facebook or whatever, like I know where you did that 'cause it's all, it's just changing it with different families. You need to have all of these things in the back of your pocket. So when you come into a situation, and like gosh now what do we do? Right? Pull out the old airplane trick 'cause what happens with airplane? The kids up there then he crashes down and that he's being silly and you can get on top of and shoot down. You can get down below and then you get all over those shots, right? Just one activity leads to so much chaos and fun, okay? And that's great like that was hilarious to me. Look at the older sister, looking at her like with total (members laughing) like who are you? Like that was funny to me so I kept it. There they are being sisters. Actually, some of the pictures that my workshop attendees got were fabulous 'cause I was kinda behind, I love them shoot. But they were getting, and it was wonderful. That was so much fun 'cause they were having tickle fight earlier. And of course, when one child flies, the other children wanna fly. So let that be okay, it's fine to have multiple children flying in the air if they all want that same shot because little brother got it. Let 'em do it, okay? You don't have to specifically to say, "Only you, only you and only you." Right? Okay. Alright, flat light, play time. Remember we talked about flat light? When you have flat light, if you can find a room in your client's home that has flat lighting, go for it like play in there as long as you can. You're not gonna have as much dimension but you're gonna get a lot of really solid shots without having to worry about losing the kids, placing them in certain situations. It's not gonna be as, you're not gonna have to depth in the dimension of the photo but as long as you can create something fun compositionally, something meaningful, some kind of connection, flat light is great because you can just especially with families because you don't have to worry about moving around, okay? So they had two windows, one there, in the back and then one over there, okay? This is an oops so she would fly off bed Oh. Yeah. We had to spot her on the bed, this is when I wanna talk about spotters. She was cracking up and she's fine, she's eight, I mean they're fine. She jumped straight off the bed on purpose. This was not him falling off the bed, this is I'm gonna be superwoman. Be careful when you have families on the bed with little ones, just be careful. Have spotters, talk to the family. You guys will feel if it is okay, safe or not. Safety is number one, it's not worth the shot, okay? But I asked mom if we could show this and she's like absolutely 'cause she was cracking up. And they knew she was gonna do it. So it was, an expected occurrence. There is little guy once he warmed up, right? There's the smiles, okay. Mom come down and bubbles got him out of his funk, okay? 'Cause they always do. Here's kind of down on the kitchen scene, kay. So you can kinda see what we're doing with the cooking. It was darker in here as you can tell. When we have darker images like this, I do tend to add a little bit of matte finish. Which you can tell that we did. I just think it brings depth or it brings I don't know, it just puts the prettiness on the shadows to me. So we did use a little bit of that. So I'm changing my perspective, I got up, I had a ladder or steps. So the ladders like one of those, I keep it in my car, it's like a rounded, you know the one that's like this tall? And it flips down and there's two chairs or two stairs rather. I bring that one with me to all of my sessions. And then I've also got one of those little short ones too that you can get like at the grocery stores. But I was in the taller one for that one and I think I held my camera up pretty high but for that I wanted to show their kitchen, the lemons because it was an important part of our story later on, right? And what they were doing over there as a family. So don't be scared to get crazy high and do crazy things. I love that 'cause he was pulling on dad. And what I did was remember how we say, "Don't look at the camera unless I tell you to." That was a perfect example, I wanted mom to look at the camera and look at me, right? Like that's a special shot for her to have. I have another one at the same thing where they we're looking at each other so the mom and the dad were connecting. Also very important shots to get. Mom and dad were connecting and Noah was trying to get up on the dad. Love that shot just as much. Same thing, different perspective, okay? So are you worrying much about the composition in as you're shooting it or you just kind of shooting it, get a general and then crop it later? I'm always worrying about it when I'm shooting it. I always wanna get it right in camera. 100% of the time. There are times during the bed scenes where it's harder too because there's so much going on. And I'm in and out and shooting like a crazy person. So it doesn't always happen in those times. Times like this when they're still, I absolutely wanna get it right in camera. Always, 100% of the time. I'm very like picky about stuff like that too. Because it's hard, because you'll never get the right crop 'cause then you're gonna, you have them down in the corner. You're tryna keep the same crop ratio. You might lose information down here. So it's gonna happen where gonna have to crop and I'm fine with that but I try not to. Hi I do have one question, do you give all of the photos to the family from one moment or do you pick the best ones to show so when you're trying to narrow it down? I would give them all of these and for session like these we probably would've ended up at about a 175 edited images so a lot, I have a lot, I have all of 'em. They're all edited but I batch so it's fast. So I can but I used to handed it, no, no, no, no. That was crazy, there's no way. Thank you. K. Alright, front and side light. I wanted to show you this 'cause the photographer is in the picture so you can kinda see what we were doing. I had just previously been shooting over here. Do you see how I was in that light over here. This is side light but they were all kinda turned towards the window? Do you guys see how I strategically, let's do this darling make pancake but let's do it facing this way, right? So here you can see, I wanted a picture of mom and dad together, she's a photographer. They would never get pictures of themselves obviously. So that's important like they're the main piece of the family so we just turn towards the window. I mean what a random spot, right? On the counter, but light was coming in so we used it. So don't be scared to do that. I wanted to kind of show you where we placed them. 'Cause you would've known where that window was if I would just show you the image, right? Who would've though. Put 'em on a counter, right? It works. Kay, some fun elements from previous sessions, okay? He was having kind of a hard child here playing, fooling around and I threw him on his rug and he looked cute and took a picture. Texture, perspective, right?

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!