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Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 13 of 31

Gear Recommendations for Shoots


Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 13 of 31

Gear Recommendations for Shoots


Lesson Info

Gear Recommendations for Shoots

So what we kinda talked about just now, what am I looking for? I'm looking for connection, right? So we just, on how we were looking for connection, them connecting with the camera, them connecting with each other, them connecting with themself by just giggling and being fun, okay? Any time you see any sort of connection you're gonna wanna keep that image as long as it's in focus, okay? We're all human with moving, flying feathers, and flying children; things are gonna be out of focus. That's okay. Just make sure you get enough shots to get the ones that really, if that means slowing down, you know, really figuring out your camera. You have to know your camera really well in order to do, little, you know to focus on. That's really important, okay? So my shot list. When I'm doing a session in a family, what I typically do is... Like we'll go through our shot list first, okay? Mom et cetera. So we kinda, I'm always thinking about in the back of my mind and we're gonna cover our shot list...

, but, keeping did I get mom, yet? Did I keep mom, did I get mom and dad yet? Dad's are the fun ones, right? So, did I get all the fun dad shots yet? So that way if something happens during the session and somebody needs to walk away, you can mentally go, whatever you had planned on your shot list to get, okay? And that's what I'm looking for, what I'm calling my images as well. Making sure you're getting all of those images, okay? Get wrapped up... What we love compositionally, what looks cool lighting-wise, but that might not always be the best for the client. Different perspectives of each situation. Grab a perspective. We talked about that. Random, fun, you know, random things. Like, you know the silly laughing ones, those are, sure that everybody looks flattering in it when you're doing it. In focus, out of focus, people look, looking at each other. All of these things, looking for, okay? The ISO, we talked about keeping that ISO high enough where you can maintain a faster shutter speed, where your shutter speed doesn't go too low. Kelvin white balance we touched on that already. Kelvin works really well for in-home sessions. You don't have to carry around a gray card, you can kind of change it on the fly as you move around in different lighting situations in the home. Shutter Speed. Again, make sure that you don't let it go too slow, okay. Shooting wide open. I will shoot wide open sometimes if I need more light. Most of the time, with, depending upon what you're shooting in a home for a lifestyle session, you're gonna want a little bit more in focus than a typical outside, background blur, beautiful wide open shot. But many times you're gonna need to have that wide open shot in the home for the sake of light. You know, when we talk about aperture it's not just for depth of field, it's also for light. So, just kind of keep that in mind when you're picking your lenses, which we are gonna head into now, okay? I'm gonna show you our gear list. Does anybody have any quick questions on that before we head over to gear? Do it. We're good, okay. Okay, so I primarily shoot... with the D5, here's the D5. Now, in the studio yesterday I shot with my backup camera which is the D4S. The reason I have, well the reason I have this camera is 'cause my dog knocked the other camera off the table, but, the reason I have a camera this awesome is because I need to be able to have a camera that can support really high ISO capabilities, okay. So this camera can go up really high with my ISO and I don't have to worry about external lighting. I don't have to worry about reflectors. I use reflectors sometimes, just to fill some harsh shadows in situations where we may need them. But I don't have to worry about it with this camera. I can take it up high enough and not worry about grain. Now, that being said, I love grain in some images and I might take the ISO down, specifically to get that look, okay. Obviously I know everybody can't get the D5. There's so many other cameras out there though. The D700's amazing, the D800 is amazing, the 850, and then obviously a ton of Canons, as well, okay? So this is not an entry level camera by any means. So then, I mean it doesn't look any different, but this is my back up camera and this is the D4S. So this is the back up camera that I have, this is the one that Nikon sent me when my 4 broke. And this is obviously a fabulous camera as well. We can go really high with the ISO, so that's why I have this, this camera, okay? Now in terms of lenses, just gonna bring two up at one time and I'm gonna show you why. This is the 17 to 35 millimeter lens. This is a wide angle lens that I used to use all the time when I was shooting lifestyle sessions. I've stopped using this lens because the edge distortion is so significant for me that I was finding that I had little people, you know, like these little three-year-olds that would just run off into the corners and then they would be distorted in the frame, and that doesn't look good. Another issue I was having. If you do decide to widen your lens up like that you're aperture number goes up. So your focal length goes, you know, longer, so you can't let as much light in. So I try to stick with prime lenses, which is the 35 millimeter right here. This is the 35 millimeter lens. I love this lens because it's a little bit further away than the 50 but it's a prime lens, it's a 1.4 35 lens, it's a 35 1.4. I can allow in a lot more light with this lens. I'm also finding that I don't have to back up as far, you know, with this lens, with the 35 millimeter. My most recent purchase, which I've, we photographed the family in the home... with this lens, and this is, it's actually on my film camera right now... This is the new Nikon 24 millimeter. They have the Nikon 24 millimeter 1.4 lens, but it was so expensive so I didn't buy it because I had the 35 millimeter. But Nikon recently came out with the 1. and for me 1.8 is plenty wide to let light in because of the camera body that I have, right? If I were gonna be shooting a significant amount of things, you know, with a 24 millimeter that I needed background blur for or something, then sure I'd invest in the 1.4. But this was about half the price of the 1. and for what I need it's perfect. So I use the 24 a lot. Now, a lot of you are probably wondering, okay, so the 24 millimeter's wide, right? It is, it's technical wide angle. But the edge distortion on this is so much less than a 17 to 35, okay? Any of those zoom lenses you just get that distortion, okay? I know, there were some higher entry, a higher level lenses that don't, but... Okay, now these are my two fun lenses. The Lensbaby, here's the Lensbaby right here. I love my Lensbaby. We do these shots on beaches mainly, but it's a lot of fun. I shoot it with my kids a lot. You have to manually focus it by turning this thing and it gets kinda crazy. It's good for people who like to, kinda free lens on their hip, you know? It's a cool, it's a cool lens. And this is my fish eye lens, it's the 16 millimeter lens. It looks so tiny, right? The Nikon fish eye lens looks tiny compared to the Canon one. The Canon one is way cooler than the Nikon one, but it works really well. So those are my lenses. Those are what I use for lifestyle sessions. When I'm shooting outdoors I obviously use my 50 and my 85 and my 70 to 200, you know the bigger lenses? Sometimes I'll pull my 50 millimeter into lifestyle sessions, but not commonly. The other thing that I bring with me, gear, is my step stool. I'm only 5'6, I need to be elevated a little bit. I cannot get high enough on things to shoot down on families for that more flattering angle, so I bring a step stool, okay? Some extra goodies that I bring, sometimes I'll bring dog treats for dogs, just as back ups, just in case the family's downstairs and we're upstairs in the moment, I'll grab 'em out of my bag. I'll have skittles for kids sometimes, you know, I ask parents if that's okay, obviously. We need to be able to bribe them sometimes, obviously. So, well I'll bring gum. We'll sometimes have a dog squeaky toy to get some, you know, just so it's right there and I have it with me. Obviously families have that stuff for themselves, but it's nice to have it right there. I always have an extra hair tie, phone charger, you know. Basics. Okay, so we talked about this just a second ago, but the 35 millimeter 1.4 for obvious reasons is you don't have to back up, it lets in a lot of light, it's a great standard lens, okay? The 24 millimeter, also great, gets a little bit more of the room in the picture. I'm finding myself loving that one even more than the 35 right now. It's kind of my go-to lens past few months. The 17 to 35 2.8, while it's a great lens, I just have not, I'm probably gonna get rid of it. Too warpy on the edges. My Fish Eye which we talked about, 16 millimeter, and then the Nikon 50 1.4 I will bring sometimes to in home sessions if they have a larger home and I have room to back up quite a bit, okay? Good on that? Somebody had asked actually, could you tell us which Lensbaby that you have? I have the Composer Pro. The Composer Pro, thank you. Yeah. Okay, is that it? Okay, so the wide angle. Now I love wide angle lenses like the 24 millimeter. And again, we need to talk about you can use a wide angle really, really well, but you need to be careful about edge vignetting. As you guys notice you get that dark ring around your photos. You can fix that in Lightroom, okay? You can take that into Lightroom and click fix edge, you know, fix the edge, and it fixes that, the proportion of your lenses, okay? So it gets ride of that warping on the edges. Not enough to my liking for that one lens, but it does help that. It gets rid of that edge vignetting. So if you do use a wide angle, keep people away from the edges as much as you can, unless you want some of that weird look. Get close, if you want to, for really fun perspectives. That's always really fun to do, just to get kind of funny pictures, you know. Get further away to make things smaller. So if you wanna have, you know, somebody look tiny in the room and you want to see the room as the focus, step away. And like I said, click lens profile correction in Lightroom and in Photoshop to kind of get rid of that edge warping and edge vignetting on a wide angle lens, okay? Wide angles are really fun for lifestyle sessions I think. We good on there? Okay, so here's just some pictures with the wide angle lens. That one I was really close to him with the fish eye on, that top left corner, just for a fun perspective. And obviously if it were like a mom, we wouldn't do that 'cause, not be flattering, clearly. But for a little boy, so fun, okay. So just some perspectives with wide angles.

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!