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Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 25 of 31

The Importance of Photo Composition


Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 25 of 31

The Importance of Photo Composition


Lesson Info

The Importance of Photo Composition

Okay, connection and composition. This little guy was adorable. It was at a workshop, I was stepping back, taking a picture of him looking at somebody else shooting him and I loved this picture and it was so blown out, I didn't care. I'm like, you know what, I like it, it was compositionally, it was cute, right? So I kept it. Okay, how to keep your viewer's eye directed. Okay? We'll talk about composition as we go, but there's a few tricks to keep your viewer's eye where it belongs. One of them being negative space, okay, what doesn't belong? Which is really juxtaposition, is that the word? Leading lines, keep your viewer's eye directed, and filling your frame. And we're gonna go through and talk about all of these things, okay? Connection, using light, perspective, again. Fluidity. We need to be fluid with everything that we're doing. Okay? We were walking to our next setup. Remember, people move, what happens when people move? Fun stuff. She was carrying this little guy. Grab that sh...

ot, ya know? When you're transitioning from location to location, have your camera because fun things happen, you know? Somebody steps on a toe. Something happens. In this, she just was carrying him like that and I just thought it was adorable. Okay, so let's talk about negative space. It forces your eye to the subject. If you add negative space, which is up there on the left-hand side, somehow it got bumped over. On the left-hand side, it focuses the eye to the subject and it can tell a story, okay? It just forces the eye to that direction. The thing with a negative space, is you have to think in a rule of thirds. If you have a big grid right here, here's the dots, negative space, you wanna put something on one of those focal points in the rule of thirds. But it needs to have meaning, right? This would not have looked correct, that picture, if she would have been on that side of the frame, right? Because she's reading to that direction. So if you have little boy walking on a tree or something, they're walking in that direction, the negative space needs to be on that side of the frame. Don't just add negative space to add it, because it's supposed to be there, okay? Juxtaposition, so the dog was randomly there, she was snuggling, I literally was getting my shot set up and it was hilarious to me, so I took it. Because that dog's cute. Everything looks awesome but one thing in that room, okay? Leading lines, I don't know how those got bumped on here. There's leading lines in the crib, right? It visually directs you to the subject. Again, filling your frame, okay? Texture. It brings interest to an otherwise boring image, right? That could have been boring with her just laying there on a white rug. But having those fun geometric things below her, makes it more fun, okay? So use texture. Perspective. Take that texture and get different shots, right? Same kid, same rug, two completely different shots. This is the way you guys keep adding to your galleries. Take one thing, and get different ideas, okay? So take something visually interesting and create multiple moments. Keep in mind the location of the perspectives. So this, I wanted, that one with the mom? I wanted that backlighting. My vision was, I want something ethereal, and pretty, she just adopted him, she was so in love with him, and I just wanted to capture that, right? And that's what I did. I put her in front of his window, we put some sheers up, and we got that image. Then, I went over, I pulled the rug away from the wall, right, because it was too bright over there to shoot down on him. We would have had harsh shadows and I needed even light. Brought the dog over, and what'd the dog do? Lo and behold, licked his face. I about died. I mean, because you can't plan that, right? But, we got two beautiful shots with one rug, which is great. Okay, so take one cool thing and make different shots. More texture, change your perspective again, okay? Shoot from above. Those are the babies with the beads. Same kids. Okay, changing perspective. More perspective. Okay, this is during a workshop. Take yourself and move yourself around the bed. Go around the bed. Go over the bed. We talked about this a lot. Shoot through things, okay? It gives more visual interest. Stand outside the door. Get a little part of the door. Creep in, because then you can tell that you're behind the doorframe, okay? Throw stuff up and shoot through it, okay? Laundry. Throw laundry up and shoot through it while the kids are jumping on the bed. Doesn't have to be feathers and bubbles, we just did that because it's easy to do and fun. But there's other things you can throw up in the air and have the kids have fun, right? Because they're looking up, it creates visual interest, and it's fun. You can even shoot the person in the back, and let the person in the front remain blurry, that's another, you know? People think it's a big no-no. But if it creates cool composition, tells a story, it's yours. Do it. Everybody's scared to kind of step out of the box, and you can't be. Same situation, this is all during that same workshop. You get low, got the dad with the kid up high, right? Cute. Arms, body. Go from above. This was all in the matter of a minute, all four of these. Go from behind. They're playing patty-cake, see them playing patty-cake? You could see her shooting, this was a workshop, again. But we were playing patty-cake. Go to the side and go from above, okay? Just always be mindful of locations. Okay, using light in perspective. Don't forget to shoot straight on, okay? You can be boring, too. It's fine to be boring. You can put people on the middle of the picture, just make sure they're doing something, or make sure it's purposeful, okay? You don't just wanna stand someone in the middle of the wall. If you have a blank white wall, I would much rather see an image of a kid on the blank white wall, sitting on the ground with his hand on his leg, with a whole big white wall, right? Than a kid standing here at the white wall. Take the white wall, compose it to give it some visual interest, okay? Dramatic lighting. This room was that Chicago room, with the babies, remember, we talked about the twins? I had her turn to look at dad, actually, I'm pretty proud of myself for (mumbles) She turned to look at dad because I couldn't see her face, so if you can't have her face in the picture, because it's too dark, so look at dad, I wanna see what she's doing, and I love this lighting, and we did. And you can see the side of her face now, because it illuminated correctly for backlighting, because I didn't have a reflector or anything yet. I still love that.

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!