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Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 14 of 31

Tips to Create Authentic Shooting Sessions


Lifestyle Family Photography

Lesson 14 of 31

Tips to Create Authentic Shooting Sessions


Lesson Info

Tips to Create Authentic Shooting Sessions

Few tips. Let go of being perfect. This is huge, you guys. With lifestyle photography we talked about how you're trying to get real but just because you're getting real doesn't mean it can't be beautiful but it also doesn't have to be perfect, okay? You might have some harsher shadows than you wished for or you may have flat, boring light, it's okay. Somebody might be kind of out of focus, it's okay. Like, if you see a shot that Mom looks beautiful and the kid's kinda out of focus, Mom's gonna love that image, right? Keep that image 'cause Mom's the one picking the pictures. Let go of some of these imperfections because they don't see them like we do. Let it go. Okay? Have fun. Like, have so much fun. This image that you see up here was a newborn session. You probably can't even see the newborn in there. They had the most fun kitchen and we had to go in there and she was telling me that the dog was obsessed with soap bubbles. So, we went in there and we filled the sink up, she strapped...

the baby to her and they were being cute and lovey and the dog was just running around, right, getting the soap bubbles and it was fun. Like, have fun and don't worry if anybody's not in focus all the time. I mean, try to get as much as you can but if it's not, let it go, okay? And then play with wide angle lenses. You know, that's a really good investment. If you're looking to expand your lifestyle portfolio, if you wanna be different than everybody else, get a really fun lens. 'Cause you can take a really fun lens and do creative things that you can't do with standard prime lenses, okay? Alright, more about having fun. Don't be nervous, okay? And if you prepare well, we talked about this questionnaire, just have fun. Like, be prepared. If you're prepared, they'll feel better. If they're prepared, they'll feel better, everybody can relax and you'll have fun, okay? Arrive early. I cannot enforce this enough. Even if Mom's still getting dressed, it gives you time to pull the children up, hey, you know, what's your name? Let's go hang out. Can you show me your room? Oh, you like unicorns? Show me your favorite unicorn. And that's a great time to say, hey, Mom, go finish drying your hair. Go dry your hair. I'm gonna get to know the kids a little bit 'cause we're gonna play, you know. I put my camera bag down. I don't bring it with me. This is very, just, get to know the kids so when it's time to start shooting, everything is very relaxed, okay? It is not about you, okay? We think it's about us sometimes because we're shooting for what we think looks awesome. It's about them. So if they wanted a shot in a room that you don't particularly think is cute, just do it because they're gonna love it, okay? Trust me, the families are more nervous than we are during these types of sessions. Okay. Make them feel in control. This is another trick, okay? It's like we kinda do these things and don't realize that we do them, you know? So don't ask questions to a younger kid, okay? So, instead of saying, do you like to fly? Be like, hey can you show me your best Superman flying move? You know? So they think they're coming up with idea instead of, being like, hey, let's go fly on the bed. Say, hey, can you show me your best Superman move? So you give them the idea and they're like, yes I totally can do Superman and then they'll show you and they came up with the idea that way, okay? Siblings love a good sibling challenge too, okay? So, races, who can jump the highest? Who can laugh the loudest? You saw me doing the laughing the loudest yesterday. You know, who can tickle the most? You know, who can give Daddy the biggest kisses? So, as long as you take two kids and you give them something to beat each other with, they're gonna love doing it, okay? And they're gonna feel like they're in control of the situation. So, seeing these kind of activities that really give real connection, smiles into pictures, okay? Alright, a few more shooting tips. These pictures are on my phone. These are my phone pictures. These are my children, okay? So, that bottom picture down there, that at my dad's house and they've got a RV and they travel all over doing dog shows and the cousins were in town and they were all in there. And this was the most fun composition. It was just so cute. They peaked their heads out. Get really good with your composition. Get creative. You know, keep things on the side of photos. Don't use your whole center frame. We're gonna go into details about composition coming up. But, just get used to composing on your phone, okay? Get used to composing on your iPad. Do fun pictures. Don't worry about things being perfect. Same thing right over here. Zachary was sitting there. We were at a relative's house and I text him this phone, this picture and he said to me, how'd you do that? I'm like, what do you mean how did I do that? (laughs) Like, I'm standing over him and I took a picture of my son eating ice cream on the stairs because he's having his deck rebuilt so he couldn't go outside and he was fascinated with this shot which is funny to me 'cause I'm like, I just stood over him and took a picture 'cause he looked cute. However, that drew him into the image 'cause it told the story of him getting his deck rebuilt, which just finished, and he also go to see, you know, Zachary sitting there eating ice cream, okay? So, always be thinking about the story that's going on around you, composing for the story and bringing in a person or dog or whatever, a goldfish. So what if? Kids will be kids. So, what happens if they want nothing to do with you? 'Cause this happens, right? This is when sometimes, and you'll know this in advance if you're gonna have a kid that has stranger danger, that'll all be in your questionnaire, bring a longer lens, okay? So you're gonna step outside the room and you're going to shoot them from farther away. Okay, so those are the kids that don't want anything to do with you. You can set them up with an activity in the other room, step back and get your shots that way, okay? Grab a child's favorite thing and just let 'em see what's gonna happen, okay? Like the fish. They wanted to bring a fish in. Cool, let's do the fish. It's his favorite thing right now. Put them in their room and just sneak in, okay? You can sneak in around those kids that are kinda scared of you. But the biggest trick, honestly, with kids that don't want engage is the bed jumping. I mean, every kid likes to jump on the bed. It always works. And a snack break obviously never hurt anybody, okay? So, let's go through the recap of the workflow here. We get our inquiry. We email back. Send over a contract and the initial invoice with Iris. Send the questionnaire via Iris and then once the client is, the date's chosen, send over the family guide and that family guide we kinda touched on a little bit yesterday, earlier. And the family guide just is full of information and that's in the bonus materials. The family guide just has a bunch of information about what to wear on the day of the session, what to expect when I get there, there's a whole section about please don't be nervous, it's okay if things go wrong. I have things for backup. Just a lot of things to put your client at ease. There's kind of a modified, it's not an editable version but it's in the bonus materials with the class. So, that's in there. It's great. Set up a time to talk on the phone. I cannot encourage this enough. So, do that after you send them their family guide so you guys can kind of go over all of this together so they really feel like they're part of their session, okay? And then send a reminder email and Iris will do that automatically for you. We went over that yesterday.

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!