Have you heard the buzz? Everyone seems to be talking about “lifestyle photography” lately. I will admit, I’m not really great at staying up on what’s in fashion. I kind of just go along doing my thing until fashion becomes unavoidable. “Lifestyle photography” is one of those things that has been encroaching in my peripheral vision for the past few years.

When your photographer has a relationship with you and acts like part of your life, everyone is treated with respect and shows their true personalities. These are the images the family will treasure.

I’ve always been a portrait photographer.  I’ve always loved capturing the beauty and details of babies and children in a manner that shows who they really are.  I love the big serious eyes and the unrestrained laughter.  I’ve shied away from the term “documentary-style” because I don’t believe that is what I do.  I put a lot of intention into my photos.  I am not a fly on the wall.  I am an active participant in your story – one who has the ability to see what is real and capture the most breathtaking version of that reality.

The term lifestyle photography struck me as just another way to brush off intentional composition, lighting, and posing and claim that hanging back and capturing “real life”, even if it isn’t beautiful, is the only true art.  Frankly, that idea offends me a bit.  I always tell my clients that I don’t just show up and capture what’s going on.  There is a reason a lot of candid photos don’t turn out well.  In order to make captivating images, the scene needs to be composed in a way that looks good from one perspective – the perspective of the camera lens.  That rarely happens by accident.

I have spent decades practicing the art of being in the right place at the right time, and gently encouraging the scene to unfold in just the right way for a beautiful, memorable, and very real portrait.  This is what I tell my clients.  In choosing me as your photographer you are hiring someone who knows how to make your life translate through the lens.  Someone who will go the extra mile to make sure it all looks right in the final picture and flows into a beautiful heirloom album that will keep your story alive for generations.

So imagine my surprise when, after years of doing what I do and brushing off buzz words like “lifestyle”, I finally realized that what I do actually is lifestyle photography?

In my sessions, the most important element of success is building relationships.  That means spending the time and getting to know the family first.  Without a relationship, the chances of getting an authentic picture are very small.  I spend a lot of time and energy building that trust with my clients and getting to know them so that when I show up they are excited because they know I won’t be pushing them to do anything that feels unnatural.

For families I’ve worked with before, the children I work with know me before I set foot into their house.  Their parents tell them that “Serra is coming over today”, not that they are going to have their picture taken.  Because who can relax when that is the part they are focusing on?

The result is authentic expressions and contagious energy.  My families will look back at their lifestyle family photo albums and at the art on their walls and feel warm and fuzzy because the people they will see there will match with their memory just right.

That is what I do.  And, apparently, some people call it lifestyle.

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