I’m a lover of words, always have been. Being able to put into words certain philosophies and ideas show a true comprehension of one’s task/skill. The sharing of knowledge is how ideas and styles grow and adhering some of the great photographers has influenced my photographic style.
Being a self-taught photographer, I developed a style of documentation influenced by street photography. My personal work is characterised by off-beat moments, authentic emotion and humour. Along with recognising the nuances of the human experience, I developed a sense of intuition that is carried over to my lifestyle photography projects.
Here are some quotes that have made an impact on my work over the years.
1. Robert Frank - “There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.”
A great lifestyle photography project goes beyond pitching the sale of a product; it represents a lifestyle that everyday people can connect with. No one wants to be force fed a sales pitch, we want to feel heard and represented.
Engaging projects are about connecting to humanity and representing shared values.
2. Annie Leibovitz - “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”
At the root of all great lifestyle photography shoots are the characters - they are family, friends or someone we recognise as part of the tribe. Having relatable characters creates a sense of familiarity between the brand and customer, helping develop trust and empathy.
3. Don McCullin - “Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”
Our characters need a world to inhabit. Rich and vibrant story worlds help create texture and depth, making the content feel more desirable. Brand specific lifestyle photography will build worlds their customers are familiar with in order to make it more relatable.
4. Diane Arbus - “Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing cookies.”
A sign that a brand has created a good lifestyle image is when the viewer feels like they are part of the scene, not merely observers at a distance. Outstanding lifestyle photography should be about inclusion: we the viewer feel part of the experience. Like stealing a cookie, a lifestyle photographer should go in unnoticed and collect what is needed before being caught.
5. Elliott Erwitt - “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
Compelling lifestyle photography is about telling a story that connects us to a set of underlying shared values. Clearly communicating a brand’s values through compelling imagery enforced those values. Great storytelling connects with us on a much deeper level.
6. Ansel Adams - “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
Curating great images are all about preparation and intuition. When I make street photography, choosing where and when I go is as important as having a camera around my neck. Making compelling lifestyle photographs for clients comes with a lot of preparation and experience, with the final shutter being guided by a keen sense of intuition. Therefore, we don’t take photographs, but make them.
7. Richard Avedon - “All photographs are accurate. None of them are the truth.”
Influential lifestyle photography blurs the line of fiction and reality. Curating ‘the moment’ is essential in creating convincing content that expresses a set of brand values and lifestyles that are aspirational. It’s not about being dishonest but rather about clearly identifying the shared values and clearly communicating them through storytelling
8. Jim Richardson - “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.”
Set design and location is key to making convincing lifestyle photographs. The worlds your brand develops should represent the worlds that your customers want to inhabit - so go the extra mile to find the locations to inhabit.
9. Steve McCurry - “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.”
My urge to make pictures comes from an innate sense of curiosity and making street photography helped me develop a sense of intuition; I’ve carried this across into my commercial commissions.
The camera allows me to move in and out of people’s lives and share intimate moments. It’s a tool to tell more compelling stories and uncover shared value systems.
10. Diane Arbus - “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”
Talk is just that: talk. It lacks substance and momentum. Lifestyle photography is a way of showing customers what a brand’s key values are. Therefore, it is important that the images used on social platforms are consistent with the key message of a brand.
As the old saying goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” So what is your lifestyle photography say about your brand? Does it clearly communicate brand values?
In an age where personality has become currency, it’s important to share images that connect with viewers on an emotional level. High quality lifestyle photography uses strong visual communication to connect with people viscerally, creating a trusted bond between brand and customer. With so many products and options on the market, what makes a brand stand out is their ability to connect with the ideal lifestyle of their customers and understand how to best service that need. Strong imagery also serves an important role in personalising the brand identity.