question for you

Traditional vs Lifestyle? What type of session would you prefer (not to photograph, but to have on your walls)?

After my last post, I got to thinking.  I know how much I love photographing kids and families in more of a lifestyle manner.  But, how do others like it? And by liking it, I mean, I-would-rather-slather-my-walls-with-lifestyle-images-rather-than-posed-with-a-backdrop-images.

Before you commit to “liking it,” let me explain exactly what I mean by a lifestyle or “day in the life” session.  The best example of what a “day in the life” would be like would be here.  A lifestyle session would be here…or maybe even here.  It is basically a storytelling session.  Backdrops, stiff poses, perfect ruffley dresses…out the window.  I’m thinking more along the lines of superhero capes, favorite foods, cooking together, games, dressups, dancing…you know…the good stuff.  Why do I love photographing like this?  Duh.  Because it is fun.   It is real.  And most important, because we are capturing details and quirks that will be forgotten in five years from now.

Coming full circle, that brings me back to my question.

Imagine your walls and picture books decorated with perfect images taken by a professional photographer…are they posed and perfect, or are they fun and unexpected?

Keep in mind as you answer the question, there is NO RIGHT ANSWER. Just because I photograph a certain way, it does not mean I don’t adore and appreciate beautiful traditional images.  Everyone has their own style, and I love and respect that.  It’s just my sheer curiosity to know what people prefer.

I would love if you (and by you, I mean ANYONE reading this blog) would leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.  What do the images in your mind look like of an absolute perfect session of your children and/or family?  Oh, and you can leave an anonymous comment if you want…I just want to hear from you 🙂



  1. Lupe Dove says:

    Hi Jean,

    I really love close-ups of pouty faces or a genuine laugh or sassy face. Ofcourse everyone loves the traditional look I’d say more for a xmas photo. Atleast thats my opinion…All of my boys scrapbooks are about them… how they smiled how they cried and all that good stuff!!!

    ~And as always Love your work and style!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Followed you for a while. I love how your style has evolved, I think it is unique and special. To be honest, I DO have traditional portraits all over my walls, and I love them, but I cherish more the ones of my kids in their dress up clothing or the one of my one son giving the other son a noogie and us all laughing our heads off. So, really, I guess I want the candid ones huge on my wall, but have never thought about them being taken professionally. What a novel idea. Time to hire a professional!

  3. Jamie Lyn says:

    I think the times are changing and I am changing with them. I would way rather have a 16×20 picture on my wall of my little girl dancing in her princess gear than see her in front of a backdrop with a cheesy smile. Just my opinion.

  4. Jamie Lyn says:

    Oh, and I would KILL (not literally) for a Day in the Life session with you. I saw the pictures of your son and thought the idea was genius.

  5. Love the lifestyle sessions the most! I love the details of the things we do together and those are the things I want to remember. We have a few traditional portraits that are good, but they are so much less fun before, during and after and seem so much more stressful than just hanging out catching real moments. I hope I can take pictures like you do someday! You are a photography genius!

  6. christina says:

    I am terrible – I LIKE BOTH! But I definitely like a collage of pictures in the same natural backdrop. Like with the one in this post, a closeup, detail, picture of the hands or maybe the feet dangling off of the chair, etc..

  7. Shannon says:

    I LOVE the day in the life shots – I try to do that with both of my kids – not nearly as well as you do though. The lifestyle shots are my second choice – I’m not really into traditional photos – they just never capture the personality that the other two styles do. I would love, love, love to have a session with you, BUT I live on the west side of the state – BOO…maybe if that ever changes…

  8. Melinda B says:

    First let me say that I absolutely LOVE your work! You are one of the best I’ve seen!

    Now, for the question… I have had both lifestyle photography and traditional images taken (and have taken both) of my kids and family. There are very few lifestyle images I would hang on my walls (and doubt I would hang any day in the life, though that’s a really cool idea). I much prefer traditional portraits- not that they must be perfect, because often with children they are not… and an occasional print taken outside that looks really wall worthy. Just my two cents.

    I WOULD fill albums and scrapbooks with the lifestyle and day in the life prints though!

  9. Melinda B says:

    Oh- one more thing I wanted to add– most of our “traditional” portraits of the kids are not that traditional- they aren’t just sitting staring at a camera… but there are professional backdrops so that’s about the only traditional part.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Most of the pics on my walls are fun and expected. I love lifestyle photography. I like to look at a picture and have it spark an emotion whether it be “what a great memory” or “feel the love” or “what a goof”…i think lifestyle photography does it best. I like to see pictures of what my kids actually look like at that given time, and fun and unexpected does it best rather than posed. I also think lifestyle lets you see more of the person (what is inside, not just the outside).

  11. kristin cook says:

    I think I would love a book of ‘a day in the life’ images.

  12. Anne says:

    LIFESTYLE! However, the place I live is very traditional and they look at me weird when I want to do a full lifestyle shoot. I try to give both in my sessions, but my mosest favoritest of all times are the lifestyle shoots I’ve done with my wee ones!

  13. Jackie P says:

    I can’t decide…for me there is a place for both. In my nice living room I would want more traditional but in the family room and in frames here and there in the room lifestyle for sure!
    I must say I love your style!

  14. Sandy mabery says:

    I absolutely love your playful in the moment pictures, they are so very unique and say so much more about the person than the stiff poses. You make it look easy but I know it isn’t easy getting people to relax and act normal in fron of a camera lens. That’s why I stick to landscapes. You must have a personality that puts people at ease.

  15. No question- lifestyle! I’ve always refused to have professional images taken of my children because I can’t stand them. I want real and I have tons of real life photos all over my walls. I love how they translate so well to black and white too. I either do black and white or load up lots of color =). I guess I’m not one of those middle ground girls.

    …I will do something a little more “set up” for Christmas cards, but that is partly because my husband and I try to be included in them. Though I have seen some really adorable Christmas cards with less traditional photos, I just haven’t done it yet.

  16. Holly D. says:

    My favorite pictures of my kids are always the ones that other people might think are the goof ups. My kids are goofy and I love to see pictures of them that seem like them. I have always hated pictures of myself where I’m not smiling and being serious – I think it’s because that’s not me. That’s why I think you’re such an awesome photographer – because you take pictures that seem so real!

  17. Sharon Tonnies says:

    I love the shots that are unexpected and show real, playful emotion. I always go into a session with ideas, some work, some I don’t get, but then I always get photos that are such an unexpected treat as well! I used to want mostly black and white photography, but then as my boys got older, and I discovered you, I love the whimsical, colorful way you capture children. Over all I say 25% posed, 75% lifestyle. You always need a few posers for cards and grandma! 🙂

  18. Kari Dawson says:

    Um, both lifestyle and a day in the life please! Although I have to say I’m a sucker for a glamorous dress with a perfectly coordinated backdrop too. The images I have on the walls of my twins are from my recent birthday session with them where I used one of my favorite chairs, one of my favorite backdrops, and they wore gorgeous gold and silver dresses with over the top hairdos for toddlers. I find this type of session to only be likeable for babies and toddlers though, atleast for me. The other images of them and the rest of the kiddos are a mix of real life (day in the life) moments from polish dance and other events and are my favorites because they are stolen moments. Moments they did know they were being photographed. My other favorites are very modely of my older children. Because they each are so darn good looking and they know how to work a camera. So a nice on-location spot, gorgeous light, an appropriately funky wardrobe and voila’. If I weren’t a photographer I would prefer the real moments. You have a way of making an ordinary ‘day in the life’ snapshot and really making it something special and the lifestyle images are amazing as well.

  19. Oh man I think both! More lifestyle though than traditional, but with my family I for sure would like one where we are all looking but for the most part I want to remember emotion and our family dynamics which I feel can be displayed better through lifestyle portraiture nothing like seeing interaction on my wall and being surrounded by it to bring in that feeling of joy =)

  20. Marla says:

    I think what stands out about a professional on location photographer is that they can capture more lifestyle images. I LOVE these – they are real, usually personal and lovely. Give me real anyday!

  21. Becky says:

    Ummm, lifestyle but only if done by you. 🙂 Love your work!!

  22. amber says:

    lifestyle. most of what i have on my walls currently (taken by other photographers) is traditional. very posed. and i remember how stressful those sessions were for me. as the mom. trying to hold a kid in a pose, praying they would smile at the same time. pssshhhh. what was i thinking? i am trying to approach the photos i take with more of a lifestyle approach. oh, some of them end up being posed. but in my opinion, the lifestyle photos are so much more enjoyable. for everyone involved. and it’s those moments you want to capture. and hang on your wall.

    i do like the comment by sharon that says “25% posed and 75% lifestyle”. maybe that’s what i should aim for when i go out for a session this afternoon. 🙂

  23. Linsey says:

    I love both, I would say 75% of my walls would be lifestyle and 25% would be day in the life of….I like the alternating. Also I think your lifestyle images and overall style are absolutely better than the rest, I hate hate hate the over posed…but sometimes I and others need a little bit of direction! But that is just me 🙂

  24. paula says:

    I have actually been pondering this question myself…for a while now. I would much rather take pictures of real life, than posey-posey ones. I think some like to have that real traditional picture on their wall of family. But I love the “real life shots”. I have been doing a “Real Life Bio” of my kids for six months now, I really need to get working on editing them, but that’s my opinion, of course from a photographers perspective. Although, I would love you to do my family “day in the life” session too…as others have mentioned. I love your work and always aspire to be like you one day.

  25. jean says:

    i absolutely love what everyone has been saying…thanks for your comments. i agree with many that there is a place for both and i have been trying to figure out what would make me happy, and i have come up with this. i want lifestyle shots slathered across my walls…but in collages…of any sort. canvas collages. collages on shelves. framed groupings. standout collages. why? because they tell a story and i love it. i do like to have a shot or two with everyone looking at the camera…but in a non-stiff pose…ya know? yeah, let’s make that one huge and put it on my wall.

  26. Melissa says:

    One of the reasons I absolutely LOVE your photography is because I think you are a genius at the lifestyle photos. They are my favorite. I do admit that I have hanging on my wall our traditional family photo, but its because I am not able to capture those lifestyle photos myself. I need to have you take our family photos when you are in town.

  27. staci says:

    Well I saw this and couldn’t keep my fingers still. I like the everyday shots that are taken from a perspective that is new. It helps me to really see the beauty in things that normally I wouldn’t even notice. So great for the traditional, they can be beautiful, but I want things on my walls that are interesting and fun and crazy !!!!

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