Lifestyle photography is one niche that is often overlooked in stock photography. This niche is crowded with highly-paid buyers who are always in search of new images. It's also a field that many photographers don't want to be involved in. It's a lucrative field for talented Lifestyle Photographers.
Images of lifestyle themes that are strong and engaging capture a slice of life in a way that draws in the viewer and creates an emotional connection. The viewer is transported to a place where they can picture themselves or their family members in the same situation. Or at the very least, it leaves them curious about what the experience would look like.
This viewer-connection is what lifestyle picture buyers seek, so that they can add their message to the image. If you create lifestyle images that convey this message, you are creating images with great commercial potential and high appeal.
Most photographers are shy about photographing people. Many are also reluctant to direct their models. Many people who consider themselves to be life-style photographers prefer to document human activity rather than being hands-on and creating the images that their customers need.
Life style photographers who use a professional approach to creating images and working with well-respected models to tell a story or convey a message are going to be very successful.
As long as you manage the shoot, friends and family can be your models. That usually means making sure everyone is clear of what message you're trying to convey, and ensuring all the components of the image... location, clothing, styling, props, poses, expressions,lighting... are all congruous with that theme.
Lighting is a simple matter. Outdoor shoots should have dual locations. One location can be the perfect overcast day location and another one that is out of direct sun. To balance the lighting, have fill lighting and reflectors available. Outdoor shoots can be done with an off-camera flash setup, again using reflectors.
Communication with your model(s), is essential for the shoot. Everyone should be on the exact same page and fully clear about what they have in mind before you begin. Next, you can try out a variety of moods and themes as you begin the shoot. This will help you to find what your model is most comfortable and skilled at. Once you have some ideas in mind, start working through them individually and directing your model accordingly to achieve the desired images.
Despite all the direction and management, the key to creating images that are successful for lifestyle subjects is to make sure the images look natural and not staged. Models won't be looking directly at the camera. Instead, they should connect emotionally and physically with the environment you have placed them in.
The images must be able to connect with the viewer immediately. The story should have enough detail, but not too much.
There are many themes and subjects that could work. It is important to photograph sports, but also any type of recreation activity and interaction, eating and drinking, or relaxing. If you can get buyers to attach their message to the image it will often sell.
Lifestyle photographers will be as interested in your models' ethnicity and demographic as the activity itself. So try to use multiple models in the same setup whenever possible. To create different moods and storylines, you can change the styling, props, and clothing in the same set.
Remember that lifestyle images should be about the subject and their feelings at the time. Amateur models often have a hard time conveying that. If you want to be serious about this, either hire professional models or train your volunteers to direct.