a family jumping in a posed image at the beach

Lifestyle vs. Posed Portraits: What’s the Difference?

When you decide to book a portrait photography session, it can be challenging to know exactly what kind of photos you want. Do you want a lifestyle session in your home? Do you want candid photos or posed portraits? Maybe you want a mix of both. There are so many possibilities when it comes to portrait photography, so it’s important to understand to know what are lifestyle vs. posed portraits and make sure it’s exactly what you want.

Every photographer’s style and offerings are different, so be sure to ask any questions before you book a session to make sure you know what you’re getting when you book.

Posed Portraits

Traditional posed portrait photography is exactly what it sounds like: The photographer puts the subject in a variety of specific poses and snaps photos of them. These images can be gorgeous, and if you’ve had your photo taken before, you’ve likely enjoyed the magic of a professional photographer’s experience in guiding you into the perfect poses.

Posed portraits are often taken in a studio, although they don’t have to be! Many natural light photographers also do poses as well, and some do a combination of candid and posed images. This gives their clients more variety and more photos to choose from.

Photographers who do posed portraits often have a vision for their images and how they want them to turn out. In many cases, the subject and the photographer work together to create photos that capture the client’s personality.

While people sometimes interpret posed photography as “cold” or “perfect,” that isn’t necessarily the case. These images can just be as warm and authentic as candid photos—they’re just more stylized and planned. Posed portrait photographers use their experience and knowledge to use the light, location and posing to their advantage to create images that wow.

Engagement Photos of a couple with their two pet dogs

family pictures image of a family photo on the beach as part of their lifestyle vs. posed portraits

as part of their lifestyle vs. posed portraits of a family of five

Lifestyle Portraits

In comparison to traditional portrait photography, lifestyle photography has a much more relaxed feel. Lifestyle photography is about capturing people in their natural environment, so these images are often taken in people’s homes using natural light. They’re designed to feel more authentic and genuine. Think of the photos you see influencers and celebrities post on Instagram. Those are often lifestyle images.

Lifestyle portraits aren’t posed. While the photographer might set up an activity for the subject to do, they won’t direct the person or people in the photos to look at the camera or pose in a specific way. The goal is to draw out natural emotions and capture them in beautiful images.

Lifestyle photography is often used to capture families or couples. It’s a way of showcasing the connection between groups of people and the emotions they feel toward one another. But lifestyle portraits can also be taken of a single person, capturing them in an environment where they feel most comfortable.

The father raises their baby on the air candid shot

The parents reading a story to the baby

So, which type of photography is best for you?

Both posed vs. lifestyle portraits  have their place, and can lead to amazing images that you will love. When choosing what type of photos you want to have taken for your portraits, it’s important to know what your photographer’s style is and what types of sessions they offer. By taking to and working with them, you can plan out a session that captures your genuine personality and provides you with images you’ll love.

Mother and son candid shot

rielly family posed for their family portrait

Let's chat about your portrait session!

At the end of the day, it's all about documenting this time, right now, in your family's history. I'll help you determine if posed, lifestyle or a combination of both styles will be best for you!

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