How to use lifestyle images for your business: Do's and Don'ts

First, let's define it: Lifestyle photography is a kind of photography which mainly aims to capture people in situations, real-life events or milestones in an artistic manner and the art of the everyday. The primary goal is to tell stories about people's life or to inspire people in different times. Many Instagram accounts are prime examples of lifestyle photography portraying everything from what someone ate for breakfast, to their latest vacation destination. However, if you are a business looking to use lifestyle photography correctly, there are a few things to consider:

To many business people lifestyle photography is synonymous with stock photography. At its worst, a laughably robotic parody of real life. At its best, the apex of sellability and perfection in commercial photography.

No matter what your business, lifestyle photography can be a great way to humanise your brand and bring an authentic narrative for your audience to follow. Lifestyle photography is successful when the context is relatable to your audience and the people in the images are quite simply, believable. Authenticity is key.

Here are some DO'S and DON'TS to help you organise a successful lifestyle shoot for your business.

1. If your business has a client-facing physical location or storefront, DON'T use stock images.

If the swimming pool in the images isn't the same one your guests are going to experience in your hotel, don't use someone else's.

 Use images that actually represent your place of business. If there are things you want to hide, then focus on capturing a detail rather than the entire space.

Use images that actually represent your place of business. If there are things you want to hide, then focus on capturing a detail rather than the entire space.

First, there are a whole host of reasons to avoid stock photography beyond just this point above, but if your business features a physical location that clients visit on a daily basis, the worst thing you can do is lie to them. Showcasing your space in a way that is totally unrepresentative or inaccurate creates a distrust amongst your clients. Take the time to stage the space your clients actually experience and you'll better manage their expectations. Successful lifestyle images may portray a heightened reality for marketing purposes but reality needs to be present nonetheless.

2. DO include members of your staff and employees in the shoot.

using photos of your team in the mix will create brand recognition and authenticity

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Its commonplace for businesses to hire lifestyle models for photo-sessions but equally important are the people that work with you day in and day out. Including actual members of staff in the images can help to showcase the hard work that goes into your product or service and also demonstrates a culture of pride and team-work. People enjoy seeing what actually goes on in a workplace and these types of images will humanise your brand. Moreover, if you're using lifestyle images for social media you can further leverage the online community and followers of your staff portrayed in the images.

3. DO get images of people using your product or service

There is a difference between the lifestyle shots associated with your brand and direct interaction with a product or service itself

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We see this all the time with e-commerce products sold online. Beautiful product photography and sometimes even cool backstage shots of what goes into the making of the product. But oftentimes photos of a customer using the product are absent. If you're selling wearable tech, then show someone wearing your device, if you're selling protein powder, get images of someone actually scooping a spoonful into their glass. Too often we see lifestyle images where the products a business is actually selling are missing. These items need to be part of a successful lifestyle shoot in order to show customers what, when, why, and how your products can be used. Without them, the story is simply incomplete.

4. DON'T use too much artificial lighting. Stick with natural light if possible.

IMAGES THAT ARE TOO COMMERCIAL AND GLOSSY DON'T CONVEY REAL LIFE SITUATIONS

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When working with a photographer on a lifestyle shoot, light is obviously very important in getting professional quality images. BUT, glossy Vanity Fair shots of a couple dining at your restaurant might not be the best way to convince other potential customers to dine with you. Why? Because professional lighting doesn't follow us around in real life and these images can look over-produced and staged. The idea behind lifestyle images is that they steal moments from real-life situations, catching just the right instance in a subtle way, not a fabricated one. Use natural light as often as possible to emulate the real life conditions of what customers experience.

5. DO use candid photos where people aren't looking directly into the camera

Show a moment in someone’s life where the person or people are not aware of the camera

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If you are working with professional lifestyle models, they will understand what candid means and act or pose accordingly. If you're using your own employees or staff make sure that this point is explained to them before the shoot. Use images where people are going about their day in a natural way. Photos of people interacting with one another, on the job, engaged in what they are doing or with customers is a great way to get candid photos that don't look posed or staged.

6. DO make a shoot list.

planning is important to successful lifestyle shots

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In photography, even spontaneity needs a little planning. This isn't event photography where whatever happens happens and the photographer just captures it. Before you invest in lifestyle photography make a concrete list of what parts of your business are important to showcase to your audience. Start by asking yourself what you trying to convey. Youth? Relaxation? Innovation? Reliability? Customer Service? Financial Success? Whatever it is these concepts need to translate into real-life human situations. Work closely with your photographer to ensure you have an adequate variety of shots that represent the different audiences your business caters to.

7. DON'T use the same person or model for the entire lifestyle shoot

using too few people in lifestyle images will make the shoot about the model, not your business

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This is a situation that has come up for me way too often working with hotels. There is a pretty receptionist who is to be the token face of the company and used in all the shots because nobody else wants to do it. That's fine, but extremely limiting. First, not everyone in lifestyle photography needs to look like Kendall Jenner. In fact, its better if they don't because your audience doesn't look like her and it will be more difficult to relate. Second, the people in your lifestyle photos are an accessory to the concept you're trying to convey, not the concept itself. If we repeatedly see the same face over and over and over again, then we start to forget about the context and just focus on the face. Mix it up when and where possible with at least 3-4 people so that the emphasis remains on your business.

With these tips in mind, creating convincing and effective images for your brand will be much easier and successful. For more information on photography for your brand and visual content creation, please explore my website below: