Tips For Taking Good Lifestyle Photos

One of the questions I get the most over Instagram and Facebook is about my photography.  What camera do I use, how do I edit my photos, how do I get shots of our family in real life scenarios?  I figured I'd break down my process for you and let you in on what I do for our family!


So we all know that I love photos and I'll never be able to take enough.  I grew up with a very camera happy mama and I've always loved being able to look back at all our photos and see how we grew up and how much fun we had and just everything about our childhood.  Anyway!  I naturally wanted to be able to do the same thing with my kiddos.  Also, since having Emily and learning what I love about photography over the past three years I've loved being able to use photography as a creative outlet for me.  I love having a vision and seeing it come to life in a photo I create!  So let's get into it...



  • Nikon D5300 camera body for everyday use.  I do have a different camera body I use for clients but for everyday use at home and out and about I stick with my D5300.  It's lightweight, compact, and has all the settings I need to run in manual mode.  
  • Tripod.  I totally recommend and love using my tripods, I actually have three.  I use a small one footer, a monopod, and a traditional 6 footer.  I love the monopod when I'm taking the photos and want a more steady hand.  The small tripod I rarely use but it's nice for small areas and the traditional tripod is what I use almost daily, or at least when you see me in the photo if it's taken inside our home.
  • Shutter remote.  I love my remote shutter and wouldn't be able to live without it!  I've had several kinds and this one is by far the best.  There are options right on the remote that allow you to take one photo, a burst of photos, timered photos, etc.  I've had other one button remote shutters that do NOT pass my test so even though this one is a tiny bit more expensive it's so worth it.
  • Lenses.  I have 4 lenses that I use.  35mm 1.8, 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.4, and my newest 10-20mm wide angle lens.  My 85 I only really use for clients but I'll occasionally whip it out for outdoor shots.  It gives amazing background blur.  My 35 is what I usually use indoors, until I started learning my wide angle lens.  The 35 is pretty good for tight spaces but the 10mm setting on the wide angle lens is amazing for tight spaces, even front seat car photos.  I can get unbelievably close to my subject with the 10mm and I'm infatuated with it so far.  My 50 is what I tend to reach for when I'm shooting outdoors.


  • Practice before hand.  Set up your shot or go outside to where you know you'll be.  Mess with your settings and take a couple test shots BEFORE you attempt any photos.  Especially with children and even more important when you're trying to get yourself in the photo.  There have been several times when I forgot to change my settings, had the perfect photo and wasn't able to really salvage it enough to use.  

  • Take lots of photos!  I kid you not, sometimes I'll take 15, 30, 40 photos to find 1-2 that I love and that I'll use.  It's just better to have a big selection, when you can, of photos to choose from.
  • Look at your lighting.  Light is what can make or break a photo, the most important thing is light.  I only shoot in natural light.  Some photos are a lot brighter than others nut most of the time I like to keep deep tones and I hate overexposing faces and skin.  That's my biggest pet peeve of all.  To me, rich tones help me feel more emotion when I look at a photo so I will gladly live in the shadows and soak them all up!


  • Sometimes this is a surprise to people but I edit every single photo on my phone!  I used to use Lightroom and Photoshop for each photo on my laptop but that just became too cumbersome.  Two little babies running around and all, I needed to find an easier way to edit my photos for sure.
  • VSCO app.  I always start here.  I use the preset A6 almost all the time, sometimes I'll change my exposure, sharpen the image, straighten it if needed, crop it if needed and that's it in this app.  
  • Retouch app.  I'm obsessed with this app, you guys.  It's amazing because, just like in Photoshop, you can remove items or anything you want to with a simple swipe!  It's like magic, haha.

The last and most important tip for me at least is to shoot in RAW.  It's a must, you're able to manipulate your image so much more than if you shoot in jpeg.  Trust me, RAW is the way to go.  

Ok, happy shooting and editing, you guys!