What is Commercial Lifestyle Photography?


When I was younger, my sister and would look through the JC Penney Catalog and laugh and laugh at how they were posed. The real life models would stand there with one hand in their pockets and waving with the other. We’d flip to the next page where they would be in athletic wear acting like they were playing tennis…in a studio with a stark white backdrop. What’s more? Oh, the uncomfortable image of men or women just hanging out in their underwear, like it’s no big deal. Everyone does that, right? (insert sarcasm) My sister and I had so much fun giggling at these “perfectly” posed catalog pages. Well, I like to think those old catalogs were dabbling in the more modern lifestyle commercial photography.

Commercial Photography is photography for a business to sell or advertise their product or service. Commercial Lifestyle Photography is taking it a step further and photographing products or people to show how it is used in a day to day setting. It is meant to evoke emotion from a consumer or relate with a consumer. We see the product or service in real life. If it’s a product, we see how it is being used by people in a relatable setting, such as a restaurant or in a home. If it’s a service or a person, we hope to see their personality, where they work, or even how they work.

This is Brandy, she is a personal trainer. I did a commercial session for her to post on her website and social media. She wanted to show images that set her apart from her competition…what better way that by showing us her athletic ability. If I’m gonna hire a personal trainer, I would definitely want to hire her!

This is Kia. She is a graphic designer that helps entrepreneurs with design and branding. She needed some typical headhsots, but also wanted some images to convey her working. She’s a hard working gal in which the world can be her office.

Here we have a product. A monogrammed backpack. The vendor could have taken a typical e-commerce image or stock photo (think white background, close up image). Instead we got a little creative and set up a lifestyle shoot. In this image, a consumer can see how big the bag may be in relation to their child or perhaps can imagine their child wearing one of these backpacks.

This is from a shoot with ASAP couriers. They wanted to convey the professionalism of their couriers and drivers. They wanted an “action” shot so to speak.

OK, one more for good measure! This is my client Mark. He is an educational consultant and wanted to show a bit of what he does online. He works with and assists student to apply for college. Here we see an image of him with his real clients…working with them and making them laugh.

The JC Penney catalog had the right idea, but today’s consumer expects more. They want real life. Sometimes stock photos just aren’t enough. They want to see real people and products being really used.

“Marketing is no longer just about the stuff you make, it’s about the story you tell.” – Seth Godin

Here are a few more examples…

So when you’re ready to take some commercial images for your website, social media, or print…both traditional or lifestyle…give me a call!!

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