What's a portrait & lifestyle photographer? And why did I choose that direction?

I get asked time and time again what I photograph. Or I also get the “how much do you charge for X service?” when I don’t even photograph whatever X service is. I have come to realize that unless you are very specific, the general public who don’t know much about photography believes you photograph everything.

This is not to say this is their fault. It’s not common knowledge. Unless someone specifically states that they don’t photograph that, they won’t know. So I thought I would talk a little bit about what my style of photography is and why I chose that direction.

I am a lifestyle and portrait photographer. What in the world is that you may ask?

Lifestyle photography simply means documenting as it is. It’s very similar to photojournalism, where there isn’t much, if any, posing. The only light is what is available and currently there. I am a fly on the wall essentially. I am just there to document what I see and I do very little editing besides simple corrective edits.

Portrait photography is more of your traditional, posed photography. It’s what you would imagine as a photo session. I tell you to sit there, look this way, now close your eyes, now open them, now look straight at me, slightly tilt your head that way, you get the point. I am explaining what to do every single photo.

I typically merge these two styles to create a photo session that is a good hybrid. I love the posing, but I am not opposed to the in-between moments that create a natural photograph. I love those moments because it captures someone’s personality and real life. I love when I can pose someone and then the person laughs or shows their real emotions. That is what a hybrid of the two is.

I chose this direction of photography because like the two styles, I was trained in both. In high school, I was taught the basics of photography and that is where I fell in love with your traditional photography. I had a friend who was always my go-to model and she ROCKED it. It taught me to create in a new way. However, in college, I studied photojournalism. This is a very different style as it allows for only corrective editing, not creative. It also teaches you to just watch and observe instead of interjecting what you think would be a great addition to the photograph.

I love each of these types for so many different reasons. I didn’t want to be one or the other type of photographer. I wanted to have the best of both worlds. So I decided I wouldn’t have to choose and did both of them.

You may be saying, “Okay. So then you photography everything?” To answer that simply, no. Like all photographers, there are things that I am more comfortable shooting than others. For example, I have never photographed a wedding and until I have second shot for another photographer, I don’t believe I will be comfortable doing so. Do I think I would like to try? Yes, but I don’t want to offer a service I can’t be completely confident in. It’s the same with newborns. I envy photographers who can photograph newborns. It is hard. Both of these two things require a lot of dedication to their craft. Not saying I don’t have dedication, but this requires a skill set I just do not have yet.

So to answer the rest of that question, I do photograph a handful of subjects. This would include families, couples, professionals, individuals, high school seniors to name a few.

I want to go ahead and squash the myth that photographers will take anything they can get to make a buck. I can’t tell you how many times I have turned down a photography job just because I don’t specialize in that. I don’t want to take your money if I know that I won’t be able to deliver what I would consider my best. That is just not good business, nor do I believe that is right just as a human being. I want you to walk away happy with your decision, not questioning it. You wouldn’t go to a cardiologist for your broken foot. So why would you hire a photographer who only does weddings to do your newborn photos? The answer, you wouldn’t.

As I wrap this up, I just want you to see that all photographers are different and have a different niche. Some of us are extraordinary in photographing weddings while others are splendid at lifestyle. So make sure you do your research before wanting to hire anyone for your special event, whether that be portraits, a family session, your professional headshots, a wedding, or even newborn photos. Each photographer is unique, so play to their strengths to get the best session you could ask for.

What I do on the days I am not shooting sessions

Believe it or not, I actually do more than just take photographs in my business. Honestly, most photographers, including myself, only take photos 20% or less of the time in our business. I wanted to explain to you what the other 80% of my business looks like.

Accounting & bookkeeping

Never have I ever claimed that I am a bookkeeper or have an accounting background. Honestly, if it wasn’t for my dad having a background in business finances and giving me tips and tricks I would be VERY lost. I mean, I understand basic personal finance, but having to do it for a business is a completely different story. This includes balancing my books, keeping and documenting every single expense, prepping for taxes, keeping all invoices, and understand profit and loss statements.

Administrative

I answer phone calls, I reply to emails, I correspond with vendors, and even hand write thank you notes to my clients. Anything an administrative assistant does, I do.

Research

Taking time out of my schedule to research trends, different client portals, labs, and to see what works best for my clients is important. I want to make sure everything I do makes the clients life easier. I also use this time to research for any of the blog posts that I write.

Education

I have to learn about everything that I am talking about throughout this blog post because I had NO idea what to do (and still sometimes have to Google some things). I have to make time to not only learn these things, but get better at my own craft. I go to conferences, take online courses, and read personal development and business books constantly.

Email Marketing

My business has it’s own newsletter that goes out monthly called Snapshots. So I have to prepare this and make it visually appealing. I also use this for any flash sales as well as any freebies that I offer!

Social Media Marketing

This one takes up a LOT of time. Learning trends in the social media world, and what to post and making up content for it to go along with my website, sessions, and blog posts is some of the things that go into it.

Editing

This is what I do after every single session, plus my own “for fun” photos. This takes up a big chunk of time as I have to go through every image and alter it just right.

Setting up programs

This includes prepping for programs that my clients will be using. I try to make each and every step easy for the client, so I am constantly looking for new programs and tweaking them to make the experience better.

Consultations

This is when I am either doing an on the phone or in person consultations. Since I offer this to anyone that I get a request from, this can add up with my time. Plus, I do research and take the time to get these set up.

Blogging

I blog every single week. I have a blog up every Tuesday at 10 am. This takes a LOT of time. I want to make sure the content is valuable, as well as interesting, well thought out and researched. Creating something that can actually be of benefit to anyone is a lot. I also try to come up with some freebie that can go along with it and make Pinterest graphics.

Analytics

I have to study my analytics for my email, social media, and website to see what performs the best. That way, I can make more things like that for my audience and for my clients. When you add up all of those platforms, it can be intense.

Ordering

This includes ordering supplies, ordering gifts for clients and their products. This could also include me getting an order ready (coming up with albums, wall art, etc.) for the client.

Are you surprised? I am not sure most people see what this side looks like, so how could you know? I am going to start tracking my time by “clocking in & out” when I am on certain tasks, just to see what my actual time is. I would be curious to see this. Would you?

Favorite things about being a photographer

There are a lot of things I like about being a photographer. However, I wanted to highlight a few that really make the job something special. Those moments that make you remember why you started doing it in the first place. These are my favorite things about being a photographer.

1: The expressions on the faces of my clients when they get their photos

This is probably my absolute favorite because it really shows you how much they appreciate it. They see their loved ones in print and know that they can cherish this forever. It always shows me how much they love my work.

2: Being the reason my clients can have these memories to hold on to.

Just knowing that I am the one responsible for the photographs hanging in someone’s house or on the coffee table is one of the best reasons for being a photographer. It brightens my day when I see clients showing me their walls filled with my photographs.

3: Creativity

Every time I get to take photographs I get to express my creativity. It’s one of the many things that I love about this job. I get to show something that most jobs don’t get to do. Honestly, creativity is what drives me and that is what makes this job so special to me.

Being a photographer has so many perks and special moments, but these are just a few of my favorites.

The do's and do not's of posting your session photos on social media

This is a topic that I feel needs to be addressed. Not so much as it’s something I see people doing wrong, but more of people have no idea. It’s not something that typically is brought up until someone gets upset that someone did do something wrong. So I am here to help you understand which is a “do” and which is a “don’t” when it comes to social media and posting your session photos to them.

Do

  • Give your photographer a shoutout. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing you post your photos from your session all over social media! That means the WORLD to a photographer. So give them a little shoutout while you’re at it. Just tag them in the caption or even tag them in the photo. It also helps other people see who did these amazing photographs that you love so much.

  • Share them!!!! Don’t keep them to yourself! Share them everywhere. It tells us you like them. You love the photos. So what if there is a watermark on there? Post it.

  • Tell us how you feel about it when you post your photos. But let’s try to keep it positive.

  • Share them when writing reviews. This helps us so much!

Don’t

  • Crop or edit the photos. We put our heart and soul into making those photographs perfect for you, please don’t slap a filter on it or crop it. It’s really disheartening to the photographer and it says that you don’t like what they did for you.

  • Forget to tell anyone who did your photos. If people ask, let them know. I’ve seen where people won’t respond to comments of people asking who did them. It tells us that you don’t want other people to use us.

  • Do anything your contract with you and your photographer says not to do. Most photographers will have you sign a contract when doing photography services. In those contracts, there can be something about social media. If you break that contract by doing something specifically listed in there, you could be liable. That is a legal binding document and will stand up in court. I hope it would never go to that extreme, but just be courteous and read that part of your contract before posting anywhere.

Feel free to let me know if there is anything I didn’t address that you would like clarified. I will update this list for you as well. Comment below some things you want to know!!

The photographer behind photos of me

Have you ever wondered who takes the amazing photographs of me that you see over my website? Well, I hire someone who I have known since college and I have always been inspired and motivated by her work. She is someone I look up to and am always wanting to be like. 

Her name is Lauren Dahlhauser and she owns Lauren Dahlhauser Photography. She always has amazing photographs and loves to travel. She has been with Rustic Pathways previously for two summers straight where she got to travel to Morocco and Australia to take photographs. She is truly someone I inspire to be one day. 

I wanted to share some photographs she has taken of me that may or may not have come through this website or on my social media before. I hope you enjoy them! Thank you so much, Lauren, for your wonderful talent.

Kaytee Lorentzen
Owner | Kaytee Lorentzen Photography