Interested in lifestyle photography? If so, you may be wondering what essential items of camera gear you need to get started.
One way to find out is to see what other photographers have inside their kits.
On these pages, we take a look inside the camera bags of professional lifestyle photographers and ask them to break it down for us. What gear do they use? And why?
Of course, no two kits are the same. As with any genre of photography, the perfect kit comes down to the individual photographer’s style, vision, and unique situation.
But there’s a lot you can learn from the experiences of others.
Now, before you get started on your lifestyle photography journey, it can help to be clear about exactly what you want to be shooting and for whom.
Indeed, it’s a pretty difficult genre to define. So what is lifestyle photography?
A lot of definitions put lifestyle photography in the nebulous space between candid and posed shoots. So it’s capturing photos of people going about their daily lives in a way that appears natural – only they’re being setup and directed to some degree.
Here’s an example: imagine a family sitting around a picnic table laughing and chatting and have a jolly old time as if the camera isn’t there. The laughing may well be real – but the photographer has planned and lined up the shot and directed the family to look happy and natural.
So one way to see lifestyle photography is that it’s capturing moments of daily life – but rather than waiting for those moments to happen, the photographer gives a helping hand. They set things up so those moments are naturally created.
We’d expand the definition of lifestyle photography a bit further and say it includes any photos that capture or promote a particular lifestyle.
Imagine a still life or flatlay photo for an eyewear brand featuring a pair of their sunglasses artfully arranged next to a beach towel, some leather sandals and a vintage book.
There’s a lifestyle that’s being conveyed here that isn’t captured in a simple product shot.
Lifestyle photography might also document the lifestyles that exist around certain sports or activities: kids at a skate park or off-duty surfers for example.
So as you can see, “lifestyle” is a category photographers often tumble into rather than deliberately choose, and it overlaps with others like documentary photography, portraiture, commercial and branding.
Of course, your gear will depend largely on how you want to approach the genre.
Inside our featured photographers’ bags you’ll find everything from vintage film cameras to state-of-the-art mirrorless systems. You’ll find zoom lenses and primes. Minimal kits and expansive ones.
As you browse through, take a look at the projects and work of others for inspiration and ideas, and check out the gear of the ones that appeal to you.
There are lots of stories to be told and insights to be gleaned – and we hope that seeing the camera gear of other lifestyle photographers from around the world helps you on your own photography journey.