Posed, Lifestyle and Documentary Photography: What's the difference?

What is posed photography?

Posed pictures really aren't my thing. They never have been. Posed photography is just that, posed. Choose a beautiful location, the photographer will tell you where to sit, stand, kneel, how to look, how to hold your head, where to place your hands, and whether to smile or look serious.

This is a style I try to avoid in my work. A traditional portrait often depicts the subject looking at the camera. Traditional portrait photography is posed. It helps the subjects look their best. Often, traditional portraits are shot in a studio with a formal photography backdrop.

The Difference Between Lifestyle and Documentary Photography

Lifestyle and documentary photography can be very similar. So much so, that when you put an example of each style side by side, you may never know which is which. That is, of course, unless you spoke to the person who took the photographs.

So what is the critical difference between lifestyle photography and documentary photography?

What is Lifestyle photography?

Lifestyle photography (somewhere in the middle) is less directed than posed photography, more directed than documentary photography, but is still largely unscripted. When in a lifestyle session, the photographer sets up a scenario for the subject – instructing them where to stand, what they should be doing, or gives them something to laugh or talk about – before watching the action unfold, and capturing it from there.

What is Documentary photography?

Documentary photography (real life photography) is a kind of photography that mainly aims to capture a portrait of people in situations, real-life events, milestones, and the art of daily living in an artistic manner. The primary goal is to tell stories about people's lives or to inspire people at different times.


Jonathan Platt | July 2020

“My family and I had a wonderful afternoon with Dorota at the beach and the photos we received reflect this. Dorota was playful with our children and brought out their natural joy. We received the photos promptly after the session and we are very happy with the end product. We would definitely use Dorota's services again and highly recommend her to others looking for a fun, natural photo shoot.”

01 / 04


I like to think my work is a mixture of both documentary and lifestyle photography.

The heart of lifestyle and documentary photography is to show the beauty in real, everyday, seemingly mundane moments in your life.

Real life is worth remembering. Real life - all the tears, imperfect hair, scars and tears is worth remembering.

Family lifestyle photoshoot |Edinburgh & Lothians

Photography is a record of moments. A family session is not held every day. When we go outside, we usually look for a place where there are no many people around. I want you can feel at ease, be yourself. Leave your bag in the car, take your child's hand and just go ahead. I'll be following you and taking pictures. I will photograph these wonderful moments and emotions that are between you. I will capture the sparkle in your eyes as you look at your baby's face, when you touch him/her with tenderness looks that you cannot see because they last a fraction of a second.

One day in a few years you will be able to take this beautiful family album into your own hands and remember these wonderful family moments. You will be so happy and grateful that you captured this fleeting moment

Spring Lifestyle Family Photography | Holyrood Park

01 / 10

Summer Lifestyle Family Photography | Tyninghame Beach

01 / 11

Autumn Lifestyle Family Photography | Cammo Park

01 / 10

Winter Lifestyle Family photography | Lauriston Castle

01 / 11


Get in touch and book you consultation call so we can start planning your Family photoshoot

Not quite ready to book ?

Order FREE e-brochure with all the information and options you may have