lifestyle photography: what is it?

Lifestyle photography is a specific type of photography that includes humans in real-life everyday situations. It goes beyond the typical staged profile picture in order to create a sense of realism as if the subjects were "caught in the act" so to say. It can range anywhere from children playing games in the yard, a puppy licking its owners face, to adults enjoying a good laugh over dinner. These types of images paint a picture of how humans interact in different situations, with physical objects, or within certain environments. By capturing this, one is able to see the types of emotions that are evoked by the variety of environmental factors impacting the subject. 



What role does it have in retail?

Lifestyle photography plays a role in retail by highlighting emotions involving a retailer's product and the people that use it. It creates a scenario that many can relate to, or would like to relate to. For instance, if you were in the business of selling coffee beans, taking a picture of a mug of coffee or a pile of beans isn't going to trigger many emotions for most people. Lifestyle photography is used to produce the experience that coffee generates; the grinding of the beans, the plunge of the french press, the stirring of the cream, and the pure joy of that first sleepy sip. For potential consumers, this type of image can spark their imagination, getting them to ask questions like "what would it be like if I had that?"  This type of sentiment towards a product is a powerful tool that can help drive sales significantly. 



What role does cgi play in lifestyle photography?

Unfortunately at this moment in time, it plays a very small role. It is essentially the final frontier of CGI technology.  CGI lifestyle photography unlike product photography, requires a completely different 3D model for each and every person in the scene. Developing something of this nature is quite an undertaking.

Probably the largest hurdle holding back development in this field is the inability to generate realistic human skin. If you have ever seen a CGI rendering of a human, you'll immediately notice how the skin does not look quite right. It often appears lifeless and stretched over the body rather than resting naturally as it should. Human skin contains a plethora of intricate details that change considerably with even the most minute of movements; pores, wrinkles, smile lines, freckles, blemishes, etc... These are all details that would need to be meticulously recreated in order to form a believable model that doesn't instantly appear fake.  Do not be discouraged though. New breakthroughs in CGI continue to bring us increasingly closer to clearing this technological hurdle. The newest techniques in this field involve scans of actual human skin in intricate detail down to 10 microns! This coupled with sophisticated motion capture techniques and complex algorithms, have been able to yield very promising results. Adding humans to your next  CGI application or product photography project just might not be as far off as you think.