Elevating commercial lifestyle photography through micro-moments

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Elevating commercial lifestyle photography through micro-moments

Elevating commercial lifestyle photography through micro-moments

This spring, a survey from Groupon revealed that, approximately one year into the pandemic, 75% of Americans are “So #@$%ing Ready” for ordinary moments to return, with the same percentage saying they’ll never take ordinary moments (e.g., hugging friends and family, going to brunch with friends, going to the movies) for granted again.

Meanwhile, in the UK, research commissioned by Specsavers found that, since the start of lockdowns, six out of ten respondents have learned to appreciate the more mundane things, including the simple sight of seeing someone smiling at them. Among the top 50 things people said they’d no longer take for granted were ordinary activities like shopping at the supermarket with family, choosing a book in the library, having after-work drinks, and picking an outfit to wear out.

Dog Kiss by Marcia Fernandes on 500px.com

In 2021, people appreciate the little moments more than ever, so it’s no surprise that much of today’s marketing revolves around these relatable “micro-moments” that take place in our everyday lives. Consider Walmart’s recent ad campaign featuring snapshots from the lives of 22 families, from family dinners to the birth of a child, or Bed, Bath, & Beyond’s “Home, Happier” campaign, also featuring real families at home.

Newborn baby feet in dad's hands by Tatyana Aksenova on 500px.com

For commercial photographers, these kinds of everyday moments—known as “micro-moments”—can form the foundation of a marketable and timeless lifestyle portfolio. This movement toward more relatable advertising has been brewing for years now; as early as 2019, Getty Images reported that searches for terms like “authentic moments”, “real family”, and “real people” rose by 122%, 678%, and 218%, respectively, over the previous year.

Hand by Klaus Balzano on 500px.com

In the last few months alone, brands ranging from Starbucks to Madewell to Glossier have highlighted personal stories and how-to videos from their employees, customers, and communities on social media, while Tiffany & Co. shared photos of real moms and daughters for Mother’s Day. Today’s consumers want to see themselves reflected in the advertising they consume, and that’s something to keep in mind when brainstorming new photoshoots.

Lunch preparation by Iza ?yso? on 500px.com

In addition to being in high demand, “everyday lifestyle” photoshoots are accessible for everyone. You can even get creative and use yourself and your immediate family as models and actors. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, popular advertisements increasingly featured non-professional actors, often including family members of the directors and photographers who created them.

Eco travel by All Nea on 500px.com

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, documentary-style ads had already started gaining in popularity before the pandemic, as marketers looked for ways to connect with customers, but the restrictions of 2020 encouraged more brands to work with real families who live together. Top companies like Macy’s and Boll & Branch tapped into the trend by featuring the families of their photographers and directors in major ads.

“Micro-moments have reinvented lifestyle photography, bringing a more intimate, cinematic, and documentary kind of feel,” the 500px team tells us. “Instead of cold, rigid, overly-posed families that you might see in traditional stock photography, micro-moments are about capturing and highlighting the little things—the everyday.”

Senior couple lifestyle moments at home by Cristian Negroni on 500px.com

To capture these “slice-of-life” moments, work with your models closely to document their ordinary routines, from getting ready for school to helping out with homework to washing up before bed. Cultivate a collaborative spirit on set, and encourage your models to share their ideas based on their personal lives and the activities that feel authentic to them. Maybe you set up a lifestyle shoot at home instead of in the studio, and give yourself extra time to try new things. By keeping the atmosphere casual and relaxed, you’ll empower your models to be themselves, resulting in more natural, spontaneous pictures.

You can provide direction, but remember to give your models space to express themselves, and look for those candid, “in-between” moments between takes. Shoot the photos you planned, and then take some spur-of-the-moment pictures you didn’t plan. Mix up your angles for variety, and change your perspective for unique photos.

Asian mom brunch with Asian sons, Winnie Bruce by Winnie Bruce on 500px.com

During lockdowns last year, for example, Licensing Contributor Winnie Bruce practiced getting in the frame for self-portraits with her family. During this time, she captured candid scenes from their daily routine, like making breakfast, brewing coffee, or working from home. You can read more about how she did it here.

“These everyday scenes, including morning routines, meal prep, or doing household tasks with children, allow you to capture a number of different photos, using different perspectives and framing,” the team at 500px says. “This can help ensure your licensing submissions aren’t rejected for being too similar.”

Kathy & Sol on the mountain by Adriana Samanez on 500px.com

In 2019, research from Edelman indicated that when it comes to influencer marketing, relatability is key. In fact, relatability was more than twice as important as popularity as a quality that attracts people to influencers. Beyond that, The Influencer Report from Morning Consult found that 88% of Gen Z and Millennial consumers say it’s important for influencers to be authentic and genuinely care about their interests. Authenticity far outweighed traits like “having a large following.”

58 years young by Adriana Samanez on 500px.com

We all crave that genuine human connection in marketing; research from Sprout Social indicates that 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them. When they feel connected to a brand, 57% of consumers will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from them over a competitor. Daily “micro-moments” might seem ordinary, but when captured authentically, they can foster a sense of meaningful connection—and that’s something that can’t be “faked.”

Cat playing by Oleksandr Boiko on 500px.com

Finally, a November 2020 study from Sainsbury’s Energy reveals that 67% of British adults feel that seemingly minor things are more important than ever, while 64% find joy in things they rarely enjoyed previously. Furthermore, the average respondent experienced five “little moments of joy” weekly, whether it was receiving a card from a loved one or seeing a rainbow outside. If something brings you joy in everyday life, from sleeping in a freshly made bed to playing with a pet, consider documenting it; chances are others will relate to it as well.

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