As a photographer, it can be hard to know why buyers select certain photos or what type of content could lead to a licensing opportunity. At 500px, our goal is to work closely with our community to help bridge the gap between content that photographers are capturing and content that buyers are seeking.

With lifestyle photography, figuring out what buyers want can be especially difficult. Over time, the interest of buyers has evolved to take into consideration the visual influence of social media and new technology. Buyers are constantly thinking about how to best approach new and different audiences and markets. With this in mind, your Content team at 500px has compiled a Lifestyle Photography Style Guide that includes tips, tricks, and visual examples to guide you on your photographic journey. Our goal is to help you become the most successful photographer you can be when it comes to licensing lifestyle images.

Take a look at these tips, as well as the downloadable PDF below, for plenty of guidance to help you capture that perfect lifestyle moment.

Tip 1: Focus on real-life people and activities

caskdays by The Stillery x Natta Summerky on 500px.com


Buyers are eager to capture the humanity of real life. A photo should not only make buyers wish they were part of the moment, but also remind them of real occasions with their own families, friends, and acquaintances.

Tip 2: Think carefully about lighting and location

rainy day by Ruslan Grigoriev on 500px.com


Buyers prefer warm light and rich moments in realistic locations. Think carefully about where you are shooting, and be sure to get a property release if necessary. Buyers are always more interested in licensing content that has been fully cleared for commercial purposes.

Tip 3: Keep your editing to a minimum and shoot multiple frames

Transaction by Ircham Sujadmiko on 500px.com


It is always important to capture a couple of different views and angles. A buyer could be looking for a specific facial expression on a model, room for copy space, or even a specific orientation (for example, landscape, portrait, or square). In addition, while processing your photos, be cautious about using too many filters or post-processing techniques. Part of capturing an authentic moment is having some realistic lighting and aesthetics.

Tip 4: Model releases

Happy family, mother kissing adorable smiling daughter by Andrea Obzerova on 500px.com


Whether you’re setting up a professional shoot or walking around town, be prepared to capture unique and precious moments. Be sure to always have model releases on hand. Never hesitate to ask permission from participants prior to shooting their photo, and once you have the signed releases, work with the models to capture a realistic look and feel.

Tip 5: Keywords

Senior woman baking by Jozef Polc on 500px.com


When submitting your photos to the 500px Marketplace, be sure to add lots of keywords so that buyers can easily find your images. Don’t add words that are unrelated to the photo, but do think about other words that could be used to describe the same situation. For more information on effective keywording, visit “How to Add Effective Keywords.”

In addition to these tips and tricks, be sure to pay attention to elements of a photo that could make it seem unrealistic. For example, avoid fake smiles, posed movements, or flat, artificial lighting. For more detail on all of this and more, download our Lifestyle Photography Style Guide. Have fun shooting!

Headline photo: Gable Denims