Discover what it’s like to shoot professional, authentic lifestyle images of people with Spanish stock photographer Josep Suria.

With his skillful ability to capture impactful lifestyle images of people for stock marketplaces, Spain-based Shutterstock and Shutterstock Custom contributor Josep Suria consistently inspires our team with his ability to shoot subjects with genuine emotion. Capturing great photographs of people is a skill that is incredibly valuable for photographers to master. Around the world, our customers are searching for diverse lifestyle imagery of people in local, aspirational environments. Whether it’s images of a trip to the dentist, a walk in the park with a dog, or a group of friends backpacking the world together, images that are relatable sell.

Capturing Lifestyle Images of People with Photographer Josep Suria — Authentic Lifestyle Photos
Shutterstock Image by Josep Suria

Spain-based photographer Josep Suria is a pro at capturing everyday moments, with superb professionalism and skillful photography skills. Through his work at Shutterstock Custom, Josep shoots custom work for clients around the world who are searching for branded imagery that grab their audience’s attention. In his portfolio at Shutterstock, Josep provides customers with expressive imagery of everyday situations that can be used for a variety of different advertising, marketing, and social media purposes.

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We spoke with Josep about his work as a photographer, how Spain inspires his photography, and the passion that he pursues to capture lifestyle images of people. Here are a few words with contributor Josep Suria.

Josep Suria

Where: Lleida, Spain | Specialty: Lifestyle | Portfolio Link

Capturing Lifestyle Images of People with Photographer Josep Suria — Shooting with Josep Suria

Excited to have you here, Josep. Tell us a bit about yourself!

Thanks for having me! I’m a Spanish photographer, currently residing and developing the majority of my work in the Catalan city of Lleida. This is also where my photography studio is based.

Sounds beautiful. How did your love of photography start?

I studied Fine Arts at the Sant Jordi School in Barcelona, with the intention of specializing in painting. It was at that school where for two years I had the good fortune of attending a photography class with Joan Fontcuberta. He’s noted as he won the 2013 Hasselblad Award.

Joan was the person who awoke my fascination for photography and introduced me to the principles of classical photography, such as a revealed pinhole. Since then, I have been combining that passion with a passion for graphic and web design that has provided me with sustenance for many years.

Capturing Lifestyle Images of People with Photographer Josep Suria — Creating Worthwhile Content
Shutterstock Image by Josep Suria

Sounds like an incredible introduction to photography. How did you turn that passion into a career?

For years, I dedicated myself to working in graphic design and therefore I started in the world of microstock as a client, actually! It was after some time of buying and using stock images for my projects, that I began to consider the possibility of creating images myself and uploading them to see what would happen.

We love that story. So living in Spain, how does that environment inspire your photography?

While people have the perception that Spain is a very sunny country, I actually live in the north and can assure you that, especially in the winter, it’s quite difficult to get a sunny day when you need it. I think that the weather and the landscape influence my sessions a lot.

However, when I dedicate myself to photographing people, it’s clear that what contributes most to achieving good results is the cheerful and extroverted personality of the people you find for the shoot.

Capturing Lifestyle Images of People with Photographer Josep Suria — Bring out the Subject's Personality
Shutterstock Image by Josep Suria

We can definitely see that. In your portfolio, you mostly shoot model-released content. What inspires you to photograph people?

As a stock photographer, what motivates and entertains me the most is working with people. I have sometimes accepted commissions to shoot objects in study, and I confess that I completely bore myself. I consider myself a very sociable person, and I guess that’s why my natural tendency is to hold sessions with people.

That makes sense! Do you mostly work with people that you know, or with professional models?

I feel more comfortable working with non-professional people because I think I can capture more of their freshness and spontaneity. Although, it is true that in some cases you have to shoot more (especially in initial sessions) because you run into the danger that people will feel more intimidated in front of the camera. Especially when you have just met them.

Capturing Lifestyle Images of People with Photographer Josep Suria — Spontaneity
Shutterstock Image by Josep Suria

As for my experience with actors and models, I found that in some cases, they tend to overact which can negatively affect the credibility of the final results. Even so, when the subject required a more elaborate acting capability, I usually work with actors or people who are fond of theatre, body expression, or even dance! I always try to make it clear what I want to achieve in each session before I start shooting.

Speaking of preparation, how do you make people feel comfortable in front of the camera if they are not used to it?

If it’s the first time I work with someone who isn’t a professional, I always start by talking about light things, showing a bit of interest in their personal situation (whether that be their studies or work). However, not becoming too discreet. I find that this helps people gain confidence and relax a bit more in front of the camera in my presence.

After that, I talk about the general idea of the session, and how I want them to interact with each other (if I’m shooting with more than one person) and in front of the camera. From there, we test ideas and give some general guidelines for action while still letting that person have some freedom to act as natural and spontaneous as possible. This system tends to work well in most cases.

And how do you find these people to work with?

Nowadays, social media networks simplify a lot of the work when you are looking for models for a session. Applications such as Instagram or Facebook are fantastic tools to find models from your area with freshness in front of the camera. People usually upload their photographs of more unhinged social events in these applications, which are a great indication of the ability to model for lifestyle images.

Shutterstock Images by Josep Suria

It seems to work for you, your images of people are beautiful! Do you have any tricks on capturing genuine images of people?

Thank you! I don’t have a specific trick that’s infallible, but it is true that throughout my years of experience with stock photography, I have been finding resources that work better or worse depending on the models and theme.

For example, when the sessions involve several models that have just met, I give them time to socialize with each other for a bit, and I let them know that while they are talking, I’ll be preparing the camera or testing light. That way, I start the session without them noticing or being aware of me. That often allows me to make some good shots at the very beginning of the session.

When I work with a more timid model, I will sometimes opt to shoot with my telephoto lens which is a 70-200mm. That allows me to leave a lot of distance with the models and makes them a bit less intimidated by the camera. More than once, that has been magical because, in sessions with several models, they sometimes forget about you! Haha.

Capturing Lifestyle Images of People with Photographer Josep Suria — Minimize Intimidation
Shutterstock Image by Josep Suria

That’s amazing, what a tip! Speaking of lenses, what camera gear do you primarily shoot lifestyle images of people with?

I currently work with a Canon 6D and Canon Mark IV bodies. I use Canon L series lenses including the 50mm, 24-105mm, and 70-200mm primarily. Although I also do have two Tamaron lenses, the 35mm, and 70-200mm, that I use quite often as well.

That’s quite the arsenal! So what brought you to Shutterstock?

So with my experience in the world of graphic design, I started as a client for big microstock agencies. When I decided to create my own portfolio of stock images, it was clear to me that Shutterstock was the ideal platform to give my work visibility. Shutterstock had a fantastic bank of images and great photographers. I think that decision has proved me right, so thank you!

Well, we certainly love having you here! Why did you select to showcase lifestyle photos of people on your Shutterstock portfolio?

As a client, Shutterstock has always provided me with great results when it came to finding images of people for my design projects. So when I was deciding on what agencies should represent my work with people, the choice was clear.

Capturing Lifestyle Images of People with Photographer Josep Suria — Showcase Positivity
Shutterstock Image by Josep Suria

How do you want viewers to feel when they look at your photographs?

I dedicate myself to shooting lifestyle and consider that my themes are usually quite positive. I suppose what I hope to do, is to transfer that positive environment to anyone who uses or sees any of my stock images. I’m also very aware that I want each image to have visual and commercial value that is appropriate to the needs of potential buyers.

How do you setup a shoot for stock? Is it different than when you shoot for a specific client?

Well, there are shoots where preparations are incredibly easy, and others where production can be a nightmare. Working with a client is always less confusing because everything is coordinated and arranged with the client’s idea. That makes decisions easier in most cases, at least in my experience.

Preparing shoots for stock by yourself, with non-professional people and themes that you aren’t always sure are going to sell, makes it a bit more stressful and confusing. One has to adapt to many different factors that don’t depend on each other. Things like the availability of models, coordinating calendars, scheduling, and location scouting in sessions with several people. Many of my models are students, and sometimes you have to be flexible for their school schedule.

Capturing Lifestyle Images of People with Photographer Josep Suria — Be Flexible
Shutterstock Image by Josep Suria

We imagine it’s a lot of planning! What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced when shooting images of people?

Working with people is already a great challenge! When almost your entire portfolio is composed of images of people in everyday situations of life, the great challenge is that the situations you capture are as genuine and authentic as possible in the eyes of the viewer.

Capturing lifestyle images of people can definitely be challenging to look authentic. How do you keep your photographs looking genuine?

It’s really a complicated perspective. There are no exact formulas to achieve it, and it is not always achieved with the same amount of intensity. There are a lot of factors that influence the authenticity of a scene. Things that include the subject themselves, the personality of the models and how you communicate with them, and the work environment where you are shooting. Trying to keep all of those elements as positive as possible to be established in each session. Those factors are all determining things that you need to account for to obtain the best possible results in your shoot.

For more tips on keeping images looking authentic, check out the Shutterstock Contributor Success Guide.

And you also shoot custom content for clients on Shutterstock Custom. How did you get started on our custom platform?

It was actually another stock photographer who told me about Shutterstock Custom for the first time. I found it really interesting when he explained the concept to me and the functioning systematics, and that’s why I decided to try it out.

Capturing Lifestyle Images of People with Photographer Josep Suria — Shutterstock Custom
Shutterstock Image by Josep Suria

When you are shooting custom client work, how do you get inspired with you shoot off a client brief?

Normally, I first read the brief with my team several times regarding the specifications of the brief to ensure we have understood what the client wants to convey with the campaign. From there, I use my experience in stock marketplaces to create a storyboard that fits with the story we need to tell.

From here, the hard work begins to source locations, purchase props, find the right models, and collect everything necessary in advance of the shoot day.

Sounds like quite the process! How do you balance creating for yourself and working for clients?

Most of the time, I dedicate it to creating work to implement into my current stock portfolio. For the moment, this is the highest source of my income. Whenever I accept an assignment for a client, it’s my team that deals with the management of all aspects of production and planning, while I focus more on developing the idea that we will shoot for that client.

Capturing Lifestyle Images of People with Photographer Josep Suria — Develop Ideas
Shutterstock Image by Josep Suria

And how does social media play into your photography business?

Obviously, I’m aware that social networks are a fantastic resource to make your work known. So, I always try to update my portfolio so that people can see what I am doing. On the other hand, I couldn’t tell you exactly what level that that contributes to an increase in my volume of sales.

Any last advice that you’d give new photographers?

Keep it simple, don’t be overcome by frustration, and be constant. If you upload your photos of the weekend, you may earn a few dollars occasionally. But, you can forget about making a living with stock. However, if you decide to dedicate hours, analyzing and learning from others, and adapt everything you learn to your own style, sooner or later the results will come.

Capturing Lifestyle Images of People with Photographer Josep Suria — Be Consistent
Shutterstock Image by Josep Suria

What other photographers are you inspired by?

Currently, in the stock industry, there are many photographers that are involved- it’s spectacular. Even so, my biggest references come from the advertising world. In thematic lifestyle, I love the work of photographers such as Sam Robinson or Oliver Rossi, among many others.

Are you working on any projects at the moment?

Right now, we are in the process of organizing our calendar for the first months of 2019, in terms of stock productions. I also recently accepted a campaign for a major client through Shutterstock Custom that’s going to have me very busy until the end of the year.

Big thanks to Josep for his words on creating lifestyle images for stock, and his experience working with clients at Shutterstock Custom. We can’t wait to see what Josep has in store for us next.

Top image by Josep Suria.

Interested in shooting custom projects for clients? Check out Shutterstock Custom to apply and learn more.

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Meanwhile, check out these articles on shooting images for Shutterstock: