The #1 lifestyle photography trick your website needs

You can't just flop out a decent bit of photography knowledge to be gobbled up. Or, I guess you can. Either way.

I was recently put into a position where I needed to provide a hefty amount of lifestyle photography for several companies. I checked out some modeling agencies and suffered a small stroke when I saw the hourly rate (not really). I did make an audible gasp, however.
Okay here it is. The golden trick - the trick to rule them all.

Use your friends to model.

Doing a photo shoot can be a little awkward, especially if you are shooting a stranger. Using a friend; the two, or three, or however many, can just have fun. A fun photo shoot will often produce more authentic shots. You can always tell when someone looks tense. If they look tense the shot doesn't look natural and suddenly the brand you're shooting for gets a bunch of poopy shots.
If your friend doesn't have much or any experience modeling be ready to guide and direct them. The guy featured above is my friend Josh. We go to church together and are on the worship team so we know each other pretty well. This was Josh's first time modeling. He naturally looked the part, which was a huge help.

Also, make sure you pay your friend. You are getting something valuable from their time, they should too.

By now you might be wondering what exactly this photo is supposed to sell. If you think it's a product you're wrong (well kind of). A  good lifestyle photo shouldn't really highlight the product at all. Instead it should be more focused on selling the lifestyle; to leave the viewer thinking "That's a cool person. I bet they just finished doing something cool or are about to do something hip. I want to grow up to be like that person." Now the viewer is "in." They've opted in to what you're selling. They want the lifestyle and you (the brand) have the means to help them get it. In this case, it is a necklace made from a recycled drum cymbal, by Full Circle Co. They are a really neat company. Check them out.

That's all folks.

Let me know if you have any tricks or tips for shooting lifestyle photography. I'd love to learn something knew.