Upon its release, the album met with mixed reviews from music critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic gave the album a favorable review but noted that "even a few years on from its 1994 release, Portrait of an American Family began to sound a little dated, especially since its Nine Inch Nails -meets- . -meets- Alice Cooper formula was fully realized on Manson's follow-up album, Antichrist Superstar . Here, it's in sketch form, and by the end of the album it's clear that Warner, Manson, whatever you want to call him, needs a full canvas to truly wreak havoc."  Rolling Stone gave the album a negative review and said that "Manson's debut [...] isn't the sharply rendered cultural critique of America he'd like you to think it is. Most of the record comes off like some low-budget horror movie. 
The term Lifestyle Portrait refers to portraits where emphasis is given to suggest the “style of living” of the individuals depicted. Technically it is a combination of environmental portrait and candid portrait. More weight is given to communicate the feeling of life experience of the subject. Style has numerous implications in commercial and fine art photography. Editorial, fashion, pharmaceutical, and food industries often use lifestyle images to evoke emotions in viewers by depiction of desired life styles. It is common to see this style used in wedding and family portrait photography as well.
Stephen moves on to the university, where he develops a number of strong friendships, and is especially close with a young man named Cranly . In a series of conversations with his companions, Stephen works to formulate his theories about art. While he is dependent on his friends as listeners, he is also determined to create an independent existence, liberated from the expectations of friends and family. He becomes more and more determined to free himself from all limiting pressures, and eventually decides to leave Ireland to escape them. Like his namesake, the mythical Daedalus, Stephen hopes to build himself wings on which he can fly above all obstacles and achieve a life as an artist.