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reDefine Show with Inspirational Photographers Kenny Kim and Brooke Shaden

September 30, 2016

New reDefine Show Episodes from Kenny Kim and Brooke Shaden with Tamara Lackey

Here’s another two truly inspirational episodes of the reDefine Show, produced in conjunction with Adorama and featured on AdoramaTV.

Destination Wedding and Travel Photography with Kenny Kim

In this episode, I chat with world-renowned wedding photographer Kenny Kim, as he shares his gorgeous destination photography, a great lesson about overcoming crippling fear, and an absolutely fantastic tip for anyone looking to book more work.







Self Portrait Fine Art Photography with Brooke Shaden  – Parts I & II

In this two-part episode series, I sit down with the fabulously talented Brooke Shaden, as we talk about how her early focus in self-portraits ended up taking her work, and her self-awareness, to a whole new level.

Then, in part 2 of our very cool discussion, we dig into her unique post-processing work, where she truly finishes the story of her images. Even though she sets up A LOT before taking a shot, she can still sometimes spend up to 50 hours in Photoshop – even building up to 1,000 layers – before finalizing a piece. Hear more here and, if you haven’t yet, definitely learn more about her wonderful work with The Light Space:







You check out this and other fantastic content by talented AdoramaTV hosts: Joe McNally, Mark Wallace, Richard Harrington, Bryan Peterson and Gavin Hoey by heading over to AdoramaTV.com.

Love, Fear, and a Chance Encounter at Duke Children’s Hospital

August 24, 2016

Love, Fear & A Chance Encounter at Duke Children’s Hospital

I’d been holding my breath for the last five hours, struggling through what would end up being my daughter’s 9-hour surgery at Duke Children’s Hospital, when she sat down. Her name was Sue, and she asked if the seat next to me was taken. We were in the waiting room. I was positioned so that I could stare at the wall that separated me, in the waiting room, from the hallway that led to the operating room where my daughter was. Pretty much the closest I could get to her.

To be honest, I could barely hear Sue’s words at first. I registered that she seemed kind, that she was friendly, that she was waiting for her son. But it took a few minutes until I really heard her, too frozen in my own fear. But words started slipping through. I apologized and asked her to repeat her last few words. Her son, Howell, was getting another MRI. He had brain cancer. He had Stage 4 brain cancer. He’d been in treatment since he was nine years old. He was twelve now. Things were tougher than she’d ever imagined, and the two of them were pretty alone in the world.

They’d lived in the Ronald McDonald house for a year. They’d lived in-patient at Duke Children’s Hospital for four months. They were now living in an apartment near the hospital, and somewhere in the last few, relentless years, her husband  – his dad – had left them. As they moved through all the chemo, radiation, surgery and endless cancer treatments, they had to work to figure out how it could all get paid. She had my attention now. I physically turned towards her and felt my fear ebb just enough for empathy to have a place to wash in – and a separate part of me registered that this was the first time I had experienced a break from non-stop anxiety since the night before, as we packed up for our daughter’s massive surgery, a full week in the hospital to follow, another six months of recovery.

Tamara Lackey, Tamara Lackey Photography, Duke Children's Hospital, Childhood Cancer, Brain Cancer, Love Tamara-Lackey-Photography-Duke-Childrens-Hospital-Howell 6

Her son’s name was Howell. And they had been hoping for better news for a while. They kept not getting it. I looked at her and fully felt everything she felt. At least at that moment. All that love and trying. It took me squarely out of my cage of fear and made me want to do something – anything – to lighten her load. I told her I’d love to do a photo shoot of the two of them together. He was her whole world, she’d said. I wanted to do that shoot as soon as possible. Our daughter needed round-the-clock care for weeks. And then things started to ease up a bit. We scheduled the shoot as soon as possible, a few weeks after we’d met, and I met them at Duke Gardens. Howell is a 12-year-old boy. I have a 12-year-old boy. It is remarkable to me how much 12-year-old boys can be alike. He is silly and funny and interested in much of what my son was. But he was also very weak and got “woozy” very easily and had clearly been through the ringer over the last few years. He laughed easily, he had loved playing soccer, he had every faith in his mom. And his mom was trying to move through this, to give him as much happiness as she could. I think that’s the thing about caring for a very ill child, you can get quite lost in it. Sue has made her life about caring for Howell since he was born, but it’s been round the clock since November of 2012, when he was first diagnosed, and it’s been sadly challenging on more levels than most ever have to experience. You can read much more about their experience here. Tamara Lackey, Tamara Lackey Photography, Duke Children's Hospital, Childhood Cancer, Brain Cancer, Love Tamara Lackey, Tamara Lackey Photography, Duke Children's Hospital, Childhood Cancer, Brain Cancer, Love Tamara-Lackey-Photography-Duke-Childrens-Hospital-Howell 7 I took these photographs of them, and it just so happened that I delivered them to Sue on her birthday. A gift she said was the best birthday gift she’d ever received. Given that I knew what caring for a child who was seriously hurting really meant at this point in my life, that made me cry. It’s easy to forget sometimes how powerful portraits of those you love, the love you have together, can be. I’d like us all to help give them a little more, to help them hope. Tamara-Lackey-Photography-Duke-Childrens-Hospital-Howell 4 Tamara-Lackey-Photography-Duke-Childrens-Hospital-Howell 3 As anyone who understands what major medical hardship can mean, Sue and Howell face a great deal of expenses. There is more to come. They could use some help. They could use a whole lot of help. If you can contribute any amount, please consider doing so by going here, to a Crowdrise page I just set up. Here is just the beginning of their story, that kicks off with a Lifeline Ambulance ride to Duke Children’s Hospital. There’s a lot more on the fundraising page. Howell is now 12 years old. He has Stage 4 Pineoblastoma Brain Cancer. He was diagnosed at the age of 9 years old. He is silly and upbeat and full of life. He also gets tired easily, is in a wheelchair most of the time, and feels woozy after walking or even standing for too long. The first description is who he is; the second describes what cancer can do. After four years of treatments, the cancer has spread to his spine. His mom, Sue, has been told there is nothing more they can do at this time. But there are several possibilities that they can still try for, experimental treatments that should be approved in the next few months… Read more (and please consider helping – and sharing!) here.

New Photography Studio in Chapel Hill, NC

August 11, 2016

Photography Studio in Chapel Hill, NC for Tamara Lackey Photography

Our new photography studio! tamara-lackey-new-studio-space-2_WEB

I am VERY excited to share this update about our brand new studio space in Chapel Hill, which is finally coming together!!

It took about seven months to design, draw, re-draw, and architect this new space out. A few months of working remotely, and quite a number of permits and inspections, but we are nearly there! We wanted a great combination of open flex workspace, a private photography shooting area/conference room with natural light, a few small private offices, several open gallery walls, a kitchenette, good hidden storage, and lots of light, glass and wood.

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We moved out of our former space back in May, thinking we’d be in our new space sooner than this, it’s been a bit of a juggle with everything going on personally, but luckily we got a lot of this in motion a while ago. Our new location has been completely up fit from scratch and will include all of the details mentioned above, and, separately (we’re pretty excited about this) … a coffee shop! Because what photography studio is complete without a coffee shop? ;)


(A photo from when we were in the thick of construction – the open shooting space is not in the frame.)

But, for real – Coco Bean Coffee Shop will bring a specialty coffee cafe to a cool area in Chapel Hill that has retail and restaurants but currently, surprisingly, doesn’t have a coffee shop yet AND it will also tie directly into our work with Beautiful Together in Ethiopia. We will be opening it before the end of summer!



We’ve spent much of the last week or so bringing in/building desks, chairs, rebuilding equipment and setting up the look of the new space – lots to go still, including much more work on the coffee shop – but it feels great to finally be making this happen.

reDefine Show with Luke and David Edmonson & Andrew Funderburg

August 2, 2016

New reDefine Show episodes with Luke and David Edmonson & Andrew Funderburg

I have so many exciting new episodes of the reDefine show to share with you. While I was at WPPI this year, I was able to sit down and record with a lot of very talented photographers and innovators since we were all in the same space. It made things hectic schedule-wise, but it was so worth it. And, as always, a big thank you to Adorama for all of your support!


Luke and David Edmonson

To start with, I had a fantastic conversation with the major international award-winning photography father-son duo Luke and David Edmonson, from EDMONSON Weddings. In part 1, we go over their extraordinary work and how they were influenced early, early (early) on.

Then, in part two, we continue this great conversation with Luke and David about how their work is influenced by the Old Masters – from set building to precise lighting to dramatic impact – and the real motivation behind the work they do.


Andrew “Fundy” Funderburg

Next, check out this surprisingly emotional episode with Andrew “Fundy” Funderburg, creator of Fundy Software,  as we discuss his storytelling street photography and why he cares so much about print – and he shares why one photograph from one studio shot one hundred years ago means so much to him that he’s traveling across the world to have his own experience.

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You check out this and other fantastic content by talented Adorama TV hosts Joe McNally, Mark Wallace, Richard Harrington, Bryan Peterson and Gavin Hoey by heading over to AdoramaTV.com.

Our Newest Beautiful Together Project – Safe Showers for Homeless Youth

July 7, 2016

Our first Beautiful Together US-based Project – Safe Showers for Homeless Youth

Beautiful Together, Running Works, Tamara Lackey Our brand new Beautiful Together project, also our first full project based in the United States, is focused on working to improve the quality of life for impoverished youth in America – specifically, homeless youth who have recently cycled out of foster care and are struggling to find a home, a job, and a community.

We are thrilled to be partnering with RunningWorks, as they expand their extraordinary, life-changing program with an additional focus on stopping the destructive cycle of homelessness. One of the major things we have learned is that, as helpful as homeless shelters can be, it is often difficult for homeless youth to figure out life on the streets, to learn how shelters and feeding programs work, to get transportation to and from life-changing opportunities – and so much more. In order to break away, there needs to be access to something as simple as showers, the ability to get clean, to feel better, to stay healthy in unhealthy environments. This is difficult for homeless youth for many reasons – not just the long lines they share with adults but also repeatedly being part of environments where they may not be prepared to protect themselves as needed. Some of the children RunningWorks assists are as young as 4 years old. Many are young teens who have left abusive or neglectful situations, a foster care system that repeatedly moved them from home to home (sometimes over ten times) for years, or they are simply kids who have made a mistake and now face the overwhelmingly daunting cycle of poverty.

We would like to supply Running Works with a set of private, portable showers and a generous supply of toiletries and towels, as well as some much-needed bus passes, so they can not only offer homeless youth showers on site, but they can also move the showers with them as they continue to grow as an organization.

You can donate directly this effort here.

This relatively simple thing – clean, safe showers for homeless youth – offers them not only the dignity that we all deserve, but the opportunity to stay healthy and have the best opportunity to present themselves in a way that can dramatically change their lives. RunningWorks operates on the mentality that sometimes you need to love people before they can love themselves and you need to believe in people before they believe in themselves. We love that. We believe in that. We sat down with Meredith Dolhare, the Executive Director of RunningWorks, to hear to learn about the organization and the project. You can hear more in the video below – yes, it’s a whopping 19 minutes, but it really breaks down the cause and effect of aging out of foster care at such a young age and why the correlation between that life experience and homelessness is so strong.

We are hoping to make a small but meaningful dent in all the obstacles that stand between these kids and a better life. Please visit our project page to donate directly to this fund – and/or please consider sharing this with others who can help! Beautiful Together, Running Works, Tamara Lackey

2016 Three Day Portrait Photography Workshop in Chapel Hill, NC

July 5, 2016

Announcing the 2016 Tamara Lackey Three Day Portrait Photography Workshop in Chapel Hill, NC – October 4-6


I love teaching small group workshops for a whole bunch of good reasons, but honestly, the best one is the fact that I get to make friendships with the wonderful photographers who attend. We spend a very focused few days together as well as guaranteed one-on-one time with me and each participant, so by the end of the workshop, I truly feel close to them all.

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I only do a few of these portrait photography workshops each year, and my last one of 2016 will be THIS OCTOBER 4th – 6th in Chapel Hill, NC (where our new studio is almost finished being built!) You can save your spot here* Note, we are limited to only 15 people.

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I am so grateful for the wonderful feedback we have received from every workshop we have done (you can read tons and tons of them here) and quite look forward to this last one of 2016, especially during a rather beautiful time of year in North Carolina.

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Ready to book? You can sign up online here.

Please feel free to reach out to our Sarah, our studio director, with any questions regarding booking, hotel, more detailed agenda, etc. at studio@tamaralackey.com. Hope to see you here!

The Big Deal 2016 – Tips from Tamara Lackey on how to Pose Children

June 21, 2016

The Big Deal 2016 Photography Bundle – The Posing Playbook… for Kids Who Don’t Do Posing

The Big Deal 2016, Tamara Lackey Photography

Have you been interested in purchasing The Posing Playbook… for Kids Who Don’t Do Posing? Well for the next few days, until July 4, the Playbook is available as part of The Big Deal 2016 Photography Bundle. For only $99, the Playbook joins presets, files, and training from some of the best photo educators out there. The information in the bundle will help to kickstart a new photography business or bring your existing business to a new level.

I wanted to give you a preview of how the Posing Playbook can you help think of photographing children differently and give you some tips on how to pose children in a way that doesn’t seem like posing:

In photography, the goal of a pose is to flatter the subject. I think of it a bit differently when it comes to children, though.  For me, the objective of a pose with kids is to be able to show not just what they look like, but who they are. That means showing off their personality, through movement, expression and connection, and photographing a portrait that will be loved by those who love that child. One of the best tricks I suggest when it comes to photographing children?  Posing them without ever letting know.

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Everything is connected to everything. 

When it comes to posing body parts, remember one, main essential rule: Quite literally, when it comes to body parts, everything is connected to everything, so when you shift the shoulders, you shift the neck and the spine and the arms – which means you can shift one body part in a playful way to achieve the end result you are seeking. With kids, I playfully ask them to lean one way – into the wind, for instance, or into a sibling – and then I simply shift my angle of shooting to lock in a more dynamic body positioning, so that I achieve the same result as if I had “posed” them by adjusting their shoulders.

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Address parts of your subject as if they are separate from your subject. 

When photographing children, there is often much silliness involved, which is one of the major reasons I am so drawn to this genre. In traditional posing, there is a great deal of attention paid to the placement of the hands. The hands show a lot about how the subject is feeling, so it’s helpful to have them relaxed, with fingers slightly separated. With children, they are often fully engaged in whatever they are doing. It is not uncommon to have a child positioned in a great pose, unbeknownst to them, but still have their hands balled up as tightly as possible. When I see that, I will often ask kids to address their hands – like, “Can you please ask your left hand to make all the fingers go to sleep?” Most kids will play along, at least for a little while, and I always make sure to photograph the result I was looking for as soon as I see it. (Mostly because many kids will figure out what you’re doing and immediately re-clench their hands since they now know that’s what you don’t want).

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Stay Connected with Your Subjects for The Entirety of The Shoot 

I make a point to shoot with the camera held away from my body rather often, so that I can keep the interaction going between me and my subject as much as possible. I have noticed that sometimes when you move a big black box in front of your face, you can effectively shut communication down – especially with younger kids. Often I will pull the camera right back to my eye when I see something I want to capture, but I will also photograph my subject with the camera held away from my face. They may be looking directly at me, but the look of the final shot can appear like the subject is looking off a bit, which can result in some dreamy, or quirky, expressions. Photographing with a wide angle lens, or between 24mm and 35mm focal length, is ideal for this technique, but you can still pull off a great look with longer lenses, too. It just may take you a bit more practice to lock in a strong focus and composition.

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Focus on Expression 

Every single time I’m about to take a photograph, I look at the entire frame I am going to shoot, and I immediately consider what I can eliminate. The more I can remove from the shot, or the more I can declutter an image, the more striking the subject’s expression will be because viewers tend to hone right in on what matters. If that means I am physically moving things out of the way, changing the angle from which I’m shooting, or being sure to finish an image a bit more in post, then so be it. I am of the mindset that if it makes for a cleaner look and feel, I’m drawn to that. An uncluttered frame makes a big difference in how strong images can appear and how much impact it can have when it comes to focusing just on a subject’s expression.

Interested in learning more? Visit The Big Deal bundle here. But be sure to do it soon, as this package is only available for a limited time!

Speaking at Adorama Sunday Family Funday 2016

May 31, 2016


Adorama Sunday Family Funday 2016 – June 5th on 18th Street in NYC

  This Sunday, I’ll be returning to the Adorama Sunday Family Funday Street Fair! This is the sixth year for this festive celebration, as Adorama shuts down 18th Street and puts on quite the show.  

Adorama Sunday Family Funday, Tamara Lackey Photography

Like in previous years, I’ll be doing a live shoot, as well as a presentation, at 1pm, joining all these other great presenters – and football stars! – for a great day of food, photography, and prize-winning (like, seriously. very generous prize-winning). Speaking of the “hometown” football love from some select New York Giants Players. I am apparently also on the hook with my son to return with a signed autograph and photo with Odell Beckham Jr and am told I should take that far more seriously than any of the other stuff I’ll be doing in New York. So there’s that. And even though it’s obviously not nearly as important, here is an overview of my program:  


 You can find a lot more information about the entire Adorama Sunday Family Funday 6th Annual Street Fair here: http://www.adorama.com/pages/sunday-family-funday. And you can register for my free talk and live shoot here, via eventbrite. There will also be a few other GREAT photographers and presenters speaking at the street fair, too, like Al Espinosa, Miguel Quiles, David Bergman, and Daniel Norton. Hope to see you there!  

Adorama Sunday Family Funday, Tamara Lackey Photography    

BIG Lush Albums and Beautiful Together Announcement

May 26, 2016

Effective Immediately – 50% of Lush Albums proceeds now to go directly to Beautiful Together!

A very exciting shift for Lush Albums and Beautiful Together! As many of you know, we started our Beautiful Together non-profit to work to improve the quality of life for children waiting for families and those living in extreme poverty. One steady source of funds to support our projects have come from the sale of Lush Albums, our gorgeous fine art photo albums that have given 10% back to Beautiful Together since day one.

But we definitely knew we could do better.

So, Fundy Software Inc, the magic design engine behind these albums, and I decided that we could do MORE with the sale of these albums. Like, a whole lot more. So, effective immediately, FIFTY (50%!) percent of all of these beautiful album sales will now go directly to fund our projects to support children waiting for families.

Tamara Lackey, Lush Albums, Portrait Photography, Fundy Design Software, Beautiful Together

Our main reason for this change is because in the past year we have had a lot more hands-on experience with Beautiful Together, being on the ground with the organization, and we are so inspired by the ways we can help. We are constantly updating our project page and adding to how Beautiful Together helps children waiting for families all over the world.

Tamara Lackey, Tamara Lackey Photography

We have also gotten so much positive feedback about the albums themselves! Lush Albums are created in the United States with all three collections, the Velvety Suede, the Soft Linen, and the Zen Silk, made of eco-friendly, animal-friendly materials.


Photo Albums, Lush Albums, Tamara Lackey, Fundy, Beautiful Together

You can check out all the details in this short video we filmed.  And, of course, you can learn much more at Lush Albums, including how to quickly order a sample album or a customized sample album. And, as always, there are many way to helps children waiting for families – just check out our projects and funds at our Beautiful Together website!

Around the World Photos

May 17, 2016

Seven Days, Around the World Photos

A week ago, I was nominated on Facebook to post a photo of the natural world for the next 7 days, which struck me as taking a mini Around the World photos trip for a week. My gut response to this was twofold: 1. I love photos of the natural world, I love to take them and I am inspired when I see them. 2. Ummm, that seems like a whole lot of extra work just now when we have so much going on in the studio (We are moving! Lots more to come on that in a future post). But traveling is one of my favorite things ever, and I have been fortunate in that I have traveled around the world more than a few times with my camera. I DO love this photograph I shot while at Yellowstone National Park, relatively local – or at least in the same country (and it was a #TravelTuesday on Facebook, after all). And I am struck by how a late afternoon sun mixed with a still-blue sky can also combine with the surreal hot springs of the area, with all that fog and warm spray from the gushing geysers and the oily, bubbling streams that run across this burnt-out Wyoming land – and next thing I know I had posted my Day 1 photo. So I was clearly in, off and running.  


(Shot with Nikon D810, 24-70 2.8 at f/13.)

  Day 2 – this is one of my very favorites from a drive through the south of France two summers ago. This image strikes me as a reminder from the universe that we are all here to experience sunshine, lightness, and joy, if we just do our best to stand tall, lift our heads and look for it. (Then repeat as often as necessary.)


(Shot with Nikon D800 24-70 2.8)

  Day 3 – The sheer power, deafening sound, and far-reaching spray of the waterfalls in Iceland make them quite worth the muddy hike behind them, even if I did get way more soaked taking this shot than I’d guessed I would.

(Shot with Nikon D810, 24-70 2.8.)

(Shot with Nikon D810, 24-70 2.8.)

  Day 4 – Something completely different from the previous day’s dark moody, powerful waterfall in Iceland. This was from a bright, dreamy hike through Rabbit Ears Pass of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which is gorgeously abundant with all kinds of wildflowers in the summer:  

around the world in photos, Tamara Lackey Photography, Colorado

Nikon D810, 24-70 2.8

  Day 5 – Breathtakingly clear view from a a seriously stunning hike in Queenstown, New Zealand that I shot several years ago. I remember thinking at the time: 1. This is crazy beautiful. 2. I’m hungry. 3. I think I’m taking far too many photographs 4. I’m really, really hungry.

05-Tamara-Lackey-Photography-Queenstown-New-Zealand   Day 6 – A photograph from a train stop en route from Lake Como, Italy to Interlaken, Switzerland, using all the tricks to get as reflection-free a shot as I could get through one of their huge picture windows (which I was glued to for the duration of the ride anyway). Train + window seat + headphones + music = my favorite way to travel. Like, ever.


(Shot with Nikon D810, 24-70 2.8 at f16)

  Day 7 – I shot this photograph at El Cajas, in Ecuador, where my youngest daughter was born and where we lived for close to two months. I photographed this image on a rainy, chilly and overall a quite shivery day. I was covering my camera as best I could, but all the mist from this cloud forest kept dampening my lens. I’d wipe it down, keep it under my jacket, move to a new spot, dial in new settings from instinct and then fire off a shot as soon as I had my camera stable since I was shooting handheld. My family waited in the car until I got the shot I wanted, and then we found a little shelter at a place selling hot chocolate, with llama milk. I didn’t even know that was a thing until they’d offered it. I went with hot tea.


So, turns out that what started as a questionable request ended up turning into a very fun trip around the world again, or at least a 7-day recap of one. I have many, many more photos on my website, as well. And lots more to share – more of that coming soon. Glad for the nudge.