Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Author Interview: Tamara Lackey, "ENVISIONING FAMILY: A Photographer's Guide to Making Meaningful Portraits of the Modern Family

 Envisioning Family: A photographer's guide to making meaningful portraits of the modern family

Family is universally important, yet its definition can change from person to person. Whatever your interpretation of the word, most family photography is anything but varied. We are used to the basic posing of a group, assembled and smiling like they never do in their day-to-day.

first front gallery

Don't you want to look at your photo album and feel the natural, emotional impact of seeing your loved ones feeling and looking their honest best? In Tamara Lackey's "ENVISIONING FAMILY: A Photographer's Guide to Making Meaningful Portraits of the Modern Family" (Peachpit Press),you will learn how to reinvent the family photo yourself. A top portrait photographer and sought-after speaker, Lackey reveals her techniques for getting each member of the family to feel at home in front of the camera-no matter if they're in her studio, at home, or on location. 

Whether you are a busy parent looking for simple ways to improve your photos, or a professional photographer interested in injecting new vitality into your work, "ENVISIONING FAMILY" covers all levels of experience. 


I had the opportunity to interview Tamara Lackey, author of Envisioning Family: A Photographer's Guide to Making Meaningful Portraits of the Modern Family.  She shares how this beautifully written book about capturing the essence of family through photography came about, and shares tips for those interested in becoming a writer, as well as what is on tap next for her. 

In addition to interviewing Tamara, I also had the chance to review her book firsthand, and have to say it was one of the best how-to photography books I have read in awhile.  I am not a photography pro, nor own expensive cameras and supplies that a professional photographer would have, but loved the tips and insight Tamara shared in her book.  I am one that likes to read and then see visuals, and this book satisfied this way of learning and applying what I learned, as I was able to read (at times) personal accounts of her life and family and how she captured special moments, and then saw the corresponding photos.

This book can be enjoyed by both photography enthusiasts, as well as parents and grandparents looking to capture family photos in a way that will make them feel more personal and not staged.  To me, these are the best type of photo as they exude warmth and true innocence of a child.  I am not one to pose for photos and loved how Tamara shared some tips on welcoming the camera and am feeling more at ease, so that family photos can be taken and enjoyed by all.

Please enjoy my interview with Tamara.  And, if you are looking for a great book about capturing your family through photography in an honest and real way, then you should check out her book.  It would also make for a great baby shower gift or gift for new parents.

Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)? 

I wrote Envisioning Family because I was actually looking for a book about not just about modern family photography but the meaning behind family - and the often complicated relationships between family members - and I simply couldn't find anything out there that addressed that specific topic. How did you get interested in writing this particular genre? Personally, I saw a significant evolution in how I was approaching the whole concept of family photography, and I wanted to share that. I had been very similar to most portrait photographers, really enjoying the child photography aspect but finding the family portraits to simply be a necessary part of the job. When I started shifting my perspective on family photography, I noticed a significant increase in not only the quality of my work, but in my enjoyment around doing the work. Much of that shift in perspective came about when I experienced a major change in the growth of my own family. 

Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books? 

I love it when authors cover authentic, difficult topics in a way that captivates you but doesn't deviate from could actually unfold. I thought My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult, was such a book. 

What's a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal? 

I typically split most of my work week between writing and photography. I tend to set Tuesdays and Thursdays aside for writing and try to work in 90-minute spurts for maximum focus. 

What is the hardest part of writing for you? 

Getting started. A few minutes and the easiest part of writing emerges: the actual in-the-thick of it, when everything is flowing. But the actual getting started part? Whew. Tough stuff. What's the best thing about being an author? Being able to clearly express experiences and thoughts in a way that isn't interrupted by the busyness, distractions, and confusion of every day life. 

What are you working on now? 

I am fascinated by individuals who build small businesses in an effort to live their dream. I am currently working on a book that very much addresses simple and clean solutions to common business problems for creatives - so they can more effortlessly "manage the business of business", in order to more optimally achieve their creative pursuits. 

What advice would you give aspiring writers? 

Make a schedule for writing and stick to it, no matter what. Everything will get in the way - from not feeling inspired to not having optimal writing conditions to feeling excessively behind on everything else you must do to keep up with life. But stick to it anyway. Small efforts every day is what gets big jobs done. 

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question? 

What inspires you - but has nothing to do with writing or photography? Answer: When people don't have to be kind and encouraging, and they simply are because they care to make others feel better. Consistently inspires me. It is becoming a rarer thing to find as we all become busier and more overwhelmed. Genuine, steady kindness? Totally underrated - and I appreciate it whenever I find it.

Author Bio:

Image of Tamara Lackey

Tamara Lackey's images have been described as expressive, authentic, and moving. Featured repeatedly in Rangefinder Magazine, Professional Photographer Magazine, and Professional ImageMaker, she speaks and teaches at workshops and conventions throughout the world. She released "Inside Contemporary Children's Photography", a 90-minute feature video for portrait photographers and "Capturing Life Through (Better) Photography", a book & DVD set for every day shooters.

Tamara's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Vogue, O Magazine, Town & Country and Parenting Magazine. Her photography has also been showcased on NBC's The Martha Stewart Show, NBC's The Today Show and ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Her books include The Art of Children's Portrait Photography, Capturing Life Through (Better) Photography and Envisioning Family. She also hosts reDefine, a web series focused on the business of creative inspiration - 

Visit Tamara's personal website:

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book by the author in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone. 

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