NAPCP Member Spotlight: Tamara Lackey


NAPCP Member Spotlight: Tamara Lackey

This month we are thrilled to bring you a host of people that share that same sort of goosebump-ish passion. In our Member Spotlight, NAPCP member Tamara Lackey gives us a glimpse into the heart of a passionate human being–from the inspiration that she absorbs from others, to what drives her to give back tenfold.
NAPCP member, and heck-of-a-nice-gal, the award-winning Tamara Lackey.

Q:  What inspires you and your work?

I am inspired by the individuals who uplift others through their kindness, courage, and strength.
I am inspired by people who care less about what is socially acceptable and more about what is true.
I am inspired by people who try.
My work is more inspired by genuine kindness and the efforts of people who try to do their best more than by viewing any specific sort of art or other photography.
That is why I love photographing children – they make have learned the fake smile, but they haven’t quite learned how to not be who they are yet.
Q:  What do you love most about your job?

That I’m able to lose myself in my shoots. Not just the photographing of my subjects but the core interaction I am able to engage in on a more authentic level.
I learned early on how to recognize the beginnings of creative burn out and just how vital it was to protect the core of my work, which is my love for shooting. I put all kinds of measures in places to really respect that passion and not get so close to losing it again – so, consequently, the photography part of my job is what I love most. A very close second is teaching – but, again, we’re back to the direct interaction piece.

Q:  Tell us about your favorite session and why you loved it so much?

I’d love to share an experience. My shoot with Mimi.
Mimi was a Friday morning shoot that I nearly cancelled. The reason was because it was the morning after my 14th NILMDTS shoot in a row, in about 14 weeks. The shoot I’d done that Thursday night was a little out of scope, a 4 year-old boy who passed away after a life of hospitalization. I was emotionally spent by the time I started the shoot, after so many in a row – and when I saw him, I was taken aback. Not just the overwhelming sadness of it, but because he also shared a lot of physical similarities to my son. I finished that shoot, made it all the way back home and then just buckled, thinking of his mom and all the other moms and wondering how on earth they all get through. Since I didn’t get much sleep that night and also just felt so down, I figured I’d see how I was doing in the morning and probably cancel a shoot for the first time.
When morning came, I went into auto-pilot and thought I’d just power through the shoot.
But Mimi was a beautiful, bright-eyed toddler who’d been recently adopted from Ethiopia and was bubbling over with infectiously sweet giggles. I spent longer than I’d needed on the session, drawing it out because everything about her and her quick connection with her mom (and how her mom loved her) all seemed so hopeful to me. I know it sounds cheesy – but, truly, it was a healing experience for me.
It wasn’t until later that I learned she’d been adopted from the same orphanage where my son had lived.

Q:  How do you make it all run?  The studio, the family, the crazy schedule….
Wow. Simply no way to sum that up. It’s not a push-button thing, but there are some key resolutions I finally put into place that really, *really* made a difference in how I could begin to find a way to make it all work.
The truth is that most of what I discovered worked for me (and my connection to my family, my core relationships, and my work) was an iterative series of hits & misses: this part is not working; ah, now this is finally coming together over here – and, mygoodness, that is now better than ever …
It’s still a living thing, a series of tweaks and sometimes dramatic shifts….the continual finding of zen-like balance 😉

Want to ask her in person what makes her tick? Join us at the NAPCP Retreat to soak in the inspiration and good business sense from successful photographers as they discuss their life balance, workflow, and shooting techniques.  Tamara will inspire you in more ways than one!

Alice Park
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