This class is Authentic Family Posing with Tamara Lackey. Now, Tamara, if you've been watching Creative Live ever, you know who Tamara Lackey is, and I am thrilled to introduce her. She is a family and portrait photographer who is also a Nikon USA Ambassador. She does so many things in her life, and does them all very, very well. She's the co-founder of a nonprofit called Beautiful Together, which provides support for children who are searching for their forever family. She also is an author of five books, one of which is released today. And we are going to be hearing about that, we're gonna be hearing about authentic family posing, and I am thrilled to introduce Tamara Lackey. (applause)
Thank you Rust. Thank you very much. Hello, everybody. We're gonna talk today about authentic family posing, and specifically, I wanna start out by saying I've been photographing now for almost 13 years, professionally. I photographed a lot before, but they were terrible pictures. And progressively ...
I got more and more interested at getting better at photography. But when I first really got into photographing portraits, I was significantly more interested in photographing children. I would go ahead and photograph families, because they always attended the shoots with the children, and that's what they wanted, a family photograph. But I found the actual experience of photographing families to be relatively stale, and just something that I wanted to knock out, but I wasn't particularly inspired to do. That's kinda how I started out when I was photographing portraits, but over time, I started recognizing that I could get a lot more creative, I could become a lot more interested, I could find a lot more connection. Through my own personal life, building our family, I found that kinda tying into what Rust was saying about our nonprofit, Beautiful Together. We were spending time in orphanages, and we adopted our son from Africa and our daughter from Ecuador. I started getting a glimpse of what it meant to not have family, and it really changed how I looked at families that I wanted to photograph. I started seeing something there that was significantly more important, and I'd been missing it before, certainly in terms of thinking about doing family photography, but as it related to posing families, and having the interaction with them, and making sure I lit them in a way that would show off what I was seeing. After that, family photography really started becoming something that I loved. Now it's something that nearly every single shoot I do, even if it's not necessarily a family photograph, I say, let's throw you guys together and put something together in terms of photographs. The biggest challenge, I think, that most people run into when they are photographing families is how do I pose people in a way that is flattering but also feels natural and is not an awkward experience while I'm doing it, and I'm not taking so long to do it that I'm losing the people I'm photographing, in terms of their attention. How do I, not only pose them together, but when I go to take the photograph, actually have some authentic expressions? Not necessarily like, yeah I've been smiling, but it doesn't feel at all real, and how do I light that in a way that really shows everything off? And I'm gonna step through all those points one at a time here with you today. I believe that doing all this all the time, I just photographed this this week at a workshop I did in San Francisco. This little girl Millie. But I believe that, when you're trying to put all of this together, the lighting, and the posing, and the expressiveness, and of course, a number of other considerations you have to keep in mind, and if anybody here has ever photographed families, you know what I mean, there's a lot to consider. But, in terms of this, I have found that if I break it down to a few simple things, no matter what I'm doing when I'm photographing families, I'm gonna be thinking about lighting. No matter what I'm doing when I'm photographing families, I'm gonna be thinking about posing, and I'll be thinking about expression. And certainly there's little things within there that I've gotta hit on, and we'll step through it. But if I think of it in this way, it helps me to clarify what I'm doing so it doesn't feel like there's so much coming at me at once in a two hour session that I can hardly keep up. From a lighting perspective, I'm gonna be very aware that the whole shoot, I'm in charge of that. I'm going to be directing the lighting, which means that if I'm changing the scenario, or the grouping of people, or we're photographing people in a different spot, I have to always re-look at the lighting and make sure I'm re-lighting them correctly. When it comes to posing, I like to call it organic directive posing, because one of the most interesting things I hear from people when they go to my website, they'll go to the gallery at tamaralackey.com, click through, we'll get a message, and they'll say, "What I love most about your family portraits is they're so unposed," and the truth is I pose everything, but I do it in this way that's organic directive, where I'm mostly kinda setting up a shot. I'm thinking about how I want it to look. I'm thinking about all those little aspects that's gonna make everybody look more attractive, and then I'm directing the action and letting them take over. And so, by doing that, it becomes very much a mutual experience. It's something that we're working on together, and I find that I get the best images out of that. I don't know that I've ever taken a photograph that's just me, in terms of I set it up and nothing else came from them, and I just shot it. It doesn't work that way. Inversely, I rarely am photographing something that I just walked upon a scene and found it. I mean, every once in a while, you'll do kind of photo journalistic type of work, or you'll try to step back and get a documentary shot. But most of my candid images are images that I have something to do with, but then they take over, and then they have these spontaneous expressions, or interactions, or something like that, and so the image looks very candid, but there's thought around it in terms of how it was structured. Does that make sense? Expression, then, is directed by me, but spontaneously delivered by them. So even though we're working together when it comes to the posing, I'm the one realizing that it's 100% my responsibility to bring it. If I want a certain type of expressiveness from them, that is my responsibility. I can't sit there and say, "Okay, you five get together and just bring me magic." I never expect that they will. I'm not saying that they don't. I'm not saying I haven't had shoots where I'm like, 'Wow, this is way easier than normal.' But most of the time, and hopefully this gives you some encouragement if you're struggling with family photography. Most of the time I find that I'm walking into a shoot and I fully expect that any expression I get from them, I'm going to have to elicit. I'm going to have to come up with ways to make them comfortable, and make them feel natural, and have them interact in a way that will spontaneously allow them to come up with these lovely expressions.