“I’ve had so many photographers ask me, ‘How do you get clients to let you do a baby clown?’” says Tara Ruby. “My clients would never let me turn their baby into a clown!’” But Ruby’s newborn photography clients love that kind of thing. They come to her to have their newborns photographed as clowns and superheroes and Space Force guardians—and as their own sweet selves in more classic portraits. Not only do her clients love Ruby’s full-throttle creativity, but they trust her with the whole process because she treats them like family.
As part of the U.S. military community, with a husband in the Army, many of Ruby’s clients are military families living on base like her own. The mothers she works with on maternity, birth, breastfeeding and newborn photography shoots are often pulling off the early stages of motherhood singlehandedly. Her photos get sent to fathers deployed around the world and far-flung grandparents. “I’ve become really good friends with a lot of my clients, just because I know what it’s like to be completely away from your family and going through that process,” says Ruby, who has a long family history in the military and served in the Air Force Space Command herself. When families are reunited between deployments, Ruby schedules homecoming shoots and family sessions to help them keep memories of the times when they’re together.
Ruby launched her photography business in 2010, after many years of photographing kids and families as a side gig. Around the same time, a friend gave her a Tamron telephoto lens that had been bequeathed to her by a soldier. It was a big upgrade from the DSLR kit lenses Ruby had been using, and she was determined to honor such a meaningful gift by upping her game.
In 2015, she used the lens to photograph ten Army servicewomen breastfeeding in uniform, and the image became a viral hit. It was her calling card when she walked up to the Tamron booth at that year’s WPPI event. “I know you don’t know me,” she said, “but here’s what I’ve done with this lens.” She was impressed when they responded with the same kind of personal attention she gives her own clients. It was the beginning of a relationship that led to Ruby expanding both her lens kit and her repertoire. “I’ve actually gotten hired to cover events because of the lenses that I have,” she says.
She now gets a steady stream of assignments photographing military and public events in addition to her work with families. “I take my camera into some really weird situations—rain, snow,” she says. “I need to be able to go to an event, not have to worry about the weather, and just go out and get my gear to work right away. And I’ve never had a problem with any of my Tamron lenses.”
When she’s back in the studio photographing babies, her favorite glass is her Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD prime lens. It lets her capture her custom-made backgrounds with the velvety bokeh she likes, while keeping baby sharp and distortion-free in the foreground. “I can stay close enough and keep my hands on the baby, and still get everything I need out of that image,” says Ruby. As with her other Tamron glass, she says, the 35mm f/1.4 is simply smooth and easy to use. In her line of newborn photography work, she points out, there isn’t much room for operational glitches: “You don’t have time to try and figure it out because by the time you think about the technical side of the lens, that baby’s already run away from the set.”
If she does run into questions about her gear, Ruby still relies on Tamron’s personal touch. “I’ll say, ‘Hey, can you explain this to me?’ And they’re going to help me, which is absolutely amazing in today’s world,” she says. “The military life is challenging. I don’t think that I’m ever going to be a super-high-priced, making-crazy-money photographer. The pictures and the quality and the relationships are more important to me than the money. So it’s nice to have that relationship. I don’t think I would be able to do half of what I do without Tamron.”
Visit Tamron’s website to learn more about the SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD prime lens.
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