Children + Family

Capturing Genuine Expressions from Children (and Pets) with Tamara Lackey [RF Video of the Week]

July 18, 2014

By RF Staff

Tamara Lackey, who was announced as a new Nikon Ambassador last April, is known for her posing tips, business savvy and advice on balancing photography work with everyday life, but she might be most celebrated for her natural ability to take genuine portraits of children; in fact, she's written a couple books on the subject (The Art of Children's Portrait Photography and The Posing Playbook…For Kids Who Don't DO Posing) and produced a video tutorial titled Inside Contemporary Children's Photography. Lackey made a useful video recently with some helpful tips on how to shoot kids on the scene.

Now, in this video, Lackey is dealing with a few obstacles, one being her location. She's in a park in the middle of downtown Durham, North Carolina, so there's a ton of background noise (trains, construction, jack hammers, etc.), making it a bit more difficult to hold the kids' attention so that she can interact with them from behind the lens.

Regardless, Lackey demonstrates how to roll with the punches: "I need to be able to do a combination of controlling the situation enough that I keep the subjects around me to get the images I want, but not so much that I squelch the natural enthusiasm that they're bringing," she says in the video. "That playfulness and that fun aspect needs to be a part of that entire shoot, so I have to be able to go along with a lot of what happens, as it happens."

Using her Nikon D610 and AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens (which Lackey says is perfect for "dynamic, fast-moving subjects"), she's capturing the kids running toward the lens, which gets their energy up and makes for some candid expressions. She then goes for the more relaxed, low-key shots of the group on the grass, and then individual shots of the kids, all the while playing and laughing with them.

"When you have three children, they have three different personalities, and you have to respond to each of them individually as well as as a group," Lackey says. All in all, interaction is key, and it's important not to get wrapped up in getting the perfect shot that you forget to make the shoot fun!

Check out our other Videos of the Week, and email Libby Peterson with submissions.