2015 WPPI / Rangefinder Humanitarian Award

2015 WPPI / Rangefinder Humanitarian Award + $249 Animoto Giveaway

I was incredibly shocked to receive the WPPI / Rangefinder Humanitarian Award, along with my wonderful husband Steve Lackey, last week at the 2015 WPPI Awards Ceremony. A huge thank you to Lauren Wendle, who introduced the award by saying something I believe in deeply, “When asked if one person can truly make a difference, Mother Teresa once said it is always one person who makes the difference.” We often look around at everything that is wrong in our society, everything that needs fixing, and just feel like it’s all too much. How can one person possibly change anything? I know that I have often stood up to try to make a real difference and have felt so overwhelmed that I just sat back down – and that I have done that more than once. I know I’m not the only one who has felt that way, either. Over the past twelve years, though, Steve and I have been involved in a variety of projects and have happily donated time, energy and funds to a variety of incredible organizations – but our heart has always been with children who do not have families. The system of foster care and adoption is well-intended but often plays out in a way that discourages and frustrates instead of enabling those who wish to grow their family. There are so very many reasons this system should support and lift those who want to create or expand their families. There are so very many reasons children without families should have a home and a family and know that sense of belonging through and through. Having adopted twice before and actually quite in the mix once again (details on that coming soon), we wish to help change that. Obviously, it’s not something that we can take on and do all at once. But we’re determined to chip away as best we can until we can get in a position to effect real change, and to help enable others who wish to do so, as well. We founded to do just that. We have been working on this organization since last summer but didn’t formalize it until recently – filing for non-profit status and in the process of building out a rather robust website. Our current, rather simple site gives you a hint of where we’re going with this. And we’re going to need help. If you are interested in following along or helping out with the variety of projects that we will be announcing soon, please sign up to be part of the change we hope to see. Happily, my friends at Animoto want to share the love, too – they already make it extraordinarily simple to create high-quality, professional video slideshows, and they are now giving away a full year pro subscription, valued at $249, to one random individual who signs up to join the newsletter and comments here to let us know why they did. Thank you, Animoto. We’ll be drawing the name of the winner in one week, on March 17th. A heartfelt thank you to Collin Pierson for sending me these beautiful images – I was pretty shocked to not only learn about the award but to see Steve show up, too. He knew in advance and had kept it a surprise for me, so I was pretty floored when he showed up after they announced the award (I thought he was home in North Carolina) – and Collin photographed it all quite wonderfully. This first image. This first one is fantastic because, as a photographer, I am always trying to show much about who a person is, how they feel – I want to show them physically but also much of their spirit. Collin did that for me here – this is exactly how I felt walking up on that stage. I felt pretty overwhelmed, grateful and inspired. Still feel that way, actually. Will for quite some time to come, too.   WPPI, Rangefinder Magazine, Humanitarian Award, Tamara Lackey, Steve Lackey, Beautiful Together, Animoto, free giveaway   Here is Steve walking up to surprise me and lead me to the stage. Without my shoes, I might add. I had kicked off my heels to relax and enjoy the show, and since I kinda floated up on stage in shock, I hadn’t noticed I was barefoot in front of thousands of people until I walked up to the microphone. Ah, well ; )   WPPI, Rangefinder Magazine, Humanitarian Award, Tamara Lackey, Steve Lackey, Beautiful Together, Animoto, free giveaway   WPPI, Rangefinder Magazine, Humanitarian Award, Tamara Lackey, Steve Lackey, Beautiful Together, Animoto, free giveaway   WPPI, Rangefinder Magazine, Humanitarian Award, Tamara Lackey, Steve Lackey, Beautiful Together, Animoto, free giveaway   WPPI, Rangefinder Magazine, Humanitarian Award, Tamara Lackey, Steve Lackey, Beautiful Together, Animoto, free giveaway   WPPI, Rangefinder Magazine, Humanitarian Award, Tamara Lackey, Steve Lackey, Beautiful Together, Animoto, free giveaway   That last one – posing for a photograph with the wonderful and rather hard-working Lauren Wendle and Jason Groupp of WPPI and Rangefinder Magazine. Very grateful to them for this recognition and, more importantly, for their dedication to making a difference in this space. This Humanitarian Award is an extraordinary vote of confidence from an organization I have loved being a part of for quite some time. We look forward to partnering with them to do some incredible things with Beautiful Together for some time to come.   WPPI, Rangefinder Magazine, Humanitarian Award, Tamara Lackey, Steve Lackey, Beautiful Together, Animoto, free giveaway   Oh, and those bare feet? I was sitting next to my good friend Jeremy Cowart, who has been doing incredible things with Help Portrait for years, and he scrambled to grab my camera and take some photos, which I didn’t find until a few days later. These show off that bare look in all its disheveled glory:   WPPI, Rangefinder Magazine, Humanitarian Award, Tamara Lackey, Steve Lackey, Beautiful Together, Animoto, free giveaway, Jeremy Cowart   WPPI, Rangefinder Magazine, Humanitarian Award, Tamara Lackey, Steve Lackey, Beautiful Together, Animoto, free giveaway, Jeremy Cowart   WPPI, Rangefinder Magazine, Humanitarian Award, Tamara Lackey, Steve Lackey, Beautiful Together, Animoto, free giveaway, Jeremy Cowart   I sincerely hope many of you join our Beautiful Together community – and then come back here and comment as to why you cared to – and I look forward to giving at least one of you a thank you valued at $249 for your pro subscription to Animoto in exactly one week!  

25 responses to “2015 WPPI / Rangefinder Humanitarian Award”

  1. Carla Lehman says:

    Congratulations Tamara, I’ve been following you and your humanitarian efforts for a very long time and you are an inspiration to all. I find that more and more of my photography efforts are for ME, for my heart, as opposed to my pocketbook. I love to give back, to share what is my heart and bring something good to others. I may not be making as much money as I once was, but I’m sure enjoying myself a lot more! Nothing is more precious than children, I treasure mine above all else. I know far too many families who have struggled through the adoption process, while waiting in the wings is a child they could call their own. Looking forward to seeing what you build in your community!

  2. I was in care when I was a child. And as simply as I can put it, IT CHANGED MY LIFE. Without it I would not be the person I am today. My life was heading down a road where, many of my friends had already headed, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and crime. BUT thanks to the professionals involved I was moved to somewhere with people who had time to nurture me and parent me the way I had craved. Still to this day I have many issues surrounding my childhood and the traumas I experienced, however this has not left me bitter. When I can I try to give back to my community. Just yesterday I offered a lady, who has lost 2 children and suffered an intolerable amount of pain and misfortune, to photograph her renewal of vows with her husband who has stood by as her rock throughout it all. Not because I wanted publicity or notoriety but genuinely just wanting to give back to someone to make them smile.

    The people who help these children find families are undervalued, overworked sometimes with seriously limited resources! My heart and my gratitude goes out to anyone who can help a child to live a normal life. I am living proof it works! I care! <3 xxx

  3. Tamara,
    First congratulations and thank you on behave of all the people whose lives you touch in a wonderfully positive, uplifting way (including mine). Anyone who has really looked into children’s eyes and seen the joy, wonder, hope and trust that is present, knows the depth of their emotion and vulnerability. It is vital to nourish that joy and wonder in a nurturing, loving environment so that they can grow to reach their highest potential and happiness. No child should be emotionally abandoned, left to struggle in loveless life.

    I am not in a position to be able to provide a home or even financial resources presently but I can offer whatever time, energy and talent I have to support this vitally important cause. I look forward to hearing more.

  4. First and foremost, congratulations on your award. You are more than deserving, and your passion for helping others is truly inspiring. Although I am not in the process of adoption, I have taken photographs for two different families recently for the purpose of inclusion in their adoption books for prospective birth mothers. Both couples were very close friends of mine, and I saw the frustration they both faced. I can only imagine how they felt, and there were so many times that I expressed
    my own frustration at how difficult the process was for them. I am so glad there are people like you who want to fix that problem for loving parents like my friends. One couple now has a child through adoption and the other ended their adoption journey after experiencing several disappointments. A few weeks after making the decision to do so, they discovered that they are expecting a baby, which was a complete surprise after struggling with infertility issues for several years. I signed up for your newsletter and look forward to seeing the incredible changes you will make for sweet families like my friends.

  5. Jen MacNiven says:

    Tamara… I’ve been so impressed and inspired by you for many many years… And the thing that has impressed me the most was your love for your family and the United Colors of Lackey! For someone who is still single, not married, and no kids (yet)… And turning 40 (Monday), my hope is to be able to experience that type of ‘family’ someday! I have no idea if I can have my own children… But having been to and lived in so many 3rd world countries, I am always drawn to the children and how I could just scoop them up and take them as my own. I feel fostering and adoption are so beautiful in raising well adjusted, healthy, bright children and like you said, it should be easier for those who are willing and eager to open their hearts and homes to these children! I support your project and honor who you are as a person… Who IS making a difference!
    Truly someone who I look up to and admire… And I know you’ll be hearing a lot of that… Bc it’s true!
    Many blessings and congratulations!
    Jen 🙂

  6. tanya smith says:

    Love what you’re doing. I’ve witnessed the difficulty many of my friends have faced trying to adopt and it’s heart breaking. I’ve seen kids suffering and just wanting a home and a family. I hope this helps! I’d love to write more about this at I emailed you. Let’s talk.

  7. Joe Tharp says:

    Congratulations to a fantastic couple and a more fantastic photographer. Tamara, not only have you become an icon in the photography world but also shown the other beautiful side of your being in what you have done as a humanitarian by forming this organization. I myself was raised by other than my real parents due to circumstances that still are not entirely clear to me. I was fortunate to be loved by other relatives and received a great life and education while they themselves were struggling. I was never fortunate enough to have children of my own and never adopted any due to career choices coming first. I often regret this decision and think that maybe I could help make a difference by working with the Beautiful Community Organization in some capacity. It is time for me to give something back for all that was given to me. Tamara and Steve, you are both an inspiration. Good luck in all your endeavors.

  8. Kristy says:

    This is beautiful. The short version of a very long story. I was in the system at age sixteen. After years and years of physical, mental, emotional abuse I had had it and ran away. Packed what I could and moved in with my school principal. He and his wife took me in for a month while the entire school and community worked hard to find me a Foster home. After a month of searching, I was placed in a home with it in my head I was not going to get attached.

    Well I did. I turned eighteen before she could officially adopt me. But she is still my mom. My kids are her grandbabies and she loves every minute she has with them. She is one of my best friends and biggest cheerleaders. I would not be where I am today with out her love and support. Because of her I am able to love and know that I am worth being loved. I am truly blessed as I know it’s not that easy for others. I want to give back. I have been racking my brain as to how I can as with our current situation, we are not in the position yet to Foster/adopt. But will when we can. In the mean time, I look forward to learning more about Beautiful Together and how I can put my time and talent to use until we are in the position to Foster.

  9. Meghan says:

    Watching you and your husband receive this award at WPPI made me tear up. You are a beautiful couple inside and out. On a personal note, I am adopted. When I was in High School my family became an Emergency Foster Family for children needing temporary foster situations. Every year for the past 18 years (even when my mom was going through chemo) my family has hosted “Santa’s Workshop” so that children in Foster Care can “shop” at no cost for gifts for their family and friends at Christmas. I am just starting out. My husband is in the Navy and I am trying to create a career for myself that can move with us. I am inspired by you and your work.

  10. Jennifer Bak says:

    Congratulations Tamara and Steve! Your photography is beautiful but what really impresses me is your beautiful spirit. It’s wonderful that WPPI/Rangefinder recognized yours and Steve’s contributions and genuine desire to make the world a better place.

    I’m recently married and have long considered adoption and/or being a foster parent but am a bit intimidated by the cost of adoption and navigating the system of both foster care and adoption. I’m excited to see what Beautiful Together has in store.

    Thank you for being you and doing the work that you do! You are an inspiration to me both as a photographer and as a person.

    -Jen 🙂

  11. Emily says:

    I think what you are doing is beautiful! On my about page I say “I believe there is nobility in motherhood”. Being a mother is one of the most noble things a woman can do because she is forming the base that will give the children in her life something to stand on for the rest of their lives. If we as mothers can build those sure foundations for our children imagine what amazing things they can do in this world. Every child deserves a loving home and every woman deserves the opportunity to be a mother.

  12. Wow! Beautfiul Together! What a great idea! My husband and I both come from small families – one sibling each and both longed for BIG families. We have 4 children 14-2 and couldn’t be happier riding this non-stop roller coaster, but my heart breaks for my friends and my colleagues who can’t have children and are jumping through the endless hoops of the adoption process. Anything that you can do to make this easier for so many wonderful families is a blessing to so many. You and your dream are going to be a dream come true for so many families and so many children! If we can be of any help to you on this project along the gulf coast just ask. We love to help with things that make us feel good.
    Best of Luck!!

  13. Melissa Rich says:

    Yay! This is so wonderful and so well deserved! Congratulations Tamara!! I have followed your work for years and found inspiration on your teachings, and in your generous spirit. Your love and kind heart show through in all you do.

    I have seen the struggle of adoption through friends fighting for a child’s best future and it is often heartbreaking. I applaud your efforts to bring more light and change to this cause. I would love to help spread the word and learn more about how to participate in any programs you have in the works. Signing up for the newsletter – can’t wait to learn more!

  14. Nancy Drescher says:

    Congratulations on the award! Your work and life are truly inspirational. I joined as I have a personal connection to the adoption process as both of my daughters are adopted. I can’t imagine out lives without them, but I too know first-hand just how painful & difficult the process of adoption can be. We experienced the heartache of two disruptions (after multiple miscarriages) before welcoming Gabrielle into our life, and later here sister Cecelia. I see too often, however, many deserving couples experience tremendous challenges in trying to adopt and know of several friends who feel too daunted by the process to pursue it. I would love to give back and help in any way to lighten the burden for all involved so that the children waiting for adoption are more easily connected with the families that so desperately want to love them.

  15. yvonne says:

    Huge congrats to you and Steve for exemplifying what you’re gathering peaceful armies for now, your own family is a heartfelt example of that! Your award is oh so deserved!

    I’m daring to comment because I think that we can all offer something, even if small… we must all join together for the our next generation, there are so many people with trunk loads of love and support and so many precious beings waiting for it. I have many friends who have gone thru adoption process, for some it was smoother than for others… I’d love to see an organization, a vehicle that could ease the journey for these families to be united more quickly! Make love chains, support chains, networks…. let us know what tricks you have up your sleeves to help bring even more joy into new families!!!

  16. lorenz says:

    Thank you Tamara, you are an inspiration on so many levels. It’s people like you and your husband who strive to make a difference and make this world a better place.

  17. Peggy Zeman says:

    Every child deserves a happy childhood. It’s that simple. I’ll be part of any organization that aims to make that happen. May God bless you abundantly Tamara for your work to help make that happen. I’ve followed you with your photography as I’ve enjoyed your online classes through Kelby One, but now that I’ve discovered your ‘other side’, I love you even more.

  18. elisa says:

    A couple years ago when we were still living in Chapel Hill I was chatting with your office about interning for you. I so wanted to do it but at that point my 4th baby was only 3, and I just couldn’t figure out a way to make it work. She was adopted, and is super special to us. I can’t wait to hear about your new adventure!

  19. Best moment in time! ever!

  20. Emma Willich says:

    This is amazing. Your work is wonderful! Very much deserved!

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