Photography Favorites

"Anyone who has photographed children knows: kids don’t really do posing. But, as the photographer, it’s your job and your responsibility to deliver lasting, impactful images in which kids look great. More importantly, the goal is to create photographs of kids that are authentic, engage their spirit, and convey their unique personalities.

So how do you get beyond the “cheese” smile? How do you harness the wild energy of a kid who won’t stop moving? How do you create energy and dynamism with a kid who just seems…bored and not into it? How do you do all that and achieve a compelling composition with flattering light and the proper exposure?

Tamara Lackey has been photographing children and families for years, and in The Posing Playbook for Photographing Kids, she teaches you her strategies and techniques for successfully posing and photographing children. The book begins with a discussion of “organic posing,” an approach to directing the subject that focuses on making small adjustments that build up to a successful shot. Tamara moves on to the psychology of photographing children, covering how to read your subjects, work with different personality types, and elicit genuine engagement. She also discusses gear, accessories, composition, lighting, and camera settings."

In 2014, I was invited to become a Nikon Ambassador. It was (and continues to be) one of the greatest honors of my photography career. Since then, I have shot a number of Nikon Campaigns, photographed with dozens of different Nikon camera bodies, have had the good fortune of shooting with a number of beta cameras and lenses, prior to their release - and, at this point, have shot with nearly every lens that Nikon has produced (well, not including the 100+ year-old product releases no longer in production/existence!).
Suffice it to say, I am a serious fan of Nikon gear.

Current Gear Kit
Nikon Z9, Z0, D850, Z7 II, Z50, Z30
Nikkor Z Lenses
Z 24-70mm f/4 S, Z 70-200mm f/2.8, Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR, Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR, Z 35mm f/1.8 S, 85mm f/1.8 S
Nikkor DSLR Lenses
AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8, 105mm f/1.4, 105mm f/2.8 micro, 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
Nikon SB5000, SB-900(s)

All-Time Favorite Lenses
Mirrorless: It can be used for nearly everything, is super lightweight and actually pancakes down to a very small lens - and, all things considered, it's not as expensive as it could be.
The Z 24-70mm f/4 S (I love it so much, I shot a promo for it)
DSLR: The most beautiful bokeh and incredible optics - my absolute favorite for portrait shoots is the 105mm f/1.4.

I have been using ON1 for years, and it just keeps improving with every new release. I've also had the good fortune of meeting with their development team to weigh in on what I'd like to see in future upgrades, and they have kindly incorporated some of my suggestions year after year, which has been amazing. My favorite part of ON1 Photo RAW 2023 is that it is pretty simple to pick up, especially with their built-in AI technology - but it also offers significant options to dig in deeper. If you want to stay with programs you already use, like Photoshop or Lightroom, but you still wish to use the effects of ON1 as preferred, you can also use different modules as plug-ins to your existing program.

If you're interested in learning more about their software, they have a free 14-day free trial. Should you decide you like it, you can use this affiliate link to purchase it and receive 30% with promo code: "Tamara"

You can also learn more about all kinds of photography styles and genres, and simple ways to process them in post, by checking out my series How To Photograph Everything, on their educational video library. There are also quite a number of other instructional videos on their library, as well, with some truly great content. Enjoy the rabbit hole!

Whenever possible, use your photography powers for good.

One of my favorite photography subjects is a broad one: all the work I do for Beautiful Together, the non-profit organization I co-founded in 2014.

Whether it's working on international youth projects in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, photographing youth in my community or photographing rescue pets in need of refuge, being able to use a skill that I love to make any sort of difference is the best part of what I get to do as a photographer.

Have something that you feel incredibly passionate about? What you can do with photography (and motivation) is far-reaching and varied. Whether you care about photographing children waiting for families or using your photography to aid a conservation effort or document rescued farm animals or profile an amazing person - or simply create a story through photography to raise funds for something that matters to you ... it almost doesn't matter what it is. You care and you put effort into helping through your unique talent; you might be surprised at what a difference that can make.

Not sure what you are most passionate about? Simply offering your services to help a non-profit that you appreciate, by photographing a vignette of their work, can help them to do even more good. You can continue to build on that work with them or go on to work with a variety of non-profits, to have an even more-varied impact.

Whatever it is that you choose to do, using your time, talent and efforts to help, in any capacity you can, will make a difference. And, of course, what you get back is simply immeasurable.

If you are looking to volunteer in the Triangle Area of North Carolina, see how you can get involved in the work of Beautiful Together. If you are looking to volunteer anywhere, check out websites like