Last week I attended a portrait photography workshop at Tamara Lackey Photography's studio in Durham, NC, and it would be safe to say that it was a life-changing experience. I first came across Tamara's work when she taught a workshop on CreativeLive. Her personality and knowledge really stood out to me, and when I saw that her next workshop was in March 2012 and coincided with my birthday I took that as a sign. I love doing portraits and want to get better at photographing children, which Tamara is especially talented at. What I really admire about Tamara is her drive, energy, compassion, business-mind, and ability to connect with her subjects. As you will see in some of the behind-the-scenes shots below it is obvious what a presence she has and her direct subject interaction that I hope to one day master. Me and 15 other portrait photographers arrived in Durham, NC on Wednesday night. The first attendee I struck a conversation with was a fellow pet photographer from New York City. :) We were greeted by Tamara and her wonderful studio manager Sarah Coppola who went above and beyond to make us feel at home at the studio. Sarah happened to remember that it was my birthday and I got to enjoy cake + birthday song not only once, but twice during the workshop. :)
The next day we gathered in Tamara's studio with our cameras. We were each given a goodie bag with a reflector, a squeaky stuffed animal to use in our portrait sessions, as well as vendor discounts and samples, among other things. We first grabbed our cameras and went through the basics. Regardless of experience level we all had aha-moments throughout the day. In the afternoon we photographed two children with a basic studio lighting setup, with Tamara continuously sharing her settings and the thoughts that were going through her mind. We later took a bus over to Duke Garden where a few more little models were waiting for us. They were so adorable and our cameras loved them! They did an amazing job considering the fact that they had 15+ cameras pointed at them at any given time. :) Back at the studio Tamara did an image critique of one image that each of us had submitted. It was such a great way to learn what works, and what can be improved.
The next day Tamara gave a quick tutorial of what she would do in post-processing with the images that she had taken the day before. Just watching her work taught me so many new time-savers that I will incorporate into my workflow. Later we hunkered down and started working on our business plans. I have read several books on the subject before, but no one has explained it so straightforward as Tamara did. We all walked away with a draft of our business plan, and the pieces of the puzzle that we can continue to work on and extend upon.
It is difficult to say what the best part of the workshop was because it was boiled down into pure awesomeness from start to finish. At one point Tamara was talking about how we tend drift away and go on Facebook when we have important tasks to do. She pointed at me as an example of procrastinating in the one instance when I had picked up my phone to reply to a friend and was literally typing "I am living the dream". I feel like I was in a bubble for two days, surrounded by my new wonderful friends who are all portrait photographers that are striving towards similar goals. I didn't want it to end.
Something that I found particularly beneficial was the one-on-one mentoring session that Tamara gave each of us. To have someone so experienced and business savvy take a look at my work and receive feedback was invaluable. I would take another workshop with Tamara Lackey in a heartbeat , and would recommend this workshop to anyone interested in portrait photography. She is giving another workshop at her studio in August. You can also watch this video from our workshop that Kate Burgauer put together.
I can't wait to apply what I learned in my portrait sessions this spring!