Capturing The Modern Family Portrait By Tamara Lackey

1 hr 53 min
Difficulty Difficulty Difficulty

Conducting a photo shoot with an entire family requires skills beyond professional camera handling. Join family photographer Tamara Lackey on location and in the studio as she teaches you everything you need to know to conduct a successful family photo session that stands out from the crowd. Tamara leaves no stone unturned as she discusses topics ranging from essential gear to how to prep the family before the shoot, and from choosing the right location to what to do after the family has gone home. Each lesson is full of tips and tricks that are sure to take your abilities to the next level.

Video transcripts available with a subscription.

Join Tamara as she introduces the topics and concepts covered in this class.
Tamara walks through all of the gear she uses in a typical family portrait session.
Finding the right location for bringing out the best in your family group is an important aspect of a successful session.
The client's mindset can make or break the shoot, so it is important to set the stage for what will happen during the shoot to get them prepared.
Working with kids will inevitably involve trying to photograph fast moving subjects. Tamara walks through how she prepares for capturing the peak of action.
Remembering all the poses you want to capture during the activity of a shoot can be tricky. Over time, Tamara developed a portable posing playbook to help keep her on track.
The right clothing choices can make a huge impact on the final look of the photos.
Having a few locations within close proximity can help you add variety in looks and poses in the session.
It is entirely normal for family dynamics, such as fighting siblings, to emerge during the shoot. Learn how Tamara tries to manage and channel that energy to make it a successful shoot.
Due to the confines of studio space there is a greater need to choreograph the movements and poses of the family members.
Here is a series of simple compositions to add to your repertoire.
There are a number of important tasks to complete after the family has gone home and before you deliver the images to your client.
Profile photo of Tamara Lackey

Meet your instructor

Tamara Lackey


Tamara Lackey is a renowned portrait photographer and Nikon USA Ambassador whose lifestyle photography, from children’s portraits to celebrity portraits, has appeared in dozens of media outlets, including O - The Oprah Magazine, Men’s Journal, Vogue, Nikon World, The Martha Stewart Show and The Today Show. The recipient of the 2014 W...

Tamara's Courses


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  1. Profile photo of kmpoel kmpoel

    Wow, Tamara is really a photographer who knows what she is talking about. I like her energy but also her technical skills are really good. She explains very well and I love listening and watch her!

  2. Profile photo of

    I have really enjoyed this session. We need more sessions like these….please.

  3. Profile photo of Myra Hencher Myra Hencher

    Tamara, your patience and energy rivals that of anyone’s I’ve seen. Thank you for the wonderful ideas, including dropping kids into photo, having kids direct their parents and having a kid wrangler in the background…aka babysitter or grandparent: ) I love the pureness of your photos and processing that will make them timeless. Thank you and all the best to you!

  4. Profile photo of PicsByLesa PicsByLesa

    This course was extremely helpful! Thank you! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  5. Profile photo of sinastaone sinastaone

    Tamara is an excellent teacher and I loved watching this class. Next family portrait I will use some of the tips I learned to improve my photography, thank you Kelby. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  6. Profile photo of Melita Melita

    AMAZING!!! So informative but exciting to watch, loved it….adding to my favorites right now!!!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  7. Profile photo of hindsight hindsight

    I love this tutorial and I’m only on the third module. Tamara Lackey is phenomenal. Her energy and rapport both with her clients and the Kelby Training camera crew is engaging and warm. Great tutorial so far.. now back to it. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  8. Profile photo of pesirola pesirola

    Excellent course! Very clearly and logically presented. Not boring at all!! Very valuable information!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  9. Profile photo of JCam1964 JCam1964

    I love the energy and how she made it fun for everyone. I enjoyed watching this course and even laughed out loud quite a few times. :) —- Yes, please post my feedback

  10. Profile photo of annejohnstone annejohnstone

    Excellent course! I love how she covered gear briefly and what lens she uses for either a single person or a family…how she talked about how to deal with the family dynamics, working with kids, how to choose locations…the whole thing! Makes it easy to understand without getting overly technical! Thank you so much! I love these classes that use reflectors outdoors and natural lighting! This is more practical for us who are not able to afford the whole studio set up… more from Tamara please! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  11. Profile photo of anmmar99 anmmar99

    The class is great.

  12. Profile photo of Diane Schulman Diane Schulman

    Would LOVE to see a course on Tamara’s post processing. Specifically how she gets her vibrant colors and how she she brings out the vibrance in the eyes!

  13. Profile photo of Diane Schulman Diane Schulman

    LOVED this course. It was truly info-packed on so many levels! You gave so many tips and so much information. I think I’ll watch the course again to be sure I caught everything! When you were doing the photo sessions with the families, I actually found myself smiling and laughing at your antics! You have a great rapport with the families and how you handled the children as well as the parents was very enlightening. Excellent course! Hope to see more more from you!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  14. Profile photo of Nacer Nacer

    This video goes all the way to 11. Wow- fantastic! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  15. Profile photo of iRegent iRegent

    Thank you very much for this course. So much expression and fun! :) Looking forward to more videos with Tamara. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  16. Profile photo of

    Excellent! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  17. Profile photo of Paul Wunderle Paul Wunderle

    I enjoyed this course very much. It stressed that family portraits are not modeling shoots, they’re interactive shoots. It is a real art to be able to bring out the best of people and capture it as a natural and precious moment in time. The pictures we enjoy the most of our chilhood, are the ones we goofed off in and didn’t pose right for mom and dad. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  18. Profile photo of divot00 divot00

    This course was exactly what I was looking for. Tamara’s explanation and way of working with the families and especially children was a refreshing way of approaching clients. The real life demonstration of pulling together the entire photo session and mix of poses is what I needed. Thank you for adding this course and listening to my suggestion for a course on family portraits. You have exceeded my expectation. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  19. Profile photo of kariberry97 kariberry97

    TY so much Tamara! These are great tutorials. I learned so much about using the reflector i have and never used. :) Can your “Posing Play Book” be downloaded on the Kindle Fire? —- Yes, please post my feedback

  20. Profile photo of delybber8 delybber8

    I would have liked to have seen her do one more segment. It would be beneficial to just watch her do a family session without any commentary to the video. That way we could just be an observer, and watch the flow of the shoot.

    Still an excellant work shop and training session. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  21. Profile photo of Bob Bob

    Fantastic…so much passion and excitement. Love the fact these portraits are posed but candid. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  22. Profile photo of TNKHART TNKHART

    Tamara is fantastic in this. She explains her techniques well has her videos are fun to watch. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  23. Profile photo of Rob Turner Rob Turner

    Very informative training video, providing great insights into how to get the best results by knowing the importance of human interaction in addition to all the technical aspects! All the information was presented in a delightful and engaging way. Thank you very much. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  24. Profile photo of ngates3 ngates3

    Tamara Lackey is a dynamic instructor! Please have her offer more courses in this forum. This was a fantastic class for me, an amateur photographer, who loves to take pictures of families and kids. I really enjoyed watching Tamara connect with the families and the kids. I am always looking for ways to improve my craft. Thanks so much! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  25. Profile photo of mkawanophotography mkawanophotography

    This is one of the best training videos I’ve watched on KelbyTraining (and that is saying a lot)! Tamara has a fantastic energy, is great at explaining things, and clearly is phenomenal with her clients. I am a huge fan and will watch anything else she does for sure. Heading over to her website now! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  26. Profile photo of Psy1ocke Psy1ocke

    LOVED this course. Tamara’s energy, understandable explanation of technique and knowledge makes me want to do family sessions right away! It’s one of the best courses on this site for people photography. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  27. Profile photo of Campe Campe

    I LOVED watching this course! Tamara is a great teacher and so easy to understand and relate to. I found myself laughing out loud while I watched this one. Great information and wonderful teacher! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  28. Profile photo of imsogreen00 imsogreen00

    Once Tamara started talking, I realized that Ive read her book so Im excited to watch this set of videos.I really recommend this book to amateur photographers.It helped me a lot! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  29. Profile photo of Donnalynn Donnalynn

    This was the best course I have seen yet. Great, great teacher! Thank you! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  30. Profile photo of Richard Garrow Richard Garrow

    I would like to thank Tamara for a great video, I like a lot of other folks learned a great deal. I am a Nikon shooter, but I know it does not matter which brand you are shooting with. Your lens selection was also very well presented. I can not say enough about the video, thank you for taking the time to step through each part of the shoot. Great Job! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  31. Profile photo of HelenaGoessens HelenaGoessens

    Excellent!!!! It was very clear, entertaining, full of great advice, easy, and educational. Simply love it!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  32. Profile photo of davidjamesphotos davidjamesphotos

    Best training video yet! Thanks for the inside and energy. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  33. Profile photo of mrcubanator73 mrcubanator73

    Bravo Tamra that’s so cool I love it —- Yes, please post my feedback

  34. Profile photo of Steve Emerick Steve Emerick

    Ms. Lackey is an articulate and talented instructor. More than anything, she shows in this course the importance of the interpersonal element in portraiture and the necessity of genuinely caring for the subjects. This is the best portrait video yet. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  35. Profile photo of jessthelioness jessthelioness

    Oh my gosh!! You are incredible! I am just starting a business and you gave me so much hope and help! I appreciate the knowledge on how to handle different situations seeing as that is a big part of the job. You do an amazing job at it. Thank you for sharing. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  36. Profile photo of blackfly blackfly


  37. Profile photo of capsix capsix

    Thank you Tamara, very useful videos. Where do you get your energy from!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  38. Profile photo of Andy Holdsworth Andy Holdsworth

    Really great course! I can’t wait until my next family shoot to try out some of Tamara’s techniques. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  39. Profile photo of bighawk97 bighawk97

    By far the most entertaining and informative course on the site. She’s not just a genius on the technical aspect of getting the shot but (and MUCH more importantly) a master of getting the expressions and fun and joy that sell the shot. And she’s so cute! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  40. Profile photo of Wanda Willoughby Wanda Willoughby

    I learned so much from this tutorial and loved your approach to the session. I too do not like to have everyone looking at the camera and smiling. That is not how we actually interact. It was also wonderful that you used Canon equipment. I do have the 5D mark iii and my next purchase will be the 85 mm prime lens which I will also use for sports. Great job. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  41. Profile photo of trikween trikween

    Loved this presentation. I have been waiting for a good tutorial on family portraits. I like that Tamara
    makes it fun. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  42. Profile photo of steve250 steve250

    Great energy with good information,A+
    —- Yes, please post my feedback

  43. Profile photo of PMGrambo PMGrambo

    A very useful course indeed. Tamara’s extremely good with people. Being good with people is the key to the whole thing with this kind of photography, and she demonstrated in a convincing way how it can be done. Very good. Recommended. —- Yes, please post my feedback

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