Capturing The Modern Family Portrait, with Tamara Lackey

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.

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.

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Course Lessons:

Lesson 1: Introduction (Duration 01:29)

Join Tamara as she introduces the topics and concepts covered in this class.

Lesson 2: Gear Guide (Duration 12:08)

Tamara walks through all of the gear she uses in a typical family portrait session.

Lesson 3: Finding the Best Location (Duration 13:28)

Finding the right location for bringing out the best in your family group is an important aspect of a successful session.

Lesson 4: Preparing the Family for the Shoot (Duration 09:25)

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.

Lesson 5: Fast Moving Subjects (Duration 10:38)

Working with kids will inevitably involve trying to photograph fast moving subjects. Tamara walks through how she prepares for capturing the peak of action.

Lesson 6: Posing Families (Duration 09:19)

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.

Lesson 7: Importance of Clothing (Duration 08:54)

The right clothing choices can make a huge impact on the final look of the photos.

Lesson 8: Location Change (Duration 11:37)

Having a few locations within close proximity can help you add variety in looks and poses in the session.

Lesson 9: Managing Family Dynamics (Duration 08:31)

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.

Lesson 10: In the Studio (Duration 11:48)

Due to the confines of studio space there is a greater need to choreograph the movements and poses of the family members.

Lesson 11: Composition Tips (Duration 09:10)

Here is a series of simple compositions to add to your repertoire.

Lesson 12: After the Shoot (Duration 06:42)

There are a number of important tasks to complete after the family has gone home and before you deliver the images to your client.

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 -…


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!!!

  18. Excellent course! I love how she covered gear briefly and what lens she uses for either a single person or a 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

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