Foreword Review — May / June 2011
Aimed at the average novice or family photographer who is new to digital camera technology and who does not possess a background in film photography, Lackey’s latest work presents a genial overview with an emphasis on portraiture. She ably explains f-stops, camera modes, metering modes, lighting, the rule of thirds, and related concepts in a spirited manner. Intended to demystify the manuals that often accompany digital cameras, the book does not venture into the origins or more technical aspects of the field, though occasional brief quotes and mentions of renowned photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Aaron Siskind, and others add a dash of historical intrigue.
The principles Lackey introduces apply to a variety of situations. Accompanied by Fun Facts, a series of “Try This” suggestions, two pages devoted to equipment and accessories, as well as tips for photographing sports events and celebrations under various conditions, Tamara Lackey’s Capuring Life Through (Better) Photography is strongest when it encourages beginners to take risks. The discussion of composition and perspective is particularly useful, as is the introduction to candid photography and the emphasis on forging connections with one’s subject.
Author of The Art of Children’s Portrait Photography and featured in Martha Stewart Living and Vogue as well as other popular media venues, Lackey draws from a professional and commercial background that occasionally results in remarks such as “…women will look more attractive and feminine when posing in ways that conserve space. I know, I know, I know, it’s totally sexist, But, photographically speaking, it looks good.” Readers may also note that of the 100+ photographs, most present accomplished results featuring mainstream subjects. Very few pages include helpful “before” and “after” examples to illustrate the author’s points.
Still, those seeking an uncomplicated guide with a lighthearted touch will appreciate this book. Lackey summarizes the approach best when she notes that expensive equipment is not as important as “the most important tool in your photography kit: You. You and how you see your life.”