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Ok Photographers, let’s get real for a second. How much money have you spent over the years on tons of things that you think will make you a better photographer but really don’t. C’mon, admit it… we’ve all done it. How about an investment in making you better with the resources you already have.


Let’s talk about Skip Cohen University. Now THIS is an investment worthwhile (and btw super affordable!). This is an investment in YOU – the only resource you really truly need to kick some photography butt.

I present to you my Top 10 Reasons not to Skip Skip’s:

10. Personal time. There is no better way to improve yourself than to get away from clients, work, family and life in general to focus solely on photography and creativity.

9. Other photographers. It is true we are one big family and are able to lift each other up and push each other to be better.

8. Chicago deep dish pizza. Yum.

7. It’s affordable. Weigh value vs. Investment. Enough said.

6. Experimentation. You finally get to push yourself without the limitations of clients and sales. Try a new lens, a new pose or even a new genre without any pressure.

5. We are shooting in a hotel room. How sexy is that?

4. Posing, business, lingerie… oh my.

3. To personally witness the crazy things I say and do to get a reaction out of my clients.

2. Intimate time with some of the best professionals around. When do you ever get the chance to spend so many hours one on one with those that can truly help you raise your business and skill to the next level?

1. Why not?

I mean really, WHY NOT? What’s stopping you from taking your photography to the next level?

Go – NOW! Register.

Can’t wait to see you there.



One of my guilty pleasures in life is long, hot showers in the middle of the day. It’s the perfect time. The kids are at school. Husband is at work. Emails were already answered. It’s quiet. Something I don’t experience often. The shower is my favorite place to brainstorm, dream and plan. It just seems like a safe place where all your nerves and stress can be washed away and allow you to be free to let your mind wander.

Lately, I have used my shower brainstorming sessions to think about feminism. More specifically, what being a woman in 2013 really looks like. It’s pretty confusing, isn’t it? Are we expected to work? Stay home? Cook? Clean? Shop? Do homework? Be Sexy? Be family oriented? Be organized? etc… the answer is YES!

When I got out of the shower I googled feminism:

The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

Ok, I get that. I understand for years we fought to be treated equally and although I do indeed believe we have made many strides…are we equal to men? The answer is NO!

Now, hear me out – because I am not trying to put men down AT ALL…this is an interesting time for men too. In fact a lot of gender lines and roles are being blurred these days. The point is in my opinion, in the efforts to become equal to men – is it possible we’ve lost sight of being women?

I would like to think of feminism a little differently. Maybe more of a reform feminism. A feminism where women stand together to make us all better women. A place where we don’t judge each other, but instead help each other figure out life’s struggles. We can be gentle to each other, and help each other when we are down.

In the shower one day, I had the idea to speak to women that I look up to. Interview women that help other women, that believe in the power of true femininity.

I am starting the reform here and now….today with the amazing Tamara Lackey.

Deciding to interview Tamara was a no brainer. I mean woman’s got her sh!t together! Not only is she an incredibly talented photographer, but she is a mom of 3 gorgeous children and 2 dogs (which I hear are more work than the kids!). She is also an “Exuberant Vegan” and a brilliant speaker. I sat down with Tamara recently via the power of Skype and had a really great, powerful conversation with her.

I started by asking Tamara what it means to her to be a woman. Whew. Deep breathe – tough question to start with. I know this – but I really wanted to get right into it.

Tamara confided in me that when she turned 35 it hit her. All the thoughts and ideas, and things she had been reading zoomed in on her. It hit her that there was a disconnect and she had to change how she interacted and communicated with people. She wanted to be able to present herself more aligned with who she really was as a woman, and that the disconnect was too painful. The female part of that is realizing you can have a lot of care about subjects that are important to you and in no way does that mean it’s superficial to care about what you look like or how your clothes fit. This is so much of what health and energy is about.

“If I am not in a position to give, everyone else suffers”. (Now that certainly doesn’t sound superficial to me!)

When asking Tamara about that disconnect that she experienced, she explained that it is really about figuring out who you are and asking yourself what you are really asking for and where you really feel most comfortable, not what you think you are supposed to be.

“When people say things like – just be yourself – I think we hear that so much, it doesn’t mean anything. A lot of people don’t know what that is. Well sure, I’ll be myself. Do you have a book on that? The way you find that is digging through what is true for you. It means time alone, quiet, reading inspirational text.”

Tamara confessed that she never ate poorly (although she did at time sneak in a diet soda or cheese doodles), but now that she is practicing more self care and proper eating she will never go back.

I’ve been greatly inspired by my conversation with Tamara, and to tell you the truth she is one of the reasons I recently sought out the guidance of a nutritional counselor. After our conversation I couldn’t shake the thoughts of how Tamara was plowing through her days – alive and well, and I was struggling for energy. I was also struggling to “be myself” and I couldn’t ignore the link that bad food had to that increasing that struggle.

This is what I love so much about being a woman. Women helping other women. Without even trying, Tamara inspired me and started my health journey.

Thank you Tamara for your time, inspiration and love of what you do.

Find Tamara: | |

  • Jenn - I am constantly inspired by businesswomen who are embracing the very vital connection between taking care of themselves first and being the best they can be in their business. I applaud Tamara for her lifestyle and the changes she made for herself. I really believe that having it all is really relative; you decide what you want and finding a way to do it while still maintaining your healthy and mental/spiritual wellbeing is key.ReplyCancel

  • Carol - Your interview and the sharing of your interview with Tamara are wonderful examples of… “A feminism where women stand together to make us all better women. A place where we don’t judge each other, but instead help each other figure out life’s struggles.”

    Thanks so much to both of you!ReplyCancel

  • Matt - Tamara Lackey is one of a kind. Wife, mother, photographer, and just excellent human being. She’s one of those people that, just being around her, makes the world seem a better place. She’s really good at teaching, too.ReplyCancel

  • Tamara Lackey - Beautiful writing, and I love the spirit of this new series. Truly honored to be a small part of it. Love women standing together – kinda love that for all of humanity, actually – but the non-judgement thing? Amen. We’re all trying too hard on our own to have to worry about being taken down (by our own). Thanks, Jen : )ReplyCancel

You know that feeling when you are running in circles and you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. Life is busy and you aren’t taking time to smell the roses.

Yeah, we all do!

Right now I am putting my finishing touches on my workshop at Unique Photo tomorrow (thank you to Sigma and Westcott for sponsoring the event!). As I was working on it, my 4 year old asked me to take him to the pool today (it’s only 100 degrees after all!). So I am going to finish and take the boy to the pool and enjoy my free time.

I have to thank my little man for reminding me that when my eyes are crossed, to take some time out for me and have some fun. Oh and I have to also thank him for reminding me why I don’t photograph kids!!

Enjoy your day!

From the first minute I met Jen I saw a strong, bubbly and gorgeous woman. Her smile is contagious. You simply cannot be in a bad mood around her. It wasn’t until I got to know her a little better than I discovered that beautiful smile was in jeopardy at one point. Immediately I was even more grateful for it, and for having her in my life. Here is her story:

I faced many challenges throughout my life and the journey was not easy at times.

In the beginning I was a working wife and mother of a beautiful daughter. I didn’t see myself as strong and beautiful and lacked confidence and self esteem. Painfully, I lost my husband and was faced with being alone in an unfamiliar world with my daughter. I was at war with my own insecurities and doubts and realized that the best way to take care of my daughter was to make sure that I was mentally, emotionally, and physically strong. I wanted to be a good example for her and wanted her to know that she can accomplish anything.

As a single mother I fought through it all and in time finally looked in the mirror and smiled at who I became. I saw myself as confident, brave, fearless, strong, feminine, smart, beautiful, unique, and mysterious. I am a mother, a role model, and the key to my beautiful daughters happiness. With the help of Jen, I can show the world that I am no longer timid, shy, and reserved. Now I can show my strenght, character, and perseverance through my photos.

Jen, you are truly a role model for not only your daughter, but women everywhere. Thank you for sharing your story. I know we met as client/photographer – but I am so honored to now call you my friend.


  • Amanda-lee Seely - Wow she is so beautiful inside and out. I totally admire her!

First, I really want to take a heartfelt moment and thank all the amazing people who commented on my last blog post and those who messaged me privately. Your support was overwhelming and beautiful. What I was most taken with, was how many of you feel the same way and are struggling with the same inner dialogues. For those people, I want to say you are not alone…and we are in it together.

There was one comment made that I want to address more specifically. I knew it was coming, after all it always does. I know it was meant as a compliment…and I do appreciate that very much.

“If it means anything, I wish I was fat like you Jen.”

I get it. I really do. I know by all relative terms I am not obese and even though I think I have a few pounds to shed, there are a lot of people who would want to be in my shoes.


My post was not about the scale. In fact, I am not even weighing myself these days. It’s NOT about the scale. It’s not physical – it’s emotional.

Yes, maybe in my emotional journey I need to change my physical activity and that in turn might change my physical appearance, but that is not the solution to the problem. The solution is to love me no matter what. No matter how tight my clothes are, or what the scale has to say. It’s about knowing my power and living it. Not being a slave to societies ideas of perfection.

Recently I interacted with a woman on Facebook who was struggling to lose weight. She confessed to me that she thinks thin people are mean and they are all judging her. I spent some time explaining to her that I have actually been following her stories and her progress simply because I relate to the emotions of her journey through change. That even though she might think I am mean – really I am just like her.

No, I am not fat…but that doesn’t change how I feel inside. It’s the insides that need the work.



  • Shira - its really so true. I remember when I was my thinnest wondering why I wasn’t so happy. I look back at photos of me at that time and think wow I looked awesome how did I not even realize it then? the whole concept is so strange and confusing. Love these posts, can’t wait to hear updates. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Lori - I gained about 90 pounds over the past 20 years, 50 or so since I had a brain bleed, back injury, shoulder injury and was diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia. I hate the way I look! I am embarrassed to leave the house (which sucks for a photographer) my husband loves me so much but I really have to loose the weight!ReplyCancel

  • Wendi Solari - It is hard when people essentially judge you for not feeling good about yourself when you are physically thinner than they are. I want to shout it from a rooftop that it isn’t about what the other person sees when they look at me, it is about how I feel when I look at me. Exactly like you said, it is emotional…what’s going on in the inside. I understand what that person was trying to say when they made the comment but I a so glad you came back to say a few words about it. xoxo.ReplyCancel