Photography jobs

Using photography to improve the lives of foster children and animals at risk

Not all photographers can claim to use their skills for as much good as Tamara Lackey. In 2014, she and her husband launched Beautiful Together – a charity which aims to improve the lives of children in foster care, orphanages and group housing. Six years later, they expanded their charity work and opened the Beautiful Together Animal Sanctuary for at-risk animals and those living in inhumane conditions.

We all felt we could and should do more to help others. Whether it’s donating to a particular cause, volunteering at your local homeless shelter, or raising money through a sponsored run/swim/skydive. There are many ways to help, but North Carolina-based photographer and Nikon Ambassador Tamara wanted to go a step further and start her own charity.

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(Image credit: Tamara Lackey)

“We launched Beautiful Together in 2014 and officially became the I’m 501(c) organization in 2015. We were highly motivated to help improve the lives of children awaiting families after spending a lot of time in orphanages in Ethiopia and Ecuador. years”

Until 2020, most of Tamara’s work was in Ethiopia. In six years, more than 20 projects have been completed, including building a kitchen, improving the interior and exterior of the orphanage, and creating opportunities for women to gain employment. in Addis Ababa.

One of the most powerful projects Tamara has been involved in was with Make Your Mark – an Ethiopia-based organization that works hard to get children off the streets by gaining their confidence and empowering them to change their lives. Tamara documented the journey, capturing the harsh reality of street life for young people living in poverty.

Through donations and volunteer efforts, Beautiful Together has also helped young adults living on the streets gain access to showers, hot meals, toiletries, and even employment opportunities through the “Safe Showers” ​​and on May 7, Beautiful Together will launch the first pilot program with at-risk school-age children or in foster care.

(Image credit: Tamara Lackey)

With a background in broadcast journalism and art history, Tamara was able to use powerful visuals to promote the important and life-changing work of Beautiful Together. Tamara explains how her photography “has always been and still is a major driving force in my work with Beautiful Together” and how she “couldn’t have made such strides as a nonprofit without being able to use the power of photography to bring about change”.

Clearly motivated to help others, when the Covid pandemic hit in 2020, Tamara’s mission became not just to help children, but animals too, and so the Beautiful Together Animal Sanctuary was born. Tamara and her husband purchased 83 acres of land in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and began building an animal sanctuary that would not only house animals, but also connect them with children in crisis through an initiative pet therapy.

“Our programming will provide children with the opportunity to help care for animals while benefiting from creative education, academic enrichment, and empathy-building activities related to animal care”

With so much energy invested in building rescue shelters, improving the lives of vulnerable children and providing animals a new home, anyone can guess how Tamara still finds time to do chores. of photography outside of Beautiful Together. To date, Tamara has written eight books on photography, the latest being The pose manual for photographing children.

Tamara has also recently started giving destination photography workshops again alongside renowned photojournalist Joe McNally. Last month she traveled to the Amazon rainforest with her fellow Nikon Ambassador and next year she will travel to Norway to give another workshop.

(Image credit: Tamara Lackey)

Over the next five years, Tamara hopes “the two charities will become so intertwined that there will be no distinction between them”. They are already on track to have a fully constructed animal shelter as well as youth programming facilities and a photography/video studio that will be used daily.

Beautiful Together and the Beautiful Together Animal Sanctuary are dependent on donations and usually receive small amounts from many people. In 2021, the charity was fortunate to receive a large matching gift from an anonymous donor that enabled Tamara to begin building the shrine. If you’re interested in Tamara’s work and would like to contribute, head over to the Beautiful Together website and as Tamara said, “every dollar really helps.”

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