The 3rd Degree: An Interview with Photographer Tamara Flemming

Photographer Tamara Flemming Looks Back On Her Career in Pictures


How did your career in photography begin?

I started out taking a black and white photography class that was super exciting. Before then, as a pre-teen, I was asked to take images of my cousin who wanted to send pics to her boyfriend in Germany at the time. I learned on film so after the prints came back, I realized that I had to work on my composition because her head was cut off in a lot of the pics. After a few trial and error shots, I was good enough and she asked me all the time to take her photos. When I was in college, I enjoyed using the darkroom to develop my photos. There is something very intimate and special about that whole dark room process that you just can't get with the digital process now. My mentor, Dwight Carter, would always tell me to keep shooting and to always carry my camera with me. It's the only way you'll get used to training your eye to see and develop your own personal style.

What is your most memorable photo? 

I went to Africa back in 2006. Before going, instead of candy, I brought a lot of books, toys and little mirrors to give out to the kids. I brought mirrors specifically to hand out to little girls so they could use it to see just how beautiful they are. Funny story. We'd just pulled up into a local village. Everyone in the group went to a local store to look at mudcloth and other fabric. I stayed outside and noticed three little girls standing to my right. I waved them over, handed them the mirrors and said, ‘Don't tell anyone else.’ They leave off running and two minutes later, I turn around and it seemed like the entire village of kids where running towards me, waving their hands and smiling!  The image captured of the girls was very special.

What's the beauty about photographing in Newark, the people and the places?

I shoot mainly for companies, nonprofits and small business owners looking to define their brand with personalized images. When I'm not shooting business images, I shoot personal projects and collaborate with other Newark based photographers.  One of the last ones that I really enjoyed shooting, and which took me out of my comfort zone, was "The 5 Wards"; I was assigned to shoot the South Ward. That was very intimidating for me but a great friend and amazing photographer, Akintola Hanif, volunteered to go with me to shoot on the street. I admit, photographing complete strangers was scary. I soon learned through our engagement that people are people anywhere you go. Some folks welcome you to take their portraits and some really don't want to be photographed. It's all about respect. In that project alone, I met some of the most amazing people that you can meet. I let me guard down and by doing that, they let their guard down long enough to let me in.  Having good energy always makes a difference.