Oak Tree Photography bio picture

A Match Made in Heaven

More than a few times, I’ve enjoyed the honor of creating portraits for an engaged couple. Being around two people in love is always a treat. But my heavens are Matt and Marti ever  in love! Every fiber of their being glowed with affection as I led them through their portrait session. Whenever there was even the slightest pause in the creation of the portraits, their eyes would turn to each others, their hands would reach out to intertwine, they both would blush in the emotion they each were feeling. As I led them through some poses, the poses didn’t even feel like poses, so naturally did they melt into each other. And so both of them, as well as the bride’s mother, were thrilled with how they all turned out. The one shown here is a favorite of theirs—and mine. So much romance, so much joy.

Tom Launius, CPP
918.398.1161Marti-Matt-1

Making It Look Easy

MeltonThere is so much I love about photography. And oddly enough, one of things I love most is sweating my fool head off so the end result looks effortless. Like this portrait of the Meltons. It was the two days after the Fourth of July, the humidity was so thick you could slice it out of the air like butter. But I kept the family inside in the AC so they would stay cool and comfortable. The home in the background was lost deep in gloomy shadow, so I set up three (3!) strobes to light the house with a sunny, middle of the day feel. (All the strobes were carefully hidden out of sight.) There was a big plate glass window on the house that reflected a huge glaring hot spot from one of the strobes. So I had the family bring out a red, white, and blue quilt to cover it. Hot spot gone, patriotic theme enhanced. And then finally, just as everything was ready to go, heavy dark clouds rolled in and it began to sprinkle. So I dialed in my camera exposure, adjusted the strobes, and what you see here is the result. Does the day look humid? Is there a gloomy, about-to-storm feel to it? Of course not! It looks like how the family feels—sunny, happy, summertime love. I would do anything to create great family portraits. Family is that important.

Tom Launius, CPP
918.398.1161

Gina’s RV

Gardner
I’m amazed by the families I photograph. They go to such great lengths to love their families and keep them close. Like this multi-image print shown here (I call it a “storyboard”) of twins, Gia and Jet. The session was going well enough, but not great, then their Mom, Gina said, “Let me get the music”.  She pulled out her cell phone, selected a playlist, turned the sound way up, and to the rhythm of the music, Gia and Jet began to boogie. I was laughing so hard I could barely keep the camera from shaking as I reeled off one superb shot after another. In the end, so many of them were great that we put them together into this storyboard. Gina later said all their family and friends were talking about it. But the thing I was talking to my family and friends about was something even more special: Gina’s RV. She told me they would be bringing an RV to the session, which I thought was a bit different, but okay, to each his own. After they arrived at my studio estate, I casually asked how they enjoyed their RV. Then she explained what the RV was for. Her mother was dying of ALS, and could not be left alone, so she and her husband had found a way to bring her with them everywhere they go. Gina and her husband each had demanding jobs, as well as their twins to raise, yet they found a way to keep her mother with them at all times. I was…I was…I cannot express how touched I was by their love, their resourceful love, their victorious love. This is why I adore photographing families—while I create portraits that will become the heart of their home décor, they are opening their lives to me, and I am privileged to see wonders that leave me speechless.

Tom Launius, CPP
1.918.398.1161

A Flower, a Person

HydrangeaAs much as I dearly love photographing people (and I do dearly love photographing people!) every photographer likes a change of pace. For me, that change of pace is made up of flowers. I love the creative search of color, line, shape, space, and how all of these combine to make a flower image expressive. Along the way of doing this, an interesting thing happens. Even though I am photographing flowers to take a break from photographing people, I end up photographing flowers as if they were people. Take this image of hydrangea. I planted them in front of my house, tended to them and watered them, and, when they were at their peak, I went out to them in the evening and created this image. As I was creating the image, I was thinking only of color, line, shape, and space. But afterwards, in viewing the image at my leisure, I saw the image…as a portrait. The larger, brighter hydrangea was a stand-in for a little boy, streaking like a comet. The smaller, dimmer hydrangeas were his family, around him like a constellation, marveling at his joy, proud in their love. Of course, maybe you see something altogether different in the image. Perhaps you don’t see a portrait at all. All of this imagining can be uncertain. But one thing is certain for sure—after photographing flowers, I am all the more in love with photographing people.

Tom Launius, CPP
918.729.0500

Wait for the Magic

steeleandsterlingSteele and Sterling are twin brothers. And…they are a handful. What four year old boy isn’t? But then, you have two of them together, and the energy doubles—no—quadruples! Not only that, but one of them has autism. Not as severe as it could be, but severe enough to affect his ability to stay in one place, to make eye contact, or even to smile. The portraits were arranged by their grandparents—who were hopeful they would turn out well. I was hopeful, too, but I couldn’t help being concerned. What if I couldn’t evoke a smile? Or even get them to stay together long enough for a portrait? I so much wanted to do my best for their family, but I couldn’t be sure how things would turn out. So, I spoke at length with the grandparents, to find out as much as I could about what might work and what might not, and to be aware of any triggers. I also read up some more on autism myself. And, I revisited my bag of tricks for working with children, to make sure I had every resource possible at my disposal. The day of the portraits came, and I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that it was rough at times. A few things I tried worked somewhat, but others didn’t work at all, and as we neared the end of the time set aside for the portraits, I still didn’t have that “Wow” shot in the camera. But I dug deep, tried yet another of my bag of tricks…and the magic began! The expressions opened up, the smiles came, and I captured an amazing portrait of the two of them. I cannot overstate how relieved and grateful I felt, and how fulfilling it was to create something that, by all reasonable expectations, might never have come about at all.

Tom Launius, CPP
918.729.0500