Oak Tree Photography bio picture

A Forever Expression

TylerR B&W

 

Photography is about a lot of things, and many of them are technical. But the one element of photography that everyone can see immediately, and can judge for themselves, is expression. A winning smile, broad and happy, is always a favorite. One can hardly go wrong with a smile. Nor can one go wrong with what, among photographers, is called a composed expression. This is when the person looks deeply into the camera with soulful eyes, a strong chin, and perhaps a trace of a smile on their lips. The effect this produces is one of confidence and presence. Mothers love their children deeply and desire always to feel close to them. And so mothers want images they show their children smiling and happy. Mothers also believe in their children, that their children can face anything that life brings their way. So mothers also want images that show their children as strong and kind and confident, all at the same time. And this is what a composed expression shows to mothers. As in this senior portrait of Tyler. His eyes are deep and strong. His hint of a smile is winsome. He looks ready to meet the world in the way in which he was raised—with kindness and courage. No wonder that the composed expression, among photographers, is also called the forever expression. The expression on the person’s face looks like they’re ready for whatever forever. And what could warm a mother’s heart more than that?

Tom Launius, CPP
918.398.1161

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