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A Wintertime Family

An outdoor family portrait in Claremore,           Oklahoma

So, it’s winter, the first week of December, and it’s a bit chilly in Claremore, Oklahoma. Not only that, but the forecast is calling for steady rain on the day the portrait is scheduled! But, hey, this is the last chance before Christmas for the Randall family to have their traditional Christmas portraits taken. So, I brainstorm a bit, and I come up with Centennial Hall on the campus of Rogers State University. Yes! That would be perfect. It has an amazing east-facing portico with large columns and a soaring roof. We’ll have shelter from any rain. We’ll have access to the building for the family to slip back into to warm up if they’re getting chilly. And the location is beautiful! So, that is exactly what we do. The day does turn out to be rainy, but somewhat mild (55 degrees) and everyone is feeling good and looking great. The portraits turned out wonderfully well and the family was well pleased. Now they have a new family portrait to hang over their fireplace mantle, as well as prints to share with friends. I was even able to get them their Christmas cards in plenty of time to send out. No matter the weather or the time of year, I love coming up with creative ways to take great outdoor portraits!

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500

Twin Senior Portraits

Joe and Lillie are twins, and being as I am one, too, we hit it off from the get-go. Seniors in the Class of 2012 at Claremore High School, I set up separate portrait sessions for them each, but also made certain there was time in the second session for the two of them to be together for a combined portrait. Their portraits were special, not just because they are twins, nor even because it was so much fun to create variety in their respective portrait sessions, but because of the blast we had two weeks later at their parent’s home. As is usual for me, I took a laptop and a fancy monitor to their home for the viewing of the digital proofs and for all of the decisions to be made about what prints and products they were going to order. But—lo and behold!—there were not simply parents and siblings present, but a double set of grandparents as well. We smiled and laughed as we looked through the proofs, we snacked and hung out, and everyone went home with a grand feeling that, not only had Joe and Lillie’s senior pictures turned out fine, but they were stepping into the next chpater of their lives with a large and supportive family, cheering them on every step of the way.

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500

 

Mother and Child

So the fall day was nippy, but mother and child appeared, so we set about creating portraits. Stuart Park in Tulsa was gusting with wind, the hair bow kept falling off, and between mother and child there was static, then simpatico. The strobe I was using was whipped by the wind, whopping it cockeyed again and again, so some images were dull without light. But not all. Not this one. In this one, mother and child are not yet rosy cheeked and red-nosed from the cold. Mother and child are folded in on one another, warm like the mystery of life itself. The fall colors in the background and the angle of the tree branch bend their “amen” to what they see before them. A mother and child. Not perfect, by any means. But real—vibrant—feisty! Their feistiness was evident moments before this image was recorded, and immediately after, and throughout the portrait session. Which made everything more memorable.
As it turns out, this picture was precious to them far beyond the measure of money. Like one who found the pearl of great price, the mother could say, “We love the picture,” and then added, “Thank you.” What value will add to this portrait over the years? What words will mother and child exchange ten, twenty, thirty years from now, as they look how they were in a moment in time? Surely this, among all portraits, will be passed down, generation to generation, and one day, a little girl the age of the one in this portrait, will look upon it, marvel, and say, “So this is my mother when she was my age, so this is my grandmother in all her beauty!”

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500

Double R Ranch

Okay, okay, so I’m a city boy. With soft hands, to boot. But back this summer, I had the chance to spend time with some cowboys at Frank Robson’s Double R Ranch in Centralia, Oklahoma. It was shipping day, and I’d been asked along to help record the day photographically. As I did so, I was deeply impressed by the skill, the dignity, and the gentlemanly bearing of those who rode and roped and made everything go so smoothly. I’m not only a better photographer from having enjoyed the challenged of recording at least a modicum of the copious action that happened throughout the day, but I’d like to think I’m a better person, too. As I said already, I’m a city boy, but I sure do admire those cowboys, how they carry themselves, and how they live their lives. If I wore a hat, I’d tip it to them. As it is, I’ll simply say thanks for the memories.

I suppose I should explain the video at the bottom of this blog post. Frank asked me to put together an album of the best pictures of the day, that he might be able to give a copy to each of his hands, in gratitude and respect for all that they had done for him. I was glad to do so, and even more glad to see how well it turned out. What you will see in the video are, in order, the cover and then the 20 “spreads” that make up the album. I thought you might like to see for yourself how it turned out.

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500

 

Once a Season

As a professional photographer, I pride myself on always getting great portraits at every portrait session. After all, that is the very definition of a professional: not someone who gets lucky every now and again, or who can capture images only under optimal conditions, but someone who can consistently, reliably, capture great images, even if the weather is not so hot, or the subjects are feeling a bit camera shy, or there are unexpected stresses. Nevertheless, there are those moments when the photography gods are smiling, and there is a conjunction of a beautiful subject, a lovely surrounding, a kiss of light, and a fetching expression, all to the end that a portrait of superlative qualities is produced. So it was with Taylor. She and her parents and I had been having fun together in Claremore, Oklahoma, at a variety of lovely locations, and when we arrived at the one that is behind Taylor in the portrait, she was relaxed and comfortable. We’d become friends. And so I was able to create one of what I call “portraits of the season”: a portrait that, for a variety of reasons, stands head and shoulders above all the other portraits taken, in this case, during the fall of 2011. Now, as you’ve read this blog post, you also get to enjoy the portrait. Fortunately for Taylor and her parents, they’ll enjoy this portrait for generations to come, being as it now hangs as a canvas gallery wrap in their home!

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500