Oak Tree Photography bio picture

Tyler’s Claremore High School Class of 2011 Senior Portrait

Claremore High School Class of 2011 Senior PortraitEvery senior portrait session is like a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. And so was Tyler’s portrait session. Only, his story had a special wrinkle. Every part of the story was about the same thing: the Oklahoma wind! Oh my, on the day of his session, the wind blew and blew. Ten. Twenty. Thirty miles an hour. And when the wind gets going that fast, all of a photographer’s standard tricks for shielding your subject from the wind are challenged to the max. Place your subject on the downwind side of a large object (like a building)? The wind swirls around the corners and swoops right where you’re standing. Hold up a diffusion screen to block the wind? Don’t even think about it—the wind will pull it right out of your hands. Place your subject on the downwind side of two large objects (like two buildings at right angles)? The wind finds a way to skip over the top and swoop down on you. So what’s a photographer to do? Stay nimble. Keep laughing. And, most of all, notice that even the most steady of winds is not steady at all. It pauses. It blows. It pauses. It blows. It’s like the wind is breathing. As you get in touch with the rhythm of the wind, you can almost tell when it’s going to blow, and just when it’s about to pause. So when do you take the picture? Well, during the pause, of course!

Tyler was more than a good sport while the wind blew during his senior portrait session. He was having a good time, and so was I. Sure, he had to straighten his hair more than a few times. And we had to wait for the pause in the wind. But the outcome more than speaks for itself. The day may have been blustery. But Tyler, Senior Class of 2011 at Claremore High School, looks confident and composed. And why shouldn’t he? In Oklahoma, wind is so nearly an everyday thing that we might as well take it in stride.

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography

Portrait Scouting with Sophie

A Bulldog,           Looking Resolute and StrongThere is so much to enjoy in being a professional photographer. One thing I particularly enjoy is what I call the “pre-portrait consultation”. This is when I go to the home of the family, or senior, or wedding couple, and spend about 45 minutes visiting with them about their upcoming photography. We talk about what they have in mind for their images, and of course we talk about clothing and other details related to looking relaxed and at their best for their portrait. If their photography is going to take place in or around their home, then I scout out the rooms and the yard, looking for the clearest light and the best angles for beautiful compositions.

All of the details I cover with them contributes to the final outcome—a lovely set of portraits. But, in the midst of covering all of the details, we just have fun! We laugh and talk and get to know each other. Without fail, every time, we connect on a personal level, either by discovering that we have a friend in common, or that we share the same hobby or interest, or that we find ourselves at the same place in life. Does this help the portraits to be even better? I don’t know, I can’t say for sure. But I know that sharing life together makes everything more enjoyable. Which finally gets me to Sophie…

At a recent pre-portrait consultation, Suzi and her family had the coolest dog. Being a big dog lover, I always get down on the floor and make friends with the family dog. But Suzi’s dog was something else. The dog was a broad-shouldered, bow-legged, barrel-chested English Bull Dog named Sophie. She not only had character plus, she was also a lens hound! Whenever I took an image to record what I wanted to remember while scouting, there was Sophie, right in front of me, looking for all the world like she was posing! So, how could I resist? I took a portrait of Sophie right then and there.

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography

Wedding Photography Class

Excerpt from Tulsa Technology Center Spring CatalogAs much as I love photography itself—I love the creativity and playfulness of creating images—I love teaching photography just as much. That’s why I’m thrilled that I have arranged with the good people at the Tulsa Technology Center to teach a class on wedding photography. The class went in to their Spring Catalog and, even though this was the first time a wedding photography class had ever been offered by them, it quickly filled up, and even had a few names go onto the waiting list!

The class met for the first time this past Thursday night with twelve rarin’-to-go students. They are amazing people, with a fascinating breadth of backgrounds and skills. It is going to be so much fun learning and growing together. I very much appreciate my good friend David Kennedy. He came and gave a true-to-life presentation on what it’s really like to be a wedding photography. And David should know—he has shot over 500 weddings! He gave the class members a window into all the stress and chaos that can swirl around a photographer on a wedding day, and all of the exhilaration as well.

In the weeks that the class will be offered, we’ll cover lighting and posing, of managing both self and skills throughout the wedding day, and, oh yes, the class will pay a lot of attention to the all too often neglected skills of running a profitable business. This is going to be some kind of fun!

Claire’s Second Birthday Card

I enjoy so many aspects of photography: interacting with people, scoping out great locations, composing images that people like and want. But I especially enjoy putting together special products that will take those images to a special place in their lives. Such is the case with Claire. She is an absolute joy to her parents, Charlie and Kristi. So, along with having portraits of her, they wanted to have a fun card to send out by way of announcing her second birthday. Drawing upon the expertise of my good friends at White House Custom Color, I tweaked one of their card templates to come up something extra special for Clarie and her family. I hope that you enjoy looking at the panels that make up the card. As you do so, please understand that the final card is what is known as a “tri-fold”. So, each of the images in the gallery below is one of the panels in the card. Enjoy!

Jenks Family Portrait

Who says you can’t take on location portraits in Oklahoma in the winter? Danny and Peggy were game, so I had a pleasant time at their house on a winter Saturday morning. I set up lights and a background for formal portraits of each of them. And then we had fun with portraits of the two of them together, first in their spacious great room. And then at the edge of a beautiful pond on their property. Trust me, when they were outside, we were moving fast so they would not get chilly. (Noses red from the cold may be cute on children, but not on adults!) Danny is an accomplished architect, and he and Peggy loved the way their portraits turned out.

A formal portrait of a man wearing a suit
A Formal Portrait of a Smiling WomanA husband and wife in a formal portrait in their homeA Husband and Wife Portrait