Oak Tree Photography bio picture

Labor of Love

emmaPortrait photography can feel like a balancing act, between on the one hand creating a wide variety of images quickly and efficiently, and on the other hand, coming up with that custom, exquisitely crafted portrait that emerges only as much time is expended. As it turns out, photographers end up doing both, since fast paced and slow paced shooting both create their own unique look. In the case of this senior portrait of Emma, the slow, time intensive approach was taken. There was so much that needed to be done outside of the frame of this portrait to make the portrait what it turned out to be. Off to the right, the sun was setting, blasting the area of the portrait with harsh, unflattering light. So we put up a 6’x10′ scrim to soften the light, and when that turned out not to give enough coverage, we clamped a white, king-sized bed sheet to a low hanging tree branch. The light that this provided was too flat, so we set up a portable strobe with a soft box to the left, in order to create wonderful light on the face. Since it had rained the night before, the patio needed to be raked clean of blown down leaves, and then thoroughly swept so the puddled water would dry. Multiple cluttering distractions, including an ugly ground pipe coming off of a downspout, needed to be removed from the background. A selection of potted plants was artfully arranged to balance the composition. All in all, two hours of setup went into preparing for this single portrait. Now, the portrait itself didn’t take that long—once Emma arrived, the portrait in this location took no more than ten minutes. Which is good, since it was hot on that patio–the stone had absorbed the heat of the afternoon summer sun, and it was well above 90º when the portrait was taken. But the final effect is simply lovely—a classic summertime portrait with a breezy, yet timeless feel that will still look great fifty years from now. Which is good, since Emma and her mother chose this image as their wall portrait, to be displayed prominently in their home!

Tom Launius, CPP
918.729.0500

Color Harmony

madisonred

Sometimes a little thing goes a long way. In the world of art, there is a concept called “color harmony”. Colors that stand in certain relationships to one another are seen as creating specific effects. For example, colors that are similar to one another are seen as restful, while colors that are different from one another are seen as active. How, do you ask, does this apply to portrait photography? Well, one way of insuring that a person’s face will stand out in a portrait is to place them in front of a background that is similar in color to their clothing. That way, the colors of the clothing and the background become less active, while the colors of the person’s skin tones, which are different from the clothing and background color, become more active and thus stand out. Notice the beautiful portrait to the right. Even though red is a strong color, because both the dress and the background are red, their color becomes more restful, supporting and contrasting with the facial skin tones and hair color, which stand out even more vibrantly. At Oak Tree Photography, we do the big things to make your portraits wonderful, but then we do the little things that take them to an even higher level!

Tom Launius, CPP
918.729.0500

Classic Senior Boy’s Portrait

mattonstumpI love senior portraits. I pull out all the stops and create portraits that stand the test of time. Whether it’s a boy or a girl, I enjoy the process immensely. But, I admit—I have a special place in my heart for portraits of senior boys. This is because, in contrast to senior girls, few senior boys are motivated to have their pictures taken. While many senior girls dream for years about being “a fashion model for a day”, a lot of guys say, “Oh, Mom, do I have to?” For that reason, some senior boys never get their pictures taken at all. Which is sadder than sad, because then, in years to come, there will be no portrait of them in the prime of life. So, I love working with Moms in motivating their son. And I love working with the senior himself, to win him over, taking a wide variety of portraits, including ones even he thinks are cool. Now, this doesn’t mean that all senior boys are resistant to portraits, oh no, that is far from true. Consider Matt, whose portrait accompanies this post. Matt not only is handsome, and personable, but he was eager and involved. And so his images turned out fine. But, even if he hadn’t been all that motivated, his images would still have turned out great. I am so committed to senior portraits for boys, and I have learned so many ways to reach them, that it never fails for the portraits to turn out to be everything the family had hoped for, and more!

Tom Launius, CPP
918.729.0500

Fifty-Six Seconds

kayceeSo I was at this wedding, and good friends were coming whose family I had taken portraits of not long ago. But I had neglected to get a portrait of their daughter. The day of the wedding was lovely, the gardens of the Thomas Gilcrease House were lush, the opportunity was unfolding for a fine portrait. I found a superb location with gorgeous light, enhanced the light with a reflector positioned just right, enlisted the girl’s grandfather as a quick stand-in so I could double-check the details, approached the family to clue them in on what I was up to, they were eager, awaiting the arrival of their girl with her father…and then…they…were…running…late. The minutes were ticking away, the hour for the wedding was approaching, if the portrait did not happen before the wedding, the sun would set and the light would be lost. And then—they arrived—four minutes before the wedding. No time to lose. Inwardly spinning but outwardly striving to be calm, I brought her to the pose. “Stand this way”, “hold the flower here”, “turn your face slightly away”. I clicked off two images, then another, then a fourth. I’m wondering if she’ll warm up. I click a fifth and a sixth image–the magic is not quite there. I pull out a plush toy to get a little silly. She’s loosening up. A seventh click. I turn the goofball game up a notch. She smiles that smile that says “Kaycee”. Click. Yes! The eighth image was the look. So I stopped. Later, I checked the time stamps on the eight images. From start to finish, the session had lasted fifty-six seconds. That meant we made it to the wedding…with three minutes to spare!

Tom Launius CPP
918.729.0500

Self-Portrait

tom

So. Every now and then, the photographer needs to get in front of the camera. Not that I’m shy about being photographed: I’m not one of those photographers who are neurotic about their own appearance. I’ve always been more or less comfortable with who I am and how I look. That being said, since I’m so oftentimes behind the camera rather than in front of it, I don’t appear in that many pictures. But here’s one of myself that I took at the tail end of an unusually long and lingering fall in Claremore, Oklahoma. Most of my portrait sessions were wrapped up for the season, and I wanted one more image with those gorgeous fall colors in the background. So, I supplied the foreground, and a colorful dogwood supplied the background. That’s my ever-trusty light meter hanging around my neck: it’s my best friend in measuring light to create the most gorgeous portraits imaginable. (And, in the interests of complete factual accuracy, this isn’t a true self-portrait. Yes, I set up the scene, chose the background, metered the light, focused the camera, and tweaked the pose, but it was my son Taylor, along for the ride, who actually tripped the shutter. I could have tripped the shutter with a wireless remote, but my son is such good company that it made the portrait process so much more enjoyable. Hats off to you, Taylor!)

Tom Launius, CPP
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500