Oak Tree Photography bio picture

Secret Location

You don’t need me to tell you, but professional photographers are a strange breed. We share nearly everything with our colleagues, we support each other and watch each other’s back, we hang out and enjoy each other…but when it comes to our locations for outdoor portraits, we are ruthless. We never reveal our amazing locations. The senior portrait image you see to the right was taken of Tyler, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but that’s all I’m going to say. I’m not going to give away the location. But it’s amazing. I love the natural light, I love the strong lines created by the buildings. I love how conveniently located it is in Tulsa. And, most of all, I love the fact that none of my colleagues know about it. I know, I know, I shouldn’t gloat. But I love having special locations that no one else knows about. Of course everyone takes portraits at Woodward Park (I don’t, I think it’s way over used.) And everyone takes portraits  at the Gilcrease Museum (I do, in fact, it’s one of my favorite places.) But to have special places that no one knows about, well, just say  I’m  driven to go off the beaten path if I think it will reward me with a unique location. Tyler certainly benefited. Who knows, maybe you will, too.

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
1.918.729.0500

Spring Hyacinth

And now for something completely useless: a flower! A hyacinth, to be exact. Why is this hyacinth useless? Because, by posting it on my blog, I’m not going to generate anymore clients for my photography business. Nor is the image itself going to be purchased by anyone. And the time spent writing this blog entry for you is not going to pay off in any measurable sort of way. And yet. And yet to be useless is to be valuable. For example, this hyacinth grows in my own front yard, at the foot of the mailbox, where I planted its bulb last fall. I rejoiced as its first little tip emerged from the ground, and I’ve watched it grow since then. As the first bloom opened, I began to see the potential for a photograph. So, I began to check the flower multiple times each day, watching its progress, gauging how the weather would affect it, trying to estimate when the bloom in the background and the buds in the foreground would each be at their peak. Then, when that moment arrived, I threw my morning schedule out the window, spent the better part of an hour sprawled  on my stomach to get just the right angle, set up diffusers and flashes and a host of other  photography paraphernalia, and recorded the image which now is on display in this post. Is it the most spectacular flower portrait you have ever seen? Not hardly. But it was a joy to anticipate its creation. And I trust that it will be a joy for you to look at it for yourself. As a fringe benefit for me, by spending so much time up close with the hyacinth, I got to fall under the spell of its heady fragrance. How delicate! How exotic! Now if only there was a way to convey the aroma in a photograph…now that would be something!

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500

The Urban Look

For senior photography, the “urban look” has been around for a while, so much so that it’s almost a cliché. Still, it’s a lot of fun. No senior portrait session is complete these days without at least one jaunt down an alleyway to find some grunge backgrounds and edgy light. Most of my urban photography is done in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but here is a portrait taken in Claremore, just off the backside of downtown. And, the young man isn’t even a high school senior, he’s a “tweenager” named Nathan. His Aeropostale t-shirt, the black door, the debris all around, the casual pose, the relaxed expression on his face, the fashion style of natural lighting, all of it works together to make one fine “urban look” portrait. To be honest, portraits like these are usually not Mom’s favorites. But trust me, young people today eat these up: these are the images they want to put on their Facebook page!

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
98.729.0500

Woodland Objet Trouvé

Okay, okay, so you probably don’t know what the term “objet trouvé” means in the title of this post. I apologize for pulling out my French in an attempt to be highbrow. But, what can I say? Every portrait photographer is an artiste at heart (oops! there’s that French again!) Hang in there, I’m getting around to explaining what “objet trouvé” means: it’s French for “found object”. It refers to the artistic impulse that arises when an artist “finds” an “object” that inspires their creativity. In this case, for yours truly, what I found in the woods at the Reserve behind Rogers State University in Claremore, Oklahoma was a tiny red leaf, and an even smaller green leaf, snug on a stump with fungi growing on it. Compelled by this juxtoposition (oops, another highbrow word!) I spent two hours (TWO!) shaping the light just right, dealing with the whipping wind and, most of all, trying to discover the artistic composition within this “found object” in the winter woods on a chilly day. Below you see the results. Judge for yourself if this “objet trouvé” was meriting of an artistic inspiration!

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500

Bella the Hero Dog

A chocolate labrador retrieverI make no apologies whatsoever: I have a super soft spot in my heart for dogs. So, when a family shows up for their portraits, and they bring their dog with them, it’s all I can do to restrain myself and not blurt out, “Well, all of you just sit over there while I spend the entire session on your dog!” Willa and Kris showed up at their portrait shoot in Tulsa, Oklahoma with their chocolate lab, Bella. Like most retrievers, Bella displayed the typical behavior of her breed: extreme excitement at first,  quickly followed by the overpowering desire to lay down and nap! So, I made sure to catch Bella on the in between slide from one extreme to the other, when she was feelin’ pretty mellow. This shot is my favorite. It’s what I would call a “hero shot”: looking up at Bella as she gazes into the distance. The converging lines of the porch in the background add to the attention-getting sense of power that her position conveys. That Bella is a hero is true for two reasons: 1) she is a rescue dog, so she endured a lot before she came to her current—and permanent—home and 2) she is a joy and a companion to Willa and Kris in every possible way!

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500