Portraits are challenging and very rewarding when a job is well done. To be successful, you need to understand the purpose. If I'm taking random street portraits, the goal is to find someone who has something attractive about them. It can be the look in someone's eyes, their gritty appearance or just something unique. If I capture it well, others will look at the image and be captivated by its essence. If it's a headshot or a contracted portrait the approach is entirely different. I pick the subject of a street portrait because something about them stands out whereas, if I am commissioned to take someone's photograph, I need to learn a bit about the individual so I can bring out their essence in the image. A successful portrait photographer will want to get to know you. If you've contracted someone who has done little more than to establish when and where the session will take place, the odds are you won't be happy with the results.
Who doesn't love a good family portrait?
What a great family to work with. It was an overcast day, but that didn’t stop the love from shining through!
Cosplayer Street Portrait
Some people like to dress up and role play. There's no place better to see this on display than at the Texas Renaissance Festival. Cosplayers rarely say no when you ask to take their photograph, especially when you offer to give them copies. I was captivated by this individual because he looked gritty and authentic. He had a gleam in his eyes that called to my lens. While all this makes for a great recipe it doesn't guarantee success. Good photographers frequently make good photographs, but the exceptional images take more than good technical skills. Establishing a rapport with the subject and making them feel comfortable increases the odds.
I had the good fortune to take a street photography class in Vancouver, BC, Canada with Valerie Jardin in 2016. We broke up into small groups and wandered about various parts of town in search of scenes to capture. We ran into this interesting gentleman in Chinatown as he headed home after skateboarding. Loved his look, the helmet, the light, but especially the reflections in his glasses. If you look carefully at the reflection in his right eye, you can see me holding my Sony A6000 one-handed, capturing the shot as we talked with him. I've since switched to Fuji for this type of shooting, but the Sony was a mighty little camera that served me well at the time.
Senior Cap & Gown
Full Disclosure: This is my daughter and I am a proud papa. But that's not why I included this photo in my gallery. A close friend of mine commented the following when she saw the picture, "You can see her love for you in her eyes." Rapport and getting someone to feel comfortable are key in portrait photography. Her comfort with me is what made this picture stand out. I could have looked for a better background, but the best background in the world wouldn't make this a really good photo of Bailey without the connection.
Do you need a professional headshot? Whether in the studio, your office or outdoors, I can deliver the images you need.
I was in Vancouver last year for a workshop with Valerie Jardin and our group stumbled upon this beautiful young lady out with her parents. They were happy to allow us to photograph her but were surprised when I asked that they turn her back to the sun rather than face it. Look at how her hair glows and you see the beauty of backlighting.
What exactly is fine art from a photographer's perspective? Everyone seems to have a slightly different definition. I consider my work to be fine art if I have done more than simply captured a representative image of a scene or object. For me, it becomes fine art when I alter it to make it unique in someway. My Bow Bridge image is a good example of this.
Harbor Town Light
Lake Conroe, TX. This lighthouse is a full-scale replica of the Hilton Head lighthouse in SC. The picture has a special meaning for me as my dad lived in the small community where the lighthouse is located. Dad started bringing us to Lake Conroe in the middle 70's. He loved that lighthouse and when he eventually moved to the lake, it wasn't a surprise he built his home by it. I captured this image the evening we held a celebration of life after his passing in 2016. I'm sure dad gave us a good sunset that evening! Using Topaz Impressions, I modified the image to look like a painting.
Central Park, NY, NY. A favorite spot for park goers, the structure is one of the first cast-iron bridges constructed in the US. This photo was taken on a unusually warm February day. I believe this textured, monochromatic rendering given a blue tint enhances the stark beauty of this timeless scene.
Lydia Ann Lighthouse
Aransas Pass, Texas
I took this on a spur of the moment trip to the beach with my daughter, while she was visiting me in Texas. We were originally supposed to go on a day trip to Galveston, but a tropical storm eliminated that option and we ended up driving to Port Aransas and spending the night. While I had taken some camera gear, I had left my tripod behind which limited my ability to take any long exposure shots. Undaunted, I decided to test the capabilities of my Fuji XT-2. The lighthouse sits on private property and was a couple of miles from my vantage point. No worries, with Fuji's 100-400mm lens and a 2x extender, I was able to "create" the image I had conceptualized (along with a bit of post-processing manipulation to produce another piece of what I consider to be fine art).
My first love in photography was Landscapes. I enjoy travelling and frequently visit state and national parks throughout the US, as well as other countries.
These cascades, aka "Raberfoss," are found along the southern portion of Iceland's Ring Road between Vik and Rekjavik. After returning home, I discovered these cascades are a favorite of Kevin Raber, a frequent visitor to Iceland and the Publisher of Luminous Landscape.
TA Moulton Barn
Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park. Photographers from around the world have photographed this barn, making it a very mature subject. Although often captured, I've attempted to give the landscape a worthy perspective in this photograph.
Schwabacher's Landing, Grand Teton National Park. I love reflections and was fortunate on this visit to capture a storm passing through.
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse
Located on Mackinac Point at the foot of the Mackinac Bridge in Mackinaw City Michigan. The point sits at the juncture of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan on the northern coast of Michigan's lower peninsula. On this day, I walked around the grounds looking for a nice perspective of the lighthouse with a hint of the bridge in the distance. I found it as I was leaving and noticed the flowering bush along the fence line.
The Oncoming Storm
Carthage, IN. I had just left the town of Carthage after taking pictures of some abandoned trains there. While driving back roads looking for things to photograph I noticed the storm in the distance. I was intrigued by the light hitting some of the clouds and the buildings so I pulled over and quickly snapped away. Seconds later, light was gone and the fields were inundated with rain.
What is life all about? I don't claim to have all the answers, but I do know I like observing what happens around me through the lens of a camera. For me it's more about the journey than the destination. And everything that happens along the way.
Pie in the Face
Texas Renaissance Festival. I went for the day, taking my brand-new Fuji XT-2. It was to be what my father, a Navy man and an avid sailor, would have called a "shakedown." A time to test and see what works and what doesn't. To gain a "feel" for its performance. A time to learn. The new mirrorless Fuji was completely new to me. I loved it's retro look, but operating it was completely different than the Canon DSLRs I had grown accustomed to using. One of the features I wanted to check out was the burst mode allowing me to take pictures at the rate of 14 frames per second. Eventually I stumbled upon the pie in the face booth. What better place to test its speed? Not everything in life has to have meaning. Sometimes its fun to relax, take a breath and watch as someone else gets hit in the face with a cream pie!
Working Hard for the Money!
Wish I could remember the name of this little town in central Florida. I was visiting my mom and she suggested we take a drive to this small town with a few B&Bs, a restaurant or two and a few antique stores. Quaint place. This was in the middle of a hot, bright afternoon. Some photographers say afternoon light is bad light, too harsh. I just read a book recently by Jay Maisel. He says there's no such thing as bad light, just challenging light. I think he's right. I moved around to find the shot. And yes, I did a bit of post editing, too.
Taken near one of the exits from the Chicago Museum of Art. One of things I did when I lived in Indiana was to take my daughter to Chicago before Christmas. It was a father-daughter bonding time.
Charlottesville High School, Greenfield, IN
Miscellaneous photos that don't fit in the other categories.
Inside the Big Tunnel near Tunnelton, IN. Bonnie Licklider is a photographer friend of mine who loves long exposure and spinning. She convinced me to ride along to find this tunnel that isn't marked on any maps we could find. The mile long tunnel was built in 1903 and some say it's haunted.
In this picture, I had my camera set on a timer to begin a long exposure once Bonnie and I began spinning our steel wool. To get sparks we included pieces of another metal material that burns hotter than the steel wool. Do not try this at home!
Inside the same tunnel, Bonnie and I proceeded to continue along the tracks until it was nearly pitch black. This picture isn't actually the light of an oncoming train. It's a small LED penlight sitting on a tripod.
Acrobatica was designed by Rafael Barrios as a 2d sculpture using steel and acrylic paint. Each of the 3 “cuboids” are concave, reflecting light and forming shadows which give the sculpture its unique 3D appearance. On the day I created this image there were clouds in the sky and you can see their reflections in the sculpture. You can find Acrobatica in The Woodlands, TX along with 57 other outdoor art pieces and 18 art benches scattered throughout town.
The Innovation, Science and Technology Building/Florida Polytechnic Institute.
I saw the structure along Interstate 4 while travelling in Florida and knew I needed to photograph it. The building was designed by Santiago Calatrava and completed in 2014. The modern architecture with geometric shapes, the leading lines of the pedestrian walkway and the contrast of light and dark along with the reflections come together to make a classic monochrome image.
Annie Pfeiffer Chapel/Florida Southern College
The center piece of Frank Lloyd Wright's project, "Child of the Sun," Annie Pfeiffer Chapel sits prominently on the campus of Florida Southern College. I was fortunate to visit the campus on an afternoon devoid of rain, a rarity in July. Afternoon light can be challenging but the partly cloudy sky made things a bit easier.
Fine Art Reproductions
Copyright Tom La Rock 2017
I recently assumed duties as gallery coordinator for the Conroe Art League. Among the things I'm really enjoying is meeting all of the artists coming through the doors. One of the painters, Tom La Rock, is a member of the league and has a gallery around the corner from ours. He was talking to me about reproductions and said he'd recently had one of his pieces scanned but wasn't satisfied with the colors. I ended up offering to see if I could do better. These are the results. You can view more of Tom's work at www.tomlarockart.com.