Terry Clark Photography

Are you looking for a photographer that can bring a fresh and creative eye to your next project or portrait?

Then look no further. Terry Clark Photography is one of the most sought after photographers in the country. Having photographed three Presidents of the United States, kings, titans of industry, and business of all size and description, there is no assignment too small or too large.

Having traveled far and wide to create storytelling pictures for his clients, Terry Clark Photography has the experience and knowledge to pull together any project, domestic or International. If compelling images are most important to you and your client, working with our team will ensure the success of your project.

Call 412-491-7887 to speak with a team member about your next photo shoot.

email – terry@terryclark.com

Filtering by Tag: Pittsburgh corporate photographer

Pittsburgh construction photography

Sometimes the best thing you can do is wait. You find an angle that works, choose a lens to compress the scene, but you need more, you need a point of focus, a human element, a center of interest to bring it all home. You wait for the picture to build, for that singular moment when all the parts come together in a crescendo, and you squeeze the shutter. Foreground, middle ground and background all working together to tell the story. You've done your job. 

Dissecting this photograph, I was assigned to document a major road construction project for an engineering company. They wanted more than just progress photos. The images would be for internal and external communications. 

The first thing on the shot list was a dramatic overall showing the scope of the project. While I often receive a list of the pictures the client wants, rarely am I given specific instructions. Most clients trust my eye. They know my dedication to the project I'm assigned. More than once art directors have given me instructions as simple as "go make nice pictures." 

Wandering the site, I found an elevated point that showed everything I needed, heavy equipment, graded road, concrete forms, and rebar. The only thing missing was a person. So I waited. I knew they would be bringing in steel beams for the overpass and I hoped a person would appear. 

Luck favors the prepared. It wasn't long before a worker, who just happened to wear a USA t-shirt that day, appeared at the exact spot I needed him to be. My first picture checked off the list. 

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Reflections

While on assignment many years ago for EQT I spotted the oil rig in my subjects safety glasses. It was an easy task to position the man in the right light and maintain the reflection. An unusually tight crop emphasized the rig, his eye and the EQT logo on his hard hat. The three formed a perfect triangle while the oval created by the lip of his helmet added a sense of motion within the frame. As always, geometry is your best friend when building a picture.

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How I did it: The BodPod

I love photographing scientists. Not only do they have interesting apparatus, but the research they do makes a difference in the human condition.  This portrait is a researcher in human performance. As soon as I saw his Bod Pod, I knew I had my location. From the second I saw this white machine in the white lab, I had an image formed in my mind, complete with lighting. I wanted a dynamic picture that would stop the reader and force them to read on. 

The lighting was reasonably straightforward. A blue gel on a Nikon SB-910 was the primary light for the room. I decided on a blue light partially because the scientist was wearing a blue suit. For separation, I placed another SB-910 on a floor stand behind the pod pointing up. For maximum color contrast, I covered the floor flash with the Nikon’s supplied tungsten filter. 

Illuminating the subject is another SB-910, inside the pod, held by the scientist. No gel on this flash but the diffusion cover was attached. A Sekonic flash meter was used to determine exposure, with the blue light set for -1 exposure from the main. 

All flashes were in manual mode for ultimate control. Pocket Wizards were used to trigger the flashes. The camera, a Nikon D750 with 24-120mm f/4 lens, was tripod mounted so the computer screen could burn in at 1/15 second. An aperture of f/8 was selected to ensure both pod and computer remained sharp. The focal length was 31mm, wide-angle but without distortion. I exposed only about eight frames before the scientist decided he had enough. No problem, I expected as much, which made having everything nailed down tight beforehand critical. Never waste a person’s time fiddling with your gear. Get it set then call your subject into the picture. In the end, I had my hero frame in the third shot. 

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Sister of Mercy

Once upon a time, I did a lot of work at Mercy Hospital. It was long before there were HIPAA Laws and long before UPMC took over. Back then the Sister’s of Mercy ran the hospital.

On one assignment I was given the freedom just to wander, explore and see what pictures I could find. Sometimes I would stroll the halls and floors, and sometimes I would have a target person, like the Sister here. 

I followed the Nun on her rounds visiting patients. Before I made pictures, one of us would explain to the patient what I was doing. Most times nobody cared because I was working for the Sisters of Mercy. If I got the green light, I would just disappear into the background and watch for interactions. I wanted moments of tenderness and connection. I remember it was effortless with this Sister as she had a way to connect with everyone. She would talk and pray with the patients, as she is here. 

The most challenging task was to find a clean and powerful composition. In this room, I positioned myself to use the vertical lines in the curtain and the bar on the bed as compositional aids. The cross she wore was the perfect counterpoint to these lines and provided the first triangle of the image. As she leaned forward, she gently touched the woman’s head. With my second and third triangle now complete, I squeezed off a frame with my Leica M3 and 50mm lens. 

Early on I learned to work a scene hard. I was taught to shoot different angles, use all my lenses, and adjust composition. Give the editor choice. On this job, I followed those rules if it made sense. In this situation, it did not. I needed to be quiet and not disturb the scene. So, I picked my angle, my lens, and waited for the right frame to appear, one to show the love and humanity of this beautiful Sister of Mercy.

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Goodnight, Manny.

Everything changes. Nothing is forever. Everyone knows this, some in Pittsburgh more than others. I’m sure Manny never thought he’d see the day when he would lay down his hard hat for the last time because the once might mill was closing. Many years ago, on an editorial assignment, I was granted access to a shuttered mill in McKeesport. I had an hour. Not enough time to explore a place so vast as a once active steel mill. It was, at best, akin to salvage archeology; hurry up and gather as much as you can in as short a time as you can. But that’s often the job.  In this case, all I could do is look for the basics to illustrate the story. I needed something wide to set the scene, something closer, and details. I was more documentarian than anything else. 

In that brief time, I thought of the photographers from the Farm Security Administration who documented America for Americans in the 30’s and 40’s. People like Walker Evans. And, of course, Clyde “Red” Hare who photographed Pittsburgh first as part of Roy Stryker’s Pittsburgh Photographic Library, then stayed after falling in love with the city. 

My mind was racing, and my eyes were wildly scanning the scene for images to add to the narrative. I needed to tell the story, show what was there before it was gone, before time ran out. I wanted more time to explore. Request denied. It was time to go and leave this history behind. Within weeks the mill was razed. Everything is now gone. Just a memory. Another footnote in Pittsburgh’s history. 

Never take for granted the responsibility we hold as photographers. We don’t make history; we record it for future generations because, everything changes, nothing is forever.

 

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Mother and child

When I was just beginning this journey, a mentor told me, photograph the feeling, not the face. I’ve tried to stay true to that advice ever since. 

On assignment for Mercy Hospital, a social worker and I was visiting the home of a teenage mother. As she sat on the couch with her baby, she glanced out the window at that moment the child looked up at his mother. You can’t script moments like this. All you can do is be ready, and be present. Something like this happens in a blink. Everything comes together at once. One frame and it’s gone. But that one frame has the feeling.

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Working in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

“Welcome to the Neighborhood, Terry; we’re glad you’re here.” 

They were the most sincere words I’ve ever heard. They struck deep into my heart. It was all I could do to hold back tears. Yeah, it was that emotional. Fred Rogers had a way of doing that. And all he was saying was hello on my first day on set.

So began three years of photographing the production of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. It was the most rewarding job I ever had with the most exceptional people I’ve ever known.

Happy 50th birthday, Neighbors.

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How I did it: Theater Portrait

Success in photography requires mastery of many disciplines. The most basic thing you must be master of is your equipment. I don’t mean just knowing how or when to switch to manual mode, but mastering every aspect of every piece of gear you own. 

During a college photo shoot at a noticed the theater professor watching the rehearsal in the back of the auditorium. What first struck me was the lights in the ceiling, then the spotlights aimed at the stage. The image I captured burned into my mind’s eye from the moment I saw the scene. I had to make his portrait. 

I got his attention and cooperation the old fashion way, with compliments. “Do you know how much you look like Mel Gibson?” (this was before Mel imploded). He loved it. After that, he was butter in my hand. I also detailed how I previsualized the picture. Again, he loved it. 

Technically it could have been a simple picture to make – sit in front of the professor, wide-angle lens, high ISO, wide aperture and expose. But that’s not what was in my mind. I wanted those spotlights as starbursts. For that, I needed either a star filter or small aperture. I never carry star filters, so I had only one option. But what f-stop did I need? 

Because I test every piece of gear I own, I knew f/11 on my Canon 15mm fisheye would give me exactly what I wanted. Positioning the lens perfectly level would be necessary to counter the fisheye effect. Also, placing the professor exactly center would mitigate the distortion inherent with that lens. But, because the camera I was using had a 1.3x crop factor, the effective focal length was 19.5mm, diminishing the full fisheye effect. I selected this body over the full-frame Canon 5D because the crop factor would work in my favor with the 15mm lens. 

Shooting this scene at f/11 posed some additional challenges. I wanted to keep the ISO low to maximize quality so the exposure would be somewhat lengthy. During a break in the rehearsal, I explained what I wanted to the professor and asked him just to do what he had been doing, but don’t move. I mounted my Canon 1D Mark II fitted with the 15mm lens onto a tripod and carefully composed the image. Exposure was determined by a handheld meter in an incident mode based on the light falling on his face. At my predetermined f-stop (11) with an ISO of 400, my exposure was 1.3 seconds. The resulting picture was what I had seen in my mind’s eye.

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Tunnel Vision

Several years ago I was commissioned to create a series of portraits for a large CPA firm. My only art direction was the portraits needed to be dramatic and unique. The marketing director wanted pictures that did not look like the typical image of a CPA. It took several days of interviewing the staff to come up with ideas that highlighted their area of expertise and also their personalities. Because of a large number of people to be photographed we needed a reliable plan for every picture. I would have a week to complete the job of photographing every staffer.

In this portrait, I wanted to convey the amount of data the CPA had to process to do his job. By stacking papers and large envelopes, I created a tunnel with leading lines. I positioned the subject between the mounds of documents and asked him to lean in. He naturally put his hand to his head. 

Lighting this picture was simple. To the left of the camera was a large bank of windows which provided rim light. The primary illumination came from an Elinchrom flash in a 39" deep octabox to the right of the camera. A ¼ CTO warmed the flash, and two layers of neutral density filters reduced the flash output to mesh with the available light exposure. 

On the Canon 5D was a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens set at 35mm. Because the composition had to be precise, and the exposure needed to be 1/15 second at f/2.8 at ISO 100 to match the available light, a tripod was necessary. A slight camera tilt was employed to add a sense of motion and dramatic effect. Thanks to visualizing the image ahead of time the picture took less than five minutes with the subject to produce.

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How I did it: Environmental Portrait

Environmental portraits are easy, right? All you do is stand or sit someone in their space, focus and snap. Done. Maybe. When you decide to take your portraiture to the next level, you’ll need to consider a lot more. 

Just for fun, let’s dissect a picture I did of Robert Luffy, the former president of American Bridge. 

The commissioned portrait was an illustration piece for a magazine profile of Mr. Luffy. Because this was not documentary journalism, I had leeway to create the image any way I decided, as long as it fits a vertical format.

At the studio, I began to prepare for the assignment by pulling together the equipment I thought I might need. At that time I was using Canon equipment, so I put together my standard camera kit, 
2-Canon 5D bodies; 16-35mm; 24-70mm; 70-200; 50 1.2; 85 1.2, 45TS.

Lighting at that time was all Dynalite, including 2-1000 WS power packs; 2-500 WS power packs; 6-flash heads and 2-400 WS Uni-400 battery operated monolights. All this went in three Lightware cases.
I also packed 11’ stands for each head; 2-4’ stands; 2-floor stands, and a boom arm.  I also packed a sturdy tripod. Modifiers included grids, softboxes, scrims, and softlighters. Another three Lightware cases would hold this equipment. 

The last two bags would hold all my miscellaneous items including speed rings for the softboxes; 400’ of extension cords; gaffer tape; Leatherman tool; rolls of color correction and enhancement gels and a roll of black aluminum foil.

The six cases fit in the back of my SUV for transport and on one big rolling cart to get to the location. 

I had an idea of the kind of image I wanted to make, but I needed to be sure to have enough gear available in case my original plan didn’t come to fruition. Prepare for the worst, expect the best and somewhere in the middle it’ll all work out. 

Once on site, Mr. Luffy’s marketing officer showed me a conference room they thought would work for the portrait. I explained I needed something more illustrative and dynamic and asked about going to the shop floor. After some back and forth we went to the shop. That was the location I had in my mind’s eye. Sometimes you just get lucky. The moment we walked in I saw this enormous steel beam. With Mr. Luffy in the foreground and the beam going off into the background, I knew I had the makings of an excellent composition. Thankfully the overhead lights formed a beautiful pattern, further pushing the eye into the frame. The open door in the far back of the picture was the perfect stopping point for the composition. With foreground and background set all I needed was a middle ground that would add to the story. A few feet away workers were cutting metal with sparks flying. That was the missing piece! After a brief explanation of what I was trying to achieve, I convinced a worker to help me out and set up to make sparks. 

Lighting on this photograph was all natural. A large overhead door on camera left provided soft daylight for Mr. Luffy, with just enough fade out to illuminate the worker one stop darker. Exposure was determined by a hand-held meter at 100 ISO to be 1/6 second at f/9. I need 1/6 second to create the right stream of streaks from the grinder and f/9 to provide just enough depth of field. Also, through prior testing, I knew that lens was sharpest between f/8 and f/11. A hand-held meter was used rather than the built-in meter on the Canon because of the contrast ratio in the photo. All the darkness in the picture would likely result in overexposure had I used the camera’s meter. With a hand meter, I was able to pinpoint the exposure to just the light falling on the subject. 

The camera was a tripod-mounted Canon 5D and lens was a 16-35mm set at 26mm. I chose to go wide to make Mr. Luffy prominent in the photograph while everything else faded into the background layers. I was meticulous to make sure Mr. Luffy’s head was entirely framed within the steel beam and not intersected by the diagonal. 

Finally, with all these elements and layers I had to be sure to work my composition for the most efficient eye tracking, so I intentionally used the Fibonacci Spiral as the basis of the photo’s structure. 

In post-production, I darkened the corners of the image and warmed up the color balance a few points for a more pleasing look. Other than that the image is pretty much as it came from the camera thanks to pre-visualization and very detailed execution.

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