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 portrait photography

Another profile change

Sometimes you have to have to admit you made a mistake. All you can do is fix it and move on. 

According to a lot of people who wrote, my mistake was changing my profile picture from happy me, to a more introspective portrait. "Not all change is good," as someone said. Or another, "The other picture is you!" 

Why bother to write about it? Just change it and go on. But a couple of things occurred to me this morning.

First, sometimes we tend to second guess ourselves too much. Is this right? Is it wrong? Should I change it? Next, we all aspire to make pictures that reveal the personality of our subject. When we nail it, be happy. This picture, or as I call it, my big smiling, belly laughing, hat tipping, happy snap, is me through and through. So, I guess I have to deal with it. I'm very serious about my work, but otherwise, I prefer to laugh. 

Always remember, smile big, laugh hard and make people happy.

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Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, Pop. Love you and miss you. Glad we got to talk so long this morning. 

My Dad worked hard all his life. While growing up, he did three jobs to make sure we never went without. For 30 years he toiled on a General Motors assembly line. He taught me to work hard, keep my head down and keep going. It was a small life lesson he gave by example. 

When I moved to Pittsburgh, he came out to help turn the building I bought into a studio. He built walls, painted and assembled an Ikea kitchen unit. The later was the only time he got frustrated. But, doesn't everybody get that way with Ikea? 

For those few weeks, we bonded like never before. Christmas day came, and we realized the kitchen wasn't ready, and we had no food. Nothing was open in the small town of Ambridge except one bar. We went in and were the only customers. Telling the bartender our plight he offered to make us the only thing he had, spaghetti, so that became our Christmas dinner. 

The weeks I spent with him during the buildout will always be one of my favorite memories of my father.

 

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Diagraming a photograph

Taking pictures is easy! Just point and push the button. 

Yeah, right.

The diagram below shows what goes through the mind of a photographer a nano-second before the shutter is released. With time, it becomes so second nature you forget you're doing it. You see it all without looking. It becomes a feeling. Or, as my mentor Joseph Costa once told me what his mentor told him, "you look through the viewfinder until that voice in your head kicks you in the ass and says, NOW!"

Breaking it down, line by line.

RED LINE: The first thing I saw was the spiral that starts at the wheel above the mechanics head, travels down at an angle to the wheel on the shelf and rotates around his hands and lands on the tire on the car in the background. I call this a 'modified Fibonacci spiral' (my term, not official).

GREEN LINE: Next comes the balance between different forms within the frame. The two wheels and the can and poster. While the sign itself is a different shape, the balance is still there. 

BLUE LINE: Speaking of balance, the negative space occupied by the refrigerator on the left and the concrete floor on the right are areas that balance each other within the photo. 

YELLOW LINE: The picture gains power with a strong diagonal line from the tire above center, through the angle of the mechanic's eyes and out the other side through the wheel on the right. The photo has a near perfect division between left and right sides with the subject's head almost dead center. Left and right side of the picture is balanced. Finally, if you draw a line through the space separating the refrigerator door from the freezer above and on through the top of the shelf in the background, it too divides the picture just right. The three lines also form a triangle, which further enhances the strength of the frame. 

Of course, all the graphics in the world can't make a weak image strong. The concentration on the mechanic's face as he works on the part in hands enhances the photo, as does the angle of the light streaming into the garage from the right. Put all the individual elements, lines, and graphics together, and the picture works. 

It's that simple, and that difficult. All done in the mind and heart of the photographer in a fraction of a moment, every day, on every assignment. 

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Eye See You!

Making a connection with your subject is paramount in creating an exciting and engaging portrait. Sometimes that connection comes from the most unlikely source. 

Commissioned by art director Amy Rajokivc thru the Dymun-Nelson agency, I was tasked to create a series of portrait images for the Heinz Endowments annual report. The job went along well with each person sharing their story and experience. The conversations went back and forth, with rapport quickly established. Then came the library. 

At the Homewood Library, we were photographing children in a reading program with their favorite book. Many of the children were somewhat shy at first, but I'm just a big kid so getting down at their level and letting my inner child take over did the trick. 

Then this little guy came in. From the moment he sat down he was beaming with a smile that could light up the room. Every time I looked into the finder of my Hasselblad, he let out a giggle or a loud squeal. Now, I knew I was good with kids, but he was way beyond anything I ever dreamed! Everybody on set was astonished. The expressions I was capturing were almost too much. The most dramatic reactions were coming every time I looked down in my camera. I was getting confused until he pointed and exclaimed "EYE!!!" He saw my eyeball reflected thru the lens of the Hasselblad, and it broke him up! We all had a great laugh and a great time. 

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Betty James and the Slinky

How do you photograph a sound? Well, that was the question posed to me when I was assigned in the mid-90’s to make a portrait of Betty James. She was the chief executive officer of James Industries, the maker of the Slinky. The famous toy has a very distinctive sound as it walks downstairs, “grzzzzink!” Inc. Magazine needed a portrait and wanted to see that sound. 

No pun intended, but it wasn’t as hard as it sounds. It took a few Polaroids to discover the right shutter speed to add enough blur to the toy as it walked down a set of test steps in the company’s Hollidaysburg factory, but once that determined, it was a straightforward shoot. I photographed Betty with and without the toy in her hand, but in the end, the magazine selected the one shown here. Shot in color, I converted it to black and white because the film has deteriorated over time.

Betty James passed away in 2008 at the age of 90, but her legacy will live on as long as there are stairs to descend and a spring that makes a “grzzzzink!” as it walks.

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Goodbye, Mom

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” ~ Robert Capa

This quote is often interpreted to mean getting physically close to your subject. And maybe that’s what Capa meant. I also believe it means getting emotionally close to the people you are photographing.  If you can’t feel, how can you put feeling into your work? My best pictures have always come from opening myself up and connecting, however briefly, with those in front of my lens on an emotional level. Sometimes it means a deep empathy for who you’re with, sometimes it’s falling in love and sometimes it’s a profound respect and admiration for your subject.

Whatever the emotion, connect, feel, be present, because, if your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t emotionally close enough.

This is my mother, a few days before she passed away in 2006.

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Expect the Extraordinary

An editor once told me there are no bad assignments, only bad attitudes. Most small newspaper photographers would disagree. After your umpteenth dedication assignment or check passing, your view changes. Still, you just never know when something extraordinary might happen, so you have to stay alert, stay focused, stay on the game. One bright and sunny day in Muncie, Indiana that something special dropped in my lap. 

Unlike most other assignments, this one is fuzzy in my memory. Details of exactly what was going on are unclear. What I remember is the city was honoring local Native Americans and this tribal elder in particular. The event was downtown, and all participants were sheltered from the glaring mid-day sun by a covered stage. 

All was going along the typical path of such events with politicians pontificating from the podium while the rest of us strained not to nod off from boredom. Finally, someone began reciting a Native American prayer; the elder leaned forward into the sunshine, put his hand to his forehead and looked down to pray and reflect on the speaker’s words. 

Pulling my Leica R4 to my eye, I squeezed off three frames as quietly as possible, trying hard not to disturb the moment. Only one had the expression of reflection I wanted. The negative has an extreme contrast range from overexposure to underexposure. If it was not for the optical quality of the Leica R 180mm f/2.8 lens, I believe this negative would be unprintable. The sharpness of this photograph is utterly fantastic. The amount of detail in the most extreme areas, both under and over,  is nothing short of mindblowing. 

People ask why I shot with Leica for so much of my career. This. Image quality that consistently exceeded expectations.

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The Eyes Have It

There are a lot of things that go into making a photograph. Composition, graphics, color, spontaneity are a few. The one that moves me the most is emotion. It may be dramatic or subtle. 

While working on a senior citizen housing story, I spent a lot of time just wandering. One time, while roaming through the dining hall I noticed a gentleman having lunch by himself. Something in my gut told I needed to say hello and make his picture.

The man had a subtle intensity in his face and his eyes. He graciously allowed me to make a few frames, told me a story or two about his life then went back to his lunch. 

On the technical side, I carried a minimum of equipment. That day I was wandering with one body, two lenses and a pocket full of Tri-X. For the man’s picture, I merely had a Nikon FM and a 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor. I loved that lens for portraits because it was incredibly sharp. The focal length allowed me to work close, sometimes inside a person’s comfort zone. At f/2.8 it was fast enough for most available light situations. My subject here was sitting at the end of a wall of windows. I couldn’t have asked for more. A soft light fell on his face while the background faded into darkness. 

Sometimes you are just blessed with an image handed to you from the Heavens. In those situations, make the exposure, say thanks, and keep looking for the next one. 

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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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