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 Category: Photographer experiences

Hoarfrost

As I looked out the window this morning, it reminded me of a scene from long ago in Michigan. The overnight storm blanketed the area with four inches of fresh snow; it was just as lovely as the hoarfrost I saw in Michigan many decades past. 

For those unfamiliar, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Hoarfrost is formed by direct condensation of water vapor to ice at temperatures below freezing and occurs when the air is brought to its frost point by cooling." 

Hoarfrost doesn't happen often, but when it does the show is spectacular, especially if you experience it on a bright clear morning. I'm still waiting to see it in the sunshine. But, knowing my preference, I would probably photograph it with Tri-X, as I did here.

When presented with something as fleeting and fragile as hoarfrost it's best to have an idea where you want to photograph. I knew this location. I scouted it and filed it away in my mind to return to when the conditions were right. Location scouting is an essential part of the job. As a photographer, you need to find your locations. Don't be lazy and rely on crowdsourcing. Do your legwork. Get out there and drive around, walk about and look. Build a location notebook. Don't make other people's pictures by using sites others suggest. Find your places and make your photos. 

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Who Do? Voodoo.

I've been fortunate to have many assignments in New Orleans. It's a great town. But nothing I ever experienced could prepare me for the first time. 

I was sent to the Cresent City to photograph an oil company CEO for an annual report. I flew in with enough gear to do the job three times over. I had a brand spanking new Hasselblad CM outfit; a Widelux and a Leica rangefinder kit. I planned on shooting mostly medium format. Since this was my first time in New Orleans, I decided to stay an extra day, hire a local guide and photograph the city. I had a must-see list and knew it would be more comfortable with someone who knew the streets. 

The CEO shoot went super smooth. He liked the Polaroid, and the client did, too. A few quick rolls and done. That night he treated us to a grand meal at Commander's Palace. A yet to be known chef named Emeril Lagasse was in the kitchen. Still today one of the most exquisite meals I've eaten. 

But I digress. The local fixer arrived at my hotel the next day so we could take advantage of the early morning light. We discussed the places I wanted to go and what I wanted to shoot. He was only nervous about one request, a New Orleans Cemetery. It struck me as very odd since they give tours of the unique cemeteries. But he was local, so I guessed there might be some superstition involved. 

Away we went, in out and all around the beautiful city. It was marvelous. He knew back streets and alleys I would never have found. It was money well spent. Finally, the end of the day was approaching, and we had yet seen the cemetery. I inquired. He resisted. I insisted. He mumbled something and off we went. 

Because New Orleans is below sea level, they bury their dead in tombs above ground. With the later afternoon light, the scene was both beautiful and a little macabre. The cemetery I insisted on visiting was the one where Voodoo queen Marie Leveau was entombed. Soon I would know why my guide was spooked.

We started through the grounds in search of Marie's tomb. I wanted a picture of it because her followers to this day leave items in her honor. We walked and walked and walked. It was confusing because we saw the same tombs, just not hers. Finally, we found it. We also realized we had somehow passed it three times. We just didn't see it. My guide said she didn't want us to see it. <insert eye roll> I wasn't having any of that nonsense and just brushed it off.

Finding her final resting place was an experience. Her followers marked the tomb with black wax, copper pennies, candles and, of course, a Voodoo doll. I had the picture I came for, so I raised my brand new Hasselblad and pushed the shutter. Klomp! Mirror went up; shutter did not fire. Could not recycle the lens. Took it apart, reset the lens manually, tried again. KLOMP! This time the lens could not be reset. My brand new camera was dead. OK, I had others. So I reframed the shot using my Widelux. Push the button and zzzzoooommmmmmmmmmmmmm. I knew that sound wasn't right. Try again. Zzzzoooommmmmmmmmmmmmm! What should have been a smooth, steady movement of the lens was transformed into a staccato sweep across the track. My guide was now getting very upset and visibly frightened. 

The last chance for a picture of Miss Marie was with my venerable Leica M3. Let her break this I thought to myself; it's nearly bulletproof. But not to make her angry I fired off just a few quick frames, and we made our exit. At least that was the plan. 

We made our way to the front gate only to find we were locked in. The cemetery closed at 4:30. It was 4:45. A ten-foot concrete wall enclosed the graveyard. The gate was iron. We were in trouble. My guide was freaking out. We had to find a way to leave. He explained after dark people entered the grounds to do drugs and pay homage to Miss Marie. We didn't want to be there for either activity. I concurred. The only way we could get out was to climb the tombs, trying not to fall in as most covers were ajar, and lift ourselves up and over the ten-foot wall. Finally, we slid down the outside to safety. 

As the old storyteller Paul Harvey said, and now, the rest of the story.

After that ordeal, we needed a drink, a very strong adult beverage. We found a quiet bar and sat down. Angry over my dead Hasselblad, I found a phone to call the shop where I bought it. An old college buddy worked there and answered the phone. After explaining the whole experience, he said, OK, go to the end of Bourbon Street, there's a Voodoo shop. Buy a pair of chicken fee. Place the feet on either side of the camera, and in the morning it will be working fine. You need to remove the hex cast on the camera by Marie Leveau. He was dead serious. 

Of course, I didn't buy any chicken feet. I came home with my broken camera so I could send it for repair. I wrote a description of what was wrong, leaving out the part about Voodoo, and sent it off to Hasselblad. Several weeks later I receive a call. A man on the phone who sounded exactly like the Swedish Chef needed to ask me a few questions. He was a repair tech from Hasselblad. He explained my camera wasn't working. Yes, I know, that's why I sent it for repair. He went on, saying the camera didn't work, but they could find nothing broken. It just didn't work, and he didn't know what to do. I asked him to keep working on it and said good-bye. 

A few more weeks and the camera arrived home, working. Timing was great because the next day I had an assignment to photograph a large group of Priests and Nuns for a Catholic Week poster. As I'm shooting away, the rolls are piling up. And then that familiar sound comes back, Clomp. Instantly the shoot was done. The camera once again stopped working, this time on the ninth frame of the ninth roll. 

Back at my studio I again called my friend at the camera shop. He exclaimed, "You didn't use the chicken feet!" No, I hadn't. He also explained the number 9 was her number. Whatever. Once again I packed the camera, wrote telling what happened and sent it back to Hasselblad. 

A few weeks later the same technician called to talk about my not working - not broken camera. Figuring what do I have to lose I told him the whole story about my now favorite Voodoo Queen, the cemetery and the number nine. He listened carefully, occasionally uttering an uh-huh, Voodoo, and hex. I finished, and he took a deep breath, asked if I had everything for the Hasselblad, box, cards, whatever was in the box when I bought it. Yes, of course. "Good, send it all to me, " he said. "Why," I asked. Two weeks later a brand new Hasselblad camera, 80mm f/2.8 lens and A-12 film back arrived replacing my Voodoo'ed Blad. I suspect somewhere at the Hasselblad factory there is a camera buried, probably with chicken feet on each side.

Followers leave markings and mementos at the tomb of Voodoo queen Marie Leveau

Followers leave markings and mementos at the tomb of Voodoo queen Marie Leveau

Little Michael

In 1975 Little Michael Lord, 7, was a child evangelist, faith healer and one of the hottest attractions on the Bible Belt. That year his big yellow van with “Little Michael Ministries” scrawled on the side racked up more than 100,000 miles on the revival circuit. So when the revival show rolled into Mid-Michigan, my editor dispatched me to cover the event.

Little Michael and his father, Rev. Michael Lord Sr., loved media attention, so I had carte blanch to move around the tiny church where they preached. To move quickly and quietly I used two Leica cameras, M2 and M3, and just three lenses; 21mm, 50mm, and 135mm.

At 51, he's no longer "Little" Michael Lord, but still touring the country as an evangelist.

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Homage to Ansel Adams

Early in my career, I was fortunate to work for someone who had printed for Adams. He taught me how to craft black and white as fine art. Weeks went by before I made a first print acceptable to the master. As time went on, I became better and better until one day, a year into my employment, he looked at a print I just made and said, “Today the student becomes the master.” He revealed he could not have made a print as fine as I had just presented. 

Fast forward a lot of years. In 1995 I needed a break. I had been working almost non-stop for the better part of two, maybe three years. I needed to breathe, refocus and compose myself. I needed a vacation. Of course, that meant I needed to go somewhere and take pictures. I needed to go to the Southwest and shoot landscapes in the most challenging way possible. So, I left my Leicas behind, packed a single Rolleiflex 2.8E, tripod, an assortment of filters and 80 rolls of Agfa 25. I was off to Phoenix to start a ten-day photo vacation in Arizona. Just me, my Rollei and the spirit of Ansel Adams.

One afternoon I researched where the moon would be at sunrise and scouted a location outside of Page. At dawn, it was just a matter of waiting for the moon to be in the correct position relative to the stone peaks. A red filter darkened the early morning sky to nearly black, setting the bright moon off like a beacon in the distance. Careful exposure maintained detail in both the lunar surface and red rocks in the mountain. The red filter also turned those red rocks almost white, therefore increasing the contrast of the scene, exactly as I had pre-visualized, just as Adams taught. 

I came away with few images from that trip. But my goals of reconnecting my spirit and vision were achieved, and that was far more important than making photographs. Sometimes you just need to be present and experience life without making pictures. Sit and look out at a vista, meditate. Make a photo in your mind’s eye and leave the camera, or phone, behind. 

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The Cat's Meow

What happens on Bourbon Street, stays on Bourbon Street! 

You can have the Vegas strip, for me, nothing beats New Orleans for street photography. Any day of the year you can find pictures ranging from dramatic to outrageous. You just have to be there, be ready and shoot. 

Wandering around one night, I found these two at the Cat’s Meow. Just two overzealous patrons who got on stage to dance, sing and shout. A small crowd gathered on the sidewalk to watch the impromptu show. I framed my shot between two onlookers to provide context and eliminate distraction at the edge of the frame. Then it was just a matter of catching the right moment. 

Technically there was nothing fancy about the photo. I was carrying a Leica M6 and 50mm lens on the camera with a 35mm in my pocket along with a few extra rolls of film. No flash needed or wanted, I had to stay as stealthy as possible to avoid any potential confrontation. On Bourbon Street, you’re dealing with a lot of drunken people. It can be an unpredictable situation so travel as light as possible. And remember, what happens on Bourbon Street, stays on Bourbon Street, except for the pictures.

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Zen Way

Scan your frame from edge to edge before you release the shutter. Look for the angles, the complex geometry.  Where are the squares? The triangles? Does the eye flow around the image? Is it a circle or elliptical motion? Where are the subject points? Do you have a center of interest, an anchor point?

If you’re capturing moments on the fly, you’ll need to master the principles, so they become present without looking. Put the technique so deep within you it’s always there. Find your flow, your zone, your Zen. 

The checker tournament was intense. Man pitted against man. A hall filled with silence. One by one they fell until only two remained. The shutter of my Leica broke the muteness like a stick snapping in the forest. I paused, waited, composed and finally squeezed off a frame when the elements came together, the narrative complete, the composition revealed.

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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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Forgotten Frame

The year was 1980, and I was at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. OK, so by that time I should have graduated college, but I took a few years first to work in my field. Long story.

So one day I get a call from a picture editor from The New York Times. They were doing a story on Muncie and needed a photo. The picture editor asked if I was interested and could go out to shoot something, anything, to illustrate the story and, of course, meet their deadline. Yes, I could! 

The newspaper’s deadline was in a few hours. I needed to shoot, process, print and get the image transmitted to New York fast. So I hit the streets looking for something usable. The editor suggested kids playing because part of the story was about how Muncie is a great little town to raise a family. Luck shined in my favor, and I found a group of neighborhood kids skipping rope. I made a series of images with a long lens to stay unnoticed then moved in closer, using a variety of lenses and angles. When I felt I exhausted the situation I asked the kids to line up for a group picture. It was the easiest way to get their identification. Later I could just match names and faces to write a caption. 

I finished the job, and the editor liked the pictures. He said he would keep my name in his Rollidex for future work. As promised he would call anytime there was a need in that part of the state. When I moved, I would update my information with the editor, and more work would follow. 

When I relocated to Pittsburgh in 1990, I called the editor, who by now had become a good friend, and said, “Lonnie, I just moved to Pittsburgh, and I’m freelance! Anything you can throw my way would be great.” After he stopped laughing at me for moving here, he asked the most significant question of my life at that time, “How much work do you want?” I responded, “Eight days a week!” 

For just more than ten years, Lonnie sent me assignments to keep me hustling three, four or five days a week. I covered West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania as far east as Williamsport. I shot for the National Desk and almost every department of the paper thanks to Lonnie advocating on my behalf. It was a great time. 

Recently I have been editing my archive files, where I found the negatives from my first NYT assignment. However, one thing I noticed that was quite fascinating. I now think the most interesting pictures from that shoot, were those of that group of kids I did for ID purposes. It’s a ‘Spanky and our Gang’ kind of picture, maybe not right for the assignment in 1980, but today there’s a timeless quality to the image. It could have been 1880 as naturally as it was 1980. 

The takeaway: always save your outtakes. I understand that requires a lot of hard drives. It’s expensive equipment that you will regularly need to update as technology advances. It’s not quite as easy as keeping 25 Bankers Boxes full of a box after box after box of film negatives. But believe me, in a few decades, you will thank me as you uncover your treasure trove of forgotten frames.

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