Lake Etling Storm Senior Photography And Thunderstorms


While a lot of photographers out there find a place and stick with it to the point that they beat it down like a government mule, I have several different locations that I like to use.   I have found that for myself if I rotate my locations, my outlook and motivation stays fresh.  In fact, around here, I have one location that is on my blacklist because it’s been burned to the ground figuratively by several different photographers.  I have only shot at that location once and I’m pretty sure it will not be back into the rotation anytime soon, which brings me to this post.

Several months ago, I met with several graduating seniors of the 2015 class and signed them up for my senior representative program.    Some time after our meetings, the mom of one of my seniors approached me and asked me what the chances were to do part of her son’s session in the Kenton/Lake Etling region of the Oklahoma Panhandle.    On any other day, it does not take much for me to say “yes” and get it scheduled and well, when she asked, it was any other day.   I actually had a trip already scheduled to the area and all I was going to do was some personal photography work such as star trails, Milky Way and sunset pics.   I told mom that if they could meet me in Kenton on a certain date, we could very easily do it.  There had been several sessions that I had that took place in the area.  Why?  All you have to do is see the pics to see why.

Shortly after setting up that shoot, I was working with the mom of another senior, trying to get their family session scheduled.  She was wanting some updated family pics and since her son Riley, one of my 2015 seniors is getting ready to head off to summer camp at Fort Benning, Georgia; it was imperative that we do everything we could to get to summer led.  Since I work with her husband, I understood the mess our schedules can create; but I also knew when he would be off, so I shot her the idea of doing their family session in Kenton and at Lake Etling on the next day, and we could do some senior shots there as well.    Needless to say, we were able to get it booked.

This year has been a banner year for moisture in Oklahoma.  There’s been serious flooding around the state and while the Panhandle is always dry, there’s been a lot of rain up here also, so I knew the vegetation would be the greenest it had been in years.   On the flip side, the rains bring bugs, so we had to deal with that issue during the shoot.

I wrote earlier about locations and I am not a real big fan of using the same location back to back.  On these two shoots, on back to back days, my basic plan was at the same locations, but with an area like Kenton and Lake Etling, crossing the road can yield a different location just like that.  During the first shoot, I kept my eye out for different looks at the locations and even though I used the same spots as I did during last year’s wedding shoot, it was easy enough to go ten feet and have a totally different look.  When I look at the work of some photographers who go to the same location, they use the same spot and same background over and over.  I don’t have a problem going to the same location on a regular basis, but if that location cannot give me several different backgrounds, then I will not use that spot all that often unless the client asks for it.

The one big disadvantage of shooting portraits outside is the environmental considerations.   I tend to schedule my shoots around the Golden Hour in the evening because it yields the best light from the sun, plus if there are no clouds in the sky, it’s a little easier to adjust.  During this particular weekend, the only time I saw the sun was in the middle of the day.  Both shoots were interrupted by rain.  On the first day, we did not get a sunset image because the clouds turned to rain and the last several shots we did, there was a light sprinkle coming down.  On the second day, we ended up getting rained out of our first location due to the rain.

The one big thing about shooting in such a remote location is cell service might be spotty or just does not exist.  Welcome to Kenton.  I only have cell service in one, small spot; and even while in Boise City that day, I had no service, which is actually odd.  Because of that, I did not have an updated weather forecast.  Fortunately, Arlene Winfrey from Chains of Pace Photography had come out to the area to shoot.  When we got to our first location, she received an updated radar image and saw that we had a large storm coming in.   So after a quick consult with The Hines Family, we agreed to cut the shoot short since we would not have a sunset.  The area has few paved roads.  Although I know the area fairly well, most of my clients do not have the same knowledge.  We finished up the shoot at Lake Etling, using the lake as a backdrop for some family and senior shots.   After they left, I stayed because I had wanted to do some night photography. Unfortunately,  I ended up getting shut out this night.  I went to the dam on Lake Etling right before sunset.  I was able to capture the thunderstorm as it rolled in over the lake right at sunset.

In closing, the weekend portrait shoots went great.  Kenton and Lake Etling is a destination photography location for me.  I cannot wait until I have more sessions in the area.

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