Laurie Klein Inspirational Story

©Julieanne Kost

I was 16. 

I took an art class, I had no innate talent. My teacher kept encouraging me, she never judged.  Instead it was like going to lost and found to see what might turn up. I had made an owl using nails hammered into a piece of plywood. With gentle guidance, she inquired “Laurie do you have a camera?” My dad did. She suggested I take it for a test drive. I picked up his Canon camera and was hooked. I had no idea what I was doing. To my surprise, I started getting much attention from my teachers telling me how great my photos were. I didn’t see what they saw. At 16, who doesn’t love that attention? I was having fun, period. One night my parents said “we were having company for dinner.” Turns out they were professional photographers. My parents said “Laurie show them your photos”.  No way I was going to show them to professionals. After encouragement, I caved. There was silence in the room, they kept looking at the photos, then at one another and then back to the photos, then at my parents and then to me. I was holding my breath. Then they said “You have a really good eye for composition Laurie”. “I said “WHAT? Explain what you mean?” Their answer was an invitation to come to their house with my camera and film in tow. They said to me: “we will take you on an adventure you will never forget.” They weren’t kidding. Enter stage left, the darkroom, developing my film, enlargers, chemistry, making prints. Total magic, negatives being developed and a latent image appearing on paper. This joy and thrill has never left me, it is like childbirth you never forget that moment. Soon after this experience I started receiving many awards and decided I wanted to pursue photography in college. People were telling me I had this talent, I still couldn’t see it. I had that gut feeling that I didn’t know where this journey would take me but I needed to trust and have faith and follow it. 

Colorado in the Winter
Using the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and Canon EF 17-40mm L series lens, I waited for the clouds to soften the sunlight. I wanted a fast shutter speed so the sharpness of the water would be a lovely contrast to the smoothness of the snow. There are so many textures in this image.

Turning to Dusk
Using the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and Canon EF 17-40mm L series lens, I waited for the rays of light to come through the clouds, creating a serene scene with the back lit tree and the light barely shaping the water in the foreground.

After high school, I went to Rochester Institute of Technology thinking I was going to be a bio-medical photographer. Little did I know that landscape photography was calling me. My mentor Nile Root recognized this. He was an avid nature photographer and knew Ansel Adams. He was so supportive of my nature photographs.

My studying with Ansel began somewhat of an ultimatum. I was not thriving in the bio-med program so Nile had me do an independent study, I selected outdoors photography in Rochester winter. I worked on this project for 3 months, one of the best projects I have ever done. Today as international educator I have my students commit to these types of projects, it encourages them to go deep committing to images beyond the obvious.

Reflections
Using the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and Canon EF 17-40mm L series lens, this image could only happen if the water was still. I placed the horizon line directly in the middle to accentuate the mirroring of the mountains and the sky.

Nile basically told me that I needed to change majors and follow my passion, and by the way I needed to study with Ansel Adams. I applied and was accepted in Ansel’s program. This decision changed my life and formed my future.

Ansel taught me the zone system, how to pre-visualize an image.  How to wait for an image. I learned you could dry test prints in the micro wave and he hooked me on selenium toner. He told me I had a good eye for composition.  I was elated. Remember I was 20 years old, a novice whose path was revealing itself, one day at a time.

Homage to Ansel 
Using the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and Canon EF 17-40mm L series lens, Ansel would tell me “wait till the clouds are in the perfect position”. I waited for the one cloud to be coming out of the chimney and the other 3 to the right follow the sway of the roof, then I pressed the shutter...

I wanted to be like him when I grew up: passionate about photography, about the landscape and nature in our country, and be an inspirational teacher.

After studying with Ansel, I got my MFA from Ohio University, my desire was to teach college and create fine art. Life had something else in store for me. I was married with 2 babies and was facing a divorce. I would soon be the sole bread winner and caretaker. So my photographic journey took another turn. “I am a landscape photographer; how could I be a stay at home mom and at the same time support my sons?” My good friends Monte Zucker and Clay Blackmore both Canon Explorers of Light helped me set up a new business model. My photographic strength was landscape photography.  I recognized that I had good people skills. I journeyed into the land of wedding photography. Soon I became highly regarded for my infrared landscape photographs with my brides and grooms in the landscape.Coming full circle. I am still a landscape photographer. I create fine art. I put people in my photos often, I have authored 3 books and been included in many others. I teach at some of the most prestigious photography workshops and travel the world teaching other workshops.

Santa Fe Landscape
I used the Canon EOS 7D and Canon EF 17-40mm L series lens. A storm was coming. I waited till the light was on the foreground and the ominous clouds arriving.

Photography found me over 4 decades ago. I have studied with some of the greats.  I have owned some of the best Canon gear starting with a Canon EOS 20D. I mentor high school students, I pay forward the gifts that were given me years ago. My love affair with photography keeps growing. I do feel that I am the luckiest girl in the world.  Photography has been one of my longest relationships, as with all relationships it is filled with elation, and excitement, when digital arrived on the scene I was heartbroken, film wasn’t broken why did we have to fix it? I updated to digital Canon gear and fell in love with photography all over again.

Canon has been with me through the thick and thin. I have owned Canon EOS 5D, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EOS 7D Mark II.

This is my story, another chapter is beginning, I have a rich history behind me as well as a rich history still to develop.

www.laurieklein.com