Oh my! A lot of time has passed since my last post in June. I wrote at that time about the Stillwater Area High School yearbook contract and how I had won the privilege of photographing the seniors at the local high school. I can now write that I have successfully completed the project and it was great. I saw about 600 of the class of 2012 in my studio. They are a great bunch of students. Fun, articulate, busy, smart, and friendly. I said several times that I was confident about the future of this country if these young men and women are going to be in charge someday.

Lisa Jaster was my office manager and I received a bunch of help from Joey Tichenor but all of the photography was done by yours truly. If you go to my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/tomyobrienphotography you will be able to see hundreds of the images. The grey background and the white background shots are the images from the senior yearbook sessions and the outside shots are from other independent senior photography sessions. All in all, I photographed about 750 seniors this year. It was great! I am looking forward to next summer when I get to do this all over again.I am going to publish a lot more this year,so be ready.

I did it! Its official! Its so cool!

So this is how it happened. I went up to the Stillwater Area High School and met with the year book class, and its teacher Laurie Hansen, and gave a presentation showing my images and presenting myself, and my studio, as a candidate for the job as the year book photographer. A few days later one of the students called during class on speaker phone and told me that they had voted 14-1 for my studio! In the background the whole class was listening as I said “Wow, thats great! I won’t let you down. Wow, I’d better stand up… I am standing up! “(laughter from the class room). “I am so happy. This will be great. Thank you very much.” Then Laurie got on the phone and said she would be sending down a contract in the next few days and she was excited to begin working with me.

Since then it has been a beehive of activity here as I want to make a great impression on the students and their families. I have painted and re-carpeted the studio, and made a host of other good and needed changes. The studio looks great.

Because I felt like I needed some help in photographing 800 students I have hired Lisa Jaster. Lisa is the new studio manager and she is awesome. Just terrific. She has brought with her 12 years of experience in running a big year book photography studio in St. Paul that is owned by  good friend of mine Webb White, the long time owner of The Photographer’s Guild on Snelling Ave in St Paul.  I have a very high quality product here and Lisa is committed to keeping and improving my brand and enhancing my customer experience.  She has been here only a few days and has already done so much good here. I am grateful that she heard about my need and came over and joined on.

I will have the year book contract for three years now and that means I will be meeting and photographing almost 2500 young men and women from Stillwater High School. I am awed and humbled by the responsibility, but I am also so very happy because I know that the students will bring so much into my life, and to the life of the studio.

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Margaret is an extraordinary violinist. She has been active in the Twin Cities music scene for 20 years. You have seen her with Beladonna – a critically acclaimed Baroque music ensemble, and more recently with Ladyslipper, a new collaboration recently seen at the Schubert Club’s Noon at the Landmark concert series with Sarah Hassan and the brilliant Asako Hirabayashi. Margaret has lent her talent to the Minnesota Opera, the Lyra Orchestra and the Kingsbury Ensemble. She is one of the most notable young artists in the State of Minnesota.

Todd Anderson is the owner of  Lifespace Construction, Inc.  Anderson specializes in remodeling and additions. I can attest to the quality of the finished project. I was blown away by the curved staircase. This sort of construction is an art form in wood. A curved wooden banister contains hundreds of hand bent and formed pieces of wood. Todd seamlessly blended his new work within the bones of this 1874 homestead. If you would like to see more of his work call him at 651-246-4456 or his new website http://www.yourlifespace.com    

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Steven and Laurel came to Stillwater to celebrate their anniversary. They had a great time. They stayed downtown at the Water Street InnWater Street Inn, Restaurant & Pub – Stillwater, Minnesota and had a dinner at the Lake Elmo InnThe Historic Lake Elmo Inn and Event Center | Food, Dining, Banquets, Restaurant, Catering, Dinner, Event Center both of which are fabulous businesses. They have a beautiful relationship that shows in their gentle way with each other and the clear harmony and respect that they show each other and those in their presence. I was touched by the way they spoke to each other and listened to the thinking of their spouse. Please enjoy looking at these photos and if you are a friend of Steve and Laurel, please leave a comment and a vote  for your favorite image.

]My family has been going up to a cabin near Emily, Minnesota since the 1930’s. It has a lake and a boat and a dock, of course, but what it really has is our family. In the woods, on the dock, in the sleep overs of 10 kids and dogs, “Will you drive me skiing?”, “Can I bring a friend?”: it’s all family.  Then Uncle Bob built a winter house and ‘Game On’! Now one of the biggest weekends of the year involves a winter soccer game and shoveling the lake! It’s crazy, it’s fun, and I’m going next year, too.

This year brought 6 inches of fresh snow, -10 below, and a tow up the last 100 meters of the driveway if you were there on time for Joe and the truck. If you were not, you needed 11 kids to push you up the hill or you carried your Duluth pack in the last 400 yards.

I went for the walk after the snowstorm and took pictures of the snowy forest. Happy New Year!  Please vote for your favorite one.

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Christmas at Nona’s. Nona is my Mom and she brings us all into her house over Christmas.We have had  so many great memories in her house. This might be the last one in the home we grew up in so it had a lot of  significance but we all know its not where you spend Christmas but with whom and how you grace the day with family and loved ones.  Thank you for life and your love and the support that you have given to all of us.

Love, Tomy


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OK, not too many Seniors plan outdoor sessions in the winter. But why not! Its great outside with the wonderful snowfalls and we Minnesotan’s can certainly handle a few degrees colder.  In fact I wish more skiers and riders would take advantage of this season. Ryan is one of the best English horsemen in the state. He won not only the Grand Prize for his age group this year but the Open division also. Thats no small accomplishment. My compliments Ryan!

Lyra Orchestra

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The Lyra Orchestra holds a special place in the hearts of 17th and 18th century music lovers. Jacques Ogg is one of the worlds finest Harpsichord players and as the Artistic Director of this ensemble he has led them on an enlightened path through the works of Bach, Telemann, Bieber, Schmelzer. The Lyra Orchestra  performed in France this summer and brings in internationally acclaimed performers.