Tonja LaBuda + The Story Behind

Creating artistic photos is always a goal in mind when looking through the viewfinder. That’s because you want your work to stand out and make the viewer stop and study it, find “Easter eggs” and just down-right be in awe of it. This was definitely the case when we spotted Tonja’s cool and unique photo in our IG hashtag feed. Those leading lines, the texture, the tones and then to top it all off, the kids and their placement. To put it bluntly, it’s simply BRILLIANT! Keep reading to learn more about this totally rad photo:

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What inspires you?
That is a seriously difficult question to answer, but life itself honestly – nature (clouds, trees, light, rain) but more specifically I am really drawn to the baroque period, the lighting and colour always get me. Also I love film photographs from the early 20th century and basically anything French.

Where was this photo taken?
Downtown Fairbanks, Alaska.

How did the location add or hinder to your image?
This location is pretty well known in my town – its very small and we have some amazingly talented photographers here so the wall is a hotspot and I wanted to do something a little bit different. Also there are always cars parked in front of it so I had to come back several times to get the shot I wanted.

DSLR, iphone, instant or film?
Canon 5d MK IV and shot with a Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART lens.

What were your camera settings for this image?
ISO 800 – 7.1 – 1/640.

Can you tell us “The Story Behind” this shot?
I asked my kids if they wanted to climb on the wall. They didn’t hesitate whatsoever and I just waited for them to do what came natural to them.

What speaks to you about this image? What specifically made you press the shutter?
I think the fact that my kids are in it was all I needed to convince me to take this. OK not really that’s mildly true – but they set themselves up here I didn’t position them or direct them this is just how they ended up and that fascinated me. Also the tones here were too good to pass up.

What was your composition technique with this shot?
I went with a center composition with the way my kids were hanging out. I took several other shots of this location but this one ended up being my favourite. I also love Wes Anderson’s films and this photograph kind of has that vibe to it with the overall tone and their attitude.

Did you have any lighting challenges/How did you light the image?
I happened to get lucky when I took this the sky was heavily overcast, otherwise it would have some harsh light on it.

Was this photo happenstance or did you visualize it prior? If so, how did you envision the image and set up for it?
It was spring break and I just wanted to go have fun with my kids and I always bring my camera. I had a few ideas and locations and this was one of them. I did however have to wait for some cars to move out the way and got a parking ticket in the process haha.

Did you use a preset to edit this image, your own selective edits or a combination of both?
It’s a custom edit.

Want to be inspired by more of Tonja’s work? Just head to the link below:


  • May 4, 2019

    Traci Marrs

    Wow! I am so impressed, this is my daughter. And I always knew she was a very special girl that could do anything! She is an amazing photographer and I couldn’t be more proud of her !

  • May 4, 2019

    Tony Gantt

    Tonja is a fantastic photographer! We hired her for my wife’s surprise birthday party and my son’s Senior portraits. Her eye for beauty and knack for photography sets her apart from all others. She’s unique in/with her craft.