The Photo Dork

Minneapolis freelance photojournalist Tom Baker likes to share stories about the stories he shoots. This photo blog is where he'll say a few words and share some photos about the work he does.

And we're off

I held off on doing a blog on my site for quite a while until now. I feel that I'm shooting often enough now to have regular and, more importantly, interesting content to share. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a blog with way too many photos. I will not post an overwhelming amount of photos each time. Instead, I will share a handful of images that I feel represent the essence of the shoots that I do and if the work is published, include a link so you can check it out if you want to see more.

To kick things off for my first post, I wanted to share about a shoot I did last week for Minnesota Public Radio Online News. For a long time now, I've wanted to photograph a significant bird migration. I finally got my act together this year and contacted the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in southeastern Minnesota to find out when the tundra swans making their annual migration from the Arctic would be coming through. Due to an unusually warm fall, the migration started late this year and the birds came through just last week. So this past Friday, I got up at 3:30 am to drive 2 1/2 hours south from the Twin Cities to Brownsville, MN, on the Mississippi River to witness 3,000 swans congregating in a small bay. As the sun came up along with their calls, the river bathed in golden light, I was able to create some beautiful images.

Now, I don't own a long lens (longest I have is a 70-200mm) and I didn't have time to rent a lens since it was a last minute effort to get down there. It was a challenge to say the least to get anything good of the swans who were a ways out in the bay. Luckily, there was a retired couple there taking pictures and we go to talking as Minnesotans do and they asked me who I was and what I was doing there. After learning I am a professional photographer, they bombarded me with questions which I gladly answered (I teach photography classes so I love educating other shooters). I commented on their 600mm lens and how I am looking at a new Nikon 200-500mm for myself soon and they offered for me to try their long glass as a thank you for the advice I gave them. Who was I to say "No?" As a result, I was able to get some photos I would have otherwise missed out on.

Here's a selection of a few favorites from that cold November morning. For the full gallery and story, visit