Geek’s touch

enlivens Port High photos

Self-professed computer geek Robert Tyree has an artistic side that shines in his photos of students in sports and school activities
Ozaukee Press staff

Robert Tyree has a unique mix of passions between his career and hobby.

His day job as a programmer specialist has him traveling the country to help companies migrate to new software.

Outside of work, Tyree runs his own photography business.

“A friend of mine pointed this out to me. ‘You’re a total geek. I don’t know how you can be artistic,’” Tyree said.

Tyree figured it out.

“There is a geek level to photography,” he said. “I know I can make this look good if I use XYZ.”

Tyree has been making photos look good on and off for decades, ever since he shot for his high school yearbook in Idaho in the late 1970s with a Fujica ST705 his older brother bought for him.

Nobody knew who he was back in high school, Tyree said, but nearly every photo that wasn’t a mug shot in the yearbook was his.

“It’s kind of the same now. Nobody knows who I am,” Tyree said.

But they know his work. Tyree can be found at Port Washington High School events from sports to choir and band concerts.

“I just do it because it’s fun and I want these kids to have good pictures. It gives back to the community,” he said.

Tyree’s community is Port, and he has a policy when it comes to photographing events.

“For high school sports, I don’t charge anybody. If somebody wants me to shoot a game at another school, then I do,” he said.

Tyree is more than a casual shooter. Although his only formal training came in high school photography classes, he is a member of Peter Hurley’s Headshot Crew, a world network focused on taking top headshots.

In July 2020, Tyree was one of three Milwaukee-area photographers to take free headshots at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa for unemployed people, part of the nationwide 10,000 headshots event to give a boost to those looking for work during the pandemic.

One of his subjects, a middle-aged mother, could see the images on his computer right after they were taken. She began to cry, which stopped the shoot, but Tyree had the photo she wanted.

“She told me, ‘I didn’t know someone could make me look that good,’ he said.

The other side of Tyree’s life is less artistic but no less interesting.

Tyree was born in Alaska and moved to a family home in Idaho when he was in eighth grade after his father Gordon retired from his welding and piping inspector job. He checked just about every weld in the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

His mother Joyce was a civil service secretary who worked for then Col. Norman Schwartzkopf early in his career.

Tyree started college early after being pulled out of a high school American government class, the last one he needed to graduate. His father had an investment in a fund that required one of his children to be in college by a certain time or the money would be lost.

Tyree ended up taking a three-credit equivalent class at Brigham Young University he finished in one month that he said was “so much easier” than the high school class.

After high school, Tyree moved back to Alaska with his brother. He earned an electronics technician certification and took photos for the University of Alaska Anchorage newspaper, which included the Great Alaska Shootout basketball tournament.

An Associated Press photographer once let him use a large telephoto lens — 400mm, f2.8 — because he didn’t want to lug it back to the darkroom. Tyree was amazed to be able to take photos all the way at the other end of the court.

Working as a traveling computer technician, Tyree earned his first 100,000 frequent flyer miles mostly by flying across Alaska.

“I got to see almost all of the state on somebody else’s dime,” he said, adding Lockheed Electra turboprop planes are more stable than passenger jets.

Tyree was accustomed to Alaska’s challenging conditions — he grew up during periods when the sky never got dark and never was light.

The cold was memorable. Tyree said the lowest temperature he encountered was 68 below, not counting the wind chill.

Once, he stopped at a drive-through just north of Fairbanks and spilled a little of his soda. His car hadn’t warmed up yet.

“The Coke hit the plastic and stopped,” he said.

Tyree, whose wife Beverly is from Alaska, moved to Port in 1996. Subjects of his photos at Port High have included his son Ian’s prep swimming and soccer games, and his daughter Katie’s soccer games and band concerts. He likes shooting the a cappella group Limited Edition.

Tyree can set up lighting and a background to take headshots in his house and may someday go into photography full time.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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