Custom Photography for Westside Psychotherapy Website

I recently finished up a website project for Westside Psychotherapy, a therapy group near Hildale Mall in Madison, WI. Sandra, the owner, had a vision I loved: a clean, classic, black-and-white look that would stand apart from the typical pastels-and-nature imagery therapy website. When designing the first draft, I used a few personal photographs as filler images, and Sandra liked them so much she asked me to illustrate the entire website with my work. A stiff challenge to find over 80 images strong enough and wide enough to use for headers across the site! But what fun to find just the right image to pair with topics like Chronic Illness, Existential Angst, Trauma and so many more essays Sandra composed in an amazing display of compositional persistance. In the end, we have a deep, meaningful, educational site that I think will be really helpful to those seeking help and a great lead-generator for Sandra and the Westside therapist group.

If you have any feedback, I'd love to hear it. Thanks!

North Woods Wedding at Lakewoods Resort, Cable WI

These two did their wedding their own way. There were no bridesmaids or groomsmen. No cell service. No stuffiness of any kind. Just lots of love and joy. The bride made her own gorgeous dress, which the groom helped her put on (with duct tape) before the ceremony. I'm not sure, but I think the location was chosen primarily for its proximity to good mountain biking. Pretty awesome.

Thanks Lakewoods Resort (hosting skiers, bikers, and general outdoor lovers for over a century), Emily Balsley (see the hand-illustrated wedding invitations) and TechNoir (Madison's raddest 80's cover band) for raising the bar for this party.
 

Mallon Tree Service, Evansville, WI

Arborists are folks who take care of trees. And trees need some care if you want them to be healthy, good looking and not fall on your house or kids. When I was a kid, dad always did the tree hacking around the yard, so I grew up thinking it was normal for homeowners to climb, trim and take down their own trees. Then I grew up and realized Dad just does everything on his own, no matter how dangerous or if he knows anything about the thing. He's real DYI.

Photographing arborists is one of the few spheres of work where my camera and climbing skills overlap. I have climbed trees with ropes a number of times, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to ride a lift truck up. It's easier! But I gotta say, it was much less flexible. I got up there, established an anchor, and then I couldn't move much. But the guys could move themselves and the truck around me, so it worked out.

Mallon Tree Service is based just outside Cooksville, WI, one of my favorite little towns south of Madison. Whenever we paddle Badfish Creek, we stop at the general store there for ice cream. I don't know how or why Cooksville got so cute, but they have a great collection of little brick houses, plus a couple great old churches. I would live there.

I don't know much about tree work, but I can say Emma & Kyle are fantastic to work with. Kyle learned his trade with the City of Milwaukee; some time after, he and Emma moved out to the country, where some family land became available. Turns out Emma's grandfather is John Wilde, whose work I've seen at MOMA; her dad is Jonathan Wilde, whose work I often admire at Artisan Gallery in Paoli. So the Mallons are carrying the family heritage forward, taking care of the earth and making it beautiful too. Really fun to help with their project.

Therapists and Dogs

Rhonda Reinholz and her cute pooch.

Rhonda Reinholz and her cute pooch.

A couple years ago, a client told me about how people spend 2-3 times as much time on website with dogs on the homepage. I was incredulous at first, but she went on to explain how she had done her Ph.D. research studying how and why therapy website works (or don't). One of her discoveries was this dog-loving thing... just feature a dog on your website, and BOOM, folks stick around longer.

So I was shooting headshots with Rhonda Reinholz, a Madison therapist on the near west side, and we made sure to include some shots with her adorable dog. I don't think she's going to use them on her website like Amy Collins, but at least she'll have the canine option available in case things get slow sometime. 

Wedding Make-Up Photos in Olbrich Park, Madison WI

My first wedding make-up shoot. After their Utah wedding day was completely and mercilessly rained out, these two moved to Madison to start the new chapter in their lives. But they hung onto their celebratory duds and soon enough, they were ready to to reclaim their basic American right to gorgeous wedding portraits. We chose Olbrich Gardens because it was the best place to find some flowers still hanging on in late May AND it is the perfect place to get married after work on a Tuesday. I am always impressed by structure, color and tranquility at Olbrich and feel really lucky to have it just down the street from our house.

Kati Whitledge of Be Inspired Salon

Kati Whitledge is a powerhouse. She started her career in the hair and beauty, opening Be Inspired Salon on Madison's west side in her twenties. She went on to create Beyond the Technique, a podcast for young stylists, and Meet Your Stylist, a website matching up folks with hair to the right stylist. On top of all that, Kati gives talks to students and aspiring entrepreneurs on how to think about and succeed in conceptualizing and launching a new business. There's a lot on this girl's plate (which I can relate to!). 

Kati needed images for her forthcoming website, which features her speaking products and her book, Give Failure the Finger, and for general use in her online and print materials. She wanted fresh, contemporary imagery that was easy for her audience to relate to, but felt authentic to her. To my wonderful surprise, she agreed to a 5:45 AM rendezvous downtown, where we dashed around for a few hours, did a number of wardrobe changes, and hooked up with the Majestic for a stage session. Kati killed the performance and I'm psyched to see her new site soon. 

Current River National Scenic River, Missouri

Always good for a northerner to head south towards end of winter to avoid going crazy during winter's last icy pangs. An Ozark river trip in early April generally hits the spot. This year, I invited a bunch of fantastic gentlemen I rarely get to spend time with and we ended up a group of nine. Left home at 5 AM on a Thursday, back by 7 PM on Sunday night. Just want an ailing soul needs to get set straight again. 

Corporate Headshots Create a More Intimate Workplace

Roche NimbleGen is a Madison biotech firm owned by Roche, a much larger Swiss company. Roche invests in staff headshots as a way for their employees to know each other better. As a multi-national business with thousands of employees, headshots associated with email and other internal technologies enable co-workers to pair sharp, modern, flattering images with work communications, which in turn fosters closer, more intimate relationships amongst far-flung staff. It's certainly not the same as being able to enjoy a coffee break in person with a co-worker, but I love that the firm sees the value in providing this service for their staff.

Breakfast Morning Portrait Session - Monona Bay, Madison, WI

Michal's mom had been asking her to please, please, please take some updated photos of her and Gavin, since her most recent ones were from their wedding a decade ago (or something like that). So Michal finally relented to stay in Mom's good graces. We talked about where to shoot and settled on a breakfast shoot at their place (though a cyclo-cross shoot was also considered). Done deal.

Michal actually didn't know how to cook eggs, which was awesome. Everyone should maintain a few basic things you don't know how to do, because it makes for great photos when someone teaches you. This is why I still don't know how to ice skate.

After breakfast, we walked out to the barely-frozen Monona Bay. I often walk the rails over the land bridge here early in the morning, it's a great place for capitol views, or to see folks on the lake. The trestle bridges are old and tastefully unimproved, always a nice contrast against a couple beautiful people.

5 Steps to a Classic Holiday Card Photograph

We just finished our holiday card for this year, which turned out well enough. We did not necessarily intend this to be an annual project; we used to write handwritten letters instead of photo cards, but with kids in the picture, the time investment has become overwhelming. Besides, as photo card options have risen in quality and dropped in price, it's a bit irresistible, as a photographer, not to take part. 

While working on this small project, I noticed how opinionated I am about what does and does not make a good holiday card. I thought I would write down a few thoughts, to validate, inform, or bugger your own position on the subject. Enjoy!

1. Take Time for a Dedicated Holiday Photo

Instead of mining your annual photo archives, searching for a photo (or many) that might bend to serve the purpose, give yourselves and your friends the gift of a fresh, purpose-driven portrait of your clan. An image made specifically to suit the holiday season will feel just right and communicate something subtle but important that that photo from your July beach vacation just can't.

2. Include the Entire Family

This is a completely subjective, personal request. I want to see your whole family, not just your kids or your dog. I know, you have WAY more images of your kids than you have of yourselves... I get that. But you're sending these cards to people you rarely see, they're gonna hang these photos on their refrigerator or whatever, and they want to see you, their old friend, looking back at them. Include the rugrats if you must (and of course you must), but get the parental survivors in there too. 

3. Choose a Location Appropriate to the Holidays

Forgive me, but a holiday card should look holiday-ish. I don't want to see you at the beach (unless you live at the beach). If you live in a cold, Northern climate, I want to see you bundled up and looking cozy. If you live somewhere warm, you still know how to look festive, right?

4. Get Help

Maybe you can't afford to hire a professional photographer, or maybe you just don't want to, that's fine. But please, get some help. Use a tripod, or ask a friend to come along. Selfies have a strange, squished look to them, and photos taken on a timer tend to look a little jittery. 

I immensely appreciate the help of Maya's mom, Jackie, who is always willing to shoot under my direction. Not many people would bear that cross, God bless her.

5. Leave Room for a Message

While it's generally a good idea to crop portraits fairly close, you probably need room for some copy on this mission. You might not know whether that copy will go above or below your family, so ask the photographer to shoot a little wider, leaving some room above and below (or above, then below) your faces. As long as you have a variety of compositions, you'll be able to find something that fits on your favorite photo printing site.