Winter Family Portraits in Shorewood Hills

The early freeze-down this year has had me a little bummed, as I always feel like I can count on November for being perfect: highs 40 - 50 degrees, beautiful monotone landscapes of 100s of shades of browns, crunchy leaves, crisp air, empty parks, etc. November is often a month filled with personal climbing trips and lots of pre-holiday family portrait shoots, but the cold has slowed things down on both fronts. Despite some crushed hopes, I really enjoy the variety Wisconsin weather brings; adversity always raises new opportunities and keeps the adventure alive in what otherwise might grow routine.

While I would rather shoot outside any day of the week, when it is raining down freezing drizzle and the steps to my clients' home is a skating rink... then we work inside. A good time to have some fast, wide lenses, which is why I decided this shoot would be the perfect excuse to buy the 35mm lens I have been thinking about for a while. So this session ended up being almost entirely shot with that new lens, and I loved the opportunities the glass opened up for us.


Headshots on Lake Mendota with Madison Author Melissa Falcon Field

I have been lucky over the last few years to work with some really fantastic Madison writers, including Susan Gloss (Vintage), Michelle Wildgen (Bread and Butter), Chloe Benjamin (Anatomy of Dreams), Judith Mitchell (A Reunion of Ghosts), and Jesse Gant and Nick Hoffman (Wheel Fever). I recently got together with Melissa Falcon Field, another fine local author, to shoot headshots for her upcoming book. A Connecticut native, Melissa Falcon Field relocated to Madison a few years ago and has been working on publishing her first novel (What Burns Away, January 2015) while doing freelance writing and teaching with the Madison Writers' Studio. If you get a chance to see her read around Madison (or elsewhere), do so; her personality is a dichotomous balance of East Coast boldness and Maine coast humility. We shot on the lakefront in Shorewood Hills and I think we created some great work for her to represent herself with. Looking forward to reading her words in the new year.

Autumn Family Portraits in the Williamson-Marquette Neighborhood

I love it when families want to do an urban shoot. Not that Madison is that "urban," but shooting along an urban corridor is just a lot different - in a challenging, good way - than shooting in a park. More difficult, I think, because the hard lines of the city don't naturally place to the warm, intimate feeling most families are looking for. But shooting in a city neighborhood feels more day-to-day than park romping and I like that authenticity.  

The black and white image of this little boy holding his dad's hand... it might be my favorite capture of the 2014. I can't think of one I like more. It has a timeless feel to it, and his eyes are so dead-on sharp and beautiful.

Bryan Stevenson Lecture at Gordon Commons, UW-Madison Law School

I had the incredibly fortunate opportunity to photograph Bryan Stevenson's lecture on Halloween and just wanted to say how powerful and educational the experience was for me. Not the photography, but Stevenson's stories and message I listened to between clicks. The University of Wisconsin Law School brought Stevenson to Madison as part of their annual Kastenmeier Lecture series. Stevenson, a professor of clinical law at New York University School of Law, is founder and head of the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization that works with clients who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes or denied adequate legal representation.

Stevenson tells stories from a slice of America I know nothing about. He works with clients who largely come from poor communities and/or communities of color, many of whom have cognitive disabilities. He explains how our American culture of mass incarceration deals with his clients largely based on their background and context, rather than on the fact of their case. Stevenson delivers this message with incredible empathy, humanity, and even, at times, great humor; I laughed many times, and starting tearing up more than once. I am humbled thinking about the incredibly important work people like Stevenson are doing, and the message he is spreading.

Mollie + Steve - A Wedding at the Aldo Leopold Center in Madison, WI

Mollie and Steve were absolutely wonderful to work with during their engagement shoot, game for shooting in the rain, in a lumber yard, in places you just should not be when dressed well. They are have a balance of style and grit that I love. Mollie was epitome of cool and relaxed when I met her, but super nervous as the wedding approached and it was endearing to see. These two actually grew up together, so it was great fun to meet the people they are closest to, the folks they come from and the community they have made for themselves, many of which have seen them grow up together. 

Apple Picking at Door Creek Orchard

After moving back to Madison in 2010, we spent a few years exploring different apple orchards before landing on a place we loved last year: Door Creek Orchard. I think this orchard is pretty popular, but we go during the week around 4:30 and it's pretty quiet. Tom, one of the owners, is always really sweet with the boys, telling us about his unique Black Welsh Mountain sheep, letting Basti ride his tractor, and even providing dinner recommendations. And the setting here is pretty idyllic, with a gorgeous farmhouse and barn overlooking the expansive wetlands below.

If all these things vanished, however, I would still come here for the fantastic apples alone. Door Creek grows an Empire apple that is currently my very favorite eating apple. We bought $35 worth, thinking they would last us into December, but they are already almost gone. A testament to their flavor, or our gluttony... you decide.


These three girls are absolute sweethearts. And God bless their mother for getting them all rested up before the shoot, so they were ready to run like crazy until I could corner in some way or another. She was worried about the girls being difficult, but they were so perfect: full of life and emotion and expressing so much independence and love for the world. Can't beat it. Yes, I ran myself ragged... and yes, the mosquitoes were ridiculous... but adversity and adventure is a great recipe for awesome images.

As always, it's a wonderful honor to capture a fleeting moment in one family's evolution. Everything passes so quickly. I'm excited to look at these images with these girls in twenty years and see what memories they evoke. I don't think they will remember the shoot, but perhaps what is was like to be that age, what sisterhood was like then, how their experience of their mother has changed over years. Fun to think about.

Forte Research Systems Business Conference at Monona Terrace, Madison WI

Forte Research Systems asked me to photograph their Fall Clinical Research Operations Forum at Monona Terrace earlier this month. While a conference for computer software developers and users may sound pretty dry, the meeting was actually a lot of FUN and a chance for cancer research software users throughout the country to come together to discuss common problems, solutions, goals, new ideas, etc. Forte has had trouble capturing that excitement and spirit visually, so that was my assignment. This bi-annual conference has been running for a number of years now and many of the attendee know each other, so there is lots of conversation, laughter and interaction... all I had to do is catch the moments. The folks at Forte are fantastic and gracious hosts, super personable and engaging... I could not ask for better information or logistical help. I felt lucky to connect with these folks for their Madison business conference.

As part of the gig, I had the opportunity to photograph and listen to Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (2011, general non-fiction) and an incredibly articulate and engaging speaker. My time in science education has inured a deep respect for the rare scientist who can translate research into a digestible, interesting story for the general public, and Dr. Mukherjee does it REALLY well. A perfect fit for the crowd of cancer researchers in attendance.

Summer Evening Family Portraits at B.B. Clark Beach

Our friends came up from Oconomowoc on a Sunday evening, and since Maya was still elbows-deep in dinner preparations, we made a quick escape to the other side of the neighborhood for a shoot. I hadn't photographed these girls for a couple years, and I missed their charms. 

B.B. Clarke Beach is a favorite summer hangout for our family. I think it's probably my favorite beach in Madison, mostly because the beautiful shaded hillside gracing the shoreline creates some elevation and perspective in a town and landscape that can be short on both. It's a little swimming auditorium where folks can go to watch a show of splashing revelers, diving board performers, and sleeping sunbathers. A neighborhood treasure.

When you work with a people who love each other like crazy - whether it's a family, co-workers, a group of friends, whatever - it's pretty easy to capture with a camera. I feel so lucky to know people like these.

Summertime at Olin-Turville Park

At the cusp of adding another member to the family, the Horibes met up with me at Olin-Turville Park on Lake Monona for a photo romp. We shared a great picnic, ran around, swatted bugs, found a frog, waded in the water. It was good fun. And I was reminded how fun it is to hang out with kids when my own aren't around.

We are so fortunate to have hundred-year-old city parks to enjoy in Madison. The big, fat oaks at OTP are so damn gorgeous. They are the definition of picnic trees. Olin-Turville is such a great resource... if the lake were not between it and downtown, it would get tons of foot traffic. It would be like Central Park. But for some reason, the spit of John Nolan Drive is enough to keep most folks away, and the paths through the forest and fields of Turville Point are some of the most peaceful in the city. Thanks to the folks with the foresight to create places like this for us.