Brad & Brooke

Brad & Brooke held their wedding at Brooke's parents property near Eagle, Wisconsin, a stone's throw from where I grew up. Brooke is a librarian; Brad is a historian, now pursuing a law degree They meet at UW-Madison, but have since moved to Boston to pursue their career/education stuff. My favorite thing about them is they never try to be cool. Which makes them awesome. Brad told the most awkward engagement story, knowing it was awkward, and he pulled it off with aplomb. I love it when people bravely, confidently, zealously do their own thing. Nothing is more beautiful than that.

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.

Great Gatsby Holiday Party at The Edgewater Hotel, Madison, WI

Want a delicious recipe for holiday party success?  How about 20's garb, casino games and dueling pianos in one of Madison's newest and oldest establishments, the newly refurbished Edgewater Hotel. The Edgewater is decked out in its holiday finest right now, and the ice rink, the comfy chairs, the huge fireplace and all the gorgeous people coming and going make it a fantastic spot for a party. And with the Statehouse bar available upstairs for the afterparty and beds available above when you're ready to hit the sack, you don't even have to drive anywhere afterwards. How convenient.

I gotta mention the dueling piano guys, Felix and Fingers, because they were fantastic.  F&F take song requests - ANY song requests - and more or less nail them anytime. They played everything from 90's rap to "Wreck fo the Edmund Fitzgerald" to the them song from "Jurassic Park" to They Might Be Giants. And more. Even when everyone was on the other side of the Grand Ballroom playing craps or what have you, these guys were having a blast on the other side, keeping the party going. If you want awesome party entertainment and are looking for something a little different, check them out.

Looking forward to more holiday cheer this week. Happy solstice and enjoy a wonderful holiday week!

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.

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.

Bryce + William - A Beach Wedding in Santa Cruz, California

This is my idea of the ideal wedding: Rent a house in a beautiful place and have a party that lasts a few days. It just works. A big house can keep all your closest loved ones together and takes away so many logistics hassles. You eat together, snack together, read the paper and hang out together... and that leaves room for spontaneity, which so many planned events don't have much room for.

Heather + Becci - Married in Iowa, Toasted at Memorial Union

"Should we wait to get married until it is legal in Wisconsin? Or get married immediately because we just want to be married, damn it?" It is ridiculous that gay couples here have to have this conversation. But at least for now, they do. Heather and Becci had been discussing this for a while, and ultimately decided to make the trip to Decorah, Iowa (the closest county seat to Madison where two gals can get a marriage certificate) to seal the deal legally. They decided to make the ceremony an intimate affair... I was the only invitee... and follow up with a party at Memorial Union in Madison.

We had a great time shooting in Decorah; it is a LOVELY town I will sure to revisit. The girls brought their dog to the ceremony, Becci wore her Chucks, and we hit up the local ice cream parlor for post-nuptial treats. The reception bash happened a couple weeks later, with perfect weather. The Main Lounge at Memorial Union is a great reception venue... it offers impressive privacy, while adjacent to the exciting energy of the crowded Terrace hum. Guests can hang out on the balcony and take in some fresh air and music, then come inside to a the private party. Couldn't be better.