Family Portrait Session - Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin

It is such a strange, blessed fall we're having. Last week, we sat comfortably on a pier, watching the sun go down on Lake Mendota, wearing only t-shirts. Something seems wrong about that, but I'm not complaining. I just feel lucky, and slightly worried that we'll have to pay for this mild weather, sooner or later.

Last year, it was pretty tough to get either of these kiddos to look my way, let alone smile or act naturally. But this year was completely different, which made this shoot incredibly fun and easy. This family feels so comfortable with themselves and I think that really comes through in the images. It smells like good parenting, but I'm no expert.

Autumn Family Portraits - Neshotah, WI

Where is Nashotah? It's next to Oconomowoc. Lake Country. Honestly, there's a lake around every-other bend in the road, and there are lots of bends. When you live on a cute little peninsula, staying home for your photo shoot is a no-brainer.

Extended family portrait sessions are a great excuse to get together. These boys were not too interested in posed family portraits, so we pulled the wagons out and played in the street. Playing in the street is cool! Everybody is doing it.

The adult-to-kiddo ratio was strong here, so I was able to sneak off with each couple for those portraits that are so easy to forget about once kids dominate family life. Personally, I think having a recent photo with your mate is pretty important, so I try to request it when nobody is pulling on my leg. 

Winter Family Portraits in Muscoda, Wisconsin

Went out to Muscoda again this year to photograph this crew, less all the relatives and plus a new little brother. They have this perfect little getaway cabin, tucked up in the hills, full of splendid winter sunshine and warmth. And if you can manage to break away from the coziness, there is a beautiful forest with big oaks and lots of trail to stomp around in. And you get to do it all with Darwin the dog, who I simply adore. Lucky guy, I am.

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.


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.


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.

Ebert's Greenhouse Adventure

I shot Jon and Ann's darling son George last summer when he was just a few days old, and now he has gorgeous long curls and a wonderfully stubborn disposition. Ann wanted to bring the entire family together at Ebert's Greenhouse Village in Ixonia, which seemed like a good idea to me. Turns out there is a LOT going on at Ebert's, so we ducked through the greenhouse complex and found the corn field, complete with tractors and a warm, quiet greenhouse.



Tessa was a new addition since last time I shot with this crew, so she really should have been the star of the show... but it's pretty tough to compete with her scene-stealing sisters. With matching green dresses from grandma, we stormed the front porch, the backyard, the sidewalk, and the park across the street, managing to somehow keep the girls from getting bored along the way. Moira constantly impresses me with her defiant depth of character, her ability to go from playful to dead serious in seconds, exactly when the camera happens to approach her direction. But she can't keep it up ALL the time (thank goodness) and I love the challenge. Celia, on the other hand, is one of those kids who just LOVES to mug for the camera, and she smiles so big it shuts her eyes half the time - which is adorable. Looking forward to the next time I get to see all the girls again, though I'm guessing I won't be able to keep up with them anymore.

Oskar at One


Met up with Oskar and his parents for a Sunday morning shoot last week. The withering weather has turned Madison's usual green places to shades of yellow and brown, but you can always count on the Capitol to boast an emerald lawn. As it turned out, getting up to the square was half of the fun, as shaded slices of King Street provided relief from the heat, with old brickwork providing ample nooks and crannies to duck into along the way.

Oskar has a serious, confident demeanor I love. He won't be tricked or coerced into doing anything he doesn't want to (ask his godparents, above), for which he wins lots of respect from me. So we hung out while we explored the sidewalk, which he did with a huge smile on his face, alternately brandishing his head gear with swagger and ridiculousness. Once we actually reached the lawn on the Square, we didn't have much time before the sprinklers did a number on us, a reminder of WHY the grass stays green there. Hadn't thought of that.

Solstice at the Observatory


The long days of summer create such great opportunities to have a reasonable adventure after a full work day, and we've been doing our best to take advantage lately. To celebrate the looooooongest day of the year, we drove up to Washburn Observatory on campus for a solstice picnic. The views from the Observatory are not particularly photographic, but it's nice to just sit on a high hill and watch the boats skim across the water. And when you're with a 1-year old, you have plenty to photograph already.