June 2015

I just did something crazy. | Stories Framed Photography enters a contest.

There's something you probably don't know about me. I HATE CONTESTS. I avoid competitions like the plague. Ratings make me nervous. And no, it's not a test anxiety problem. It actually stems from something very specific. 

In high school, I ran for student council president. FOUR TIMES. And I lost. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. One time, if my battered mind remembers correctly, I lost by only a handful of votes. Ugh.

Clearly, my doomed political career has scarred me for life.

Now, when it comes time for presidential elections, even if I am not posting signs in my yard, I get really nervous for the candidates. I just don't want them to have to face the next morning sitting in the loss column. 

Clearly, I have issues.

Flash forward to today.

I never enter contests. When I was a hardcore scrapbooker, I never submitted my work for publication in magazines or website contests.When I was a hobbyist photographer,  I never entered my photography to the State Fair. I still won't enter my work for competition through PPA, galleries or magazines. I just can't do it. If there is voting involved, count me out.

But today something came across my desk  today and on a total whim, I entered, shocking even myself. I knew that if I hesitated for a single moment, I'd back out. So I quickly wrote up my answers and whizzed it off to the Interwebs.

This is me, hiding behind my laptop after pressing "send".

This is me, hiding behind my laptop after pressing "send".

Here's the scoop...

For the last year, I have been utilizing a great referral site called Thumbtack. Honestly, in several photography message boards I participate in, mentioning Thumbtack  results in heated debates over its usefulness. Say what you want, fellow photogs, but I have had great success with it. I have been hired by some really fantastic people who I never would have met otherwise. I have been hired almost 50 times in the last year JUST from Thumbtack.

(If you are a photographer or other professional, drop me a line, I'd love to help you with your Thumbtack strategy.)

Thumbtack just sent its Professionals an offer. They will make one (two? three? twenty-seven?) of us a video advertising my business (ha! did I say MY???).

If nothing else comes from this contest, I took a moment to write down some of my thoughts on WHY I chose to become a professional photographer. It's nice to revisit your WHY every once in a while. 

Keep reading.... this is what I sent them. 

How did I decide to go into business as a photographer? 

It was December 12, 2011. I had recently turned 38 and was struck by a defining moment of clarity - if I have a single regret when I turn 40, I'll only have myself to blame. Five days later, my husband and I decided on a name for my business and began working on my website. It went live January 1. And to this day (past 40, thankyouverymuch!) I don't regret starting my business for a second!

Why photography? 

As most photographers will say, I have a passion for it! Of course. But I also love telling stories. Stories Framed Photography gives me the opportunity to tell stories in pictures. My stories, clients' stories. The quiet and still moments and the big, bold and loud moments. 

I love it when I know I've caught the expression on a child's face or the love in a mom's eyes... and then THEY see it in the photograph. If I weren't a grownup I would probably jump up and down and cheer when that happens. It's so invigorating! Or when a parent says, "you CAPTURED my child!" or "they don't even look like they're freezing cold!". That's my work at its best.

How do I know when I've hit a home run with my work?

Verbal confirmation, like I just described above, is one way. But not everyone is so free with their words. Sometimes the way I know I've succeeded is when there is absolute silence. When I show the photographs to a family and they say nothing, many times I only have to look at their faces to know. More than likely their eyes are filled with tears. For me, emotion is success. Especially when it's the dad who is flooding the room! 

Ultimately my goal with child and family photography is to capture children as they are - happy, serious, mad, glad - because they grow up TOO FAST. I want to capture tweens and teens for the same reason. Whatever lingering youth remains in their faces and expressions I want to bottle up, and sprinkle onto the canvas that is my photography. 

Quick, before they grow up.

Why Do I Want to Photograph Tweens?

We all know why we photograph - incessantly - newborns and babies. Survey says, the number one reason - because they grow so fast and change so much in such a terribly short period of time. They go from being one second old, squishy and new, to being a month old, getting used to sleeping a few hours every night. It's all so fleeting. 

We all know why we take a million pictures of toddlers and little kids. It's the same philosophy as with the babies: those little ones grow so darn fast. They sit up, they crawl, they walk, they run.

They show off their new-found personalities in all the facial expressions, funny words and more. They are becoming little people. And we don't want to miss a single second of it.


We all know why we make such a big deal about photographing high school seniors. After they walk across that stage, diploma in hand, they are grown up. We cling to their presence for one final summer and then they run off to college, work or to the military (or maybe all three). They are not "kids" anymore and we want - so desperately - to capture the last fleeting moments of their youth, to hold on to forever.

So... did you notice anything? Something missing, perhaps? 

The "kids" we are so fervently photographing leapt from five years old to high school graduates in a single bound... there's a GIANT GAP. a HUGE HOLE. For the math deficient, I did the calculations. It's approximately 12-13 years. GONE. MISSING. NOT ACCOUNTED FOR.

So what happened to all those years in between baby-hood and young-adulthood?

They didn't stop growing. They didn't stop changing. They didn't stop becoming more independent beings, more unique creatures, more individual in style, thinking and behaving. We have simply stopped photographing them. The crying shame of it is that between the ages of 10 and 14 in particular, those "Tween" years, our babies change as much - if not more - than when they were actual babies. WE NEED TO CAPTURE THE CHANGE RATHER THAN AVOID IT. 

Let's take this lovely trio of sisters. I have been photographing this family for years. Looking back, I found these two nearly identical photos. One was from the first photoshoot I did with them, the second was the most recent. Two years apart. So much change.

And by the way, that second photo is already a year old. I have seen with my own eyes that this year's portrait will be entirely different with a now fourth grader, seventh grader and a high school freshman. Yep. See what I mean? Catch it, don't ignore it.

Tweens get a bad rap. I don't need to go into all the stereotypes we hear about the Tween Years. Surely we've all had our own personal experiences in middle school. Instead, what we need to do is nurture them, we need to push them up instead of keeping them down. These are the years we not only continue shaping them but also begin to point them in a certain, hopefully positive, direction. It's our job as parents and grownups and society at large to tell these kids that they are smart and beautiful and that they matter more than they even realize.

And yes, we must do this even if they push back. Even if they don't seem to appreciate it. They DO. They WILL. Why? Because this is the time they will remember for the rest of their lives. Not when they're two, but when they're 12. It's all documented in their mind's eye. A postive, uplifting experience when they're 12 will carry them through the halls of middle school, the corridors of high school and yes, even across the stage at their high school graduation. And beyond. WAY BEYOND.

Stories Framed Photography | tween photoshoot | three girls | MKEkids

Call me today to book a Tween Portrait. It's not just a picture. It's a boost in their self esteem and happiness. It's capturing youth. It's love. 

Whether you want to surprise them with a session for their birthday, 5th or 8th grade graduation or just because.... 

Just do it... Quick, before they grow up.

Class of 2015 is DONE!

I had to pop in today and tell all my seniors - who aren't actually seniors anymore - CONGRATULATIONS! You've graduated and you are DONE with high school! 

Stories Framed Photography's Class of 2015 - Riley, Kenzie, Isiah, Samantha, Griffin, Elizabeth, Mia and Emyle 

You are all amazing in your own special ways - and as corny as that sounds, it is THE TRUTH. Now go rock your futures like only you can.

Are you a junior in need of senior portraits? Click below to get started...

Stories Framed Photography Presents Riley | Nicolet High School Class of 2015 | Seniors

Sometimes I really click with clients. I mean, I get along great with ALL my families, but sometimes we really bond during the session, during the picture-selection time, during the entire time we are in contact. A print delivery turns into much needed conversations about family, friends and life. I'm invited to the graduation party. We keep in touch. 

This family is one of those. Mom and I connected like two old friends and Dad is a big softie - I learned that when I showed them their daughter's senior photos. (oh, the tears!) And then, of course, there's Riley.  

Riley and I had so much fun playing around at her photo shoot. I immediately felt like like she was my little sister, not just "a client". Plus, wow, she is an adorable girl -- no, I take that back. She's not adorable at all. Riley is a beautiful girl. GORGEOUS. And she has had some amazing experiences that as someone (roughly) twice her age, I can't even come close to. Which of course adds to her allure.

For example, would you believe me if I said THIS girl trained with the Israeli Army? For real. In Israel. Once I learned that, I was sure to be on my best behavior with her since she could probably kill me with her pinky toe.

One of the things I love most about shooting senior portraits is that I get to just PLAY. RELAX. HAVE FUN. The kids realize after a short minute that this won't be your average stiff photo shoot. And then they loosen up and enjoy themselves. And then I get shots like the one above. Or this one...

Go forth and set the world on fire.
— St. Ignatius of Loyola

Riley is definitely a girl I want to keep my eye on... I want to know what she's up to next. Surely, whatever it is, it will be something BIG.

Good luck, girl! You can do anything you want. The world is yours for the taking. Go. Do. You've totally got this!

And Mom, I will buy an extra share of Kleenex stock in your honor. And flood insurance. ;)

Hey you - Class of 2016. You're up next! Let's get your senior photos done early so you can show them off to all your friends all year long. (You know you want to!)

Stories Framed Photography Presents Isiah | Reagan IB Class of 2015 | Seniors

This one is in the books. Literally. Isiah graduated from high school LAST NIGHT! Congratulations!!! Even though he's moved on, his mom and I will NOT. :) Here are some of my favorite shots from his senior portrait session.

Stories Framed Photography |senior session | class of 2015 | Milwaukee senior photography

Let me tell you about Isiah. And the story about me not spelling his name wrong. (Yes, I was reading your mind.)

When he was born, mom and grandma were discussing names. As an OB nurse, grandma was able to fill out the birth certificate for her own grandson. So she carefully wrote down the name that was chosen...


And so, even from birth, Isiah was meant to be an original. Unique. One-of-a-kind. And as he graduates from high school, he proves his individuality to us all.