Professional Family Photographer

Nowak Family | Third Ward Portraits

You may have seen this Power Couple around town if you shop and eat locally. Dan is the owner of Tall Guy and a Grill Catering. Amanda owns The Simple Home, a design company for senior living.

And then, as with any family, there’s the real star. Introducing... Murphy the Dog.

Family Photos in the Third Ward
Meet Murphy the Dog Who Joined for Family Photos.

You can tell just by looking at these photos that they love to laugh. Dan and Amanda’s laid-back personalities made very easy it to show off their wedded bliss… ironically, the last set of professional photos they did were at their wedding in 2011.

Meet Amanda, Dan, and their dog, Murphy and enjoy their family portraits.
Pets are members of your family and welcome to join family portraits!

Photography Tip

5 Favorite Locations for Family Portraits

Here’s are some of the most popular locations families choose for their sessions.

  1. Woods - Woods present - obviously - more of a natural environment, usually portrays more of a casual family though the contrast of a more dressed up look is ideal with a woodsy background. Just make sure you bring mosquito repellent to your session!

  2. Park - Similar to the woods, though a park may have swings, slides and picnic tables to give little ones something do (or stand on!). Bridges and paths are popular in both areas due to “leading lines” - the lines of the bridges or railings literally lead the viewer’s eye to the focus of the photo - YOU!

  3. Farm - Some families are really drawn to the look of an old barn - whether you grew up on a farm, live on one now or love the hot trend of barnwood-chic. There are so many options for families at a farm and in and around a barn.

  4. City - Not everyone likes a rustic outdoorsy look. Think about the decor in your home: is it rustic and casual? Or is it more sleek and modern? Perhaps an urban look is for you, like it was for Dan and Amanda. We could have gone even more urban-y with skyscrapers and reflective windows but with their dog, it didn’t fit quite right.

  5. Studio - Maybe you want to keep it simple and do indoor, studio-based photos. Maybe you have a more formal and classic look in mind. Maybe it’s raining (boo). This look never gets old and really, matches any decor in your home. Plus, I’ve got just the place! (centrally located in Elm Grove)

Which setup would appeal to YOU the most? Let’s make it happen! Your family photos should be a reflection on your personality and style. No better way than to choose a location centered around just that.

Back to Dan, Amanda and Murphy. This swell couple are the kind of people who just make you smile. I mean… look at Murphy’s big ol’ doggie smile and just try not to smile back.

Look at that puppy smile!
Big smiles and a wagging tongue for this family photo in the Third Ward.
It’s fun to get creative with posing!
This black and white photo showcases this swell couple.

Have you not taken photos with your sweetheart since your wedding day? Whether it’s your 8th anniversary or your 25th, now is the perfect time to take updated photos.

Treasured Family Photos | Rusty’s Family

This is such a special family. Wendy, is a mover and shaker in the finance world. (Congrats on your new job!) Her son Ian is as ADORABLE as can be. His smile lights up a room. Then there’s Justin, the love of Wendy’s life. They are such a happy little family. It’s a delight to see.

But that’s not all. Their fur baby - a dog with his own Facebook page! - is just as much a member of the family as any of the humans. Allow me to introduce Rusty the Party Dog.

This dog is a model and hammed it up for his family photography session.

I asked Wendy why she wanted to have photos done and her answer brought tears to my eyes…

Justin and I absolutely adore each other and our boys! I want to capture how much fun and love there is in our house! I haven’t had photos of Ian since he was a toddler. I want to capture his adorable boy face, missing teeth and all, before he’s a teenager. And our sugar-face Rusty, of course. I would like a shot of our hands with Rusty’s paw, if we can get it.
This shot is PAWsome.
Being a dog photography is a title I wear proudly.
This is the reason I’m a Family Photography.

Photography Tip

People ask me all the time if I will include their furry friends in their family photos. The answer is an eye roll (done out of love, of course) and a resounding YES! OF COURSE!!!

Want to know one of my little secrets to getting good photos of dogs? (Aside from lots and lots of treats!)

I try not to use their names. Usually dogs are trained to hear their name and a command - like “Come!” So if I call the dog’s name, they will probably react naturally by coming toward me. So I eliminate one small problem by avoiding using names. I’ll tell you what, it’s harder than you think!

Pet Photography Tip - Don’t use their name! Use a command that they know.

Treasured Family Photography


Wendy was so happy with her session and her final portraits that she stood up at a networking meeting and gave this testimonial on my behalf. I’m pretty sure we were ALL in tears. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job?!?


This family photo could almost be an album cover.
Children photography is fun to capture their spirit.
Photography Tip - Don’t use the dog’s name when you’re trying to get them to pose.
Loved photographing this warm embrace.
This family photo session was so fun and I loved that they included their dog.

Do you want to capture your family as they are right now? I’d love to photograph your family (pets included!). Please contact me to book your session.


A DEElightful Family | Father’s Day Portraits

I love photographing families. I love it even more when we do something different, go somewhere off the beaten path, think outside the box.

Gina came to me with an idea for a SURPRISE Father’s Day session. Within a few days, we made her dream a reality.

Wauwatosa Photographer

I showed up early at The Landing Beer Garden in Wauwatosa. I staked out our table and then, as the surprise-(d)ees arrived, I LITERALLY hid in the bushes to catch them walking to the park. Have you ever been photographed by someone with a giant telephoto lens without knowing it*? Me neither, but it was creepy for me, too. I’ll tell you what, though, it was totally worth it.

(*I don’t make a habit of this and please understand that ultimately, I DID have permission since this was prearranged with Gina. This is my official statement in case you think I need one.)

I was there to capture their afternoon together telling stories and sharing jokes. I was there to photograph Pop with his grandchildren. These photos represent time captured in a bottle. Um, ok, bad analogy since they were drinking out of glasses, but still. These are the moments we want to remember forever.

And now they will…whenever Chris looks at his Father’s Day portraits hanging on the wall in their home or the kids flip through their book… it will all come rushing back to them.

Grandpa enjoying a laugh during Father’s Day photos.
Family photography captures the best moments!
I love snapping candid photos of families!
Cheers to taking family photos that you’ll cherish forever!

Here’s your BONUS! Photo Tip:

How to get your husband excited about family portraits when nothing else will work

  1. Tell him what to wear and when to show up.

  2. Tell him it will be fun. Not dentist office fun but, let’s say, road trip fun.

  3. Tell him he can have a beer. Why not? Having a session at your local beer garden is a great way to incorporate the love for his family AND his second love… that golden nectar from the brewing gods.


Those pretty blue eyes captured during a family photography session!
I love capturing their personalities!
Captured those brown eyes during our Father’s Day Family Shoot!
Children are so fun to photograph!
Two awesome dads!
I love using my photography to capture families how they really are!

All joking aside, one of the reasons some dads don’t value family photos as much as we wish they did is because they know, behind the scenes, the Picture Perfect Family in the frame is not “them”. My goal is to make your family portraits REAL. Sure, we want those beautifully posed shots so we can see everyone’s clean faces, smiling and happy. But there’s nothing wrong with a hearty laugh, a shrug or even an eyeroll. Okay, yes... even a cold frosty beer.


Family photos this summer are booking fast, especially if you want a weekend. Let’s talk about how we can make this a fun annual activity for your family.


Love, Kids + Mom | a family portrait session

Sometimes I have to just step back.

Sometimes the love and adoration just FLOWS — and why would I possibly want to interrupt that?

This adorable little family is one of those. You can just see it.

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Look at those smiles, those happy eyes and mom’s warm, protective embrace. I just LOVE it. It was so easy and natural. The kids were getting along (all moms everywhere: HOW did you do that?!?) and just seeing the way mom doted on her babies was adorable.

And to top it off, Kerrie (mom) did a fantastic job at picking perfectly coordinating outfits for everyone.

The wine color (okay, BURGUNDY) along with navy blue is a perennial favorite color combination. Wear it in the spring and summer and it pops out from the fresh greenery in the background. Wear it in the winter and it takes on a festively seasonal feel. Brighten up the color combo with a splash of aqua - like Kerrie and her kids did - and you’re good to go.

spring color palette for family photos

Here are some more adorably love-filled samples of how to rock this color palette. Something tells me these will be treasured memories for a long time to come. Just look at them!

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Thanks to Lana, Ryan and Kerrie for being superb models. Little did you know you’d be official spokespeople for the color burgundy. It’s all just so perfect!

Oh, one last thing. Since we’re all loving on the Kerrie and her kiddos - check out their portrait video. Would you want to have a keepsake video with your family featured? All my clients get a custom created video with any print collection. It makes a great momento for your family. You can watch it whenever you want, share it with whoever you want, and bring back all those beautiful memories in an instant.


Get on my calendar for this spring. Among so much more, you will have access to easy to follow wardrobe advice as well as a personal and memorable video to accompany your printed portraits. Click below for more information on family portrait sessions.


The Kids Are Back in Town | Estock Family Sneak Peek

When is the best time for family portraits?

The fact is, there is no perfect answer. I tend to be much busier with families during the second half of the year - so if you want some extra TLC, you may want to consider a winter or spring session.

Also, if one of your goals is to get holiday cards from your family session, I’ve got you covered! I’ve had families as early as June ordering Christmas cards. (They come with a free reminder to send them out!)

Here are a few factors to consider when choosing the ideal time of year for your family portraits.

Is your family in town?

If your kids are older, winter break is an ideal time for family photos. They’re already home from college. Your session will take less than two hours and just like when they were little, you can bribe them with food.

Do you want to be indoors or outdoors?

If you are absolutely set on outdoor photos with warm fall foliage in the background, I think you’ve answered your own question. If you want snow photos and nothing else, we clearly know when and where you are destined to go.

Ed. Note: Tomorrow is your magic snow day. Call Abbie immediately and start getting the kids geared up first thing in the morning.

On the other hand, if you love outdoor photos but really don’t mind a nice, clean studio session either, then you’ve opened up a whole year of opportunity. I have a spacious studio in Elm Grove, Wisconsin that is just waiting for you and your family - from three to thirty - quantity is no concern. Bring them all!

What is your decorating style?

No, this isn’t some weird personality test. But knowing how you decorate your home does help me choose where to go for your outdoor session - and what type of setting we use for your indoor session.

Do you like long walks on the beach or roughing it in the woods? Those settings are self-explanatory. We might go to the beach or to the woods. (See? You’re so good at this!) Do you lean more modern and urban? Maybe we go downtown. Are you into the hottest barnwood trend? I know of places you would just adore!

The key to location choice truly is coordinating your family photos with your decorating style. Afterall, you will be decorating your home with a piece of portrait art - and we want it to pop off your wall in a beautifully natural way.

You don’t have to have all the answers.

I will guide you along the way with phone calls, emails, questionnaires and more. By the time your session rolls along, we will know where and when and why.


So, let’s talk about Tracy.

She knew her kids would be home for Christmas.

She bribed them with haircuts and lunch.

Since it was December, we smartly planned on a studio session. I worked with Tracy on selecting a set that would suit her style and clothing choices.

Here’s a Sneak Peek of Tracy and her sweet little family. Well, they’re not so “little” anymore, are they?

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Let’s talk about scheduling your family photos. You don’t have to know any of the answers, but let’s start the conversation.