SFP

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.


Award Winning Photography | "Match Point"

Ever since I shared the news of my award winning photo (YAY!), I’ve had lots of questions about photography competitions. I will do my best to answer those questions here. But first, let’s admire Joe the Volleyball Player….

“Match Point”

“Match Point”

The first thing about photography competitions is that it is NOT a race with one single winner. Each image in a competition is essentially graded in its own race.

When you submit an image into a competition, usually there’s a specific category. For example, this one was submitted into the Boy/Sports Category. Usually it’s more general than that - portrait, album, illustrative, etc. - but this was a conference for high school senior photography.

Next, the judges give points to an image based on 12 different elements that Professional Photographers of America has created as an industry measurement. I won’t bore you with all the details, but the 12 elements essentially boil down to two aspects:

CREATIVE and TECHNICAL

Is the image impactful? Does it tell a story?

Is the image technically sound? Is the lighting, color and composition on point?

It’s no coincidence that these are the categories that I (subconsciously) use to determine if an image is “client-worthy”. If it’s good enough for a client, it very well may be good enough for competition.

And that brings up another point. THE point.

When you hire me, I am NOT focused on shooting for competition. No, ma’am! My numero uno is YOU. I want to get your good side. I want to capture you in the best light. I want to show you your image on the back of my camera and hear you gasp with joy. I want you to be utterly blown away by your portraits and walk out of my studio absolutely GLOWING.

The competition aspect comes later as validation that yes, I’m serving my clients well and worthy of their business.

It’s a full-circle moment when a client loves an image it and then later, it scores well - even MERITING an award! - in a competition.

That’s a real win-win, isn’t it?


Okay, I have to share this. Here’s the fun part… the dark, shadowy and dramatic photo of Joe (go on, scroll back up and glance at it again) was taken in a FULLY LIT GYM. Seriously!

Check it out…. here’s a behind the scenes photo. See? It’s fully lit with ugly, unflattering fluorescent gym lights.

Oh, the power and magic of photography.

behind the scenes with Joe at Wauwatosa West HS

behind the scenes with Joe at Wauwatosa West HS


Do you want to have some fun with your senior photos? Do you want to do something different, memorable and attention-grabbing? Let’s talk! I’m now booking the class of 2020. Check out the MKEseniors page here.


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.