Sessions

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.


Her Family Portrait Sneak Peek | to warm your heart

It’s SO cold outside. Snow is everywhere. And it’s just… SO COLD.

I’m not complaining (technically), just stating the facts.

Today’s expected HIGH temperature in Milwaukee (similar to the entire midwest) is ONE DEGREE. One. With a windchill of -24. (that’s not a mark on your screen…. that is NEGATIVE 24 degrees.)

So what better way to warm up (besides jumping jacks and burpees) than by sharing a gorgeous family with you.

This group came to me from all over the country and yet, managed to immaculately coordinate the most stunning outfits. This family’s session was one of the times that, even though I’m behind the camera, I felt completely under-dressed. They were all SO beautifully put together.

I promise to share more from their session so you can see their gowns and bowties, but as this is just an itty-bitty peek, I decided to post only one of my favorite individual portraits from the day.

This is Dana.

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Caught your breath for second, didn’t you?

Forgot you were shivering down to your toes, didn’t you?

She is such a beautiful girl, isn’t she?


It may not feel like spring - or that other season, summer - will ever visit us again, but they will! And when they are back, will you have your session scheduled for your family portraits? Something tells me outdoor sessions will be in demand when we can finally go outside again.

Can’t wait that long? Let’s create some modern-classic portraits indoors at my studio with you and your family.


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.


Smith Siblings Sneak Peek

Imagine if your grown children got together behind your back.

But instead of whining about how hard their childhood was (or celebrating how great it was!), they were actually gathered for a surprise photoshoot for your Christmas gift.

That was this group. You’ll have to wait to see the entire group until after the holidays. However, there’s a story inside this story that I need to share…

It just so happened that this giggly married couple never had engagement or wedding photos.

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Maybe she wasn’t wearing white lace and he didn’t have a tuxedo, I was honored to capture these two in their first professional portraits of their couplehood.

I had them stand face to face and they could barely hold it together! They were cracking themselves up! It was endearing to watch.

Is your clan due for some updated (or never had) family photos? I would love to help you out with that! And don’t think that the weather outside will keep us from a great session… I have a comfortable studio that can fit any size group. Seriously… I’ve had families of 30+ and networking groups of 70+.

Click below to learn more about my family portraits.


Fall Family Photos on the Trail

I fell in love with this family at their session. The sweetest mom. The rocker-ist dad. The most doting daughter. They gel together so beautifully. A total unit of three. I loved watching them interact.

They laughed and talked and totally watched out for each other.

Here’s a peek into what I witnessed that day…

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This is one of the things I like so much about photographing families: I get to experience their personalities and dynamics and interactions - both naturally and “staged”. Once in a while I’ll ask a group to “pretend to have the most interesting conversation in the world”. But then they REALLY do. (see above!)

It’s magic.

I can’t wait to share the rest of this Laura and her family’s images with them at their Reveal + Selection Appointment. I have a good feeling about this family.

Are you thinking about Fall Family Portraits? Don’t wait… run to the nearest phone and call me. Fall is quickly landing on the ground and being swept up by leaf collectors. Plus, I have very few openings remaining.

Hurry! Run don’t walk to your phone and call me. 262-366.7980