Seniors: alli, green bay botanical gardens & green bay beach

It’s so fun for us when seniors choose two locations that are completely different from one another. With our first stop at Green Bay Botanical Gardens, we had beautiful greens, flowers, and fountain with everything precise and perfect, and with our second beachy location we got the wind and water completely untamed and beautiful. As we got to the bay, the wind picked up along the shore and we were worried about how it would affect pictures, but we actually love Alli’s windblown hair and dress, especially as the sunset glows in the background! Alli is sporty, easygoing, and fun, and we loved getting to know her and her family. Best wishes on your senior year and beyond, Alli!

Weddings: miranda & kyle, simply country barn, freedom, wisconsin

To say we were blown away by Miranda and Kyle’s wedding would be an understatement. Simply Country Barn in Freedom is a gorgeous venue with high, open-structured ceilings, and rustic-elegant details. The wedding featured baby’s breath, greens, and pinecones, as well as antlers the couple collected while shed hunting. The afternoon was hot but the couple and their wedding party remained in good spirits. We photographed all around the venue, at the little bridal cabin, in the evergreens, and even made a special post-dinner trip outside for golden hour – our favorite! Congratulations, Miranda and Kyle; we wish you many years of happiness!

Branding: josh hembel music

A few weeks ago we got to photograph a few lifestyle headshots for Josh Hembel, a local musician who happens to also be my brother. Josh is writing music for his first album and performing in songwriter shows in Door County and Green Bay. His music lyric-centered with poetic turns-of-phrase. We held his session at his beautiful brick home in downtown Green Bay and his toy aussie, Echo, even made an appearance. To follow Josh and find out more, check out his Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/joshhembelmusic

Seniors: clara, jackson harbor, washington island, door county

This past winter I shared with Ben the fact that I longed to shoot a session on Washington Island. In spring we started chatting about how to make that happen, then out of nowhere, I received an email from Clara. Clara’s family has enjoyed the island for generations and for her it’s a home-away-from-home, the place to get away and reconnect with nature, family, and herself. With both of her parents as teachers, Clara and her sister are able to spend the majority of each summer at their cottage on Jackson Harbor.

For those who don’t know, my family has an old farmhouse on orchard land in Baileys Harbor that I connect to the same way Clara connects to her cottage, so when we started messaging I knew her session would be a perfect fit for us to photograph. After FaceTiming to plan her session, we set a date and packed our gear to board the Washington Island Ferry. The ferry departed from Gills Rock and took us across Death’s Door to the island. It was a beautiful, breezy ride. When we arrived, Clara’s family was there to greet us and share the island and all the spots they’ve enjoyed there over the years. It’s amazing to me all the memories that a place can hold, and how those memories can become the legacy of a family. Clara’s senior portraits were meant to be on Washington Island; anywhere else wouldn’t quite have been the same. Enjoy your senior year, Clara!

Weddings: brittany & tim, green bay community church and riverside ballroom, green bay

Brittany and Tim had a long road leading up to their wedding day. After an incredibly romantic courtship and proposal, they faced medical issues and the loss of loved ones, and we could read in their hearts how much they looked forward to their wedding day as not only a symbol of their love, but also the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. Brittany and Tim are deeply caring and always thinking of others, and so it came as no surprise that their wedding was filled wall to wall with friends and family ready to celebrate their wedding day.

After the couple got ready, Brittany had a first look with her grandfather and father-in-law, followed by a prayer circle with her bridesmaids. The ceremony was held at Green Bay Community Church with picture stops at Lambeau Field and Pamperin Park before arriving at their reception at Riverside Ballroom in downtown Green Bay. The entire day was filled with personal touches with every detail planned to match the theme. It was a beautiful day with two wonderful people. Congratulations, Brittany and Tim!

Portraits: family photos and destination glamour session, green bay botanical gardens

While Nicole’s grandmother was visiting for the summer, Nicole and her mother, Marina, came up with a wonderful idea. They planned to pamper Paz with a surprise hair and makeup appointment and schedule a photography session to follow. With a little coaxing, they agreed to be involved as well and the results were wonderful. Paz is vibrant and stylish; she loves hiking and the outdoors. We had a lovely summer evening photographing the family at Green Bay Botanical Gardens. As Paz returns to the Philippines, Nicole is leaving for college in New Mexico, and her brother is retuning to the states after years away. At these stages families can be like ships passing, and it was so wonderful to use their brief time all together to capture these images. Safe travels one and all, and best wishes on your big adventures!

Engagements: stephanie & cory, southern door barn and countryside

Cory and Stephanie are dream chasers. They are ambitious and kind-hearted, the sort of people who find out what needs to be done and make it happen. Knowing they would make a good match, their mutual friends spent a long time trying to set them up. Luckily they acquiesced and just over two years later, here we are.

As we started planning their engagement session, Cory and Stephanie brought up the idea of photographing at the site of their future home in Brussels, Wisconsin. Cory grew up there, and the land is gorgeous – fields, trees, water, and the most incredible view of the sun going down over farm fields. The location was not only beautiful, but also full of meaning: fond memories of the past, and hopeful dreams of their wide open future. Can’t wait to celebrate with these two in just a few short weeks!

Personal Post: why i need the pretty photos

New parenthood is chaotic. Between diapers, feedings, and that classic baby-vs-sleep showdown, it can be a lot. And that’s without considering our own basic needs. It’s a turbulent world and sometimes it just feels like a mess.

For me, new motherhood meant the grace of letting go. My make-up routine is down to the basics and usually done while eating breakfast, pumping, and chatting with a babbling Juniper bouncing in her jumperoo. My hair is 50% dry shampoo at this point and my house is pretty much a hilly landscape of clean laundry surrounded by rarely swept floors. This is motherhood. We are trying to keep up, we are getting by, and all the while our babies are growing up.

From this perspective, nine months in, I have to say there is beauty in the mess. Yes, there is struggle, there is worry, and sometimes we may even think we’ve hit our breaking point. But then we push past and realize we are stronger and more capable than we thought we were. And even in the hardest times, we can find beauty. It’s in the first smile of recognition after weeks of lost sleep. It’s in a quiet day when we can sit in the sunshine and enjoy the outdoors together. It’s in sharing something we love with them only to watch them love it too and make it all the more meaningful. It’s magic and beauty, amid the mess.

Time has gone quickly, and I find myself flipping through pictures and thinking about each stage of Juniper’s babyhood. What I’ve come to notice is that the way things looked is often not the way things felt. Like anyone, my first weeks were a jumble of recovery, hormones, and learning what my baby needed, but the overwhelming feelings were tenderness, awe, and love beyond love. When I look back, I want our pictures to show me what those early days felt rather than how they looked. The pictures from our first week should smell like Burts Bees and fresh laundry just like my little girl. They should feel like her fuzzy baby hair and the cool breezes of autumn, and sound like the noises she made while she nursed.

Our experiences of motherhood are what matter most – that’s the reason we take the picture. My messy house, ill-fitting postpartum clothes, and unwashed hair did not speak to those feelings; instead, my experience felt more like bright natural light, a hot shower, a fresh onesie, and a tidy nursery. So we paused and we made those images.

As Juniper grows, the struggles are different. Just like every working mom, I’m chasing the unicorn of work-life-balance, trying to keep up and still make memories of our first summer as a family. But the lesson is the same. My photos won’t show my messy desk stacked with to-do lists and half-full water glasses, or the towers of laundry… and that’s not being fake, that’s knowing what’s worth remembering. At nine months these days smell like banana pancakes, feel like wiggling baby toes, and sound like shrieking giggles as Ben chases Juniper up the stairs, and I can only hope that the images we’re making right now will feel exactly like that.


Photos above from Juniper’s first two weeks.

Weddings: katie & randy, radisson paper valley, appleton, wisconsin

When I met with Katie and Randy over Skype from their home in Seattle, I immediately liked them, and I have a feeling that is how most people feel about the couple. They are open, down-to-earth people full of positive energy, and their wedding was no different. Although the day was hot for Memorial Day weekend in Wisconsin, Katie, Randy, and their friends were all in high spirits. Their first look was in the courtyard of Radisson Paper Valley where their wedding would take place that afternoon. We traveled to Lawrence University in downtown Appleton for photos with their fun bridal party.

The ceremony was personal with unique readings and a “irreversible chemical reaction” to symbolize their unity. My favorite part was their vows in which they promised to be by one another’s side when they need help, and get out of the way when they don’t. For some reason I found that phrase to be a lovely way to talk about a marriage of equals in a real way (or maybe it’s my stubborn personality appreciating their stubborn personalities, lol). Either way, congratulations, Katie and Randy! We wish you many years of happiness!

Portraits: family photos at green bay botanical gardens

Ten years ago on this day, Emily and I were in Italy together studying art history and printmaking. It’s strange for me to think about years later with graduations, weddings, homes, art-making, jobs, and babies filling the time in between. Now we photograph Emily’s family and she watches our baby, Juniper. There are all these versions of ourselves keeping in contact though memories and photographs, and I can remember exactly what it felt like to sit side-by-side sketching in Florence, or walk the streets while trying to make up rhyming songs about what we were doing (something Emily was always much better at than I). Now the photos include our families and the rhyming nonsense songs have a captive audience (Charlotte, Nora, and Juniper). So amazing how time works.

Happy first birthday, Nora!

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