Personal Post: crazy sort of love

This wasn’t Juniper’s first Christmas, but it kind of felt like it to us. Last year we were still in the crazy first few months of life with a baby — living on no sleep, recovering from labor, and just keeping our heads above water in the chaos. This year Juniper was able to participate in many of our holiday activities (or at least stay awake for them).

We have a very tradition-oriented family and so there are many things we do together to celebrate the seasons. Sometimes the “season” can be as simple as “that cold boring time” (aka: February — Potawatomi State Park hike) or “that time it’s supposed to be spring, but really isn’t” (aka: March — maple syrup tapping), but when it comes to holidays, it’s even more serious. In December there is St. Nick stocking opening, picking out our trees together, a Christmas day hike in the woods, and watching It’s a Wonderful Life in our pajamas with grasshoppers or hot cocoa in hand. But most important is Christmas Eve, with church followed by dinner and gifts at our grandparents’ house. This is where I’ve always found my Christmas spirit.

Every 24th of December my family attends the candlelight service at Sturgeon Bay Moravian. The tree at the front of the church is covered in hundreds of paper stars and we hold lighted beeswax candles, singing carols and waiting for the last verse of Joy to the World where we all raise our arms up high before extinguishing the flames. As a kid, I remember being sad the moment we had to blow the candles out, holding it just a little longer hoping to preserve that feeling of incredible joy and togetherness. One of the gifts of parenthood is getting to share these traditions with our children — getting to see Juniper mesmerized by the dark church filled with glowing lights, watching her try her first bites of my mom’s homemade pie, and hearing her elated giggles over her favorite toy (the step-stool intended for my office).

As a parent everything is more work, the holidays included. There is more stuff to carry and less arms to carry it with. There are nap schedules and picky eaters to consider, and gone are the uninterrupted board game marathons and quiet evenings under the tree. Instead we look up from our movie to debate whose turn it is to intercept Juniper as she climbs from floor to chair to table to access the bowl of Chex-mix. Everything is more work… but it’s worth it. And I don’t say this as a martyr like “it’s worth it so they can enjoy the holidays” or in an attempt at banking future happiness like “it’s worth it because once we make it through this we can enjoy our family as they grow older”. I mean it’s worth it right now.

If sharing traditions is the gift of parenthood, the power of parenthood is in a crazy form of selective memory. The day might filled with chaos as we discover which toys are small enough to fit in Juniper’s mouth, wrestle and bribe our way through diaper changes, and try to convince her to nap in unfamiliar homes while there is clearly a party happening next door; but when the day is done the only part that remains in our memory is the good stuff.

This past summer when Juniper was cutting her first tooth she had a particularly hard night. She was crabby, awake on and off for hours, and then she was up for the day at 5:00 am. I was exhausted and counting the minutes until 8:00 when I could drop her at the sitter. And the moment I pulled out of the driveway, leaving Juniper behind, I missed her. She kept me up all night, woke me up at 5:00, and I missed her immediately. This is the whole thing in a nutshell. Love makes good stuff more powerful than the hard stuff, even when it’s mostly hard stuff. And parenthood is a crazy sort of love.

So I’ll take the chaos that would normally unnerve me completely; we’ll stress-sweat through our dress clothes and say “no thank you; hand’s aren’t for hitting” for the thousandth time, and we’ll breathe a sigh of relief as we tuck her into bed. But I guarantee you as I lay down to sleep at night, Ben and I will reminisce about the best parts of the day and I’ll be flipping through pictures and videos on my phone, already missing that little girl asleep one room over.

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Pictures above from some of our 2018 Christmas traditions. 

Winter Family Portraits at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary

The skies were bright and the wind was calm for Vicent’s third birthday and family session. We met at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay, which is a favorite spot for the family to explore and feed the birds. Snow had melted and left puddles perfect for splashing in galoshes, and geese and ducks were flying and landing in the water. Vicent has a December birthday and so photo sessions are always on the chilly side, but with their warm wool clothes, boots and scarves, the family kept warm and we enjoyed the morning adventure. I love the candids of him watching the birds, asking questions, and splashing in the puddles! Happy Birthday, Vicent!

Three Generations Cozy Cabin Family Session

Three generations of beautiful women to photograph at a cozy winter cabin? Yes, please! Danielle and her family booked one of our Limited Edition Cozy Cabin Sessions this November as an opportunity to get Hazel’s four year photos done, have images for the yearly Christmas card, and get pictures as a family. Grandmother, Debbie, was along to help out with the pup and jumped in for a few photos with her girls. We loved Danielle’s fur-lined puffer vest and Hazel’s buffalo plaid — too cute! Their session was at the windiest point in the day, but Hazel was tough and a couple car breaks with some hand warmers and a little teasing by Ben helped her make it through. Bentley was his puppy self, happy with the snow and snacks, and pleased to have room to run. The family traveled from Wausau area to Green Bay for their family session and we’re so glad they did!

Seymour WI Fall Family Session

When Ashley and Mike suggested their family’s property for a fall photo session, I had no idea how beautiful it would be. The land has been in the family for years and features a house (still kept in its original style), renovated barn, and many rows of trees, fence, and garden, all perfect for us to photograph. We know Matthew, Blake, and Ellie well, and Ben is all about wild, crazy play that gets kiddos to open up and be themselves during sessions. By the end of the afternoon, all three of them were chasing him in circles and trying to jump on his back (behind the scenes pictures may or may not need to be shared later, lol!) Needless to say, real play means real smiles. The afternoon was a little cool and drizzly, but we had the best time and still got to make great images together. See you next time {R} Family!

Portraits: cozy cabin limited edition session, green bay

Family Portraits in Green Bay

A few years ago we stepped away from doing “mini sessions”. One of the main reasons for this was that we felt rushed. If a kiddo took some time to warm up (introverts get it) or a baby needed a bottle break, half our time was already over and we didn’t have room to make exceptions. I felt like we weren’t delivering our best work, so we just stopped doing them altogether.

Then last year, Ben and I dreamed up our own type of session. We asked ourselves what we would want if it was our family, and that’s when we came up with Limited Edition Sessions. Limited Edition Sessions still have the exciting location and exclusive dates, but they also have a spacious time slot (nearly an hour) so we’re not worried about feeling rushed. The long session time alows us to photograph in our favorite way, mixing posed and candid photos and cuing families with activities to help them interact and play. Limited Edition Sessions are also lower cost to allow new clients to “try us out” and families with older kiddos to come back for fun, shorter sessions.

Nicole, Jeff and their family are new to us this year. Their girls, Alex and Quinn, are so sweet and so happy! It was a pleasure getting to know them and make pictures together on that snowy Saturday! Happy Holidays!

Cozy cabin family photos

Family Portraits in Green Bay

Katie writes one of my favorite mom blogs, My Darling Days featuring lots of DIY cooking/crafting, travel, and outdoorsy midwestern traditions (which you know I have a soft spot for!) We first met when she stood up in a wedding we photographed and after that she did a handful of photography mentoring sessions with me and we got to know each other better. Since then we’ve both started our families and I’ve enjoyed reading her down-to-earth honesty and humor about what mom life is about on the best and worst days.

When Katie saw our Limited Edition Cozy Cabin sessions pop up on Facebook, she tagged her hubby in the post saying this was what she really wanted for their anniversary. I was thrilled to get to work with them as a family, and couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate the milestone (8 years together!) than with pictures to preserve the memory. Congratulations, Katie and Zac!

Vendors: usb memory direct, custom usb drives

As a photographer, it’s not shocking that I’m a visual and hands-on person. The way things look and feel is incredibly important to me. I’m affected by light and texture, and I only like to have things around me that absolutely love. All these personality traits affect what kind of photographer I am and how we run our business.

When we were starting out (post-college, doing photography as a side-hustle), everyone was shooting short sessions with little guidance, burning discs left and right, and I couldn’t find the value. I felt I had lost what lead me to photography in the first place. I took a step back and reevaluated. I wanted to know people and what they were like so the images could feel like them and their stories. My visual side wanted to help them choose clothing, locations, and time of day, and my introvert side wanted to feel better prepared for the sessions. This is why we changed how we do things. Every session begins with an in person meeting where we can get to know our clients and their needs, provide guidance, and prepare to meet their overall goals. A start like that helps everyone feel relaxed and comfortable at the session and in turn creates better, more meaningful images.

The second part of this was what happened after the images were taken. I realized what a disservice we were doing our clients by burning discs and sending them off to (most likely) get lost in the bottom of a drawer. We never got to see our clients’ response to the images or make sure they were happy with the results. Families were overwhelmed by the task of choosing what to do by themselves and froze up, or worse, ordered cheap prints that faded within the year, canvases that warped, and substrates that cropped important elements from view (you know, like someone’s head).  It made me sad to know the images we worked so hard to create hadn’t gotten to be enjoyed in real life.

Now we work with our clients to help them see how images can compliment each other, give notice of how things will crop, and help them narrow to their favorites to fulfill their overall session goal (whether that’s 50 images for an album, one images for a canvas, or five images for family and friends). What is important is that the process feels effortless and in the end, our clients leave with heirloom quality prints and products.

Because of this, choosing which vendors we work with is very important. We want our products to be warm, beautiful, and built to last. This not only applies to our prints but also to our digital options. When a family chooses to add high resolution images to their package, We want that branding to follow through with warmth and beauty. We are happy to have found a vendor whose usbs fit that image and back it up with simple cross-platform usability. USB Memory Direct has become that company for us. We now feature their round “carpenter” design pine usbs with our logo engraved. They are the perfect companion to our line of prints, albums, and wall art. Special thanks to Taylor at USB Memory Direct for making the process simple!

If you have questions about any of our products or the experience we offer and what to expect, please send us a message! We love to hear from new people!

Learn more about USB Memory Direct HERE.

Fall family photos at pamperin park

Family Portraits in Green Bay

Fall is our most popular time of the year for family sessions here in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The leaves are starting to change color, the air feels crisp and clean, and it’s time for cardigans and flannel (the coziest of all fashion choices!) I met with Allison to talk about her session a few weeks beforehand and got to know her two smallest boys, Clark and Jack while they played and snacked. Allison told me she was looking for portraits that would be timeless and fit their minimal, clean style for her home and family. On the session day we got to meet her husband Paul and their two older boys. Everybody was dressed in perfect seasonal layers in blues, creams, and grays that fit with the bright oranges of the fallen leaves. We played with the little boys and teased smiles out of the older ones. At the end of the session, we ended with a giant leaf fight, the perfect reward for some well-behaved little guys. It was a pleasure, Allison and Paul, we wish you and your family the best this holiday season!

Portraits: cozy cabin session with baby wilson and family

The {S} Family was our first session of the day for our Limited Edition Cozy Cabin Sessions this year. The sessions were held in Green Bay with a winter set up including tin mugs, wool blankets, cut logs, and all the cozy essentials. The night before brought a light dusting of snow, which made the backdrop all the more perfect for Kasey, Ross, and baby Wilson’s session! The family was dressed in seasonal layers with puffer vests and sweaters and Wilson had the tiniest sherpa hat and duck boots ever. Even though young babies are usually uncomfortable with strangers, Wilson was smiley and happy the whole way through. With the cold temperatures, we took a break to let the little guy warm up, and finished up with some cute lifestyle shots in front of the cabin. These are going to make for the cutest Christmas cards, and we can’t wait for the {S} Family to have their beautiful wall art!

Seniors: gonzalo, bairds creek, green bay

When planning for Gonzalo’s senior photos, he and his family knew they wanted two things: fall color and to incorporate his soccer jersey. We knew we could make that happen and gave suggestions for a few different locations, the family eventually settling on Bairds Creek in Green Bay. Gonzalo plays soccer for Preble High School and plans to play in college as well. His second outfit was a great choice for late fall with the rich crimson brining out the warm tones in the leaves. We had a fun session and can’t wait to share their prints and album with them!

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