Posts Tagged ‘door county photography’

Personal Post: making maple syrup

March is the dullest month of the year. We rush into March with dreams of spring and (as yesterday’s massive snowstorm proves) we are rewarded with another month of winter parading itself as a new season. Stuck somewhere between “winter wonderland” and “budding spring” I usually use these weeks to update our website, clean out the junk drawers, and make plans for warmer days. But last year we started a new March tradition with our family: making homemade maple syrup.

Learning to make maple syrup had been on our bucket list for awhile, and in the summer of 2015 we casually mentioned it to my grandpa at the farmhouse in Door County. Turns out, years ago, when the land was still an orchard, grandpa’s family used to tap the sugar maples every year. Some rummaging through the picker’s cabins drummed up pails and beautiful, old spiles. It was with a complete lack of knowledge and an impetuous spirit that we tackled our new project last spring.

On a Monday afternoon we cancelled our previously scheduled plans and drove up to Baileys Harbor on a whim. Using a hand-drill and hammer we knocked the spiles into the sugar maples around the farthest reaches of the property with no plans of how or when to retrieve them. By midweek the jugs were overflowing and mom and uncle Keven were scrambling to replace them in time. Maple tapping had begun.

Between small cookstove batches, there was a sap boiling weekend where all of us were there together. Gallon after gallon of sap simmered down over the wood fire while we gathered more jugs and spent the long lulls in camp chairs eating hot dogs and drinking coffee. The end result was 30+ jars of sweet syrup and one of my favorite rolls of film to date.

This year we’re making a few changes with some new tools, five gallon pails, and a little more forethought. We will be changing our boiling time to make the syrup thicker and sweeter than last year’s batch. March might not be good for much, but it’s definitely good for maple syrup.


Film scans above from March 2016, Nikon FG 35mm Kodak Portra 400

Portraits: winter family session at door county tree farm

door-county-tree-farm-photography-family-photos-pictures-one-year-sturgeon-bay-green-bay-photographer-christmas-lifestyle-winter-pictures-1 door-county-tree-farm-photography-family-photos-pictures-one-year-sturgeon-bay-green-bay-photographer-christmas-lifestyle-winter-pictures-2As I type this blog with my coffee in hand, it’s 12 degrees outside my office. Wisconsin winters can be cold and long, but they also allow for some pretty spectacular photographs for those brave enough to handle these chilly days. We loved Vicent’s one year session and family photos at this Door County tree farm in late November. Tiffany and Carlos brought along a plaid wool blanket, and a little wagon for Vicent. We packed up some cocoa to help keep the chill out. That baby was bundled and wrapped and snuggled to keep warm. All of it set us up to capture real moments of parents caring for their little one, and loving one another. Such a magical reminder of what matters as we go into this holiday season. Happy First Birthday, Vicent!

Personal Post: i am thankful, pain for pain, joy for joy

Hazel-Door-County-Film-Photographer-Northwoods-Summer-1 Hazel-Door-County-Film-Photographer-Northwoods-Summer-2The day my film scans arrive back is like magic. When we wait for weeks or months, the memories of long weekends and summer nights begins to fade, but in handling the prints, I have those feelings back in tangible way – the good, the bad, and the bittersweet. Every moment is replayed in emulsion with the soft texture of film and I remember vividly how I felt when I made each image.

I have been absent from the personal blog for a few months. When I write these posts I write from the heart, and sometimes it can be difficult to touch upon what I feel and what I want to say about it. Even now, with so many photos I want to share, the clarity of phrasing isn’t quite clear, other than to say I am thankful. I am thankful for my beautiful home, my capable body, and most of all, my family. When things are good, family celebrates in our joys, and when things are bad, they are the people who check in every. damn. day. Not out of obligation, not because they’re sad we’re sad or happy we’re happy, but because they feel it 100% – pain for pain, joy for joy.

I have people like this in my life – family I am related to, and people whose lives have become intertwined with mine in the unlikeliest of circumstances. I am grateful for both. Life is built experiencing the feelings of others in whatever way we can. I am showing up for that – pain for pain, joy for joy.

________________________________________________________

Film scans above ^^ from summer events with friends and family around Fourth of July.

Personal Post: adventures with mom

Door-County-Midwest-Ice-Fishing-Hiking-Snowshoeing-Snow-Fish-Winter-Sturgeon-Bay-Green-Bay-Wildlife-SanctuaryAfter a little over a week in California, I came home to my favorite kind of mail: film scans. There were a few family events and travels from over the last year on the various rolls, but my favorite was from just a few weeks ago. It was a day planned by my mom inspired by matching enamel camp mugs I bought for us at Christmas. The day was warm (by Wisconsin winter standards) and my mom, brother, and I spent the morning hiking the Ice Age Trail in Potawatomi Park, Door County. After a few hours we stopped in the shelter house, gathered wood, and built a fire. The flames warmed the space as mom carved toasting forks and Josh fed the fire. We made pudgy pies and hot cocoa on the open flame, and, as is true anytime you work for your food, it tasted like the best lunch ever.

My mom is a Girl Scout. I mean this beyond the simple fact that she was a Girl Scout as a child and led my troop as an adult. It is a fact exceeding membership in a club, and is more like an embodiment of the ideals of what a Girl Scout is and should be. She is courageous, empathetic, and welcoming of new ideas. She is determined when it comes to tasks and skilled at nearly everything that involves the outdoors. Each summer we pitch our little tent, develop elaborate camp menus (with at least three “fuel methods” in classic Girl Scout style), and spend a few days in a state park hiking or biking or kayaking, or playing cards as the rain pours down outside. And even when it rains, even when the canopy tent gathers gallons of water that we have to empty in torrents and the entire weekend is spent in humid ponchos and muddy shoes, it is the best. Mom is the person literally laughing in the rainstorm – eternally optimistic and ready for every kind of adventure (even the ones that don’t go as planned). And this rubs off on others, calling out the it-has-to-go-as-planned-ers (like me), opening us up to a little more exploration and a little more grace.

After our shelter house lunch was cleaned up and the fire was put out, we met Ben and dad out on the bay where they had spent the morning ice fishing. We brought along a thermos of cider, a propane stove, and all the fixings to fry up their catch right on the ice. The horizon grew hazy in that pre-sunset foggy glow as we headed back with another adventure in the books, inspired, as always, by mom.

Personal Post: two best friends and 30 years of marriage

Southern-Door-County-Country-Anniversary-Photos-Photographer-Wisconsin-30th-LoveFor a few years after graduating, I worked in a portrait studio (one of those ten minute sittings, photo collage, six background options commercial chains). People came in, we pulled forward a matching backdrop, posed them the same as the last group, and sent them home with the coupon deal of the week. No need for names or stories. Working there helped me define what it was I wanted out of photography in a way I don’t think I would have otherwise been able to articulate.

I know how valuable images are. And I know how much more a photograph can mean if it captures who the person is, right then. It isn’t always a portrait, in fact I would argue that more often it’s a snapshot: cousins climbing an old maple tree in the front yard, grandpa in his teens laying in the grass strumming a guitar, mom on her second easter cheesing for the camera in their very first apartment. These are the photos that stick with us because they feel like the person we love.

This September my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. Their story is a real story of two friends building a home, raising a family, and overcoming struggles. A vinyl backdrop and studio lights couldn’t tell that story. My outdoorsy dad and adventurous mom needed to be photographed in a place that characterized who they are and how they cherish one another.

More than anything the way they show their love it is through sharing their time and interests. The location we chose is not just a field filled with old buildings to make the world of Pinterest swoon; it is the place where together they hunt, and hike, and snowmobile once winter arrives. It is a physical place that symbolizes their love. I know this, and they know this, which means when I look at these images I see mom and dad, jeanie and rick, two best friends who decided to get married, and did, 30 years ago.

Portraits: family session at cornerstone suites, door county

Door-County-Family-Photos-Egg-Harbor-Cornerstone-Suites-Barn-Photographer-Green-BayThe {L} family held their summer session in Door County at Cornerstone Suites in Egg Harbor. Not only was it a beautiful location (fields of wildflowers, rustic old buildings, and colorful landscaping) but it is also near to their hearts. Cornerstone Suites is owned by Leif’s family and it is filled with stories of local artists, big ideas, and overcoming difficulties. Hearing about taking down half the concrete silo and building it up in wood (to give it windows), or vacuuming endlessly between each individual brick in the floor after a tornado had gone through, you will begin to feel like you have no excuses for not chasing down whatever dreams have been simmering on your back burner.

The session was relaxed and positive; not only was it a time to create images for the family, but it also meant a visit home from their oldest daughter who lives in Milwaukee. We loved exploring the space with the {L} family and we can’t wait to deliver their new wall art collection!

Personal Post: the family of over-celebrators

Door_County_Winter_Photographer_Snowmobile_Kangaroo_Lake_Carnival

I come from a family of over-celebraters.  As a child I had naturally assumed every family had not only Christmas decorations, but also an array of Easter decorations, Halloween Decorations, and 4th of July paraphernalia.  It wasn’t until I grew older that I understood that Memorial Day and Labor Day are not actively celebrated holidays for most families.  In my family every holiday is an event, and every event is a party.  This means themed weekends with historical research, homemade costumes, and period-specific antiques dug up from grandma’s basement. It means multiple Birthday celebrations, because lunch with friends didn’t involve cake, and the party with family wasn’t on your actual Birthday, and if the present arrives late there should be some sort of event associated with opening it.  I’m kidding (kind of).

I think the reason I never saw this as anything extraordinary is because it is so clearly a part of who I am in this family.  I am an over celebrator.  Each Wednesday farmers market in summer, every live music event downtown, any oddity that I’ve discovered… I want to be there and I want the full experience. I’m tempted to blame the beginning of this phenomenon on my wanderlustly mother, but only a moment discussing party plans with my grandma and I know this is not the case.

These photos were taken last weekend at the Baileys Harbor Winter Carnival on Kangaroo Lake.  We spent the day on the ice eating Coyote Roadhouse chili, and watching pond hockey and snowmobile races.  As it does, the morning carnival stretched into the afternoon and became pizza at my uncle’s house, night ice skating in Sister Bay, and a family movie night… because every event is a party. 🙂

Weddings: jamie and nick at stone harbor, door county

Door_County_Stone_Harbor_Sunset_Park_Wedding_1 Door_County_Stone_Harbor_Sunset_Park_Wedding_2Being a Door County native myself, it is always a pleasure to return to the area to photograph beautiful weddings like this one.  Jamie and Nick planned their fall wedding at Stone Harbor Resort which sits along the water in Sturgeon Bay.  From the windows of the reception hall you could look out and see the historic steel bridge that crosses over the canal, the nearby shipyard, and many docks filled with sailboats.

If rain really is good luck on a wedding day, Jamie and Nick can expect a lot of it.  The morning of their ceremony brought chilly temps, strong winds, and plenty of rain, but none of it dampened the spirits of the couple or the guests.  With a trolly on hand to shuttle the party to their photo destinations, they hopped aboard and we were able to find a few minutes of time without rain for some lovely fall wedding photos.  Jamie and Nick are incredibly respectful people – they are detail oriented, gentle with each other, and always concerned about others.  It was the love and care they put into their wedding and their relationship that made this day so special.  Congratulations, Jamie and Nick!

Personal Post: summertime on film

Door_County_Film_Photography_Family1 Door_County_Film_Photography_Family2

Ever since I was a child, summer meant traveling up to the farmhouse in North Bay with my family.  It meant watching the leaves flutter overhead as I looked out the window driving through Jacksonport, turning the corner into Baileys Harbor where the view opens open to the unbroken horizon of Lake Michigan, and finally pulling in the gravel path lined with cedars.  These feelings remain unchanged for me as an adult.  It is still where I go to connect with my family and explore nature.

During the summer I spend a lot of time shooting with my Nikon F4 35 mm film camera.  This camera was bought second-hand and chosen for me by a stranger, and there is a part of me that feels like it had to be a bit of destiny.  I went to college knowing I wanted to do something artistic, but certain I would choose an emphasis in painting and study graphic design to support myself.  I had never owned anything but point-and-shoot cameras, and everything changed for me the day this little Nikon F4 arrived and I started Photography 101 with Sarah Detweiler.  Having this camera and this amazing professor, completely altered how I saw the world around me.  Things I never questioned, I found reasons to investigate, and things I never saw connection between began to form relationships.  That was it: I was a photographer.

This little Nikon film camera stayed with me all throughout my undergraduate degree, traveled to Italy on a study abroad program, and finally road with me on my month long Route 66 trip.  Now, with photography not only as my artistic expression, but as my career, capturing my personal life on film keeps me rooted.  It reminds me to take the time to get each shot right and to find the moment where the image “solves itself”.  It calls forward everything I love about photography and it refreshes my spirit.  Funny how something so simple can mean so much.

Captured on film this summer are lots of little events with the people I am closest with: Ben crawfishing with my cousins (and the miniature crawfish boil it led to), hay rides to Cana Island, Door County parades, and a train ride in the northwoods.  It’s the everyday moments with the people in our lives we love most that remind us of who we are.  Holding onto these moments helps me remember that.

1 2