Halloween Fun

In the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to share a photo recently made in the studio with 6 month old fraternal twins and their pugs.  Needless to say, Mom/Dad worked hard to get the right costumes, ply those little cherub bodies into the costumes and after getting everyone comfortable, we have some fun shots.  They’re all little wigglers so working fast was of the essence.  We all sang “The Wheels on the Bus” and thank goodness the pugs sit for treats!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

It’s got that “who decided that this is what we’re going to do for Halloween” look to it.  It makes me smile that the twins will have these images, to not only see themselves when they were little, but also see their first dogs!

The Baby and the Bike

Imagine that you’re pregnant with your first child and you’re excited to mark your progress with your regular visits to the doctor.  When you’re in the exam room, you notice that your husband can’t take his eyes off the beautiful, canvas wrap of Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service team in the 2005 Tour de France. If you’re really into cycling, you would know that 2005 was the SEVENTH and last Tour de France that Lance Armstrong won!  Well, dad, otherwise known as Travis, knew that and a lot more about Lance Armstrong.   His wife, Amy, knew she had a gift for Father’s Day and it wasn’t just the new baby to be!

Cycling: It's a family affair!

You see Travis races as a Cat 3 cyclist for Team Extreme Cycling and will be racing in the Tour of America’s Dairyland, that begins tonight (June 16) in Shorewood, WI.  This 11 day racing series, presented by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board,  travels through 11 communities from June 16 – 26, 2011, and he’ll be coming to my neighborhood on June 25th for the Downer Ave. race – neighborhood favorite summer event!  It’s full of family fun activities, live entertainment and of course, food and drink.  As a Risk Manager for Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), Travis is working to earn the honor of becoming a Cat 2 rider by earning points in these races.  His supportive sponsors include:  Extreme Ski and Cycling, Houseman & Feind, Hollrith Realty, Juniper61, LuLu Cafe’ and Cocktails, Cycling Form & Fitness, Centec Security, Port-a-John, and OS Nutrition.

After William was born and she returned to her doctor for ‘well-baby’ check-ups, Amy saw that canvas wrap again and called me about purchasing it for Travis as a surprise for Father’s Day.  She couldn’t wait until Father’s Day, however, and this week I returned to their home to photograph them with the canvas wrap and explain to Travis how I came to make this photo of Lance Armstrong and his 2005.  I had scouted the location the day before and decided where I wanted to be.  My location would allow my two views per lap around the Champs – Elysees and Arc de Triomphe.  I settled in at 9:30 a.m., expecting the racers to arrive by 4:30.  It was a primo spot!

People started to fill in and find their spots when a man came by and told me that I had to move.  I was in a VIP section.  OH NO!  All the next best spots were now filled in and this race was high on my list to photograph!  In a desperate, fast-paced attempt to find an good location, I could only find an spot on a tight, inside corner.   A very tough place to photograph world-class cyclists!!  More people filled in and a rain shower ensued.  To top it off, Paris is not known for it’s volume of public toilets so I rationed my drinking water to a half-cup for the whole day.

As the cyclists arrived, I pre-set my aperture, shutter speed, and fill-flash while also pre-focusing where the cyclists would be.  I raised the camera up over my head, and the heads of others, and panned/shot the cyclists as they past by in a burst of noise and wind.  Finding Lance in the crowd and then photographing was a disaster.  They came too quickly so I didn’t think I had any images of him.  After standing out there for 9 hours with little water or food, I cried because as I quickly flipped through my LCD, I didn’t think I had any images of Lance.

7th Victory of Tour de France

Later, back at the apartment we had rented, I loaded the images into my laptop.  I shouted with joy when I saw that I had 2 images of Lance.  This one was the best and it occurred one of the last two laps, when the other cyclists let the winner ride in front.  Glorious!  Now a new mother that supports her husband’s passion for cycling, has given her husband and new father a meaningful Father’s Day gift.  Ride Strong, Travis.  Ride Strong!

Summer’s Here Kids!

Yesterday was a gorgeous day here.  Windy, but sunny and definitely shorts weather!  It was my first session of the outdoor season in Lake Park and I got to spend it with two of my favorite kids – Katie and Sam!

Katie was all decked out in her girly-girl dress and fun white hat.  She couldn’t have looked any better!

Looking absolutely lovely, Katie!

Sam, the ever-helpful, big brother, even helped Katie get her wardrobe right.  He LOVES his sister and it showed when he pulled himself away from the playground to be Katie’s escort on the sidewalk.

"You'll look better with this on, Katie"

Sam helps to steady the newly walking Katie

Katie enjoyed her time chasing dandelions and Sam found some ‘alone time’ with his trucks and colorful sunglasses.  Having photographed Sam since he was 2 months old, I’ve come to appreciate his ‘let’s try it’ sense of adventure.  If I suggest something, he usually cooperates with great gusto.  Glad you like the sunglasses Sam!

I'm heading for that dandelion!

Look at my trucks!

So school’s just starting to wind down and soon kids and families will be outdoors enjoying the Wisconsin summer.  Don’t let time go by this summer without booking a Summer Mini-Session ($85) in the great outdoors.  Your kids grow up too fast to not record the fun they have!  Ask me to photograph your children doing the things they love and capture the relationship they enjoy with each other.   You’ll be glad you did!

Call or email me today and we’ll book a date and a Rain Date to work around the weather.  These sessions are limited, as is the time with your children.

Unsung Heroes

There are lots of people that we don’t hear about that donate countless hours towards making a difference in the world.  Most quietly go about their passions with very little recognition.  CNN honors some of them every year in the “HEROES” special, but today I wanted to bring your attention to one woman that has rescued and adopted hundreds of dogs.  She lives in Milwaukee and German Shorthair and English Pointers are the breeds that capture her attention.  I’d like you to meet Lisa Rossman – Executive Director of Wisconsin German Shorthair Pointer Rescue (WGSPR).

Lisa, Miracle & Jim

There are lots of stories that Lisa can share with you about running a dog rescue.  Some would make your heart soar and some would have you asking her, ‘how do you keep doing this?’   It takes a big heart to recognize the dogs you can save and move on from the ones you can’t.  The Humane Society of the United States estimates that an equal number of dogs & cats are rescued and euthanized each year – 3-4 million.  Lisa, along with a dedicated group of volunteers and foster moms & dads, keep the wheels of WGSPR going.  You can see some of the dogs they have available here.  Incidentally, Pointers are wonderful dogs for active, caring families.  (Disclaimer:  I’ve had one for 10 years)

To honor Lisa and the work she does, I invited her into the studio today to help kick off the WINE & PAWs event happening at the studio this weekend.  She brought in Jim, all freshly bathed, and Miracle, her ‘miracle’ dog that she rescued from Arkansas.  You can read about and see the living conditions that Miracle came from here.  Here’s some of the photographs I was able to capture for her.  Miracle’s more anxious, but Jim is one relaxed Pointer!

Lisa and Jim

Life is Sooo Good When You're Rescued!

This Photo Shoot is Tiring Me Out!

I'm Pointing The Way To WINE & PAWs!

If you want to help WGSPR and WI Humane Society, call me at 414.550.5340 to book a 30″ appointment for  $30 and a 30# bag of dog food for Sunday, April 10, 2011.  Saturday is nearly full but limited openings are available for Sunday.  You’ll receive a complimentary 8×10 and a Facebook image.  Can’t make either day?  Just call and I’ll find a time to fit you in.  It’s all for the dogs!

It Takes Someone Special

When you adopt a dog, especially a young dog, you can expect to deal with half-eaten shoes, some cushioning torn out of the couch, or even a little woodwork that seemed like a nice thing to chew on.  Then there are those one of kind dogs that seem to take them a LONG time to grow out of that puppy/adolescent stage.  Enter Hudson!

I first met Hudson this past summer at the Runway Dog Park.  He was one of the dogs in my Dogs and Their Women book project, to be published this Fall.  Hudson seems to have the traits of a Pointer and a Coonhound.  So he has NUCLEAR energy!  One of the images is of Hudson clearing a snow fence in a single bound.

Doggie Limbo

Today, Hudson is about 3 years old and after his owner, Rebecca, took him to Runway Dog Park for 2 hours of running and then fed him extra dog food to make him a little sleepy, he arrived at the studio to be my first dog for the 2nd Annual WINE & PAWs event.  It is officially  being held April 9 & 10 so there’s still time to call for your 30″ session (414.550.5340)

A Deep Understanding Between Friends!

Hudson was wonderful!  While I was prepared for a super, energetic dog, I could see he was maturing.  What I really want to tell you is that Rebecca is a VERY SPECIAL companion for Hudson.  She sees to it that his day is filled with exercise, doggie day care, medication trials – anything it takes to keep him happy and out of trouble.  When many would have turned Hudson back to a shelter for unruly behavior, Rebecca’s always found it in her to keep trying and now it’s paying off.  Hudson could have easily been euthanized for his unruly behavior that only needed an outlet – one that Rebecca’s provided for him.

Thanks for Hanging In There With Me!

So today was a wonderful day!  Hudson could still clear the back of my couch with one leap off the Pergo floor but he’s turning the corner towards maturity.  Never would have I thought it possible to use a neck tie and hat with him this summer.  And now, we’ll you get the picture!

Hey, where's my biscuit?

My internal voice kicked in and I received the idea to try.  It was risky, however.  Since Hudson loves to give kisses, this could turn into a problem for my lens, but what the heck.  Let’s give it a try!

Hey Peggy, high is dominate!

While the ceiling and light is obvious, I like this image.  I see his calmness and perhaps curiosity about my position below him.  He reminds me, in his moment of peace, to enjoy the moment we’re given.  I’ll remember to do that tonight when say goodnight to my two senior dogs.

WINE & PAWs will benefit WI German Shorthair Pointer Rescue AND Wisconsin Humane Society.                       (All images made with Nikon D3s, 24-70mm f28, 50mm f1.4 and 85mm 1.8 lenses)

Beachin’ It

Spending time with my extended family is always a great way to relax, laugh, recharge and, of course, record family memories through photography.  Since I have a 3 year old nephew and 4 other great nieces and nephews under 3.5 years, there was lots of action to go after!   Enjoy the images made at New Smyrna Beach, FL.  First my mom,  then it’s Ryan, George, Peyton, Kylie and Maura.

Enjoy the beach scenes and if you live up north, feel the warmth I send!

My Mom at 83

Ryan after exciting the pool

Warm-up time

George playing football (He's a Brit!)

Peyton - a natural runner

Mia Familia

Kylie - "I own this beach!"

Ryan - dodging the waves

Peyton - the water bearer

Maura - modeling her 'beach tutu'

Kylie and her charming smile

George - waiting for a wave

Maura - beautiful eyes that don't like the wind

All images made with Nikon D3s and Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens.

So What If It’s Cold and Snowy Outside!

Wow!  The weather recently turned quickly here in the Upper Midwest.  We went from 40’s to teens, he skies dropped some snow and then those cold, winds from the northwest blew in.  As a dog owner, however, I’m like the Postal Service.  We walk no matter what the weather.  I consider it good training and discipline for those times when I have to be out in the elements.  This past week is but one example.

On our first day of measurable snow, I had the pleasure to photograph a young, yellow lab named Charlie Jack and his owner Shannon.  The snow came in waves of light to heavy and the north winds plastered the snow against the north side of the trees.  It was beautiful weather to be outdoors and make some great images of the two of them!

Shannon & Charlie Jack

Running Free in the Snow

Charlie's Line in the Sand

Best Buddies!

TIP #1:  For those of you interested in photographing in the falling snow, either purchase a special cover for your lens/DSLR or rubber-band a plastic bag around your gear to keep it dry.  If the wind’s blowing hard like it was this day, be sure to have your subject facing into it vs. your uncovered lens.  If not, it will be the first and last time you make that mistake!


Then, 2 days later, the temperatures plummeted and we had our coldest day of the year since last winter.  I believe it was about 20 degrees, with a single digit wind chill when I headed out to Lake Park to photograph the Lenardson Family.  We had hoped for snow, which we got, but hadn’t anticipated that bone chilling wind.  After some time in an sunny, but windy, open area, we headed for the protection of one of Lake Park’s noted ravines.  One year old Travis was bundled up on his snow suit and 4 year old Travis enjoyed a mock snowball fight with me.  Everyone came prepared for the cold and we came away with some wonderful images to remember a family’s cold day in the park!

Bundled Up

How can you move in a snow suit?

Locked and Loaded!

TIP #2:  So take your camera outside this winter and see what you can come up with.  When you come back inside, cover up your camera with a towel or coat until the camera comes back to room temperature.  Some people put it in a larger, plastic bag.  Why?  For those of you who wear glasses, you’ll understand right away.  The warm air of your home will hit the cold body of your camera and condense on it in the form of moisture.  Moisture and digital electronics don’t play well together!

TIP #3:  If you want to see your images as soon as possible, get a zip lock bag and put your camera’s flash card into the zip lock bag.  Seal it shut and wait until your card has come back to room temperature.  Then you can download your images without worrying about ruining the flash card due to moisture.  Keep this zip lock bag with your camera gear during the winter.  The same phenomenon holds true for bringing a cold camera into a warm car, do don’t forget to put it into your camera bag or cover it with a towel.


With some forethought, you too can venture out into the snow & cold to make some memorable images of your family.  If you’re interested in learning more about your camera (especially if you’re getting a new one this Holiday!) and how you can make better images of your family, contact me at 414.550.5340 because I’m setting up an “So You Got A New Camera” class, for February 2011.  Limited to 6 people.

Alice In Wonderland Halloween

Mad Hatter 'family'

Some families are REALLY into Halloween!  Over the last few weeks I’ve driven by the decorations and read about my Facebook friends carving pumpkins and getting costumes ready for parties.  This family, however, takes the cake on Halloween costumes.

Every year, mom takes a week off of work to exercise her creativity and make the costumes for her family.  She calls me in September to schedule her family’s portrait session to capture the fun they have getting in character.  Every year they amaze me with how authentic they look!  Last year the girls were characters from The Chronicles of Narnia.  But this year was a big ‘wow’ for me!.  The colors, the makeup, the costumes. . .  I thought about how much fun they were having (even though they’re in character in the photo) and how they were going to love seeing these images as they move on with their lives.

My favorite part was when I said to ‘the queen’ to pucker up and the others had to look serious.  Those directions ALWAYS bring some laughs!  I wonder what she’s cooking up for next year??

The Old, Married Couple

This past weekend I helped the Community Bark & Dog Wash celebrate their one year anniversary.  We turned it into a fundraiser for the WI Humane Society and had a GREAT turnout!  I photographed dogs that were tiny (chihuahuas) and barely took up any room on a chair, to huge dogs, like the Leonberger, who needed a larger couch to stretch out on.  Some came in costume and quite a few had just successfully negotiated the bath/nail trim buffing to get them ready for the photo.  There were 46 mini-sessions in all and all were well behaved, in spite all the other dogs milling around, waiting their turn.

There’s one ‘couple’ that I just need to talk about.  They immediately grabbed my heart when they jumped up on the couch and sat as close as they could together.  I’m not kidding here, folks.  Their heads touched!  I’ve never seen two dogs express their closeness to each other as these two did.  I remarked to the owner that they looked like an old married couple, sitting on the couch.  What’s more, they didn’t move from that position and didn’t flinch from the flash.  We had to separate them to get some individual shots.

There were many dogs that I loved photographing at this event but I think these two won me over on the emotional side.  I hope that have a long, happy life together!

Together Forever

How Do You Say FALL?

Tomato Toss

Now that my Fall rush of high school seniors, kids. dogs and families has settled a bit, I’ve been showing clients their images on the ‘big screen’ and I’ve found a few images that make me smile, laugh and feed my passion for why I communicate with a camera!

First up is Sam.  Three years into his ever-expanding life, he’s been a ‘regular’ guy around the studio and I looked forward to every time I get to photograph him.  “Why,” you might ask.  Because Sam represents all the ‘REAL KIDS’ I photograph.  They are full of life, curious, eager to play with me and rarely back away from doing something crazy.  Hence the tomatoes!

After photographing Sam and his new sister, Katie, in the studio, we headed outside because I knew my Purple Aster  (WI prairie  perennial) was in full bloom and would provide a nice background.  But I needed Sam to do something.  My lone tomato plant grew nearby and knew that tomatoes and balls were pretty much the same shape.  I looked at mom, she nodded, ‘go for it’ and we were off.

I LOVE his enthusiasm in this shot!  Rising off the land to explore gravity and loving doing something crazy.  We even got a second ‘take’ on the same tomatoes!  Sam’s mom told me that he’s still talking about the tomatoes.  Me too.

The Perfect Leaf

Then there was Aidan, who helps me show the true colors of Fall.  An enthusiastic four year old, aidan keeps his family laughing!  We had just finished a series of image of tossing leaves up in the air when he came over to me and said, “Look, I just found the perfect leaf!”  I looked up and said, “Wow, Aidan.  That IS a perfect leaf!”  My angel spoke up and said “get an image with that leaf.”  I listened and followed and was rewarded with an authentic image of a boy and his find.

So in this season of falling leaves, ripening tomatoes and soon to be heavy frost, I encourage you all to get outside and look closely on the ground, in the morning or evening skies and see the world like a child would.  You might notice the shape of the clouds, a pattern in the grass or how the frost clings to the plants in your garden.  If you really want to look, take a 3 or 4 year old with you.  They’ll teach you how to see in no time flat!