Winter Family Portraits at Epic

 
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These extended family photos happened in the perfect setting at epic! 

Epic is one of those places that you can photograph and have a different kind of setting for every occasion. Carolyn's husband's extended family were all together for the holidays, and decided they'd love to have family photos taken while everyone was in the same state (a rare occasion for some families!). They braved the cold for some shots next to a gorgeous outdoor area, walked around the huge campus for more photos, and recreated an old family photo pose from back in the day! Since kids will be kids, we did have one little one who was not particularly happy about having her photo taken, but that's par for the course with family photos. I hope she can look back on that photo and smile later! 

--Sam 

 

Wedding Traditions You Can Skip - The Receiving Line

 
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Why the Receiving Line is Optional

Okay, I'll admit it... I'm not a fan of receiving lines. Generally I'm a very live and let live kind of person when it comes to wedding day planning and preferences, but receiving lines are one thing I think of as being not only optional, but in most cases, better off being skipped! 

Here are a few reasons why receiving lines and I do not get along: 

  • They take forever. Seriously, like forever. And if you're on a tight wedding day timeline, a receiving line could take up to 45 minutes of your post-ceremony picture time (or more), and cut into you enjoying your cocktail hour with your guests! 
  • Receiving lines have very little visual variety, from a photography standpoint. After about the first half dozen pictures of hugging, all the photos look the same because the couple (the subject of the photo) isn't moving, so there's no visual variety to shake things up! 
  • Receiving lines don't just take forever for the couple, but also for their family and friends. Do you know what kids dislike just as much as needing to be quiet for the entire duration of a wedding ceremony? Long lines filled with grown-ups. You know what grown-ups dislike? Also lines. 

I know what you're thinking... "Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel!" But, I'm not all doom and gloom! Here are some nice alternatives to the traditional receiving line that are more comfortable for your guests, and provide more visual variety for your photos, while still ensuring you get to greet everyone and that every aunt in attendance gets to pinch your cheek and give you a hug! 

  • Couples can dismiss guests from their seats. This allows guests to remain seated, rather than awkwardly half-standing/half-sitting like you do when you're trying to get in a traditional receiving line. Dismissing guests from their seats also ends up going a little more quickly than traditional receiving lines, so that's a bonus!
  • Couples can skip both the traditional receiving line and dismissing guests and go straight to any after-ceremony photos so that they can meet back up with guests during the cocktail hour! This plan has a lot of bonuses! For one, you get nicer interactions with your guests after they've had a bathroom break and have drinks and snacks. For two, you get way more visual variety in your photos, and more relaxed, casual and fun interactions with your guests. Win/win!

Regardless of what you decide to do, planning is key, so make sure to build plenty of time into your wedding day schedule for whatever method of guest-greeting you plan on doing, enjoy the day, and feel free to skip the receiving line! 

--Sam 

p.s. If you'd like to read more on planning a wedding day schedule, click here! 

 

Wedding Traditions You Can Skip - The Wedding Party

 
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Why the wedding party is optional 

Now don't get me wrong, I think the world of wedding parties! Whether it's bridesmaids, groomsmen, bridesmen, groomsmaids, or non-binary wedding party pals, the friends who stand up with you at your wedding are a very special group of people. 

In large part, wedding parties are there to help you plan, set up and tear down, and celebrate! In short, they're your wedding support network, helping ease wedding planning stress, helping with random errands, and helping to keep you sane in the months leading up to the wedding.

So why am I saying this tradition is optional? 

Because your friends love you, and will help you anyway if you ask. It's as simple as that!

Here are a few other perks of skipping this particular wedding tradition: 

  • You won't have to pay for occasion-specific dresses or suit rentals and your friends won't have to pay for them either! 
  • You instantly lower your wedding floral budget by cutting down the number of people who will need bouquets and/or boutonnieres!
  •  Avoid the stress of feeling like you're either leaving someone out or that your wedding party is getting too big because you didn't want to leave anyone out
  • No need to worry about between Ceremony & Reception transportation for the entire wedding party (party buses or limousines can get expensive!)
  • Less people to plan for equals less wedding planning stress overall for you!  

 

With all that said, if the thought of a wedding party is kind of stressing you out, or there are logistical issues, feel free to skip this one, safe in the knowledge that your friends will love and support you with or without the title! 

--Sam 

 

Family Portraits at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

 
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holiday portraits are the best! 

I love love love holiday portraits, and thought it was really sweet that Vitalijus and his family were going to do some family portraits downtown before heading to Overture to see How the Grinch Stole Christmas (a holiday classic)! 

I met Vitalijus what seems like forever ago when we were both working for Dean Health Plan, but this was the first time I'd had the pleasure of meeting his wife, Dalia (who is expecting in February), and two kiddos, Saule and Simonas. 

Saule and Simonas were so much fun, and really got into the picture-taking spirit while we played some games to get them laughing, interacting, and less worried about the camera. This holiday session was a great reminder of how fun they can be! 

Enjoy the photos!

--Sam

 

Stranger Things and Childhood Memories

 
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Working out the puzzle of creating lasting childhood memories 

As a mom who not only runs a small business, but also has a full time (okay, more than full time) day job, it can be an uphill battle to make sure I'm spending enough quality time with Ben. Not just movies and meals (though those things are fun and important too), but really creating some good childhood memories for him. 

I was talking with my Dad about this the other day, and it seems to me that the childhood memories that really stand out for me, the good ones anyway, are the things that were out of the ordinary. The strange but harmless situations in childhood that seemed so special that they've always held a place in my heart and in my mind. 

Like the times my Mom and I drove cross-country to the Teton mountains each summer for a retreat and stopped at every roadside attraction along the way. Or the time my Dad and Stepmom decided on a whim to take my Stepbrother and I for a walk to the park, at midnight, in the rain, in downtown Dayton, OH, and let us play in the mud and on the park for 30 minutes or so and then walked us back home. Or holding a 'seance' with pre-teen friends at a sleepover with a ouija board  and some candles after watching 'Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II', a most ridiculous horror movie. Or the time Dad spent a spring break with me in my senior year driving around to different historical sites and museums in Ohio and reading (re-reading for him) and comparing notes on The Frontiersman. 

Sure, you remember the really bad stuff, and the normal nice stuff is there too (like hugs and lunches and such), but some of my absolutely favorite childhood memories are special things like that, and I want to give Ben those types of memories too, so this past Saturday, on a whim, I took him to House on the Rock (which was also my first time visiting even though I've lived in Madison 11 years now). I took him to a special place for lunch, and then we went and explored the House on the Rock attraction (the whole 9 yards, all of the exhibits, the gardens, etc.) It was weird as hell. If you haven't been there, and you live in Wisconsin, you should check it out, if for no other reason than to experience the weirdness.

Strange things make for strong memories, and I think Ben is going to remember touring this weird place with me when he's older. Maybe he'll think of it fondly, the way I think of visiting weird or unique places with my parents. I hope I can help him create some lasting memories, the kind you speak of with happiness (and not in a therapy session, though I'm sure he'll have some of those too because being a parent doesn't come with a manual and we're all screwing it up sometimes). 

What sorts of memories do you really want to make with your kids? Are there any special locations or experiences you really want them to have? Books you really want them to read? Music you'd love for them to listen to? Go out and make it happen, one experience at a time, and I'm going to try and do the same. 

--Sam 

 

 

Fall Family Portraits at Home

 
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A rainy day blessing in disguise

On family portrait day, the weather was abysmal. Kris + John didn't let that keep them from getting family portraits taken, so I headed over to their home to do an in-home session instead of an outdoor session. I love in-home sessions because their so unique to each family or couple. When hanging out with Kris, John, and the kids (Jax and Daria), I got to photograph them playing Exploding Kittens (while ones of their cats made a hilarious guest appearance), and then got to photograph them telling secrets, having tickle fights, and heading outside for the 5 minute break in rain that the day offered at the end of the session! 

It was so nice to see Kris, John, and the kids again, and to get to hang out with them! Enjoy the photos! 

--Sam