Late Summer Family Photos at the UW Arboretum


Family portraits with one of my favorite families!

I have the honor of photographing Kim + Peter’s family once or twice a year, and we finally got to do family portraits in the late summer timeframe at the UW Arboretum!

I love how the photos turned out and look at what a cute little ham Alex was! You can tell he loves having his photo taken. Kayleigh was adorable and adventurous and, as Kim later told me, managed to hold off throwing up until about 20 minutes after the session lol! Turns out she was a tough customer on smiles because she wasn’t feeling well, but she still did great during the session!

Enjoy the photos!



Cary + Lena: An Under-The-Stars Themed Wedding


Romantic aF, this under the stars wedding gave us all the happy feelings!

Cary + Lena first met in college in 2005. They stayed in touch for some time, and well, one thing led to another and those things eventually led to a birthday in 2018!

When I first talked with them about their wedding, I knew it was going to be a good one! For one, I loved how they were a perfect mix of practical and excited (which I think is basically my whole personality boiled down into one sentence), and for two, who doesn’t love an Under the Stars themed wedding?!

The wedding day itself was gorgeous, but what I loved the most was the little stuff, like how Cary + Lena did their own thing in ways that worked for them, like getting ready together instead of having a first look, and taking photos at the Madison Municipal Building (which apparently is a more romantic location than I would have given it credit for), and having vegan and vegetarian fare for the wedding appetizers and dinner (Y-U-M)!

We loved celebrating with these two! Enjoy the photos, and please join me in wishing a hearty congratulations to Cary + Lena!


Here are the vendors (with links) that helped to make this Under the Stars wedding even more magical!

Ceremony + Reception Venue: Madison Masonic Center

Officiant: Dan Lindstrom

Bridal Gowns: Cary - Vera's / Lena - David's Bridal

Wedding Jewelry: Cary's ring - Chalmer's

Hair + Makeup: Union Hair Parlor

Florist: Sweet Pea Floral

Wedding Cake & Desserts: Bloom Bake Shop

Catering: Green Owl


Lynn + Brian: A Colorful and Romantic Summer Wedding


Come for the super sweet couple, stay for the kitties and the live band!

Lynn + Brian are two of the sweetest humans ever. They are so fun and joyful that they couldn’t help but have an amazingly joy-filled wedding day! We started the day off at the First Unitarian Society, where the ceremony took place. Lynn + Brian opted to do a first look (and you know we love those!), and had both teared up before we even got them to the rendezvous spot!

As we went through the day, I was particularly struck by the care and tenderness Lynn + Brian showed to each other constantly. Wedding days can be stressful, and anyone would be forgiven for letting that stress get under their skin a bit, but these two were as cool as cucumbers (do the kids still say that?) and were just so damn sweet to each it made me smile the whole day.

After the ceremony and the formal photos, we made a pit stop at their new house to take some photos with their two kitties (which we also did for their engagement photos, which you can see here) which was a first for us as far as wedding photos with pets goes!

After the photos with the kitties, we headed to the UW Arboretum for some beautiful nature-y shots, then we went on to Willy street, home of all the coolest murals, to take more photos!

The reception was at the High Noon Saloon, complete with a phenomenal live band and everything! The celebrating that went on at the reception was awesome, and the band kept the dance floor full all night!

The day was, honestly, pretty perfect and we are so excited to have been able to celebrate with Lynn + Brian and their friends and family! Congrats you two!


Here are the kickass vendors (with links) that made their day even more wonderful:

Ceremony Venue: First Unitarian Society

Reception Venue: High Noon Saloon

Officiant: Rev. Jerry Mosser

Band: Blue Water Kings

Groom’s Tux: Lucca Men’s Clothing

Wedding Jewelry (Rings): Chalmers

Hair: Hattie Chamberlin (IG:

Florist: daffodil*parker

Event Coordinator: Ashley Kuehnel of Midwestern Bride

Wedding Cake & Desserts: Mai Kou Vang (IG: @kousteroni)

Catering: Upstairs Downstairs Catering

Table & Chair Rental: Event Essentials

Decor Rental: A La Crate Rentals


Bailey + Mason: A Romantic Orpheum Theater Wedding


Bailey + Mason had a romantic as hell wedding at the orpheum in madison, wi

When asked to tell a little story that gave me a glimpse into what their love was all about, Bailey said frankly that she was reminded Mason was the one every time he put up with her puns (and vice versa) and I think that says a lot about how much these two value having a good time together (and a good laugh because puns are hilarious)!

Hanging out with the Bailey’s side of the wedding party during the getting ready portion of the day was nothing short of magical! We sang along to Toto’s Africa (as one does) and just generally had a ball. When it was time for the first look, Bailey made her entrance via that awesome staircase in Orpheum’s grand lobby, and then we were off for some fun rainbow colored wedding party photos, including a guest appearance from Woodford, their Chow/Lab mix!

The ceremony was gorgeous (I’m gonna be honest, I wasn’t sure how hard lighting would be in the balcony of the Orpheum, but it was pretty sweet and if any of you are considering getting married, there, you should do it!) and the reception was fun and funny and filled with joy; All the things a wedding reception should be, including some pretty hilarious toast pranks!

Enjoy the photos of these two, and join me in wishing a big congratulations to Bailey + Mason!

- Sam

Here are the vendors (with links) that helped make their day A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Ceremony + Reception Venue: The Orpheum

Officiant: Casey Keyes (bride’s cousin)

Bridal Gown: Vera’s House of Bridals

Groom’s Suit (and all wedding party suits): Generation Tux

Wedding Jewelry: Luo Jewelry

Hair Stylist: ANiU Salon and Spa

Makeup: DIY by the Bride!

Florals: DIY

Event Coordinator: Sarah Davidson with Harmonious Union Events

Wedding Cake + Desserts: Bloom Bake Shop (2 small cakes) and Costco (sheet cake)

Catering: Blue Plate Catering


Late Summer Mix Tape: 2019 Edition


An Impermanence-Themed Mix

  1. Ingrid Michaelson: Keep Breathing

  2. Rilo Kiley: The Execution of All Things

  3. Guster: What You Wish For

  4. Nada Surf: Always Love

  5. Neko Case: I’m an Animal

  6. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: Let It Ride

  7. Clem Snide: All Green

  8. Belly: Feed the Tree

  9. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Echo

  10. Laura Veirs: Spelunking

  11. Iron & Wine: Flightless Bird, American Mouth

  12. Lord Huron: Until the Night Turns

  13. Lana Del Ray: Born to Die

  14. The Weakerthans: Slips and Tangles

  15. Yo La Tengo: Sugarcube

  16. Sufjan Stevens: Casimir Pulaski Day

  17. Annie Lennox & Steven Lipson: Don’t Let it Bring You Down

  18. The Coral: Pass It On

  19. Avenue Q Musical: For Now

Some Days are Better Than Others


Today was one of the ‘Others’

I had a rough night last night. Couldn’t sleep for anything, was having a pain flareup, had the start of a wicked headache (plus cramps, because being a lady is rad); you get the picture.

After clocking tops three hours of sleep combined, I decided to take the day to rest, and unsurprisingly felt incredibly guilty. Guilty for missing out on work I felt I should be doing, guilty for taking a day to not be productive (though I still watched some tutorials from bed and did dishes, so… Not entirely unproductive). The point is, I took a rare rest day, and felt so bad about it the entire time I basically ruined it.

All these thoughts go through my head in times like this. Thoughts that I’m a failure (for needing the rest) that I’m lazy (for not being productive enough), or that I’m a fundamentally bad person in some deep, intrinsic and ill-defined way. I enumerated in my head the ways in which I’m a bad mom, a bad wife, a bad business owner, a bad worker, a bad friend, and used my need for rest as yet another stick to beat myself with.

It can be so. damn. hard. to get out of that shame cycle once you’re deep in it, right? It always reminds me of this song by Emmylou Harris, Red Dirt Girl. There’s a line in the song that goes like this; “One thing they don’t tell you ‘bout the blues when you got ‘em, you keep on fallin’, cuz there ain’t no bottom, there ain’t no end.” It speaks so much to how I feel when I’m in the middle of one of these episodes.

I’ve been reading a lot of about self-compassion lately, and it just so happens that I was finishing a chapter on it while I was deep in my feels (you know, all the “you suck and you’re letting everyone down” feels), and I took a breath, and decided to ride it out. Decided I didn’t have to go deeper into Pit ‘O Shame, but could call it what it was, which is fundamentally untrue, while still honoring that I was feeling depressed about it. I did a sit (which is what we call meditating at my house, and I actually do it lying down because my back is so bad), hugged my husband and my kid, pet my kitty as much as she would let me, and just tried to recognize that this too shall pass.

The concept (and practice) of self-compassion is very new to me. I’m hard on myself as a general rule, and learning to give myself grace and the room to have, oh I don’t know, human needs and flaws and things, has been really difficult and really slow going.

I don’t have a snappy ending for this post, or even a point really, other than that depression and shame are hard, but wanted to get it out there in case anyone else is struggling too. You’re not alone, this being a human being shit is not for the faint of heart, and even when it feels like you couldn’t possibly, I hope that you can find just a teeeeeeeny bit of self-compassion within you, and use that to start to work your way back up out of that dark place. Start small, remind yourself you’re a human being and you’re doing the best you can, and let’s see where we both go from there.


Michelle + Alice: An Intimate Lakeside Madison Wedding


Michelle + Alice had a laid-back and family-centered summer wedding overlooking gorgeous lake Mendota

When Michelle first approached me about photographing her wedding to Alice, she was up front that it was going to be a small shindig, and that they were only looking for a small number of photos, but one of the things that was most important to her was being able to have photos not just of her and Alice, but also of the two of them with Michelle’s 5 year old daughter, Maddie as well.

Michelle talked a lot about how special the relationship was between Alice and Maddie, and as a person who knows how pivotal a step-parent relationship can be (and so thankful that my kiddo has two amazing step-parents who love him dearly and who he loves just as much), it was so wonderful to see the really neat bond between Alice and Maddie.

On the day itself, both brides looked joyful and radiant (love has that effect on folks), and so damn happy and excited it made me smile from ear to ear! After the first look at Alice’s parents’ house, we headed over to a friends house right on Lake Mendota for the wedding ceremony! Right when I met Maddie, she dubbed me ‘her’ photographer, and proceeded to show me the dolls that Michelle + Alice made at her request that looked like the two of them (who Maddie calls Mama and Mommy, respectively). I was impressed by the ingenuity of the dolls, because, as Michelle pointed out, it’s actually pretty hard to find a butch lesbian asian doll, so they basically made one, and I’d say they did a pretty great job.

Once everyone had a little food in them, it was time for the ceremony. For what was to be a fairly short ceremony, I was moved to tears on more than one occasion as Michelle + Alice not only promised to love and care for one another, but also read their own vows to Maddie centered around family and unity. *I’m not crying, you’re crying*

The ceremony ended and as I packed up to head out, I still had that big smile on my face because Michelle + Alice’s wedding was a sweet reminder of how amazing love can be, and because I could tell these two awesome humans view love similarly to how I do, which is a thing you do, not just a thing you feel.

Enjoy the photos, and thank you for having me there to celebrate with you!



Camp Thunder Thighs


A fat-positive camp with a focus on healing our troubled relationships with our bodies

I never went to camp as a kid, not the overnight kind anyway, with bunks and s’mores and all that, and I’m newer to this whole body and fat acceptance movement, so I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect at Camp Thunder Thighs. The camp was hosted by Virgie Tovar, an author, activist and one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on weight-based discrimination and body image.

I headed to Sausalito, California with some trepidation. First of all, I was scared of not belonging. As a person who has had thin privilege (being ‘straight-sized’) until the last 5 years or so, I haven’t experienced a lot of the same size-based stigma that those who have been in larger bodies their whole lives have. I was worried that I would feel like an outsider even though I live in a larger body now. Along those same lines, I was worried about not connecting with people or that I wouldn’t be able to contribute to the conversations in a meaningful way. This is a fear I often have, and if I’m being real, isn’t necessarily specific to this event. Last, but not least of course, as a person with a chronic illness that causes me chronic joint pain and sometimes limits my mobility, I was concerned about how my body would feel during the weekend and if I would be in a significant amount of pain from travel, walking, etc.

I was super happy to be carpooling from the San Francisco airport with the awesome Teri of THP Studios, a body-acceptance educator and intimate lifestyle portrait photographer based in Winnipeg, Canada, and just that first interaction with a fellow camper was so nice it put my mind at ease a bit about the whole “What if no one likes me and I don’t make any friends?!” concern.

While camp was filled with learning sessions, laughs, s’mores, and campfire sing-a-longs, it was so much more. Some of the powerful messages that we discussed just blew my mind. They were transformative. Among them were the following:

  • That choosing yourself is a radical act of treason against patriarchal and fat-phobic systems of oppression

  • That fat-phobia isn’t about the weight, it’s about control and is intertwined with misogyny, racism, ableism, and colonialism/white supremacy

  • That fat isn’t synonymous with ugly (I have REALLY personally struggled with this one, not in how I view others, but in how I view myself, and it’s something I continue to work on and unpack)

  • That boundary setting is an act of respect towards the self and a declaration of worthiness

  • How normalizing all bodies is soooo important

  • That fat people (and people of color and queer people and women) are not individually responsible for their own mistreatment and abuse or for systemic mistreatment

  • How important it is to curate your social media and what is being put into your brain - positive representation of fat and disabled people is so key

  • That ‘flattering’ is what we call anything that makes us appear thinner

  • Most of what we consider “striving for happiness” is actually striving to obtain or maintain privilege

  • That the negative self-talk and self-shame and self-hate (particularly the weight-related kind) is like your native language, and it’s based on your experiences in your family of origin, and in society at large, but body acceptance is like a second language. It may take you years to become fluent, and when you’re tired, stressed, or overwhelmed, you might momentarily revert back to your native language, but you always have that second language available to you and you can choose to use it

  • That we are all precious as fuck, and need to remember that immutable fact

There were some difficult and uncomfortable moments too, and that’s to be expected with doing this kind of personal and community-based work in a society that de-values those in larger body sizes. There were difficult moments around the concept of grieving the thin ideal (if you’re working through your own journey around body acceptance, this is something that you’ll probably be familiar with, and it’s hard as fuck). On the other side of the coin, Virgie had the amazing idea of a Vulnerability Fashion Show, in which campers dressed up in an outfit they might struggle to wear in day to day life, or something they’ve been wanting to wear out and haven’t felt comfortable doing. While this was a strictly photo-free event, all I can say I’ve never experienced something as amazing and terrifying as strutting my stuff in a vulnerable outfit (which you can see in the photos below that were taken later at the beach), but then being cheered for so loudly and joyfully by 30 ladies and feeling so damn supported (not to mention like a rock star).

With the difficult moments were some moments so damn joyful it brought me to tears.

  • Seeing dolphins and seals on the first trip to the beach

  • The vulnerability fashion show (again, both terrifying and wonderful) - the amazing feelings surrounding cheering for and being cheered for by so many amazing women and the look of sheer joy, tenderness, vulnerability and pride on each woman’s face as she strutted down the aisle to whistles and cheers and more support than I’ve ever felt

  • The impromptu beach photo shoot (which you’ll see below!) - badass fat feminist babes in bikinis and crop tops rolling around on the beach being sexy and powerful and precious as fuck

  • Guided meditation focusing on the parts of ourselves that we struggle with and talking through that experience together

  • The campfire question & answer times and the unprompted childhood song singalong when we all sang songs from The Little Mermaid and ate fancy s’mores

I left camp a changed person in all the best ways. I made friends I hope to keep for a lifetime. And I learned things that will help me heal my relationship with my body, and view my body as the friend she has tried to be to me all along. I hope you read these words, and view these images of joyful, beautiful, fat babes living their best damn life and you see how possible that is for you too. #losehatenotweight

Fat Positive Resources (with links)


Blogs & Articles

Books (links in book title)

Communities (links in community title)

A Guide for Partners Concerned About Their Significant Other Giving Up on Diet Culture (link in title)

  • Resilient Fat Goddex (CW: Article discusses partner’s perceived difficulties with the fat positive movement and may be hard to read in more vulnerable moments, but is a great guide and resource list for partners who are concerned about their spouses and significant others giving up on dieting but who want to be supportive, etc.)


Aubrey + AJ: A Downtown Madison Engagement Session


a fun jaunt around iconic madison landmarks and ending with a summer Thunderstorm!

Aubrey + AJ, who live in the great state of Texas but are having their wedding up in the Madison area to be closer to family, came into town mid-July to scope out wedding plans and had their engagement photos at some of the most iconic downtown landmarks.

We started off at the Memorial Union Terrace for waterfront photos (and Babcock hall ice cream!) then scooted over to the Capitol Building (look at that dramatic sky) and then hit the Monona Terrace just as the rain started pouring and by the time we got back to the car we were all soaked to the bone but laughing!

We can’t wait for Aubrey + AJ’s wedding! Enjoy these fun engagement photos (and go get yourself some Babcock hall ice cream while you’re at it!)

- Sam


Ann + Sam: An Early Summer Engagement Session


Ann + Sam had perfect weather for their early summer engagement session in Fitchburg, WI

And it wasn’t even too buggy! (A minor miracle in a humid Wisconsin summer)

We started off snapping some photos with Ann + Sam’s adorable kitty friends at their apartment, then stopped by a little random stretch of woods that I thought was very striking (all dark evergreens and shadows, I love it!). We also had a blast at McKee Farms Park, singing ‘I Want It That Way’ while Ann + Sam slow-danced and giggled and it was pretty magical.

We finished up at the Vintage Brewing Company with some cocktails and good laughs, and I can’t wait for their wedding in June of next year! *squee* Enjoy the photos!



Spring Family Portraits on the Farm


These family portraits took place on a lovely spring day with perfect weather!

We got to feed adorable baby goats, play tag, and blow on dandelions during this family’s portrait session. It was so lovely to see these kiddos run around and to see their parents play right along with them! Also check out some of the cutest goofy faces ever!

Many thanks to Michelle + Jon for inviting me to come spend time with you and your family!



Octagon Barn Styled Shoot

Jewel-tones and vintage vibes galore

My (gender-neutral) Dudes, Dominique at Wood Violet Events + Styling does it again! She put together a G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S styled shoot with all my favorite stuff, like velvet, pops of marigold, vintage touches, and puppies!

Enjoy photos of this lush styled shoot!


Here are the vendors that helped make this styled shoot amazing:

Jewelry - Victoria Sterling Jewelry  

Rentals - Velvet Rentals

Planning + Coordination - Wood Violet Events + Styling

Installation/Floral Hoop/Coordinating Boutonniere - Five Green Acres

Table Floral - Madison Wedding Flowers

Personal Floral [Bouquet/Boutonnieres/Flat Lay Blooms] - Sunborn Gardens

Desserts [Cake Pops/Cookies/Red Velvet Parfait Cups] - Hailey's Sweets and Treats

Venue - The Octagon Barn  

Suit - The Black Tux

Dress - Rent The Runway

Hair & Makeup - Sabatke Hair & Makeup Transformations

Paper Products [Invitations/Table Numbers/Menu/Escort Cards] - a Bushel + a Peck

Models - Gabrielle + Dylan