Events

Meika's Bat Mitzvah

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A Community Coming Together to Celebrate a Coming of Age

For a non-religious person, I’ve always had a tender spot in my heart for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. I think there is something so solid, supportive, and loving about a community coming together to celebrate a coming of age, and helping a young adult to understand not only their place in their community and in their faith, but how they contribute positively to the world at large. These events are always a highlight in my year and Meika’s Bat Mitzvah was no exception.

Meika celebrated with friends and family on April 6th, and the party following the ceremony, held at the Hillel Foundation on the UW-Madison campus was a blast! Also, check out the donut wall, hand-made by one of Meika’s grandfathers!

Congrats to Meika and her family on such a joyous occasion!

-Sam

 
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Fireball X: Apocalypse

 
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Fireball Never Dies... 

Okay, I may have teared up at the final Fireball... kind of a lot. I LOVE this event, and was so sad that this was the final year, BUT, if it had to go, it definitely went out with bang. Enjoy the photos, and if you're feeling daring, you can check out some NSFW photos here (fair warning, there are flesh hooks, so if that is not your thing, which is totally okay, just know that it's coming!) 

--Sam 

 

Annual Forever in Our Hearts Remembrance Day

 
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For Parents who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, and early infant loss

Each year in October (National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month), local charity, Mikayla's Grace, hosts the Forever in Our Hearts Remembrance Day event. This event is a time for bereaved parents and families to come together and honor their babies, while supporting one another, and the community. The event includes a guest speaker and dove release, as well as a remembrance walk. 

Rob and I first began photographing this event in 2013, as a way to help support other parents who had experienced loss. During the time we were married, we lost 3 babies prior to having our son, Ben. These were devastating losses, and the loneliness I remember experiencing at the time was palpable. I remember feeling so isolated, and as though I have no one to talk to about my grief, and it wasn't until I was referred to a support group for parents who had lost babies to miscarriage, stillbirth, and early infant loss that I started to be able to put my life back together, and hope for the future. 

Mikayla's Grace is a charitable organization that strives to provide comfort and support to parents during one of the hardest things a parent can go through; the loss of a child. They have donated 525 Angel memory boxes, 575 NICU care packages, 130 Christmas NICU care packages, 500 Baby Loss Comfort Packages (for early pregnancy loss less than 16 weeks), 550 baby blankets, and 500 gowns with matching booties and hats to hospitals in Wisconsin.

The Annual Forever in Our Hearts Remembrance Day event in 2017 will be held this Saturday! 

Date: Saturday, October 7th, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM - 12: 00 PM
Location: BTC Events/BioPharmaceutical Technology Center
               5445 East Cheryl Parkway
               Madison, WI 53711

Itinerary:

9:00 Check-in registration begins
9:00 – 9:45 Pre-ceremony activities (Memorial areas, Food, Children’s face painting and crafts)
10:00 Remembrance Ceremony begins
Inspirational speaker  
Reading of babies names
11:00 Dove Release followed by Remembrance Walk

This event is so close to my heart, and if you or someone you love has experienced the loss of a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant loss, I would encourage you to attend the event this year. We'll be walking around taking photos, and also available for family portraits in front of the memorial wall. Please stop by and say hi. 

--Sam 

 

UCP's 30th Annual Celebrity Gala

 

United Cerebral Palsy’s Celebrity Gala & Auction 

Every year, United Cerebral Palsy of Dane County puts on a gala and silent auction featuring local media personalities, athletes, and community leaders serve as the personal wait staff to event sponsors for an evening to benefit UCP. This event has been one of Madison’s most memorable and enduring charity events for 30 years now, supporting a wonderful organization that is dedicated to understanding disabilities, creating opportunities and promoting a community where everyone belongs. Through their programs, they make a lasting difference in the lives of children and adults with a range of disabilities. I am so happy to have been involved with this event for two years in a row, and can't wait to be involved again next year! 

For more information on how you can you can help this fantastic organization, click here

--Sam 

 

Welcome Home, Gia!

 

A very special homecoming! 

I met Rachel + Michael nearly 2 years ago, when they adopted their little bundle of energy, Jack, from China in April of 2015. I was there to capture the moment that the couple's two other children, Lucca and Ella, got to meet their new brother, and it was one of the most wonderful, magical, and meaningful things I've ever had the honor of photographing. I thought such an event was a once in a lifetime thing, but happily for this family (and for me), I was wrong! 

Rachel reached out several weeks ago to let me know that they were adopting another child from China, a little girl named Gia (short for Gianna), and would I be available to photograph Gia's homecoming to meet her three new siblings, Lucca, Ella, and Jack. Heck yes I would be available! (I seriously can think of maybe like two things I wouldn't have rescheduled to be able to photograph another homecoming like this, one being my own son's birthday, and the other being a wedding!) 

When I arrived, the children's Grandma was there with them, happily awaiting the arrival of Mom, Dad, and Gia! Jack grabbed my hand and took me on a tour of the house, starting with Gia's room, that she'll share with her new big sister, Ella. Finally, everyone heard the garage door open, and Michael came in to let the kids know that Gia hadn't slept much on the plane, and would need a minute as she had just been woken up from a nap in the car, and was none too happy to be awake. As Rachel comforted Gia in another room before the official introductions, the kids all got to hug Michael for the first time since he and Rachel left to pick up Gia at the end of February. 

In a few, short minutes, Rachel walked out with a calmed Gia, who was nervously munching on a snack they had given her, as she took in her new surroundings. The other kiddos could barely contain themselves, and as soon as all of the children were introduced, they each in turn began running to grab toys they thought Gia might like, and returning to show off their treasures to a slightly overwhelmed new sister. 

We snapped a few family photos by the fireplace (after all, it's a tradition now!) and I was even lucky enough to get to see Gia smile! One of my favorite moments (besides everything) was when Gia was holding hands with Ella, and then the whole family joined in. I don't know Rachel + Michael well, but the picture seemed so symbolic of what I do know about them, which is that they, and their family, already loved, accepted, and embraced Gia with all of their hearts, and that Gia was meant to be a part of this family. 

What a great honor to get to witness a family being built in such a wonderful way, not once, but twice! Thanks to Rachel + Michael for inviting me to share those moments with your family, and, of course, welcome home, Gia! 

--Sam 

p.s. If you'd also like to see Jack's coming home pictures, click here

 

Fireball IX: The Nine Muses

 

The Fireball Masquerade is a Madison Original! 

I would try to describe this event, but honestly, the annual Fireball Masquerade that happens every January in Madison is, without a doubt, nigh impossible to describe. I'm going to highly encourage you to do yourself two favors: 

  • Look at these photos, because they will do a much better job of describing this amazing event than I will! 
  • Go to this event next year! You can check out all of the details on the event website: http://www.fireballmasquerade.com

Also, as you may be able to tell, this event is a little risqué. Rather than just surprising you, we chose some "safe for work" (or maybe a little borderline) photos for this blog post, but if you'd like to see more, check out some of our other favorite photos here and please note that the additional photos are probably NSFW. 

Enjoy, and we hope to see you next year! 

--Sam