Family

A Trip to Portland, OR

 
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An excellent choice for my first full week vacation in more than six years...

Seriously, SIX years since I last took a full week off. I'd ask what's wrong with me, but I already know the answer, I'm a bit of a workaholic. <insert shocked face emoji here>

But... Nonetheless, I could not be more thrilled with our choice of city for my first vacation longer than a weekend in forever! We went to Portland, OR and stayed in the most amazingly gorgeous AirBnB (thanks Mike + Felicity!) We walked around downtown, went to Powell's and browsed the books, checked out the Portland Art Museum (who had an AWESOME Laika exhibit on claymation!), and visited the Planetarium at OMSI! 

We also had plenty of time for relaxing and reading and drawing, which was pretty freakin' sweet. 

Also, So. Much. Food. 

Enjoy the photos! 

--Sam 

 

Ryan's Newborn Portraits

 
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Meet little miss ryan: An actual Christmas miracle

Ryan (sidebar: I LOVE it when names break gender stereotypes and Ryan is such a cute girls' name!) was born on Christmas day to two of the sweetest humans, Sunaina + Kyle. (You might remember them from such adventures as this one here and also here.)

I got to meet Ryan just under 2 weeks after she was born, and got to catch up with her unsurprisingly sleep-deprived parents for a bit before we settled into photos. Let me say that I have never photographed a newborn who was so wide awake (sorry parents!) and expressive during their photo shoot! Normally we're lucky if we get even a handful of shots with eyes open, but Ryan was not to be outdone, and made the cutest most adorable faces for her photos! 

I think some of my favorite photos from the session (and it was super hard to choose!) are the ones of Sunaina + Kyle getting her dressed together. It reminded me of how I felt when Rob and I first brought Ben home, and the constant feeling of "We have no idea what we're doing, but, here goes!" that accompanied most of that first year with him. 

I feel pretty strongly that being a parent is one of the hardest, most joyful, most exhausting, and most magical jobs you can take on. For that reason, I think it's so important that new parents in particular extend themselves the grace to have hard days (no, you don't have to love every second of being a parent to be a good one - I happen to really dislike getting pooped on and I think I'm still a pretty decent mom). Sleepless nights and projectile poop aside, one of the greatest things about being a parent is seeing your child grow and learn and generally just turn into the person they'll become, and we wish Sunaina + Kyle all of the happiness possible at the start of that journey. I have no doubt Ryan is to do great things! 

Welcome to earth, Ryan! We're glad to have you. :) 

--Sam 

 

MMoCA Family Portraits

 
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Celebrating a holiday family reunion and an elopement

Kristin (a.k.a. 'KB', one of my very first friends when Rob and I moved to Madison, WI in 2006) and her husband, Brian (a.k.a. 'BK' - you can't make this stuff up) eloped a few months ago, and got to celebrate with her parents and brothers, who traveled from Alabama and braved the Wisconsin weather to see KB and BK over the holidays. 

As a Christmas gift, KB coordinated a mini portrait session at MMoCA, an iconic downtown Madison staple, and her family now has not only some great memories of Madison, but photos of all of them together for the first time in a while, along with their newest family member, BK. 

Enjoy the photos!

--Sam 

 

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 

 

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 

 

Family Portraits in the Park

 
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Erin + Dan and the kids had family photos taken in a park that means a lot to them

I love it when people have photos in places that are significant to them. Erin + Dan (and the kids) took fall family photos in the park behind their house, because it's where the kids play almost daily, and where they watch the sun set each night. 

The kids, Grace, Ben, and Isaac, were super fun and goofy, and really got into the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors they were playing. They climbed all over stuff, flipped out of swings (I used to do it too but now that I'm an adult who has seen an ER bill, this is terrifying to watch!), and were generally pretty freakin' awesome. I was also super happy to get some photos of Erin + Dan. I really love it when parents get some of just the two of them during family sessions. 

Enjoy the photos, and some of the last of the fall colors!

--Sam 

 

Evan, Tia, + Brynn: Fall portraits for three child adventurers

 
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These three siblings had fun and personality to spare! 

So, if you don't live in Madison, then you might not know that for a mid-sized city, it's got a really small-town vibe, in that everyone knows everyone else, normally with no more than 2 degrees of separation. Laura, mom to Evan, Tia, and Brynn, used to manage a Starbucks in Middleton, back when I was an assistant manager at another Starbucks in Middleton, and Rob actually worked for her right around the time we had Ben. Flash forward 10 years later, and Rob and I have now photographed Laura's sister's wedding (which you can check out here) and probably now have more mutual friends than we did when we all worked together! 

On the day of the photos, we met at the UW Arboretum (and let me tell you, we were not the only ones taking in the gorgeous scenery!) and headed to one of my favorite spots in the whole place (I love Birch trees). Evan, the oldest, loves trees and was really excited to get photos hanging out next to trees, climbing in trees, really anything related to trees, which was awesome! Tia, the middle child, and Brynn, the youngest, both had tons of ideas for photos they wanted taken, and we got to take some fun 'flying' pictures, and lots of leaf throwing pics, which are my favorite! The kiddos also obliged me by telling some pretty funny jokes, and generally were fun, adventurous kids, who mostly got along with each other. ;) Thanks to Laura and her family for having me come take photos with them! 

--Sam 

 

Jenny + Adam's Family Portraits

 
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Family portraits at the UW Arboretum

Okay, so if it's not clear, I love the UW Arboretum. I love it for pictures, I love it for enjoying nature in every season, and I love it because it's the place where my husband proposed to me. It's a really magical place. 

Which makes it seem particularly suitable for portraits with kids. There is something magical about how kids look at the world, and how they move through it and interpret what they're seeing that is, honestly, refreshing. It's easy to just look at the world like an adult would. Easy, and sometimes depressing. So photographing Elizabeth (the oldest) and Victoria (the youngest) was such a treat as they were running around, exploring things, turning sticks into magic wands, and generally just being adorable giggle monsters. It was a good reminder to slow down and appreciate how wonderful the world can be, especially when it seems otherwise. 

Thanks to Jenny, Adam, and their awesome girls for a lovely afternoon and for that gentle reminder. 

--Sam 

 

Emily + Annabelle: A Mommy + Daughter Family Portrait session

 
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Family photos on the Ice Age Trail 

I was so happy to get to meet Emily and Annabelle (and their dog, Gracie) this past week! I love family portraits sessions in general, but there's always a special place in my heart for sessions that focus on Mamas and their kiddos. And any session where the family dog gets to come along is a-okay by me. 

Emily's daughter, Annabelle was such a character! Her outfit also reminded me of the movie Labyrinth! I had a feeling she and Ben would get along really well, since, like Ben, she had a wealth of funny faces and energy to spare (where do they get all that energy from?!) We played games, told jokes, and ran around, and had a great time, and I got to check out a new place for portrait sessions (it's gorgeous, isn't it?). I hope you all enjoy the photos, and spent some time in this awesome fall weather we're having (at least while it's not raining)!  

--Sam 

 

Family Portraits with hunter

 
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Photos with the Whole Family

Kim + Peter have family portraits taken with their kiddo, Alex, every year, but this year is a little different, and somewhat bittersweet. They recently received some bad health news about their puppy, Hunter. He likely won't be around too much longer, and Kim + Peter wanted to make sure that they were able to get in family portraits earlier than they normally would, so they could have the whole family together in photos. 

We met at Governor Nelson State Park for the early Fall portraits, and wandered around the park to different locations, playing games with Alex, giving treats to Hunter, and generally having a good time, even though the reason for the session was sad. Hunter is such a sweet dog, and I know his family loves him and is going to make his limited time as wonderful as it can be. I'm so glad they have time to say goodbye, and have portraits of all four of them together as a family! 

--Sam