Arely Skywalker | Casual Business Portraits at Sunset

My smart, nerdy, beautiful friend Arely asked if I could take her new headshots and I was so delighted to work with her. This summer, we were both developer interns at Hiebing where we bonded over boardgames, programming, art, and John Snow eating pizza — it's not often you find friends who love all the same things you do, all the way down to sharing an unhealthy love for Assassin's Creed (she's got me one-upped with a tattoo, though). We had so much fun, as usual, even though we had to do a last minute location change. 

I've been really inspired by the "Not-So-Corporate" headshot mantra ever since I discovered Portraits to the People. I always had a difficult time with the classic stiff, posed business portrait. You're told to look at the camera, cross your arms, and smile like you never do in real life. Not only do these types of portraits lack personality, but they lack authenticity too. Why don't we show employers who we really are? Employers only want to know two things, which are 1.) Can this person do the job? and 2.) Do I like this person enough to work with them? 

I'm of the theory that if we spend 60% of our lives at work, then we better damn-well love the people we work with. And most people don't realize how much you can show your personality and energy through beautiful photographs. I really love directing people in ways that make them feel comfortable enough to show who they are — hopefully that's what you'll find in miss Arely's photos below. 

Here's to helping people get jobs, one portrait at a time.

And in other news! Ari is a super badass programmer, competitive boardgamer, artist, and digital specialist. Take some time to read a little bit more about her over here, here, and here



Ric + Mary | Small Outdoor Florida Vow Renewal

This past weekend we flew into St. Petersburg, Florida to see my family. My parents have been planning their small vow renewal for quite some time, so it was exciting to see it all come together. They don't have many pictures from their actual wedding day so I wanted to make sure I captured every detail, even down to making them do a First Look :D

They reserved the outdoor porch of the historical Peninsula Inn & Spa and my mom, as usual, gave some flare to the ceremony spot with her own decorations. My little niece Mikal and cousin Sage were flower girls, my beautiful sister Erin played the ukulele and sang, and Pastor at Grace Connection Church Wayne (or as we say, "Wayne the Pain"!) remarried my parents. Surprisingly I didn't cry, but I think I was too focused on how much my face hurt from smiling. 

Total transparency here: I didn't think my parents were going to make it. About three years ago they went through an incredibly tough time, and I was positive that they were going to part ways. The idea of them not being together really hit me hard as an adult - you would think it'd be easier, but oftentimes the stress of divorce among older couples on their adult children is even more severe. My childhood felt tainted, I felt betrayed, guilty, alienated, and I couldn't figure out how to be supportive.

I stayed up all night worrying and scoured the internet for articles on how to deal with your parents' divorce as an adult. I even contemplated how we were going to move to Florida and help my parents pick up the pieces. Was my mom going to be okay? Was my dad going to fall a part? Will one of them be upset if I talk to the other one? How would holidays work? What will it be like to see them in the same room, but not together?

Before making any decisions, my parents spent some time a part. And I spent many late nights on the phone with my father who would cry and repeat, "I've lost the love of my life." It was hard. Really hard - and probably 1000x harder for them. My mom eventually told us that she just couldn't live without him, and although I was apprehensive I wanted to support her decision.

They started going through intense therapy and I watched their relationship, and them as people, really change over the last couple years. My dad became more open and more loving. My mom became stronger, more independent, and I saw her confidence skyrocket. Not long after, we helped my dad plan a secret proposal. Mary was completely surprised and said yes, of course. 

And that's what brought us to last Saturday's vow renewal. For them it's a brand new start. For us (their kids), it's a lesson in forgiveness, love, and growth. Thanks for being my parents. I love you guys.

Casey + Eric | Wisconsin Winter Lifestyle Engagement

You guys! Another new blog post! I'm on a roll right now. Eric has been a longtime family friend, and I was so excited when he asked if I could take his engagement photos. Casey is wonderful, sweet, hilarious, and they're such a perfect pair that I can't even stand it.

One of my favorite things is to take photographs of people in their own environments, whether it be in their own home, a coffee shop they frequent, or even a porch where they spend every Sunday morning together. And that's exactly what we did for this session.

Eric and Casey have a beautiful old Wisconsin home and their only requirement was to get a few photos with their dog Odin (scroll down to see his bowtie!), so they let me run with whatever ideas I had. We setup inside their home, browsed through some photos, drank some fizzy water - my new favorite thing - and danced on the frozen Monona Bay behind their favorite coffee joint Lakeside Street Coffee House.

Yay, Eric and Casey! So happy for you both.

Jeremy + Sam | Wisconsin Winter Forest Engagement

Happy Valentine's Day! I thought it was only fitting to post a recent engagement session. These are two of my greatest friends, and I was so happy when they asked if I could take their engagement photos. We drove to Sun Prairie, Wisconsin and walked to an area of Sheehan Park where there's beautiful rows of trees.

Both of them are Star Wars fans, so they were on board for wearing the Stormtrooper helmet and pretending to be Obi-Wan (fist pump!). This was probably one of my favorite shoots, and I'm so excited for these two.

<insert heart emoji here>

or to dance unabashedly

Last week was Thanksgiving, and although I'm not really one for holiday spirit, I really do enjoy the time with family. I know not everyone gets the chance to be surrounded by family, or have family that gets along, so I truly am thankful for my luck.

I've been taking care not to wield my camera everywhere I go this year, which is difficult for me, because living in the moment has never been something that comes easy. I'm constantly worried that I won't remember certain moments in time as I get older. I've been scared of growing old ever since I was 6 - you can even ask my mom. So I capture everything I can, mostly because I never want the things I love to leave my memory. 

But I'm slowly realizing that I can live in fear or I can dance, so absolute and unabashedly, like my little niece on Thanksgiving. These were the only photos I took on Turkey Day this year, but I usually take much, much more. I was glad that I didn't view the entire day through that black box.

I decided to grab the camera from my bag when I heard Zoey giggling in the other room by herself. She was watching an animated movie about a bee named Maya. I opened the door and asked if I could take a couple pictures. She jumped up on the bed and said, "OKAY!" and started wildly dancing in circles. The dancing kept going, and Zoey kept saying, "AGAIN!" despite being out of breath - she was only thinking about where her feet were moving, and I'm not even sure if she was all that concerned about where they would land.

I can learn a lot from her.