The  Blog

recent stories

Whether it’s fabulous selfies wherever they go, carefully constructed shots of their latest restaurant meal….or someone who could talk your ear off with all the gear wishes of their hearts….Everyone has that one person in their life who is always taking pictures.

So, what do you get the photographer in your life?   Or, maybe Mom has been bugging you for a few ideas to put under the tree?

Just send her this list, I’ve got you covered.

Let’s look at 7 fun gifts for the Shutterbug in your life.  This is someone who is enthusiastic about taking photos, loves photography, but isn’t a professional or a gear head.   And actually, a pro or a gear head amateur would probably love these too.

  1. Canvas Wine Tote – $14 –  This tote is adorable, and any photographer who wastes away their nights staring into the glow of a computer screen will appreciate it.  Fill it with some wine to fuel those late-night editing sessions and you are golden.
  2. Podo Labs Stick & Shoot Camera – $69 – I LOVE this little guy.  It sticks to any surface and communicates with your smartphone.  No more selfie sticks or stretching your arm out beyond the socket – just stick, smile and click.   This is extra awesome for the Mom in your life – she gets to be IN the picture with this guy in her purse.
  3. Photography Patent Posters – $19 – A little inspirational and vintage-style art that can suit almost any decor.  A sophisticated homage to your love of photography, and a great conversation starter.
  4. Instax Camera ($54.99) and Instax Film Pack ($19.80) – These cameras are so fun.  It’s polaroids on a smaller scale, with simple and easy to use options.  Give your favorite photographer a chance to go analog and have some fun.  Kids really have a blast with these too!
  5. Wireless Bluetooth Camera Selfie Trigger – $7.99 – Another chance to be IN the pictures instead of always behind them.  This little remote lets you click away from inside an image.
  6. Power Add Bank – $14.99 – Hubby was gifted one of these last year, and you’ll see me stealing it on the regular.  Each battery pack holds multiple charges for your phone or tablet – so no worries about draining your batteries on your photo adventures.  It’s practical, but you will be hearing all about how often the recipient uses this clever gift.
  7. Golden Hour T-shirt –  $28 – There are a lot of fun photography themed t-shirts out there.  But I like this one since it’s a little more subtle and invites conversation for those not familiar with this magical time of day.

For the aspiring photographer, the professional, or the avid amateur – any of these gifts would leave a serious impression!

  1. The Think Tank International Bag – $399.75 – I’ve had this exact bag for 10 years, and it still looks nearly brand-new.  It’s been hauled around more airports, photoshoots and weddings than I can count…and it just keeps delivering.  The interior is fully customizable to suit your particular gear needs, it fits in every airplane overhead compartment, and it’s built to last a lifetime.
  2. Creative Live Photography Classes – various $ – Buy your photographer a gift certificate to this amazing online education site.  They’ll be able to expand their knowledge and skills in hundreds of areas – all from the comfort of their couch in their pajamas.
  3. Think Tank Photo Lily Deanne Mezzo Bag – $149.75 – Can you handle more bag love?  Because I am deeply in love with this bag.  I’ve been carrying around multiple versions of other shooting bags for years, always disappointed with how they didn’t hold up.  This bag checks all the boxes and then some!  More space without the bulk, fully customizable, structured enough to stand up when set down (no spilling lenses!), but soft enough to hug your body while shooting.  I could go on and on…this is THE bag.  And, it’s 50% off right now….
  4. Holga Camera – $39.99 – These little cameras come in a variety of colors and styles, but the insides are what matter.  As simple as a camera can be – light, film, shutter and basic settings.  Trust the magic of silver nitrate exposed to light over time, and let this camera unleash some hidden creativity for you.  The basic process they demand frees you from the technical side of photography and results in lots of happy accidents.
  5. Ilford HP5 Black & White Film – $8.29 – This is my favorite film.  Pair it with the Holga camera above and you’ve really got a combo gift.  But give several rolls alone and you’ve just handed a photographer candy.  Film, to use however they want, on whatever they want – that’s fun times.  Make it even better with a gift card for processing to your local lab.
  6. Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza –  $30 – This is a totally bipartisan recommendation, all politics aside.  You could be on the far right and still love the photography in this book.  Souza is a brilliant photojournalist who shot day in and day out, for years, capturing the story that was President Obama.  You’ll be astounded by his neverending creativity and interest in a single subject, and his creative use of elements he had on hand to make brilliant compositions.
  7. Irving Penn: Centennial – $49.98 –  It’s Irving Penn, the consummate portrait artist.  The one we all copy, look up to, seek to allude to.  This tome belongs on every photographer’s bookshelf for endless inspiration and thoughtful reflection.

 

 

 

**Many links provided are affliliate links.  So if you use them, I get a little something for sending you that direction.  Thanks!

...

Tara and Victor’s wedding day felt like a love letter to Villa Terrace.  They used every inch of the estate, celebrating the nooks and crannies, decorating the vistas, reveling and delighting in the atmosphere it exudes.  These two certainly have an eye for hosting a great party – whether it was toasts delivered from a balcony, cocktails among fine works of art, a first dance under twinkling lights and stars, dinner al fresco with a Lake Michigan view, and even an impromptu performance from the groom.  This is a summer wedding that takes in all the season and the historic mansion have to offer and garnishes it with love.

The Credits:

Venue: Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
Planner: Gracious Events
Floral: Gracious Events
Catering: Gracious Events
Bride’s Gown: Pronovias  purchased at: Vera’s House of Brides
Makeup: Blush by Brittany
Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal
Men’s Suits: Michael Kors
Stationer: Creative by Jennifer
Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Favors: Taffy Town Taffy
Lighting: Milwaukee Airwaves
Band: Lead Bottom Band

...

Images come across the editing desk long before they show up on the blog… and sometimes I just can’t wait to share them with you.  So, I have to jump the process and share at least one with you today from last weekend’s mini-sessions.  Funny Ellie and her energetic bro Nathan made their session a bundle of fun!  Twenty minutes flew right by and I was lucky to get this awesome shot.

...

Sometimes there’s a location that holds all your warmest memories.  The place where you enjoyed ice cream cones in the sun, where you splashed your sister in the pool, where you watched Mom and Dad stroll into the sunset hand-in-hand, where you wasted away afternoons in a good book, where you celebrated graduations, where you dreamed of the dark and handsome man you would marry one day.  And then one day you wake up and realize it’s all coming full circle.  You are making another memory in this special place, one that will be a chapter page in your life.  You are marrying that dark and handsome man, with the broad smile you hadn’t counted on but that makes you weak in the knees, in your favorite place, on a most magnificent day.

The Credits:

Venue: The American Club
Planner: Tailored Engagements
Floral: The American Club
Cake: The American Club
Flower Cake Decorations: The Cake Lady
Cupcakes: Blooming Lotus Bakery
DJ: Milwaukee Airwaves
Bride’s Gown: Pronovias
Bridesmaid Dresses: WToo by Watters
Suits: The Black Tux
Makeup: Kate Troxell
Ceremony Musicians: Fretless Strings

...

It was 2015.  He was the course doctor at the PGA tour at Whistling Straits.  She was his new-ish girlfriend enjoying the views on the course, the gameplay of the pros and the warm sunshine.  There were benefits to dating Ashok, many of which seemed to revolve around awesome sporting events and even more awesome venues in Kohler.  There were other things too, of course.  His winning smile, his gentle nature, the care and consideration he treated her with, the child-like energy he exuded when talk turned to his beloved Corvette.  Oh, and those four children he gushed about.  She hadn’t met them yet, but that wasn’t necessary to realize how great they were.  So, there she stood, sunshine at her back, the wind off of Lake Michigan blowing her brown hair away from her face.  She’d been at this hole for awhile, but she figured he’d be by as the foursome moved on.   Then it happened.  The crowd started to rustle, a low buzz of conversation that grew to higher tones of concern and panic.  An amplified voice announced the game was to be suspended.  A tornado warning had been issued.  She looked around, not sure where to head amongst the hills and valleys of the Irish course.  And there he was, running over to her.  “Come on, let’s get you out of here” he called as he ushered her into his medical golf cart.  He dodged the groups and tents.  “Shouldn’t you be…?” she started to ask.  But Ashok was focused and not really listening.  He pulled up in front of a shelter, escorting her out of the golf cart and to the door.  He smiled at her, then looked over his shoulder.  She was sure his duties were elsewhere.  “Okay?” he asked her, looking expectantly into her eyes.  She nodded.  “Good.  I love you.  Bye.”  And off he ran, back to the cart, back to the course, and back to his job.  And there she stood, stuck to the ground and speechless.  He hadn’t said that before.  

...

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it every year – the wedding that falls at the end of June gets all the good “wedding day juju”.  I swear!  The weather is perfect, the setting is gorgeous, and the light is all kinds of magical.  Annie & Mike’s day had all these things – but it is something more about this wedding that makes it really special.  It’s the smile on her Mom’s face as the dress is buttoned, it’s the look in Mike’s eye as Annie comes down the aisle, it was the jokes Annie & her Dad shared outside the church, it was Mike’s “let’s do it!” attitude as we cruised around the golf course, it was the ‘can’t breathe I’m laughing so hard’ moments in the speeches, it was in the poetic words of Annie’s sister in her toast, and it was definitely in the way they sang their first dance to each other, as they swirled around and around the dance floor.                                                                                                          

The Credits:

Wedding Planner: Clementine Custom Events
Ceremony Venue: St. Francis Xavier Church – Wilmette, IL
Reception Venue: Westmoreland Country Club
Hair & Makeup: Kate Johnson Artistry
Florals: Edwards Florists
Cake: Sweet Mandy B’s
Band: Carol Sarlas Band

...

Every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of something I wouldn’t usually do.  If I’m feeling bold, I’ll go down that path creatively.  I’m often surprised by where this takes me – sometimes good, sometimes bad.  This time, it was good.

...

The Groom often gets overlooked in planning a wedding day look.   Throw on a suit, fix the hair, grab your scotch and you are ready to go, right?

Not so much. 

This is your wedding day, and you can have items that are special and meaningful to you as well.  Your bride gets “old, borrowed, new and blue” as well as many other accessories and details that are special and significant.  Why overlook such attention to detail for yourself?  It’s easy to fall into the ‘here’s what I should wear’ mindset and follow along with the conventional checklist.  Let’s step out of that mindset, and into one where we shine a spotlight on your style choices.

I’m going to tell you right here, right now – there is something very sexy and attractive about a man that takes the time and care to pay attention to the details of his look.  You have dozens of options in this arena, so let’s explore, shall we?

The Suit.

I’ve spoken before about how a groom deserves his own suit, well fitted and designed for him.  There are a lot of options with that suit to make it your own.  Choose your lining – make it

Choose your lining – make it luxurious, a bit funny, or something nostalgic.

Have your name, your initials, or your wedding date embroidered on the breast pocket.

Find a piece of your father’s suit or tie or your grandfather’s – have it sewn into the lining inside as a patch, or as part of the embroidery above.   What better way to carry a little legacy with you on your wedding day?

 

The Tie or Bowtie:

This is the most obvious place to make a choice that shows off your style.  You can have color, pattern, subtle nuances.  You don’t have to match anyone else, and you don’t have to have just black or white options either.  Tiny elephants, a perplexing mix of golf clubs, or stripes of the alma-matter – the possibilities are endless.

Think about how you want this to look overall – skinny, wide, textured?  What kind of knot do you like – a full Windsor?  A half?  Test it out and see if that will work with your desired choice.  Many ties can be special ordered in a longer size if you need it.  For bowties – learn how to tie them, practice and be able to execute this yourself on your wedding day without the help of youtube.

You can also add subtle touches to this part of your look with an embroidered or sewn on patch on the inside – with your monogram, your bride’s initials, your wedding date.

Shoes & Socks:

Buy your own shoes.  Don’t rent them.  Can’t see why?  Click over to my previous post about this.

This is an opportunity to invest in some really wonderful dress shoes if you don’t already own a beloved pair.   Your bride has spent hours and probably more bills than you’d like to admit on her wedding day shoes – give your feet the same consideration.  Happy feet make for a happy groom.  And, you can wear them again and again.  Think about fun details like two-tone colors, cap-toe, wingtip, loafers – so many possibilities!

If you really want to show off your personality in a unique way – choose boots, tennis shoes, or oxfords.

Socks are a great way to “wink” at your personality and preferences.  Use them to express the love of a team, a character, a sport, or add a splash of color only the most observant guest will notice.

Shirts & Cufflinks:

There is one detail that each time I see it, I automatically think higher of the wearer.  It’s the monogrammed shirt cuff.  Nothing says “I pay attention” more than this small detail.  It’s usually in the same color as the shirt itself, and so very subtle – but noticing it feels like noticing a secret.  It’s just that extra finishing touch that adds so much to the look and the swagger of the man.

Cufflinks are like subtle gentleman jewelry.  There are thousands of options available to you.  Commemorate a special interest, invest in your first pair of a fine jewelry version, or wear a borrowed pair.  Some ideas I’ve seen and loved:

-A groom who wore the same cufflinks that his brother, father and grandfather had worn on their wedding days – now that’s a sweet legacy.  (You can start that with yours for future generations)  There was another Groom who wore his deceased grandfather’s cufflinks as a way to feel closer to him that day.

-Another Groom who wore his deceased grandfather’s cufflinks as a way to feel closer to him that day.

-A gifted set of cufflinks that showed maps of the couple’s birthplaces.

-A set of cufflinks made from the seats of the Groom’s favorite stadium.

-A set with the latitude and longitude numbers of the wedding venue engraved on them.  Subtle, with a meaning known only to you.

 

Watches, Bracelets, Tie Bars:

I think my husband’s watch habit started shortly before we got married.  Now it takes him longer to choose which watch to wear than it does me with earrings.  Each one has a significant meaning and purpose.  Which is why this is also a popular wedding gift option too.  If your beloved doesn’t know what to get you for this special day – maybe hint at a special timepiece you can cherish and pass down.  I’ve watched many a Groom blown away by opening a watch on the wedding day.

Not every man can carry off a bracelet well, but for those who can – they should.  Another awesome wedding gift idea, and something that can add a bit of pizazz to any look.  Maybe the wedding is when you add this to your everyday look with a special purchase.  Or, maybe you do this only for special occasions.  But catching a glimpse of a bracelet peeking out from the sleeve is a small thrill.

Tie Bars are seeing a resurgence thanks largely in part to retailer The Tie Bar, who has suggested this is a standard need in your look.  These can punctuate your look like nothing else can.  Like a cufflink, it’s the polish on the overall look.  Again, it’s an opportunity to express your personality or make a statement if you wish.

    

Pocket Squares, Handkerchiefs, Collar Stays, Belts, & Suspenders:

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve helped a room of men fold their pocket squares.  I learned how from this groom, and I’ve added other options to my repertoire since.  The point here is; that too often – the pocket square is an after thought.  Pick a good one – something that adds to your look instead of just blends in.  Learn how to fold it.  Even better, since this is largely decorative – have your tailor fold it and sew it to a card for you so that it stays put and perfect all day.

A handkerchief is not a pocket square.  They look the same – but this one is meant to be used.  Even better, it’s meant to be offered to a weepy Bride or Mom in an act of chivalry.  It’s certainly something that hails from a bygone era, but heed the example.  My own father still carries a handkerchief with him every day, and it’s one of the most endearing details about him.  There has been many a time where I’ve needed to wipe my eyes, and seeing a handkerchief offered up – it’s like a hug.  Carry one gentlemen.

If you like a crisp collar, you need collar stays.  And here again – they can be a quiet way to add to your look.  Get a stamped set, a monogrammed set, or even a fine gold set and add a level of polish and sophistication to the day.

I love a man in suspenders.  There’s just something about the look – it says “dressed up”.  But a belt works just as well.  Choose your materials well, and use this as an opportunity to add surprise to your look if you wish.  You’ll be taking that jacket off at some point during the night – why not reveal a set of paisley straps?  If you are a cowboy at heart, go ahead and splurge on a good belt buckle and punctuate your belt with it.

No matter what you choose gentlemen – own your look.  Educate yourself so you can make choices that make sense for you.  Don’t just choose something from a catalog and stumble through dressing that day.  It’s your wedding day – you should feel more yourself that day than any other.

...

I adore Milwaukee’s Villa Terrace.  I mean, wrap-it-up-in-a-bear-hug, plant-kisses-rapidly-all-over-your-face – LOVE.  I’ve shot there dozens of times, and each time I try to find a new angle, a new spot, a different way of seeing.  It’s a delightful game, and when I know I’ve won it – I’m beaming as I edit.  Like here, where we went up to the second floor to catch the last rays of light, admire the view, and soak in the experience.  

...

To step foot on the land that Carrie & Ron have purchased is to know them.  It is overflowing in features; rolling hills, magnificent positioning in the sun’s path, white rustic fence, long drive, remote and rural feel, open expanses of fields, untamed wildness, and the twinkle of both their eyes – a white clad barn built with obvious love, just waiting for their horses.  Ron could talk about it, the garden they started already, the big “toys” he gets to acquire now, for hours.  Carrie speaks mostly of the horses that she’ll import from Europe and raise here, the ones who will watch over the pasture in their retirement.  The two of them step foot on the soil of this land and you can watch their stresses melt, their hearts lift, and their eyes sparkle – all at once.  They’ve searched for this property for many years.  They were nearly ready to give up.  You never know how close you are to your goals sometimes.  2017 has been one of those years to break through for these two.  They will have bought the land to build their dreams on, broken ground on a new home, and brought their 15  year (maybe more?) relationship to a defining moment of marriage.

         

...