This picnic was my first taste at photography beyond funny pictures with friends or random photographs of walks around town.
Gerrard-Hoeschler, a company my mother used to work for, would host these annual customer appreciation picnics. True to Wisconsin style there was beer available, as well as food and other beverages more suitable for those under 21.
The man in the picture directly below is Steve Noffke, the man I refer to as my Fairy Godfather. I had shown up to this picnic as a guest, just there tagging along with my mom, when Steve saw me taking photographs with my old Fujifilm Finepix compact camera. He handed over his Nikon D50 to me and gave me a few photography tips:
1. Get to know your camera. Though I didn't learn manual settings that day, he told me to get to know how to use the camera for what it is, a beautiful, complex tool.
2. Try to take photographs of people when they are not looking.
The second point was related to the event we were at, as Gerrard-Hoeschler wanted photographs of their guests partaking in the activities at the picnic.
You will see in the following photographs that I tried to follow his secondary advice. I took photographs of the children playing games, of families eating food together, of the caricature artist creating portraits, and my favorite one, the little girl using a creative alternative method to drink the water from the fountain she could not otherwise reach.
There won't be much text with this blog post, as quite honestly, this event was over a decade ago and my memory of it is quite limited. I hope you can enjoy the photographs as I do. I always look back at this event as the door that opened my photography career.
Once upon a time, back in my days living in Winona, Minnesota, I shot a senior portrait session for a young man named Josh. Josh was a straightforward young man. He only wanted to incorporate two outfits in his session, and he wanted it to be as brief as possible, so we opted for the Half Semester session: 30 minutes.
We started off on the bridge down in Lake Park. Getting these bridge shots can be tricky, as there is usually a lot of foot traffic. Thankfully, when people see that you're trying to get a photograph, most of them will stop and let you get the shots you're looking for. Otherwise, it's just all about timing, and sometimes a little bit of PhotoShop ;)
I was able to walk along the bank of the lake to get the shot with him leaning on the railing of the bridge. Don't worry, I wasn't swimming to get the photo!
1. Highly recommend NOT swimming in the lakes in Winona.
2. Water is not friends with cameras.
After getting a few shots in the park, we got into my vehicle and drove over to Winona State University, my Alma Mater. The ivy in the two photos next to each other above runs along the walls of the oldest building on campus - Phelps. Phelps is also where I spent a majority of my time on campus as that is where the Mass Communications department is, along with the dark room!
The steps Josh is sitting on in the photo directly above lead into another one of the oldest buildings on campus - Somsen Hall. The steps are made out of Limestone taken from Sugar Loaf, Winona's landmark and tourism draw as you enter the town.
The story of Sugar Loaf is really interesting in how it helped rebuild the town of Winona after the great fire of 1862. Here are a few great articles on Sugar Loaf and the Fire of 1862 if you are interested:
Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent here. Josh was a wonderful client and was super easy to work with. Thank you, Josh, for being my first male senior portrait client! It really helped open up the doors to a wider audience and clientele, and I will always be grateful for the experience.
So now you're probably thinking, "What the heck happened??" Well, let me tell you!
Technology errors are the digital photographer's nightmare.
This last bullet point is what failed me with Macie's Session. We had taken the photos below, and they were BEAUTIFUL, high resolution images, and then my computer just fried. My external hard drive had fried about a month prior, and then my laptop fried before I had replaced my external, so everything I had saved just went... poof. Bye. Gone. I was devastated.
I had already post-processed these images, and had uploaded them to Facebook, which is how I have the ones below. However, as anyone who has downloaded an image back to their computer from Facebook knows, the quality just isn't there. I did my best to save them, but it was clear - we would have to take a new picture. That's how the one at the beginning of this post came to be!
So let's talk these photos!
The first photo that we took in our secondary session was shot on a piece of railroad track that is no longer being used which sits off to the side of the active tracks in Alma, Wisconsin.
The rest of these images were shot in Winona, Minnesota during her first session. The left two images were shot alongside an antique store in downtown Winona, and the right two images were shot in the Lake Park. We had a lot of fun during the session, and I really enjoyed editing the images. I'm still sad I don't have the originals anymore.
I learned my lesson the hard way. ALWAYS back up your files!
Back when I lived in Wisconsin, I shot this senior portrait session around Alma, Wisconsin.
Locations: Tim Neitzel's property on County Road N in Alma, Buena Vista, and the town of Alma.
Train tracks do run alongside the town. Train tracks run along the Mississippi for quite a length, you could almost follow them to tour riverside towns in Wisconsin.... or you can just take the River Road. Whatever floats your boat! Ha. Okay, I'm done.
Anyway, the town has a bridge that goes over the tracks, so we headed there next.She was just tall enough that when she sat down on the bridge, her face was above the shadow lines. Just so you all know, I said before this girl was a trooper, and I mean it! The walkway part of the bridge is the rigid metal, with the little points that stick up at you. While you never notice it with your shoes on, it really hurt my knees when I was kneeling to take this image, and so I can only imagine how it felt when she sat on it!
For the image below, I normally greatly dislike taking images on train tracks, but since Kaylee's mom was with us and could keep an eye for oncoming trains. I highly recommend NOT taking photographs on train tracks for the following reasons:
1. It's hard to hear a train when you are on the tracks. Obviously, I could see beyond Kaylee, and she could see beyond me, but we could have been distracted until it was too late (PS, that's the back of a train you see behind Kaylee).
2. It's trespassing! If we had gotten caught, the railroad company has the right to sue you for trespassing.
So what are my alternatives? If you can, find a piece of track that is no longer being used. You can find them on the sides of active railroad tracks and older towns, like Alma. Use that instead!
Since I normally don't like taking images on train tracks, I had her sit down, shot photos in a quick succession, and then had her get off the tracks. We were probably only physically on the tracks for two minutes!
Do you want to have an Imbeccable senior portrait session? Book your free consultation today, or email/text me questions at firstname.lastname@example.org / 608-304-5427.
Photographer, visual artist, mother to four fur-babies, and travel enthusiast.