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.
Everyone that knows me know that I have been working for JCPenney for quite a while, on and off again.
My significant other, Jeremiah, also works at a different JCPenney store, and his store invited me to photograph their "Mommy and Me Fashion Show" and I couldn't have been more excited!
Arisa, who is the Cashier Supervisor for her store, came up with the idea of the "Mommy and Me Fashion Show" months beforehand, and worked restlessly on the project, resulting in a beautiful show in the shopping center.
She managed to get not only JCPenney involved in the fashion show, but also Justice, Sephora, the JCPenney Salon, the JCPenney Portrait Studio, My Best Friend's Closet, Christopher and Banks, 20/20 EyeVenue and more! Each store donated items for raffle prizes, and sent models with outfits from each of their store to feature different categories such as "athletic", "casual", and more.
Great job, Arisa!!
It was a cloudy day, but the show still had a great turn out, with moms stopping to watch with their little ones, and other curious passersby sitting down to watch the show.
There were even booths set up where ladies could get their jewelry cleaned for free from the JCPenney Fine Jewelry Department, mini-makeovers from Sephora, hairstyles from JCPenney Salon, face painting, and glass-cleaning samples from 20/20 EyeVenue.
The JCPenney Salon and Sephora booths were extremely popular, with kids and their moms each getting their hair and makeovers done. What little girl doesn't love having a beauty day with their mom?
The show was warming up, as models started to gather around the plaza, showing off their outfits, and anxiously awaiting their time on stage.
The crowd had gathered in the square, and with the DJs were playing music in the background, the atmosphere was energetic. Ladies and gentlemen alike had their swag bags put together by the various stores, and were having a good time waiting for the show to begin.
Just when everyone thought the show was about to start, there was a flash mob! Shimmy Mob, an organization that invites women to join their dance crew, uses donations to fight domestic violence and child abuse.
These brave ladies came out to the plaza and joyously danced, later on inviting people to join in on stage and educating the crowd about their movement.
Models were ready, the flash mob was over, the crowd had gathered, and the show was starting on the stage, where DJs were announcing the store, brand, and names of the models as they walked on stage.
It was exciting to see employees from each store participate in the fashion event, showing off their favorite outfits from the store they work in.
Not only were there models on stage, but there were some pretty cute spectators in the crowd as well! It was so nice to see that parents and grandparents had stopped by to watch the show with their kids, as the focus of the show was... well you guessed it! Mommy and Me!
The show ended with a HUGE shout out to Arisa for coordinating everything, and Donna, the store manager of JCPenney, presented her a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
After the fashion show ended, the DJs continued to play music as crews cleaned up and the crowd dwindled down.
It was so much fun being able to photograph this Mommy and Me Fashion Show. A lot of work went into it, so huge props to Arisa for being able to pull it all together!
I can't wait for next year!
Photographer, visual artist, wife, mother to five fur-babies, and travel enthusiast.