I met Melanie last year during her multi-generational on-location family portrait session. She’s kind and patient. A quiet powerhouse.

Melanie and her mom had come in to my studio last year after their family session to go over their print order. As soon as they walked in the door, Melanie knew this was the background she wanted for her high school senior portraits.

They both immediately fell in love with the exposed stone wall (which was the outside wall until the addition was built sometime in the 1950s), the park in our backyard, and the river that runs  alongside the building just down the hill.

We utilized each little nook and cranny, having fun along the way. Well…quiet fun for two introverts 🙂

Thank you, Melanie, for trusting me to capture this special time in your life. I wish you all the best during your last year of high school, and I can’t wait to see where go from there!

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Composition is the arrangement of visual information. It’s how you place the subject, foreground, background—all elements within your frame—and use light, that create a beautiful image.

It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you’re shooting with, whether it’s a $7000 Canon DSLR or a SmartPhone, composition is the most important skill set to learn in capturing the true essence in a storytelling image.

As you look through your favorite images, there are similarities within each that make up the ‘rules of composition’, and one of those is the rule of the thirds.

The rule of thirds is a guideline to use in positioning the main elements of your photograph within the frame (you have the option to enable this feature on your camera or phone).

Imagine a grid of two equally spaced vertical lines, and two equally spaced horizontal lines over your photo—like a tic tac toe grid. In keeping it simple, you basically want to place the most important subjects of the photo along the gridlines, and at the intersections of these lines, to create tension, energy, and interest in the composition.

Intro to DSLR Workshop, Rule of Thirds, Composition in Photography

The idea was conceived by 18th century artists who believed that in order to create the most powerful image (in a painting at that time) is to divide the lightest elements and the darkest elements equally so the subject is more powerful than the background. They also concluded that dividing the image into a 1:2 ratio creates a more harmonizing proportion—thus the rule of thirds was born.

When looking at your favorite photos pay attention to your eye movement, and pay attention to how long you look at the photograph. A good photograph that is composed well, will lead your eye around in a circle—beginning at one edge moving around the frame—and will engage your attention for several seconds.

When photographing people it’s a good idea to place the eyes on an intersection. In this case, both eyes are on the horizontal grid line and I chose to place her left eye closest to the intersection. I could have framed this a little differently and placed the intersection right between her eyes or on her right eye, however, I like the flow of the photo from the lower right corner. Our eye follows the curve of her back, and the flannel pattern on her blanket, up to her face where our gaze meets hers for several seconds before moving on to the left side of the image.

If you’re capturing a profile, or the person’s head is tilted slightly, the eye closest to you should be placed at an intersection. And remember the eye doesn’t have to be placed perfectly at the intersection as you see below.

Intro to DSLR Workshop, Rule of Thirds, Composition in Photography

When photographing a landscape, the horizon should be placed on the upper or lower third. If there are rocks, trees, flowers, or in this case a schooner as in the photo below that stand out as a subject, those should be placed on a vertical or horizontal gridline and/or on an intersection.

Intro to DSLR Workshop, Rule of Thirds, Composition in Photography

In the image below you can see that the horizon line is not exactly on the lower third. I did this on purpose. I broke the rule!

Intro to DSLR Workshop, Rule of Thirds, Composition in Photography

I broke the rule again here in the image below and placed the brightest part of her face right down the center of the photo. I chose to do that here because of the way the light is falling on her bent arm leading our eye right up to her face, around the negative space, and back to her face.

Intro to DSLR Workshop, Rule of Thirds, Composition in Photography

As with everything learn the rules first to build a good foundation, so you understand when you can (and should) break the rules.


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I strive to give all of you an amazing experience while having your portraits taken. And from my perspective it seems that I’m doing a good job of it when everyone is laughing, having a good time, and I get hugs from your kids. However, it sure is reassuring and helpful to get feedback straight from you.

I received this message a few weeks ago, and with Sarah’s permission am posting it here.

This means the world to me….

Milwaukee's best family portrait photographer, menomonee Falls, Metro Milwaukee, Germantown

Thank you Nannetti, Connelly, and Lump families! Thank you for choosing and trusting me with your valuable family portraits and for braving the cold! You were all truly a pleasure to work with.

Multi-generational Family Portrait Photographer


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Last week I had the pleasure of photographing Josh for his high school senior portraits. This young man is authentic, respectful, polite, and so easy going. We had a great time walking through Lime Kiln Park capturing him as a high school student who’s ready to take on the world as an adult. I wish you all the best Josh and I can’t to see where your life’s journey takes you!

Menomonee Falls, Sussex, Germantown Graduation Pictures, High School Senior Portraits

Menomonee Falls, Sussex, Germantown Graduation Pictures, High School Senior Portraits

Menomonee Falls, Sussex, Germantown Graduation Pictures, High School Senior Portraits

Menomonee Falls, Sussex, Germantown Graduation Pictures, High School Senior Portraits

Menomonee Falls, Sussex, Germantown Graduation Pictures, High School Senior Portraits

Menomonee Falls, Sussex, Germantown Graduation Pictures, High School Senior Portraits

Menomonee Falls, Sussex, Germantown Graduation Pictures, High School Senior Portraits

Menomonee Falls, Sussex, Germantown Graduation Pictures, High School Senior Portraits

Menomonee Falls, Sussex, Germantown Graduation Pictures, High School Senior Portraits

Senior portraits are a rite of passage—they’re a huge deal. They document that time in your life when you’re still dependent on your parents, but oh so ready to step out on your own. These pictures are sent to everyone you and your parents know, and they will hang on your parent’s wall for years, maybe even decades. My senior pictures are still hanging up at my parent’s—granted they’ve been rotated to their bedroom walls, but they’re still hanging nonetheless.

Because this is such an important time in your life, and because no two seniors are alike, I work with you to build a portrait session that reflects who YOU are. We’ll build a session that is unique to you and is something that no one else in your class is doing. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, or a fashionista, we’ll combine some indoor studio shots, with some gorgeous outside shots at off-the-beaten-path locations around Metro Milwaukee, creating a fun and easy-going session to give you some amazing senior portraits. Let’s go on an adventure together!


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Click the FOLLOW button in the lower right corner to have my latest musing and random photos delivered right to your inbox!

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Click HERE to learn more about our Tanzanian Safari Photography Workshop this December.

Please CONTACT Tina to book your High School Senior Portrait Session!

Last week I had the pleasure of working with Juliana for her high school senior portraits. I was honored to share laughter with her again and again as we got splashed by Lake Michigan waves, found sand in our pockets from laying on the beach, and hoping we didn’t set off the alarm while jumping up on the window ledge at the warehouse downtown.

She is fun, full of life, adventurous, sweet, and caring. Juliana, I can’t wait to see where you go as you finish up your last year of high school and enter your journey into adulthood. I wish you all the best and look forward to working with you again!

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Senior portraits are a rite of passage—they’re a huge deal. They document that time in your life when you’re still dependent on your parents, but oh so ready to step out on your own. These pictures are sent to everyone you and your parents know, and they will hang on your parent’s wall for years, maybe even decades. My senior pictures are still hanging up at my parent’s—granted they’ve been rotated to their bedroom walls, but they’re still hanging nonetheless.

Because this is such an important time in your life, and because no two seniors are alike, I work with you to build a portrait session that reflects who YOU are. We’ll build a session that is unique to you and is something that no one else in your class is doing. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, or a fashionista, we’ll combine some indoor studio shots, with some gorgeous outside shots at off-the-beaten-path locations around Metro Milwaukee, creating a fun and easy-going session to give you some amazing senior portraits. Let’s go on an adventure together!


Be sure to sign up for my monthly NEWSLETTER over on the right for exclusive offers!

Click the FOLLOW button in the lower right corner to have my latest musing and random photos delivered right to your inbox!

Like my FACEBOOK page to keep up with me on a daily basis.

Click HERE to learn more about our Tanzanian Safari Photography Workshop this December.

Please CONTACT Tina to book your High School Senior Portrait Session!

Jay and Heather absolutely love being out on the water. Whether it’s in their ski boat or sailboat, they love the feeling of freedom that the open water brings. So it was only natural that they get married right next to the water at the Golden Mast on Okauchee Lake with elegant nautical touches throughout. It was a beautiful day—a beautiful night.

They’re down-to-earth, kind, loving people who surround themselves with others who are just the same. Their love for one another is undeniable—they can’t look at each other without glistening eyes and smiles, and you could just feel the love and excitement from the moment you walked into the Golden Mast.

Thank you Heather and Jay for hiring me to capture your special day! I’m honored to have to shared laughter, tears, and more laughter with you both as you became husband and wife.

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Be sure to sign up for my monthly NEWSLETTER over on the right for exclusive offers!

Click the FOLLOW button in the lower right corner to have my latest musing and random photos delivered right to your inbox!

Like my FACEBOOK page to keep up with me on a daily basis.

Click HERE to learn more about our Tanzanian Safari Photography Workshop this December.

Please CONTACT Tina to book your High School Senior Portrait Session!

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