Wisconsin Family Photographer | Slow Parenting?

I’m back on my sorely neglected blog but, sadly, not with a post about photography.  Just one about life.

I had a link in my feed today to a Today Show segment on Slow Parenting.  I’ve never heard this term before but I realized that this is a struggle I’m currently facing.

When the kids were little, I was firm that I was not going to over-commit me or the kids.  After all, there were 4 of them and only one of me!  We did the occasional music classes or Gymboree play times, but I never minded just staying at home and letting the kids play.

Fast forward to today and my schedule from 3-8pm every day is jam packed!  And I’M not the one with a social life!  It’s not necessarily that we individually have a LOT of activities…we just have a lot of individuals.  I agree with the theory of “quality over quantity,” but I also agree with letting the kids be who they want to be.

Most Monday – Thursdays we have a minimum of 3 activities going on.  Last Thursday, we had EIGHT events scheduled between 4 and 8pm for the 6 of us.   Obviously, something had to give and, not surprisingly, it was the rare two social events for me.   Interestingly…none of those events were for Lilly (11 years old).

I still don’t think we’ve terribly over committed, in general…Clare and Emma are currently in swim…which may not be a forever thing but I think is a valuable life skill and a must-do on my safety checklist for now.  Clare and Emma are also both in a 1-hour-a-week-for-a-month volleyball class.  It’s ridiculously cheap and a good opportunity for them to try out volleyball in a low-key way to see if it’s something they might enjoy down the road.  Their only other commitment is a once-per-month Brownie troop meeting.  Oh, and they did Upward Cheer in the winter but they weren’t doing swim then.

Corey is over committed by my standards but he’s in middle school now and, frankly, signs up for these things without me even knowing!  This year, he’s done Robotics Club, a role in the school play, Soccer (fall and spring sessions), Jazz Band (2 mornings a week before school), Math Club (another day a week before school), student council, and some other club at school that I don’t even know the name of.  He is a BUSY kid!  And a few weeks ago he came home and announced he was running for an elected student council position.   He won so we can be sure that next year won’t be any less crazy for him.  But he LOVES being involved, is thriving at school, and never complains about a schedule that would require me to nap on a daily basis!

And then there’s Lilly.  Lilly has been a part of Girl Scouts since Kindergarten but she’s decided that’s not really for her any more.  She was a part of the spring theater production but in a smaller role and was bored most of the practices.  She’s quite happy to go with flow and has never been too excited about being involved or signed up for anything.  Until cheer.  She’s been taking tumbling classes for the past school year (1 hour / week) but would now like to join a competitive cheer team.  It’s a huge commitment…financially and time-wise.  A total of 5 hours per week at 3 separate sessions with some pretty strict attendance requirements.

I’m concerned about the schedule impacting our travels.  I’m concerned about another 4 drop-off/pick-ups each week.  I’m concerned she’ll decide when it’s too late that she’s NOT that interested after all.  But, I’m also concerned that she won’t have her own “thing” to call her own.  I want the kids to find themselves and to get excited about things and if this is what excites her, isn’t it my job to support her in that?  Even if it does mean more craziness in all of our lives.?

I kinda think it is.

I’ve always said that the way our family works is that Monday-Friday is for work.  I don’t expect Rob to get home early to help with the kids activities on a daily basis (although he does if I need him).  I don’t expect us all to sit down and eat together at dinner time every night (although I enjoy it when we can).  I don’t expect the kids to stay up later so that we can have true “quality time” on a daily basis.  But, I do expect that we make the most of our weekends.  We relax and hang out and have play dates. We eat out.  A lot, by most people’s standards.  And it’s not because I don’t like to cook (although I don’t like to cook), it’s because when we sit in a restaurant, we all sit.  And we talk.  And we are together as a family.

We also just purchased a camper / travel trailer / big rig.  Whatever you want to call it…we invested in family time.  We committed to weekends away together as a family.  Weekends without running off to sporting events or restaurants or to run errands.  Weekends where we can reconnect and practice some slow parenting.  Or maybe it’s more like slow familying.

Would it be nice to have that schedule free calendar full of joy, laughing children playing in the yard, and family dinners together every night?  Of course.  But I’m not sure our schedule free calendar would actually look exactly like that.  It would probably involve a lot of buttered noodles, complaints about the ipad usage, and some nuggets of bliss mixed with complaints of boredom and requests for play dates.

And we probably wouldn’t value that less frequent family time quite as much!

So, we’ll keep our crazy week days mixed with our less-crazy weekends and enjoy them while they last.  Because before we know it, whether we slow parent now or not, we’ll be long-distance-parenting.  And I’m definitely not ready for that!

Delafield Family Photographer | What’s Ahead?

Ok, peeps….there’s lots going on so rather than have all the info get lost in Facebook, I thought I should share it all here:

Getting Outta Workshop.  There’s no point having a great camera if you don’t know how to use it properly, my friends!!  A camera is just the tool that will allow you to create beautiful images much like an oven is used to make delicious baked goods but it may also make horrible ones.   The GOA Workshop will show you how to use and control your DSLR.  This workshop is being held on March 24th from 9-12.  Details and a link to register can be found here.   Delicious baked goods included. :-)


Mother’s Day Mini Sessions.  Mother’s Day is on May 10th.  Celebrate this year by getting in the photos with your children!  Mother’s Day mini sessions will be offered on April 23rd and 25th at the studio.  This is an incredible deal…don’t miss out!

Mom Me Mini Ad


Now offering Friends Forever Packages.  These new mini shoots are focused on your tween aged child and their closest friends!  It’s a celebration of their friendship and makes a great birthday gift, sleepover activity, and confidence booster for your favorite tween!   Stay tuned for more details.  Or, if you just can’t wait another moment….email me at kelly@illustrationsphotos for instant gratification.


PHEW!  I’m tired excited just thinking about all the fun stuff coming up!!  Aren’t you??

Getting Outta Auto | Wisconsin Photography Workshop

Are you ready to take your photography to the next level?   Have a great camera but aren’t quite sure how to use it beyond Auto and the presets?

Join me on March 24th from 9-12 for an interactive workshop that will give you all the knowledge you need to finally start shooting in Manual and getting the images you want!  We’ll have a small class format with lots of time for questions and practice!  This workshop is only offered a couple of times per year so sign up quick to lock in your spot!

The Getting Outta Auto Workshop includes:

~  pre-work allowing the workshop to be focused on your own specific needs and questions

~  a full-color, detailed course workbook to follow along as we learn and to take with you after the course as a reference

~ take-along cheat sheet to keep in your camera bag for easy reference

~ hands-on, interactive class format with practice and feedback throughout

~ follow-up access to instructor for one month with any questions you still have once you leave the workshop

~ snacks and drinks during the workshop, held at Illustrations Photography portrait studio in Hartland

Oh, and we’ll have a great time too!!


This course will cover the following topics:

  • The importance of light and lighting
  • Understanding aperture (f-stop), shutter speed, ISO and how they work together
  • focusing properly
  • Lenses and accessories
  • Tips on composition and taking great shots – portraits and sports
  • Shooting time with Q&A

This class is not intended for those who wish to go into the business of photography.  Because everyone will be using different cameras and editing software, we will not go into the specifics of camera settings or advanced editing techniques.  We will also not be covering external lighting (flashes, strobes).  If you have any questions on content, please feel free to ask.

So, who’s ready to kick off their photographic journey into the world of Manual shooting?   It’s easy!  Just sign up here to lock in your spot!!


Wisconsin Childrens Photographer | I have a dream.

If you’ve been following me (particularly on Facebook) over the years, then you probably have an idea of my passions.  My inspirations.  My interests.

And every year at about this time I go through some soul searching.   I get inspired.  I get discouraged.  It’s just part of the cycle of my business.

I feel really good about how far I’ve come.  And then, in the same breath, I think that it’s all for naught.  And this year…this week, in fact…is no different.

But I had a little epiphany today.  I realized that one passion, one inspiration, keeps coming back to me year after year.  And then keeps getting pushed to the back burner when I get busy with other stuff.  But you know what, peeps?  I think this might be the year.  This might be the time for me to really go after this dream I have.   I need to develop it a bit further before I’ll share here but stay tuned…

How about you?  Anyone else feeling inspired and pursuing their dreams?  I could use some moral support….


Lake Country Family Photographer | Christmas Gift Ideas

Wondering what to get the photography lover in your family?  Well, I’ve got some ideas for you!!  There’s something for every price point and skill level…

1.  A DSLR.  This is a pretty obvious one but of course the follow up question is:  WHICH DSLR?  I get asked all the time for advice on cameras.  The reality is that there are a TON of great cameras out there and there are new DSLRs introduced all the time.  So, while I’m not able to keep up on the individual models themselves, I know someone who is…Ken Rockwell.   Go to KenRockwell.com and you can check out his unbiased, detailed reviews of all the gear out there.  I’ve used this site before making any camera or lens purchase.  His input is fantastic.  I also buy my gear by clicking on the links from his site as that’s the only way he makes any money for his work.

2. A new lens.  If your favorite photography lover is still shooting with a kit lens (in other words, the one that came with your DSLR), it’s time for a change!  One of the best ways to really learn the ins and outs of the camera and photography is to have a lens that gives you a lot of flexibility.  While people tend towards lenses that give them a large focal range (zoom lenses allowing you to shoot wide and close up images), the real control comes from having a lens that allows a lot of glass.  How do you know which one this is?  Simply, the smaller the “f/” rating of the lens, the more light it lets in.  Kit lenses have a range such as f/4.5-5.6 which make is very difficult for someone to learn how to take control of their camera.  The tradeoff is the flexible focal range.  A great first add-on lens is a fixed prime lens of 50mm or 85mm.  An f/1.4 will run you about $500-600 but a f/1.8 is still a great lens and runs about $150.  Money well spent!  I recommend heading to kenrockwell.com again to check out the specifics and best place to buy any lens!

3.  Lens Mug.  If a new lens itself isn’t in the budget, perhaps a lens mug will do the trick!  Photojojo.com has a ton of great, inexpensive gift ideas for camera lovers and this is one of my favorites.  I’m a Nikon gal, but they also have Canon so you can stay loyal.  ($30)

4.  Getting Outta Auto Workshop Certificate.  Getting a great camera and lens is step 1.  Learning how to use them….that’s the key!!  It doesn’t matter how great the gear is, if you’re still shooting in Auto, you’re not getting the most out of your camera.  Getting Outta Auto workshops run for 3.5 hours and, by the end, will have your favorite photography buff understanding the settings on their camera and shooting in Manual!  I don’t waste time on jargon and math….we just talk about what it takes to start controlling your camera.  It’s quick and simple and it works!!   Workshops will run throughout the winter so gift certificates are a great option and run $150.  Mentoring is also available for individuals or groups of 2 who have some basic skills but are struggling with a particular area.  Just email me for more information at kelly@illustrationsphotos.com.

5.  Click Stick.  If your photography lover would prefer to stick to phone pics, then help them get IN the photo with a Click Stick.  At just about $30, this is a great way for someone to improve their selfie pics.  It’s a fun, inexpensive gift idea for anyone!!

Hope that helps!   Any other ideas for your favorite photographer?  Share them in the comments…I’d love to hear about them!!