Yeng and Sam

A winter engagement in Wisconsin is one of the best things that the midwest can offer. It’s a magical time of the year to capture a fleeting season that parts of the world can only dream of.

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Yeng had reached out to me about an engagement session after seeing Blaichia and Abe’s New Year’s Eve shoot. The opportunity came knocking in February as we planned for an early morning session to get the rays of the sun rise. On that day, we found out that we were also gifted with small flakes from the skies which unfortunately melted as it fell to the ground.

There were spurts of moments where the snow would fall and then moments where it would stop completely. However, that didn’t stop the session from being romantic!

As we moved on to the barn, the snow would revisit us again at a later moment.

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I have to admit that Yeng and Sam were pretty laid-back and great to direct. The fake laugh practice couldn’t have been any more real when one had to laugh for the shots. 🙂

Personally for me, it is a very rewarding part of my job to get to know my clients. I got to learn how they met and how Sam proposed! Though, that story I will probably let them tell. 😉

Many may view a photo session in winter to be a daunting task, but halfway through the session, I promise that you end up forgetting the cold and live in the moment. Reality hits after the session when I call the wrap. And Yeng and Sam make winter shoots look so good!

This session was one of my rare mini sessions, and it will probably be my last one for the year. It was definitely sweet getting to shoot for them.

I am ever so grateful to continue photographing people and capturing their affection for one another. Love itself is truly a magical thing and, that, is worth capturing and reliving in photographs.

Congratulations to Yeng and Sam on their engagement!

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A Quarter of a Century

This birthday girl celebrated her 25th birthday with a photoshoot.

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My little sister, Lisa, reached out to me in the recent month with her worries, hopes and aspirations upon turning 25. The conversation continued with the idea to capture her as a 25 year old woman. This was a critical moment in her life. Turning 25 gave her pause for thought. Who is she? What has she accomplished? Who does she want to be? Where does she want to go?

At 25, my little sister realized there were still so many questions, but one thing she didn’t question was her development and progress to who she has become today. And that, she wanted to capture.

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Flying from Boston to celebrate her 25th with us all in Wisconsin was such a whirlwind of events. Her shoot was priority and, that, I knew how to help plan.

For the second part of the shoot, we traveled back to our hometown, Sheboygan. She wanted to capture three generations of Hmong women in one photo: Our grandma, our mother, and herself

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If I remember correctly, the day was not so pretty outside. So we were stuck with an indoor shoot. Though it would have been more ideal to work with more space, time, and a proper set up for this part of the photoshoot, I am proud to say that I was able to capture the session with one light in a tiny, cramped living room space.

I was definitely more appreciative and envious of the worth of the photographs when I started working on the editing.

Look at three beautiful generations captured in one sitting.

A secret part of the shoot:

Being bold and beautiful, Lisa also requested a tasteful, classy nude. I obliged. I have to say that I’ve never felt such empowerment from such a photo that I have taken.

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Happy 25th little sis!

The Engagement: Anand and Ruchi

Earlier last year, I had the pleasure of capturing Anand’s surprise proposal with a definitive “Yes!” from Ruchi.

This year, I had the pleasure yet again to capture their engagement with the surprise snow fall in mid-March!

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Ruchi is no stranger to snow. However, Anand, coming from Florida’s warm and humid weather, was completely ecstatic about it.

The day was warm for a Wisconsin winter day. Cold enough to keep the snow from melting but warm enough just for a jacket to stroll through the park without regretting a hat or pair of mittens.

With little direction needed, Anand and Ruchi photographed just beautifully together. There is nothing like natural chemistry between a couple in a photoshoot. Ruchi was looked like a dream in her traditional Indian outfit and Anand looked like regal in his attire.

And, that, was only the first outfit.

As we moved onto the second outfit, they definitely got the hang of posing and showing that chemistry naturally. I literally just shot after shot after shot until I had to tell myself to stop. I blame it on the red blanket and the start of magic hour.

After a shoot like this, I admit I am usually exhausted, but a good kind of exhausted. I did my job and I make sure that I do it well. This couple and these results further exemplify my work and are a reflection of why I love what I do.

So, thank you Anand and Ruchi for having me capture your love. Congratulations on your engagement!

 

Abe & Blaichia

The New Year usually starts off with a kiss, but this year started off with a photoshoot.BlaiAbe-21

Blaichia is a natural and with much experience with the camera, she already knew how to work it! That definitely came in handy to help Abe with his nervous jibes.

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We first started inside Milwaukee Public Market. However, the hustle and bustle just didn’t seem to help with the nerves. As we moved our way outside, that was when the magic started to happen.

Blaichia and Abe’s natural chemistry came out to play and really showed through as they laughed and had a bit of fun.

Even though these were not engagement photos, I have no doubt that these two will be ready to take that on effortlessly in the future. Just look at these photos!

Thanks Blaichia and Abe for having me capture your affection, fun, and laughter.

Happy 2017!

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Marisa & Tom

Celebrated at the Pabst Mansion, this wedding came with a lot of detail without the usual wedding day labor involved in the process. The details were already in the venue they selected. With Marisa and Tom’s quick thinking and unique personalities, they added enough of their own personal touch to uplift the details that were already in the wedding.

Pabst beer, Milwaukee mugs, personalized wooden bookmarks (which I forgot to take!), paper bouquet made from book pages… you get the idea!

Marisa is a librarian, so this Victorian theme along with the book theme really hit it out of the ballpark. I was so swept up with all these details, I often forgot to credit Tom for coming up with Pabst mansion as their venue. Everything just really came together really well for this couple. It was such an honor to photograph such an intricate theme and this fabulous couple.

We were really lucky to hit so many great locations over the course of one day! Marisa and Tom were a joy to work with. I can only think of them as good friends, and I hope it will remain so. This is one of the unique perks of working with such great people. Clients become friends, and friends are definitely always welcome in my life.

What also made this wedding extra special was that it was set on my husband’s birthday! 🙂 He wouldn’t have it any other way! Love and support to the max.

Congratulations Marisa and Tom! Thank you so much for having me as your photographer.

 

 

Jessica & Jonathan

October! The month where the leaves start to color and the apples are ripe for picking. Most importantly, the most beautiful time of year to celebrate nature, love, and this lovely couple who tied the knot – Jessica and Jonathan!

You know, I say this a lot about my couples – they’re amazing! And it’s not because I am becoming generic in describing them, but honestly, I do have to take this moment to thank my stars for getting such amazing people to photograph. Jessica and Jonathan were no exception. They were easy to work with because of the natural way they showed affection towards one another. Looking through the edits, I could not help but melt to goo every time I flipped through them to make review my editing.

The couple officially tied the knot at the courthouse and celebrated the reception with family and close friends. It was basically a wedding but with cut costs, and they still got to eat the cake! I kinda wish I stole their idea for my own wedding. It was such a beautiful and yet simple celebration that I could not help but envy the planning of it all.

Jessica is such a beautiful, kind soul. You can just tell… look into those eyes! And Jonathan will make a great husband. He was so patient throughout the whole couple photography session. Yes, patience is a virtue. I am grateful for my clients and Jessica and Jonathan really added to the list of why I do what I do.

Congratulations to the happy couple, Jessica and Jonathan!

The Cookie Hunt

On a whim, I decided to embark on a mission to find the best cookie in Milwaukee. It just so happened that I was scheduled to meet my good friend, Pang, for lunch that day and I decided I would invite her along for the ride.

Brady Street Madness

Brady Street Madness

I posted my mission via facebook and received a few recommendations. From there, I googled the top rated bakeries in Milwaukee. Let’s keep in mind that these bakeries could possibly be well known for more of their other baked items and that specialty cookie shops are slim for the picking. The list I conjured was based on the enthusiastic reviews of baked goods in general. I filtered it down to the Google review ratings of 4.5 and up. In no particular order, it came down to:

  1. Peter Sciortino’s on Brady Street
  2. C. Adams in the Milwaukee Public Market (recommended via Facebook and on Google)
  3. Rocket Baby in Bay View
  4. Grebe’s Bakery in West Allis
  5. Canfora Bakery in Bay View
  6. Simma’s Bakery in Wauwatosa (recommended via Facebook and on Google)

Because it was a given from the get go that not each bakery will have the same cookie to compare, we decided to rely on the opinion of the person behind the counter for the most popular cookie and for their personal recommendation should there not be one or if it were to be sold out.

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Peter Sciortino’s. Upon entering the bakery, it is the donut display that will greet you first but it will be the wide array of cookies they offer that will impress you. Being a very popular Italian bakery on bustling Brady street, I was not surprised it made the list in Milwaukee. We asked for the most popular cookie and it was the Amaretti and Chocolate Amaretti. However, it was the Vanilla Coconut Dips that the counter salesperson recommended as her personal favorite.

Peter Sciortino's. Amaretti

Peter Sciortino’s. L to R: Chocolate Coconut Dip, Amaretti, Chocolate Amaretti

Taste Test: The Amaretti does not look like a soft cookie at first glance or by touch. However, put it to your lips and even without biting into it, the chewiness is introduced to the touch of your lips as it caves in to the shape of your mouth. That was the first thing Pang and I noticed about this cookie. The chocolate dipped version of the cookie takes this cookie to the next level. For some reason, it heightens the flavor. The best thing about it is that chocolate lovers can appreciate it. Even as half dipped, it allows you to enjoy the complementary taste of chocolate meets almond chewiness. After a few bites, however, this small little cookie can give you a sugar rush. There is quite an amount of sugar packed in this little thing. The Vanilla Coconut Dips we both didn’t care much for. I think of it as a close resemblance to the chocolate “Mound” bar (aka Almond Joy without the almonds). Lots of sugar and coconut flakes in that Vanilla Coconut Dip.

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C. Adams. The Milwaukee Public Market is quite another busy place, attracting locals and tourists alike. This recommendation came from a friend. Unfortunately, their most popular cookie, Chocolate Chunk was sold out! We had to ask for the next most popular cookie and it was the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie.

C. Adams. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

C. Adams. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk

Taste Test: This cookie was huge. The size of my hand… guessing about the circumference of a little over 5 inches all around. It was crumbly and dry around the edges but moist (not chewy, moist) in the center. You most absolutely need to drink milk with this cookie. That peanut butter though… I am not a big fan of peanut butter in cookies BUT if the texture was right, I could like it. I’ve had good peanut butter cookies in the past. This cookie didn’t hit the mark for Pang or me. We’re into the chewy, moist cookie and it didn’t help that we both are not a big fan of peanut butter in this category. Mind you, I like PBJ sandwiches, peanuts, and peanut butter in general. But put it in a cookie, it has to be moist and chewy for me to actually enjoy it. Peanut butter and “crispy” just makes my throat clog. Unfortunately, their most popular cookie will have to be a question mark until we get the opportunity to give this place another try.

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Rocket Baby. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this place from Pang. I was able to finally make the trip there with Pang nonetheless. They offered the three traditional options: Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip, and Peanut Butter. Of course, we asked which was the most popular and, quite frankly, the counter salesperson couldn’t say. Her personal recommendation was the Oatmeal Raisin. We went with that cookie and off we went!

Rocket Baby. Oatmeal Raisin

Rocket Baby. Oatmeal Raisin

Taste Test: Though the flavors they offered were generic, I am a big fan of the Oatmeal Raisin cookie! My take on this particular Oatmeal Raisin cookie was that… it was too flat for my liking and there were a lot of oats in this cookie. It was a good cookie, but I didn’t think it was a great cookie. Pang, on the other hand, really enjoyed the texture and flavor. She liked the fact that the raisins weren’t overkill and liked the softness of this cookie.

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Grebe’s Bakery. We missed it but we certainly followed the smell! This bakery reeked of freshly baked goodness down the street with our windows closed and AC on! I mean… you can actually smell their aura. This encouraged a quick turnaround, and we followed the scent to a nostalgic sign and arrow pointing to Grebe’s Bakery. Overall, Grebe’s did not have much of a cookie selection beyond the sugar cookie. However, their cookies were diverse in design and very fun to look at. Upon asking for the most popular cookie, we were introduced to “Hank” and a Smiley face.

Grebe's Bakery. Hank and Smiley (Sugar Cookies)

Grebe’s Bakery. Hank and Smiley (Sugar Cookies)

Taste Test: I didn’t have high expectations here. Sugar cookies are popular and very common. I always have the idea that cookies that are overly decorated sugar cookies are compensating for the lack of flavor. You can blame the supermarkets for that. I chipped off a piece and it was crumbly, but, wow, I thought this sugar cookie was amazing! I didn’t think I would like a crumbly sugar cookie but the cookie melted in my mouth. “Hank” the dog wasn’t going to make it into my mouth because quite honestly, that would be sugar overkill. That smiley face though… definitely going to make into my smiley face. Who would have thought something as simple as a sugar cookie with a face could taste so good? I can now understand why they only sold sugar cookies because these are really good! It could be that my expectations were low that my rating on these cookies are high, but I still have to give it to them. Pang, on the other hand, thought the sugar cookie was too dry for her and the frosting on “Hank” added too much sugar. She liked the Smiley face cookie much better because it had less frosting but thought both cookies still tasted dry and old for her liking.

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Canfora Bakery. Another Italian bakery we found in Bay View. Of course, there were lots of cookies but I won’t deny that Pang and I oo’d and ah’d over delicious cakes and macarons. We did ask if the macarons were made there. Unfortunately not. But spoiler alert, Pang said that macaron just melted in her mouth…

We asked for the most popular cookie they sold and were given the Spumoni.

Canfora. Spumoni

Canfora. Spumoni

Taste Test: This cookie, in my opinion, resembled a cake bite in texture and taste. Well, I can’t decide between a cake bite and a donut hole. It was the glaze that gave it flavor which was mainly just sugar. Upon reviewing this cookie, Pang had me smell it before biting into it and unfortunately, I did. It smelled like meat! Could it be? I had Pang smell it too and she definitely smelled notes of meat on that cookie. Though, for the sake of the best cookie on this hunt, that scent did not stop us from reporting. 🙂 I think this cookie was fun but it wouldn’t be one you would daydream about at work and rush after to pick a dozen to take home. It was soft in the like a cake (or donut?) but lacked flavor.

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Simma’s Bakery. My family has been a long time patron of their cakes but, cookies? Not really. It has always been their cakes and cheesecakes they are famously known for. Unfortunately, upon arriving they were close due to a personal vacation. Hey, bakers deserve their vacation time too! However, did I leave disappointed? Of course!

Our Joint Verdict: Who made the best cookie on this cookie hunt?

Peter Sciortino’s. The chewiness, the flavor, and the impression it made won us over. However, be cautioned, this little cookie can give you a sugar rush high. We would warn against consuming too many of these.

Second Runner Up: Grebe’s Bakery (Mine)

Rocket Baby (Pang)

Would I stop here or continue my mission to find the best cookie? I would continue. I felt there was more to be desired in what I was looking for in what I could consider the best cookie of Milwaukee. I’m looking for the feeling as described on Master Chef: “Fist Food”. I want it to be so good, I want to fist more than one cookie in my mouth.

This was fun and I’d like to remind everyone to support your local businesses. My journey continues on with supporting local businesses who continue to deliver us baked wholesome goodness.

Happy memories made along the way:

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