5 holiday photography tips andrew samplawski photography

5 Holiday Photography Tips for Capturing your Holiday Memories

The radio stations have already started with their holiday music. The temperatures start to dip, the nights get longer and there is a little bit of excitement in the air.  The holidays are coming! With the impending gatherings of the holiday season, it’s always nice to have a few suggestions on how best to photograph the holidays. With families coming together from far and wide, it is the perfect time to capture pictures while everyone is together, sharing in the love and warmth of this holiday season. And so, from my family to yours, here are 5 holiday photography tips for capturing your holiday memories.

Holiday Photography Tips: Capture Family Photos

There’s nothing more fun than taking advantage of the multiple generations all together at the same time. One of my favorite things to do when everyone is together is to capture big, generational shots including the whole family. Get great-grandma, grandma, mom and the youngest all together. Showcase the love of multiple generations all in one shot. Pile everyone up in front of the fireplace and get a shot of everyone together. These moments will be cherished years later when those faces in the photographs are no longer with us. A photograph is a way to freeze time, even if just a moment.

Holiday Photography Tips: Document Preparing the Meal

Have you ever gone to someone else’s family celebration and the way they make the mashed potatoes is just… not right? Recipes are passed down from generation to generation. They’re like a legacy. And Grandma’s cranberry sauce is the only correct recipe, am I right? While sharing the secrets of how to preserve these recipes, it’s also important to document these moments. While everyone is cooking in the kitchen and sharing those moments, make sure to grab your camera! Sharing memories of your childhood cooking moments with your own children creates a wonderful tradition. Make sure to capture those moments in the kitchen before the meal is served.

Holiday Photography Tips: Capture the Beauty of the Meal

Hours of work go into creating the beautiful meal. Someone gets up before dawn to make sure that the turkey is in and roasting on time. The table is usually set with the “good china” and lavishly decorated with beautiful accessories, florals, vases and the like. Before everyone digs in to enjoy the meal, make sure to capture how beautiful it was before it gets destroyed. Honestly, there are few things quite as sad as the bones of a turkey carcass after it’s been ravaged.  There are a few moments before everyone digs when these delicious food items are garnished and pristine. Make sure to snap a few pictures to be able to appreciate how nice it looked before you got to enjoy how delicious it tasted. Your Instagram account will thank you.

Holiday Photography Tips: Share the After Meal Fun

Once the meal is over, and everyone slips into a food coma, there are even more opportunities for pictures. Make sure to document the candid conversations– especially when the Green Bay Packer games come on. Who doesn’t love the Packers?! Whether your family gathers together to watch the game, play a board game, or sit by the fire and share stories, take the time to document those moments. These seemingly innocent moments become so precious when you look back at them years from now. Kids grow up. People move away. Make sure the moments are captured before the moments are gone.

Holiday Photography Tips: Partner with a Professional

Special moments spent with loved ones you don’t often get to spend time with are precious. Why not schedule time with a professional to capture these moments? Rather than stress about making sure that your precious moments are documented, consider partnering with a professional. Trust those moments to someone who can capture the laughter, hugs, smiles and delicious food for you. A holiday portrait session is a wonderful way to maximize on the time you all spend together. Trust your memories to a professional and schedule a portrait session while you are all together.

From our family at Andrew Samplawski Photography to yours, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving and a very happy and healthy holiday season.

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chippewa falls senior session andrew samplawski photography

Tiffany | Chippewa Falls Senior Session

I met up with Tiffany for her senior session near Chippewa Falls, and I loved how much personality she poured into our pictures.

Tiffany brought a few props to the session, one of which was the clarinet, since she is in the marching band at Chippewa Falls High School (affectionately called Chi Hi for those of us in the area). I had the honor of seeing the marching band this year during the Pure Water Days parade, and DANG, they are incredible. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such an outstanding marching band—so of course we had to capture her pride at being part of something so incredible!

She also brought her golf gear—all of it pink, from the ball to the bag. She’s an avid golfer, and it was just as important to her to capture this part of her personality as it was to get that shot of her with her clarinet. After all, she is a young woman of many talents.

Tiffany loves the country life and enjoys hanging out and just being herself, so one of my favorite images is of Tiffany out on the dock with her feet in the water. Is there anything more carefree than letting the waves lap at your feet like that?

I also loved the outfits she chose. She rocked out in style and fashion during the entire session, and it seemed like she had a different look for every facet of her personality. From the tinted sunglasses out on the dock to the pink golf outfit to the purple shirt and jeans—I really feel like the pictures we captured together showcase what an engaging young woman she is.

Tiffany, thank you for asking me to be your senior photographer. I know you’re going to do amazing things as you face your future!

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Engagement-Session tip andrew samplawsk

5 Tips for Engagement Sessions

My clients will often ask me for advice ahead of an engagement session on what they should be prepared to do and what they should expect before, during, and after the session. In fact, I get asked this often enough that I’ve decided to make a list of the 5 most important tips for a successful engagement session.

Engagement Session Tip 1: Pick a special location

Engagement sessions are always more fun when the location means something. Maybe we could go to the restaurant where you had your first date or the place where you got engaged. Or you could go with a themed location. If you’re movie-lovers, we can go to a theatre; if you’re more of an outdoorsy type, we can go out to the woods or travel along a favorite hiking path.

If you can, try to pick a location where we can do things. Action shots are always more interesting than posed shots, so any place with paths to walk on, places to sit, trees to climb, or other unique aspects that lend themselves to activities can all work well toward making your session more fun and memorable. Read more

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Nadia & Eric | Milwaukee Engagement Session

I met up with Nadia and Eric for an engagement session around Milwaukee and can honestly say that I enjoyed every second of this new location for me.

I’d never photographed in Milwaukee before. But, since Nadia and Eric are from the area, they already had an idea of where they wanted their photos taken before I even arrived. I love it when my couples come with a game plan. For this session in particular, it really felt like a group effort to come together and make their vision come true.

I had a blast getting to know the two of them as we explored this city that was entirely new to me. Their love for one another was amazing to see, as well as their genuine ability to have fun with each other. They love hockey, they love beer, and they love to simply enjoy the moment—my kind of couple.

One of my favorite images from the session reflects that laid-back attitude—with the two of them on the tire swing. It perfectly captures the feeling the two of them embody of knowing how to have fun and embracing the little moments. Their smiles were quick and genuine and their love was easy to document.

I always love it when my couples are willing to be lovey-dovey around each other, and as you can see from the images here, that was definitely the case with the two of them. There were so many forehead touches, cheek kisses, and nose touches that even people who haven’t met them can tell how deeply they are in love.

Nadia & Eric, thank you for asking me to be your engagement photographer and for being so willing to be my guides through Milwaukee. I truly enjoyed getting to know you both and look forward to your wedding next March in Duluth.

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Chippewa Falls senior session andew samplawski

Amanda | Chippewa Falls Senior Session

I met up with Amanda for her senior session in Chippewa Falls, a favorite secret location of mine for these sessions, and couldn’t get enough of her sense of humor and smile.

Amanda is in her senior year at Stanley Boyd High school in Stanley, WI. I love getting to work with seniors like Amanda, who make senior photos fun.

She wasn’t shy at all and had the most amazing sense of humor. No one was ever bored, and we were all laughing and enjoying ourselves. Amanda really is a senior to remember and a joy to be around, with a genuine smile that just won’t stop.

I also got to know Amanda a little better as we cruised around to some of my other favorite locations near Chippewa Falls and she told me about playing volleyball and basketball. She even made All Conference this year! This girl is going places, I’m telling you.

Of course, for as much fun as Amanda can be, she also has an incredibly sweet side. Her Grandma Marla is a critical part of her life, and she wanted to be sure to include her in her senior photos. I couldn’t say no to a request like that, especially after seeing the two of them together. Marla is a beautiful grandma and such an inspiration. The bond that they share really is something special. It’s wonderful that family plays such an important role in her life. I loved being able to see the relationship that the two of them share and to capture that in photos. It was a special moment.

Thank you, Amanda, for an unforgettable senior session! I wish you the best as you finish up at Stanley Boyd High School; you are going to do amazing things.

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minnesota family session andrew samplawski photography

Alberto, Jonna, & Maxwell | Minnesota Family Session

When Alberto asked me to do his family pictures, I was absolutely honored. He has been one of my associate photographers for 5 years, and I consider him to be a good friend as well, so that trust meant the world to me.

Alberto and Jonna have the most amazing relationship. Their connection and love has always been something that I admire about the two of them, especially because through it all, they have never stopped being each other’s best friends. They are so easy to photograph together, because they’re so real.

Their little boy, Maxwell, is 6 years old and already has big dreams. It’s something else to hear him tell stories about all of his little-boy adventures, from the start of school to the start of karate and everything in between. He has the biggest heart and most amazing personality, and watching him interact with his parents is a thing of beauty.

I loved Maxwell’s smile—especially the way that it would come out in full force when he was with his parents. They were totally up for some fun shots with their little boy, making silly poses or lying in the autumn leaves or letting him climb on them.

And the pictures of Maxwell himself are amazing as well. I especially loved the one of Maxwell with his umbrella, because of the way it pops against the fall background—though the image of Maxwell lying back in the leaves with his hands behind his head perfectly captures his personality. He’s a dreamer, and he knows how to seize the moment.

Alberto & Jonna, thank you for trusting me to take your family pictures for you. That trust means a lot to me, and I hope that you will treasure the images we captured together. Here’s a sneak peek from the family portraits!

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Morgan & Brady | Duluth Engagement Session

I met up with Morgan and Brady in Duluth for an engagement session, and I enjoyed not only playing tour guide but photographing this hilarious couple. Morgan and Brady had never been to Duluth, but they were absolute rock stars as they ran with my suggestions for places to get some great engagement portraits. 

We had a blast all around Duluth, and I can honestly say that the two of them are a joy to be around. They complement one another and love each other unconditionally, but best of all, they weren’t afraid to be themselves, which is perfect for photography, because it makes it easier for me to capture those genuine moments and smiles. I particularly loved some of the dip pictures, because they perfectly capture that feeling.

Of course, since they are huge Green Bay Packer fans, we couldn’t pass up the chance to do some shots in their gear. Jordy Nelson is one of their favorite players, and since Brady’s last name is the same as Jordy’s, they wanted to add in a surprise to their engagement session and have a Baby Nelson’s photo to announce that they were expecting a new addition to the Nelson Family. Those are some of my favorite pictures from the session—they are both clearly over-the-moon excited, and they had a blast with the itty bitty onesie finding new ways to pose with it.

Sadly, the weather wasn’t quite as good as we might have hoped it would be. It rained on us a bit, and the sky was gray rather than blue—but when I had a couple that couldn’t stop laughing with each other and being sarcastic and hilarious, we were able to get some incredible imagery anyway.

Brady & Morgan, thank you for asking me to be your  photographer for your engagement session as well as your wedding next year! I’m so excited for you two to be married next year, and I know you’re going to be amazing parents!

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chippewa falls senior session andrew samplawski photography

McKayla | Memorial High Senior Session

I met up with McKayla for a senior portrait session in Chippewa Falls area.

McKayla is in her senior year at Memorial High School in Eau Claire. She is a swimmer and competes often with great success.  We got together in the afternoon and wandered through a number of different locations around Chippewa Falls. She has such a vibrant personality and a mega-watt smile, so I wanted to make sure we took pictures in a number of different places to capture the different sides of her personality.

We wandered around down the streets of town, and then made our way to a grassy field.  I loved how McKayla’s beautiful hair spread out around her like a cascade. It was such a lovely contrast to the vibrant green of the grass. Not to mention, laughter was sparkling in her eyes because I had her lay down in the grass.  She loves the outside, especially when she can stretch out in a hammock. McKayla also is a summer camp counselor and loves the time she spends there with her campers. So, these fun outdoor shots lined up with her love for being outside.

We also lucked out as we were walking along the waterfront, where a beautiful sailboat was docked. The owner was there and allowed us to take pictures on the boat. I love how McKayla looks like she is embarking on an exciting adventure. And, really, in a way– she is! Senior year is such an exciting time for teens. Just like in a swim meet, seniors are poised to dive off the platform into the rest of their lives. There is nothing but opportunity ahead, whether that leads to college, service, travel or employment. While it is both scary and maybe a little intimidating, it is nonetheless one of the most exciting times in a teenager’s life.

Whether she was laying in flowers, walking through the tall grass or splashing in the creek, it was a blast to spend the day with McKayla.

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Veronica & Andy | Madeline Island Wedding

Andy and Veronica were married on August 18th, with a ceremony on Madeline Island.

I started out the day photographing Veronica as she and her maid of honor, Jolene, got dressed in their hotel room. Andy was with his best man, Michael, in a different room so that they wouldn’t see each other ahead of the ceremony, and then the boys left early so that they could help to get the arch set up on the beach next to Lake Michigan.

With everything set up perfectly and the waves of the lake providing a gorgeous backdrop, everyone and everything was ready to go… except for the officiant. As you can probably imagine, there was no small amount of panic as everyone made multiple attempts to find the officiant. But eventually, Andy and Veronica decided that they still wanted to have their beachside wedding and held an impromptu ceremony.

It wasn’t until later that the officiant finally made it to the island so that Andy and Veronica could hold their real ceremony and legally tie the knot. They victoriously held up their marriage certificate once everything was signed. The later ceremony ended up being a beautiful moment as the sun was starting to set and the golden light glowed all around them. It ended up being a beautiful moment even after all that stress earlier, with the waves hitting the rocks as the sun set behind them. They looked like something out of a movie. Their first sunset as husband and wife was simply magical.

All throughout the day, I had a blast with Andy and Veronica as we adventured out into the wilderness to grab some wedding portraits. I loved being able to take advantage of the natural beauty all around us on Madeline Island. It was also easy to capture the genuine warmth and love these two share. My job as a wedding photographer is always easier when I have such perfect subjects and backgrounds to work with.

Veronica & Andy, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your destination wedding. I’m glad that you were able to get the beautiful sunset ceremony you deserve!

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chippewa falls senior session andrew samplawski photography

Liz | Chippewa Falls Senior Session

Before the school year started, I met up with Liz for a senior session at Chippewa Falls, a hidden location nearby that I love but have never used yet to use for these sessions for the variety of backgrounds they have.

Liz is a senior at Stanley Boyd High School and she came prepared for her session. She met up with me with her mom, Lia, as well as a vehicle full of props & clothes for a more personalized session. The suitcase and the globe were the perfect props to show that Liz is really going places—and has the whole world ahead of her as she prepares to transition into adulthood.

Of course, the day wasn’t just about fun props, either. Liz had a whole collection of different outfits, from fun to classy, to showcase all the different aspects of her personality as well as her life. She could go from the classically beautiful look of a black dress and pearls wading in water to the casually comfortable look of jeans and sandals seamlessly, which made her a joy to photograph. I love getting to really work on a whole range of images like this.

Liz was capable of real class and glamour, but the best part was when she would let her goofy side come out. She and her mom had brought a bunch of different hats for some whimsical pictures, though some of my favorites were of Liz in her bright yellow boots wading out into the water. She was up for anything to get some fun pictures, and these images really captured that adventurous spirit. 

And did I mention she plays Volleyball? Congrats on a great season!!

And to top it all off… we walked down the street from my studio & grabbed a delicious waffle cone at Olsen’s Ice Cream! And we had a blast because Liz’s personality was shining as she loves ice cream & we were to make it happen!

Thank you, Liz and Lia, for coming out and spending a gorgeous day with me for your senior session. I know you are going places, Liz, and I can’t wait to see you take the world by storm. Thanks also to Jayde, from Touch of Class, who did the hair and makeup for this session. You knocked it out of the park!

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