A stunning evening wedding in Wisconsin.
I have a soft spot for old-fashioned, Midwestern towns. I grew up in one—Waverly, Iowa, population 8000—and I must say I hated it there when I was a kid. But now, I look back on the peculiar charms of my town and smile. Roy’s Place, where you got the greasiest burger and best milkshake in town. The Waverly Bakery’s warm glazed donuts on a Saturday morning. And on Sundays bells rang out across town from the towers of every neighborhood church.
Pulling up to Special Events by Sound Haven in Lake Mills brought back all that nostalgia. Nestled among the trees a block off downtown, this quaint space offers a host of photographic possibilities for your small wedding, party, or bridal shower.
“It’s very intimate,” says, co-owner Laurie Allison. She and her husband, audio engineer Michael, bought the former St. Paul Lutheran Church in 2013 and opened for events in 2014.
It serves double duty as both an event space and a sound school, where Michael teaches the finer points of sound engineering he's learned during years touring with bands as varied as the Rolling Stones and Beyonce.
The church was built in 1913 to serve the local Lutheran community and has all the charm of an older church with a grand, towering main hall, beautiful windows, and some unique spaces great for photography. There’s a cute bridal suite, a great bar in the former sanctuary built from the church’s former modesty rails, and ample parking on the property.
We decided to start showcasing local venues because we are still relatively new to the Madison wedding industry, but also because, as photographers, we might see a venue differently than the clients or other wedding professionals. Our wedding photography approach is to personalize the day as much as possible, so taking advantage of the interest and beauty of each venue is central to our images.
Soundhaven has a few unique features. The main hall features beautiful soft light streaming from the towering windows on each side, which are a mix of classic stained glass and clear to provide enough natural light for ceremony images. The massive cast-iron central chandelier makes for a nice feature in wide views of the space.
We also love the alcoves in the stairwells to the balcony of the venue. The cathedral windows give photographers beautiful wraparound lighting and architectural detail that make the space a supporting character in photographs.
Outside, there’s a stunning aqua door for couples or bridal photographs, and the very charming downtown—with a central park and great small town brick architecture—is just a short walk away. Take a look at this quick gallery to get a better feel for the space and contact Laurie for more information!
Special Events by Sound Haven
Event Manager: Laurie Allison
Address: 412 W. Madison St., Lake Mills, WI
Capacity: Varies depending on setup, but anywhere from 50-150
Not everybody is comfortable in front of the camera, so we do a variety of things in our Madison engagement sessions to make them feel less self-conscious and forget we're even around. But that wasn't the case when we met up with MIke and Danielle to capture their engagement images in downtown Madison.
Mike said simply, "this is me," when we went over wardrobe for the session, and that's exactly who we love to have in front of the camera. We don't really care what you wear, but we care very much that it represents your true self. We do give out a detailed wardrobe guide, though, and Danielle wasn't sure which of her many outfits would work best. In the end, she was most comfortable in jeans as well, and so we were off.
Engagement sessions are about capturing what is unique about you and your fiance--the way you act together and the things you love doing. So it's most important that we go places that you love and that you simply be yourselves! Almost any location can help us produce great photographs so long as you two are being authentic and having fun.
We spent a couple of hours hanging out, laughing and enjoying the beautiful spring weather in Allen Centennial Garden, on the lake at Memorial Union, and a final shot looking down State Street to the Capitol. Contact us to schedule your engagement session today!
On April 30, 1944, a stunning young Wisconsin couple, Rose and Duane, got married. The date wasn’t coincidence, but rather a way to honor Rose's parents, who married the same day in 1917. So when Rose’s granddaughter Jessica and her fiance, Sam, started planning their wedding, they already knew the date.
But Jessica had a lot more in mind. She knew the dress, and the ring she would wear, and she knew the most important guests, Rose and Duane, both of them now 97. She re-imagined Rose’s dress. She wore Rose’s ring. And she was determined to celebrate the wedding On April 30, 2017, a hundred years after her great-grandparents tied the knot and 73 years after her grandparents did.
Every wedding we photograph is special because it represents something truly joyous, an affirmation of love and commitment. But this one, with this amazing couple and their families, was exceptional in more ways than history. Sure, it was cold and wet. Like every wedding, things didn’t go exactly according to plan. But none of that mattered.
What mattered was simple: Family. Sam and Jessica got married at the Wisconsin State Capitol building, flipping in 1917 silver half dollar to decide who would recite their vows first, a nod to the great grandparents who married 100 years ago that day. Rose and Duane sat in the front row, surrounded by both their family and friends.
I have to admit, I was nervous. I’m always a little nervous before a wedding, like an athlete before a big game or an actor waiting in the wings on opening night. But this was our first Madison wedding, after moving back last summer to be closer to our own family. And Jessica wasn’t simply a bride who found us online; she’s my own lovely daughter’s best friend.
Thanks so much to Sam and Jessica for trusting us to document this historic moment, and for being the bravest couple ever when they were up for heading out to Olin Park in the cold and rain and wind after more than 12 hours of preparation and celebration, for just one more photo. We hope you love these images as much as Olga and I have loved making them.
Ceremony: Wisconsin State Capitol
Getting Ready: Edgewater Hotel
Dress: Grandma Rose, assisted by bride and seamstresses Themis Flores and Kate Compton
Hair: Marissa, Anaala Salon
Makeup: Mel Stafford, Kneaded Relief
Florist: Lisa Larsen of Sunborn Gardens
Videographer: Stacy Bruner
Music: Andrew Nath
Officiant: Aaron Owen, friend of the groom
Brittany and David came to us wondering if we could do something a little different than your typical engagement photographs. Oh, and she said, we have a mastiff I'd like to include. Sure, we said. We love dogs!
So we spent a beautiful spring afternoon in downtown Milwaukee, walking their lovable doggie and documenting their relationship. It was a blast!
One of the great things for us about moving to Wisconsin is being able to photograph such a wide variety of settings, from Lake MIchigan to the beautiful lakefronts of Madison, to the city lights and varied architecture of this wonderful state. Here's a little sample of some of our favorites!
After several months of working on my portfolio, I am ready to open a new page in my business and my life. I am starting a boudoir photography to celebrate the natural beauty of all women.
I also want to thank every girl who particapeted in my project. I was very lucky to have such excellent models for my poprtfolio and to have such fun and interesting conversations with my models. I have nice memories about working with each one and I will shere them on the blog in the coming months.
I really think boudoir is for everyone, for the younger woman celebrating her emergence as a woman or the mid-career woman who may not always remember her real beauty, or the mom who wants to get away from the daily grind of kids and soccer and dance practice. It is not only fun and relaxing, but I think it is truly empowering. Learn more on my new page or contact me directly!
I remain convinced that the most interesting light bathes the city of Chicago. The streets and underpasses and El tracks are where I fell in love with making photographs, and being back there this week simply confirms my feelings.
I was a journalism undergrad when I took Tom Petrillo’s black and white photography class at Northwestern. He wanted us to go into the world, explore, and learn how to see. I went to Chicago time and again, a dozen rolls of Tri-X in my coat pocket and my trusty Leica M4P around my neck. I would ride the El for hours, documenting the publicly private lives on the train. I would photograph the teeming streets, the rusty metal, the towers of glass.
Back then, my photography was pure. I wanted to interpret the world through images, and I’d spend countless hours on the streets and in the darkroom trying to show the Chicago I saw. Like all art, even the best results fail to express the range of feelings that went into it, but Chicago was always my favorite place to photograph.
This week I showed my family a little bit of Chicago. We had pizza at Lou Malnati’s and Italian Beef and Chicago dogs at Portillo's. We walked the streets. They saw where I spent my undergraduate years and hung out on the observation deck of the Sears (okay, Willis) Tower. And they waited for me, as some geometry or shadow would catch my eye and I’d spend a few minutes trying to put the image together in my viewfinder.
I hadn’t shot in Chicago for years, and this time instead of my Leica and Tri-X I had a modern iteration—A Fuji XPro 2. It only took a few minutes on Clark Street, under the creaking El platforms, for me to remember why I love this city, the unusual soft and hard light that bounces off the skyscrapers and dances through the alleys. I still see the city mostly in black and white, in the gritty dark spaces, the shadows, the steel, and the persistent energy of its people.
It’s good sometimes to remind ourselves why we photograph anything. Why we have this desire to see the world in a different way. What makes us unique is our vision of the world, and that's worth remembering as we gear up for wedding season in WIsconsin!
This week, we're excited to announce a new line of business for the Wisconsin portrait market: women's portraiture & boudoir. The talented Olga Daubs is looking for several models to work with so she can build her portfolio in these genres.
For four years, Steve Daubs Studios has been focused on providing the best documentary-styled wedding and family images, reflecting Steve's longtime interest in capturing life as it happens. But he and Olga also have extensive experience in the studio, and with the move last summer to Madison, they are expanding their offerings.
Women's Portraits by Olga will focus on stunning female portraiture, ranging from head shots and beauty portraits to glamour and boudoir images showcasing the strength, power, and beauty of Wisconsin women. Either inside our Madison studio, or on location, Olga will deliver beautifully-crafted images and superior service for women across Wisconsin. For a limited time, if you would like to give women's portraiture a try, contact Olga for a free session!
In the spring, we will also be looking to build our portfolio of high school seniors as well. This joint effort between Steve and Olga will create both traditional senior portraits in the studio and in locations around the area. Keep an eye on this space as we finalize our plans!
I met James many years ago, when he was a strident poet with a pastoral bent and I was a struggling novelist. We argued, laughed, and bonded over borscht and vodka while we completed our MFA degrees at the University of Arkansas. Both single, we commiserated over the difficulties of finding a great life partner as we navigated jobs, family, and the daily grind of life.
He gave me great advice when I decided to spend some time teaching English overseas, as he had been an ESL teacher in Japan and Malaysia, and when I met my wife in Ukraine, he was one of the first I told. So when he talked about this new woman in his life, Tania, a few years ago, I was excited for him. They met when Tania came to Kentucky for a program that enhanced the English of foreign English teachers. She was from Ecuador, but that didn't stop James from realizing the special bond they shared, and when she went home, their bond only grew.
So it was no surprise he called me asking for advice about getting her and her beautiful daughter visas to come live with him. He had been with me as I navigated the immense bureaucracy of USCIS trying to get visas for my wife and stepdaughter. So I was with him as he battled through the process over the winter and spring, finally securing a fiancee visa for Tania and her daughter. Of course I was there to photograph the wedding.
This was a relaxed, intimate wedding in the heart of bourbon country, and it couldn't have fit James and Tania more completely. As the sun set, we trekked out to Shaker Village, where James had proposed, and we walked up the hills of the preserve to one of his favorite places. Pristine natural grasslands on the rolling hills of Kentucky, this was where James often came to keep himself centered, and it helped me understand his connection to nature and his connection to his beautiful bride. Thank you, James and Tania, for sharing the weekend with me. And for the great local bourbon, which is almost gone!
I love photographing Wisconsin weddings and families, but I also think personal projects are essential to keeping myself photographically fit. Since moving back to Wisconsin, I've been looking for a new project or two to explore, and one of them is a look at indy rock band The Complication.
Annie B. is talented and driven singer-songwriter who founded the band, and an old friend. She, bassist Michael and drummer Dave "Road Dog" Bishop are out there hustling and rocking throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest.
But it wasn't just the music or our friendship that attracted me to the project; it's the fact that she manages to create a career as a businesswoman and artist with unusual drive and energy. It's not so different from the struggles of running a photography business, and I've already learned a lot from her about how to keep your passion while paying the bills. So i stopped by a late-night show a couple of weeks ago in Bayview at Club Garibaldi to kick this project off. Here are the results: