The Studio is Growing: Women's Portraiture

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The Studio is Growing: Women's Portraiture

Olga will focus on women's portraiture

Olga will focus on women's portraiture

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! 

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Great bourbon, great friends, and a beautiful wedding

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Great bourbon, great friends, and a beautiful wedding

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!

 

 

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The Complication at Club Garibaldi in Milwaukee

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The Complication at Club Garibaldi in Milwaukee

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: 

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Burning it up at Engine Company 3 | Milwaukee Wedding

Matt and Brenda were ready to relax and let loose at their Engine Company 3 reception, starting with a quick tequila shot at the bar and then heading upstairs to enjoy the night with their friends and family. We love these kinds of weddings, where the personalities of the couple and their guests shine and everybody has a great time. It allows us to follow the night as it unfolds, capturing authentic moments along the way. From the hilarious and touching toasts to the joyful partying on the dance floor, this was a night to remember. 

As night fell, we got a few minutes with the couple to capture the ambience of Walker's Point, and that was all the time we needed to get some nice images. Congrats to Matt & Brenda! 

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What Moments Mean, in a Client's Words

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What Moments Mean, in a Client's Words

When we photograph a wedding, whether it is in Madison,  Milwaukee, or a destination across the country, we have a very specific audience in mind: our couple, their families, and their friends. When they view their wedding images, they're not just admiring a photograph as they might in a gallery or art museum. They're interacting with an image we captured, their memories of that day,  and their knowledge of the people involved. It's why we prefer to capture moments as they occur, rather than recreating them later; nobody wants their wedding memories to be cluttered up with that time their photographers spent posing them!  

This picture captures the our moment of seeing each other for the first time on our wedding day; happily in love...
— Alex & Jenna

That's quite a different story than going to an art gallery or museum and admiring a beautiful photograph or painting. What we capture for our clients is intensely personal, and doing it well only enhances their memory of the special day. So we remain vigilant all day, camera at the ready, to capture whatever happens at your Madison wedding. 

We asked a few of our recent clients to pick just one photograph from their wedding gallery and explain why they loved it. Alex and Jenna picked this one, from their first look:

first look | wisconsin wedding photographer

And here's what they said about it: "This picture is particularly special to us because it captures a moment that we spent all day (and an entire year, really) waiting for. We had decided to wedding dress shop separately so our dress/hair/makeup would all be a surprise on our wedding day. We planned to do a first look, so we spent the day getting ready separately. As the day passed, the nerves built and we both anxiously awaited the first moment we were going to see each other on our wedding day. When we turned around at the first look, all of our nerves disappeared and we were instantly filled with such love and pure happiness. This picture captures the our moment of seeing each other for the first time on our wedding day; happily in love, laughing, and thinking 'omg we're about to get married!'"

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Florida Destination Wedding for a Stunning Couple

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Florida Destination Wedding for a Stunning Couple

It's not unusual for wedding photographers to travel when they photograph a wedding, but it's always a little more stressful than usual. And, unbeknownst to last weekend's stunning couple Cheryl and Nick, this one was painful at the start. Olga and I arrived early in Milwaukee to catch our direct flight back to South Florida the day before their wedding, but the computer hangover from a day of glitches at Southwest Airlines meant we spent ten hours sitting in the airport hoping our long-delayed flight wouldn't face the fate of so many others that day--cancellation. 

We lined up some friends in South Florida to document the wedding, but our patience was rewarded with a late night flight and arrival at 4 a.m., just a few hours before we needed to head to Sunny Isles to capture the day's wedding. We arrived early at the gorgeous Doubletree by Hilton Oceanpoint Resort and Spa and simply got to work...if you can call it that! 

Nick and Cheryl and the entire wedding party and family were a blast to hang out with, and the outdoor ceremony was even blessed with a cool ocean breeze and cloudy skies. 

We simply felt lucky to see the love, joy, and zest for life that everybody brought to the wedding.  Congrats to the amazing couple!

 

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Showcase at The Comedy Club on State

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Showcase at The Comedy Club on State

It doesn't look like much from the street. You walk to the corner of State and Dayton, and there's a little sign on the corner, The Comedy Club on State. There's also a sign for Associated Bank, and the entrance is shared between the club and the bank. But once you go downstairs (I've always loved basement clubs), the vibe changes. It's not a dive, exactly, but it feels a little like one in the best way. Comics mill around the bar in the dim light, bouncers check id's at the door, and there's a small doorway that opens to a classic brick-walled stage with a single mic in the spotlight. 

Last week, I went there to check out the local comedy scene with my camera, but this wasn't just any show. My son, Michael, is an aspiring stand up, and he was opening for Matthew Broussard. We sat in a cozy central booth, ordered some drinks, and waited with a hundred or more other people looking for a laugh. 

First, some of the local talent got a few minutes. MC Martin Henn introduced Michael, who called him a "young buck." How Wisconsin. It's interesting to have a comic in the family because they shine a hard light on your life. Jokes about my sister's large family. Being white and sheltered. The occasional dick joke. Overall, a solid five minutes, and as a former writer, I can appreciate all the craft that goes into making his jokes work.  It was great to see my son so poised and funny at such a young age. 

Then, another of the open mic regulars, Colin Bowden, did a few minutes of good stuff, followed by featured perform Brian Aldridge, who nailed the local culture the way only a UW guy can do. 

Broussard did a solid hour, taking full advantage of his bro-hair looks and talking about life in LA. His riffs on how lady parts are mostly named after men was hilarious. The show was great, and the club is superb. Even though I'm primarily a wedding photographer, I love seeing and telling these little stories about town, and I enjoy them even more when it also means hanging out with family. 

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Tingalls Graphic Design Open House

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Tingalls Graphic Design Open House

One of the great things about being in the Madison area is being close to family again. Tonight, we stopped by Tingalls Graphic Design, a Fitchburg company where my daughter Alyssa works as a designer. Tingalls offers complete design and branding studio focused on small businesses, and they've helped more than 750 area businesses build their brands. Tingalls was holding their annual open house, so we got to mingle with my daughter's co-workers as well as other area businesspeople. 

Guests played a mean round of Spoons (a longstanding Tingalls tradition), in which the two final contestants were my daughters Alyssa and Veronika, and had a wonderful spread of food and drinks. 

It was great fun, and we couldn't be more proud of the great work they do. 

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An Ode to Fathers on Father's Day

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An Ode to Fathers on Father's Day

I have never been father of the bride. I've seen the movie, more times than I'd like to admit, and I have two daughters who haven't yet found the man they want to spend their lives with (thankfully, in one case, as my younger daughter is only 14!!), but it hasn't been my turn yet. 

That maybe has something to do with why one of my absolute favorite parts of a wedding is the father-daughter dance. So on this Father's Day, while I luxuriate at home with fresh breakfast and the peace and quiet of a Sunday, I wanted to celebrate the very special role that fathers play on your wedding day. 

Perhaps my all-time favorite father was a couple of years ago, when a hairpiece for the bride fell out of my wife's pocket into the backyard pool. I asked Olga to go get dad, and he came out, dove into the pool, and retrieved it so that it wouldn't get scratched up if we had fished it out with a net. Our bride was none the wiser at the time, and Dad had to take another shower and then get himself ready to go. But there have been many others. The father who gave a half-hour toast that celebrated the sacrifices families make to build a better life. The many fathers who can't contain the joy of seeing their daughters in their dresses for the first time. And I won't forget the fathers who have passed on but whose spirit is ever-present at their daughter's wedding, through an empty chair in the front row or a photograph on a locket or the smell of gasoline and grass on his tractor in the yard where his daughter is getting married. And the fathers who laugh and dance and revel in the love in the room until the last song plays. 

On this father's day, I'm reminded of the responsibility and impact we have on our daughters' lives, and am thankful for the amazing gifts my own father has given me. Happy Father's Day!

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New Home, New Look, New Motivation

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New Home, New Look, New Motivation

The road outside my parent's home

This blog is a space where we normally are focused on you, our clients. We showcase our best work, provide helpful information about weddings and photography in general, and try to give you a sense of what we do as professional wedding photographers. 

But this month we are moving our successful Florida photography studio to Madison, Wisconsin, and I thought a brief word or two about why is in order. 

The reality of the modern family is often one of relatives spread out all across the state, country, and, indeed world. We certainly feel that, with my brother's family in Cocoa Beach, my sister's family in Minnesota, my wife's family in Ukraine, and my own adult children and parents in Wisconsin. We came to South Florida several years ago from Ukraine to open this business, and have loved every second of it. Working with my wife and capturing the images we show you on a weekly basis has been the greatest joy of my professional life. 

It has always been difficult to be away from so much of my family for that time, particularly my adult son and daughter. My daughter is an up-and-coming graphic designer in Madison, and all the best design work you see from Steve Daubs Studios comes from her (while the terrible stuff is usually mine!). My son has battled through bipolar disorder and come through with a sharp wit he employs almost nightly on the stand-up comedy circuit in and around Madison. The tug of missing so much of their lives has only become stronger over time. 

But recently, another major shift happened in our lives. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. I can't tell you how much my father's example has meant to me over the years. He is the epitome of the American success story, a poor kid who left home at 16, was the first in his family to attend college, and who went on to earn an MBA and run a multi-billion dollar investment company. Now living outside of Madison, my parents had hoped to enjoy the solitude of the rolling hills and sounds of nature in their lovely hilltop home. 

And they have, to a large degree, for the past several years. But age is a merciless tormentor, and now my father, always the picture of health and vigor, has begun to feel the effects of memory loss and frustration that come with the onset of Alzheimer's. So it is time for me to begin to repay, if only in the smallest of ways, everything he has given me throughout my life. Olga, our daughter Veronika, and I will do everything we can for however much time we have with my parents to make sure they live their retirement in the most fun, comfortable, and easy way possible. 

We are excited to spend so much more time with our Wisconsin family, and we remain passionate about building our wedding and family photography businesses in Madison. Yes, we are sad to leave the Sunshine State, but the decision comes from the best of motivations and at the most critical time. 

 

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