Favorite Images of 2015 {Gigi’s Joy Photography: Wisconsin Lifestyle Photographer}

This is a little trip down memory lane of my favorite images of 2015.  These were chosen not necessarily by their technical merit – but more often because of the subject or stories behind them.

Lady in Red


Quite honestly, this photograph was a shoo-in for the Top Ten the moment I took it.

I am humbled that this family traveled an hour to work with me for H’s senior portraits. They knew that in addition to any traditional senior images they wanted, we would work together to create something special and unique to celebrate H’s senior year. I love how vibrant the colors are in this image. This portrait is one that makes me wish I was a painter so that I could recreate it in oils. (But H is a talented artist – so maybe she’ll take on that project!)


Getting Children Ready (at the Pettit National Ice Center)


This happens at many points in the day, around the globe. Whether it be for school, bed, dinner, or lessons – parents are continually helping their children in one way or another. As time goes on, the need for help in these tasks diminishes – which is why it is a unique idea to record them while you can.

While A is getting her skates ready as much as she can by herself, Mom is helping V. I love how V’s skinny ribs are exposed for just a split second before the shirt is pulled down and the layers of hockey gear are added. It shows how little he is before the bulk of the hockey costume is put on.

There’s something about the giant grins of the women in the ad behind them that makes me smile, too. I love that their happy faces are beaming as parents in his long hall of benches struggle daily to get kids dressed and laced, while keeping track of the little ones.


Senior at Sunrise


B wanted to include his car in senior session and Lake Michigan. I explained to his mother that the best time to get really great, dramatic light would be sunrise. Sunrise on this day in July was scheduled for 5:33am, but in order for us to set up the shot, we’d need to meet a bit earlier than that.

A teenage boy agreed to a 5:20 am photo shoot in the middle of his summer vacation.

He really loves his car, and wanted some cool images – but the agreement to go to this length for a photo shoot was also an indication that I was working with the right people. We managed to get all sorts of great images – some with the car silhouetted against the sunrise over the lake – and others that included the bright blue sky once the sun had risen. But looking at all the images from that morning, I am always drawn to this one. I love the warmth and the movement that the sun flare implies. It looks as if he could be driving along the California coastline…. not just sitting in a parking lot in Wisconsin.


Miss A & her mother


Showing the bond between a mother and a child is one of my very favorite types of portraits to make. Although this is a posed image, their comfort is obvious, as well as their love. The beauty of photographs is that their value increases over time. This was a sweet photograph from the moment that it was taken – but in five years, in the midst of the teenage years, it will be a greater treasure. And to Miss A’s children, thirty years from now – it will be priceless.


J & the Fire Trucks


The stars aligned for J’s senior session. It was late in the fall, at the time of year that the weather (and sunsets) can be so iffy. J is planning on becoming a fire fighter and so we wanted to incorporate that into the photo shoot. He scheduled a time with the Chief when we could come to the station.

We were working with the water truck when the large fire truck was offered to us – and of course, we eagerly said yes. A fire fighter asked me where I wanted it parked (and as I motioned to the area I wanted, I chuckled to myself at the absurdity of me directing a fire truck).  While the driver walked back to the water truck to put it back in the garage, I quickly gave my instructions to J of how to stand and where to look, knowing that I would have just a minute with BOTH trucks. And then I ran back to my spot and laid on the ground in the parking lot to get the angle that included the most sky, pleading with J’s parents to make sure no one runs over me as I did. There were only two frames that I shot in which the driver leaned back enough for his head to disappear from the frame. This is one of them.

(Thank you to the gracious folks at the Kansasville Fire Department!)


Letting the Dog Back In


There are moments that happen with such regularity that you don’t often stop to consider the beauty in them. I love lifestyle and documentary sessions because the entire point is to record these details – whether it is putting bowls out for breakfast, or helping a child wash his hands.

G and his mom had just let the dog out, and anticipating the moment when he was let back in, I chose my spot on the floor in order to get the right angle to include both mother and child. But capturing the moment when Murphy was in mid-air, bounding over the threshold, was pure luck.


Quiet Reflection


I’ve spent the past week with six or seven images from this session sitting open on my computer, trying to narrow it down to one.  I ended up choosing this one because it is so unique compared to typical images of dads and babies. If this image just showed dad and baby by themselves (without the reflection) – it would be a lovely portrait on it own. That was the image I took initially.  But then I noticed the mirrored effect that the pictures on the wall were giving. I moved my position so that I could include the entire figure of the dad, which gave the portrait a new artistic dimension. It is the reflection that makes you consider the image a few seconds longer.


Classic Beauty


This image was taken as part of a marketing session to prepare for the senior season. We worked with the owner of the Ladies First dress boutique in Wind Lake, Wisconsin, who let us sift through all of the dresses and “play.” We had a little corner in which to work and we made the most of it. I love the pose and the classic feel of the portrait. It is a beautiful, timeless image. This photograph could have been taken of her grandmother and twenty years from now, will still be a beautiful, classic image.


Z on the Bridge


Z’s mother and I discussed the many different areas on their property that we could use for his photoshoot. But when I drove in the driveway and saw this little stream and the bridge and the sun light reflected in the water – I racked my brain trying to remember any mention of this. I love this idyllic image – but it wasn’t without some effort. Imagine Z’s mom holding back some brush on the right of the bridge – and me in my mud boots, standing on a ladder in the water – with Z’s dad on the side of the bank, checking to make sure I don’t fall in.

But it was the timing of this image that was pure serendipity. The placement of the sun at this time was perfect. If it was any earlier, the sun would have been higher in the sky and completely washed his figure out. At this moment, the sun is behind him and illuminates him softly while creating that glow around him, separating him from the trees in the background. Twenty minutes later, the sun would have dipped past the tree line and only a fraction of the light would reach the bridge. A week later, at the same time of day, I drove past the spot again for our viewing appointment. The bridge could hardly be seen from the driveway because the trees had fully leafed out, (it was May) with barely any sun filtering through. This image was no longer possible.




This image was taken during one of my Stories of Autism sessions.

If I remember correctly, L was having a rough time because his brother was using a Lego guy that he wanted. Obviously, there are far greater issues in the world… but from L’s perspective – at this moment, the Lego guy was his whole world. Here his mother is patiently wiping his tears and reasoning with him.

With permission from the family, I shared this image on Facebook. It received an incredible response – with almost 400 likes and 30 shares.  It wasn’t just the Autism community that responded – it struck a chord with parents in general. Folks sympathized with the child crying – but also admired the compassion of the parent. As parents, we have so much on our mind – and dealing with the minutia of children’s arguments can quickly drive us batty. This image shows the compassion that this mother has for her son. She’s making eye contact and acknowledging his feelings. Regardless of the circumstance, sometimes that’s all we need: the patience and kindness of another.


I am continually amazed and grateful for the people that invite me into their lives with my camera. I appreciate my client’s trust and the relationships that we form. Often times, when the final images are delivered, we part as old friends.

Thank you for reading.




2 Comments on “Favorite Images of 2015 {Gigi’s Joy Photography: Wisconsin Lifestyle Photographer}

  1. Once again, I am in complete awe of not only your special talent, but also your unique ability to write the perfect story along with each photo, allowing us to feel like we were right there with you when each moment was captured. You never cease to amaze me Gretchen! Truely amazing!

  2. Pingback: Mr. J. {Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Senior Photographer} | Gigi's Joy Photography Union Grove Racine Kenosha Burlington baby child lifestyle family photographer

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