An Extended Family Gathering [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Documentary Family Photographer]

2018-09-11_0028When you look back at your favorite extended family images – they probably aren’t the ones in which everyone is looking at the camera. They might contain people hugging, a favorite uncle’s belly laugh, or a sweet moment of cousins playing.2018-09-11_0014My approach to documenting families is to let them interact with each other. This family of four adult sisters gathered on a weekend with their spouses, children, and parents.2018-09-11_0024My hope for the families is that by looking at these images, they’ll remember the time they spent together and the collective memories they share.2018-09-11_0016Every parent will recognize the brotherly “arm-out-body block” on the image below.2018-09-11_0008There was time for games2018-09-11_00192018-09-11_0017and a time for rest.2018-09-11_00212018-09-11_0020We did take some formal family portraits, and this little cousin took it upon herself to keep them entertained.2018-09-11_00092018-09-11_0004We had baking time with Grandma2018-09-11_0005and Grandpa held court.2018-09-11_00272018-09-11_0029And this little one did some tidying up.2018-09-11_00072018-09-11_0011There was a bit of flying. (Please note the Peter Pan shadow on the wall!)2017-11-06_0002followed with Grandma-cuddles.2018-09-11_00182018-09-11_0003But the image below is my very favorite… because sometimes this is what it looks like when the cousins come to play!2018-09-11_0002





Ms. H’s Fall Senior Session [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Burlington Senior Photographer]


H’s fall senior session ended up being scheduled on a day that felt much more like summer than fall!

2018-09-10_0009We had beautiful sunlight streaming in which made the still-green leaves shine even brighter.

2018-09-10_0010I love how H can pull off the sweet “soft smile” look – as well as a full grin!

2018-09-10_0012As the sun dipped lower in the sky, we found some beautiful colors that gave her the prettiest glow.




Baby B at Home [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Newborn Photographer]

2018-08-27_0001This is Baby B.

He is beautiful and well-loved.


2018-08-27_0007During our time together, he opened his eyes for me…

2018-08-27_0009And showed off his lungs.


We appreciated the irony of his shirt.

2018-08-27_0005We had some sweet, quiet moments before his brother came home from school –2018-08-27_0003and then it was time to play!




“Every good and perfect gift comes from above…” – James 1:17


Grandparents at the Milwaukee Domes [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Headshot Photographer]

2018-08-31_0001This portrait session took place during the bitter cold winter in Wisconsin – but by the bright colors and smiles, you’d never know it.


We met at the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (The Domes) in Milwaukee for this photography session. Chris LeRose was being honored for her work with doTerra essential oils and was going to be featured in their Leadership magazine.


This is my favorite picture because everyone seems to be going in a slightly different direction.


She is a proud grandmother to three beautiful children – so she wanted them to be part of the session as well.


Photographing Chris was a joy – and her smile was always so genuine.



M’s Senior Portraits & a little Basketball [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Senior Photographer]

2018-07-12_0001We started this senior’s session off with a little time in the gym.

2018-07-12_0002Whenever possible, I love to utilize the actual high school’s gym or track since that’s where students have spent so much of their time. (Many high schools are very good about working with the students on availability.)2018-07-11_0025It was a fun challenge to create some dramatic lighting. 2018-07-12_0003When we were done in the gym, we headed over to the park for some more traditional senior portraits. 2018-07-12_0004

2018-07-12_0005“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves…” -Marcel Proust


Baby G’s Newborn Session at Home [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Newborn Photographer]

Meet Baby G. He’s darling.2018-07-11_0023It is necessary to introduce him before you get distracted by the Most Well-Behaved Dog in this next image!

2018-07-11_0011I love newborn sessions at home because you’re able to document the place most important to you – and it’s such an easy way to incorporate the furry members of the family. 2018-07-11_0016But, back to the star of the show…


2018-07-11_0014Baby G is clearly loved

2018-07-11_0013and adored.2018-07-11_0012It’s always hard to narrow down a set of images to put in a blog post – I try to include a variety of settings and expressions. However – in this next set, I just wanted to show off their adorable nursery. Baby G’s dad built the crib based on his wife’s vision. She designed the space so beautifully!


The words above the changing table say “To go to sleep I count tractors instead of sheep.”

2018-07-11_0021He looks pretty peaceful and serene in the images, but we did get a chance to listen to his lungs. I love his scrunched-up face.



2018-07-11_0022“First we had each other, then we had you…. and now we have everything…”





The J Family – Sunrise on Lake Michigan [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Family Photographer]

2018-07-11_0004-1This little boy was turning one, and we used his birthday as a great excuse for a sunrise family portrait session on Lake Michigan.2018-07-11_0002-1The wind was cold, the lake was angry, but the sky was stunning.

2018-07-11_0007-1The little guy took it all in stride as he showed off his new walking skills.


2018-07-11_0003-1Big Brother tried his best to stay warm!

2018-07-11_0005-1Once we were back on dry land (and warmed up), we were treated to some toothy grins!



Ms. J’s Senior Session at the Boerner Botanical Gardens [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Senior Photographer]

2018-07-11_0001J’s senior portrait session at the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners was well worth the trip.2018-07-11_0004Many areas of the Gardens were off limits to us due to the China Lights exhibit, but there were still plenty of beautiful backdrops for us to enjoy.2018-07-11_0006I loved how we could go from a white, farmhouse porch look to a tropical setting just by walking across the park. It gave us a wonderful variety in which to play!2018-07-11_0005

2018-07-11_0002“Every great dream began with a dreamer…”


Mr. N – Senior Session at the Soccer Field [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Senior Photographer]

2018-07-09_0006We lucked out with a beautiful October afternoon for this senior’s portrait session. 2018-07-09_0008We breezed through the traditional senior portrait settings – and then after a quick outfit change, we headed over to the soccer field. 2018-07-09_0009

2018-07-09_0001Although I had a confidence rating of 99.5% in his ability – I still requested that he aim for the other side of the goal so that I wouldn’t get hit. (He graciously obliged.)2018-07-09_00022018-07-09_0003




Baby E at Home [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Newborn Photographer]

2018-05-14_0001This newborn lifestyle session took place over the winter. While the wind was rough and cold outside, Baby E stayed cosy right in his own home.

2018-05-14_0007His wispy hair makes me smile. Judging from his smile, I think he likes it, too.

2018-05-14_0006These moments where the mother’s face is so close to her baby are some of my absolute favorites. The new baby smell is something to be cherished.



2018-05-14_0011The image below might be one of my all-time favorite new father images. Their matching profiles are perfect.

2018-05-14_0002In-home newborn sessions allow you to document the baby’s first room so that you can remember all of those very carefully chosen books and toys.

2018-05-14_0012“Let me love you a little more before you’re not so little anymore.”


In honor of the mothers [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Family Documentary Photography]

Capturing motherhood might be my favorite part of my work. These small moments are fleeting, and to be able to capure them for a family is an honor. To celebrate the mothers, I’ve collected a few of my favorite moments of motherhood from the past year or so.Wisconsin Kenosha family photographer


As children grow, the quiet moments you have together look less like this

2018-05-13_0014and more like this…

2018-05-13_0003And both are to be savored.


Mothers are good at multi-tasking

2018-05-13_0004and managing what can, at times, feel like a small circus.


Mothers take their children’s feelings seriously

2018-05-13_0010and know that just a small gesture can bring comfort.


Mothers cherish the kisses,

2018-05-13_0007the cuddles,

2018-05-13_0006and the laughter…

2018-05-13_0009And that moment when you can physically feel your heart being so full of love, it might just burst.


Happy Mother’s Day

Stories of Autism 2018: Everett [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Wisconsin Special Needs Photographer]

2018-04-26_0001In our old farmhouse, a ladder in the living room means that something needs fixing. In Everett’s home, it means that someone’s mind is working. I photographed Everett for the 2018 Stories of Autism gallery. He is a charming boy who wins you over immediately – and he loves to climb.


2018-04-26_0007From his parents:

Everett is a typical 5-year-old boy who happens to have autism. He is fascinated with classic video games, Mickey Mouse, and playing at the park. He has a very vivid imagination and often prefers to play by himself in his fantasies.

2018-04-26_0009While Everett typically has no interest in playing with other children, his sister’s outgoing nature makes them excellent play partners. They are each others’ closest companions, and they do everything together.

2018-04-26_0003At school, he is at the same level with peers. However, his ability to verbally communicate is delayed, which can be frustrating. He also has difficulties transitioning from one activity to another and needs special consideration from teachers and therapists when he becomes overstimulated.2018-04-26_0006

2018-04-26_0010Everett finds the repetition of going up and down a staircase very reassuring, and calming, which is why we put a ladder in the living room for him to climb on. For us as his parents, life with Everett is about finding a balance and helping Everett to be himself.

Jason and Leah, parents of Everett
Sturtevant, Wisconsin


A boy and some balloons [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Children’s Photographer]

2018-04-23_0002The stars aligned for this little session. Well – four specific items, anyway:

1. I had leftover balloons from an earlier photo shoot that day

2018-04-23_00032. We had a bright blue sky for the first time in (what seemed to be) forever.

3. We still had a little bit of a “lake” (the 6 inches of water that we get each spring in the bottom of the meadow).

2018-04-23_00044. I had a little boy willing to play in the water with balloons and his mud boots. (Actually – this wasn’t a stretch. He wears his mud boots every afternoon, and I think any child would be happy to play with balloons and splash in water!)

2018-04-23_0001(This last image isn’t as hopeless as it looks. The balloons had a bit of weight on the bottom of them – so he would throw them up in the air and chase them down when they fell. It was a fun little game!)


Ms. M’s Senior Picture Session [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Senior Photographer]

This senior photography session took place on the most amazing October day. (And she had the most amazing hair!)

Union Grove High School photographer Kenosha Burlington RacineWe started the session at the Kenosha Country Club which had trees and a hill that reminded me of a cross between The Hobbit and Harry Potter.

Union Grove family photographer teen

Union Grove High School photographer Kenosha BurlingtonWe finished up the session at the Kenosha lakefront. The wind was working with us!

Union Grove High School photographer Racine BurlingtonWe were excited to find the herringbone bricks.

Union Grove High School photographer Kenosha Burlington

This session had been rescheduled once due to weather conditions – and October sessions are notorious for that. It’s hard to know whether to go through with the session or not, but we lucked out with one of the very best October days that were left.

Union Grove High School photographer Kenosha Racine

Stories of Autism 2018: Olivia [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Wisconsin Special Needs Photographer]

2018-04-18_0001Each time you meet someone who is non-verbal, there is a question as to how much is actually understood. When I met Olivia for her Stories of Autism session, there was a quick flash in her eyes that made me realize that she is not to be underestimated! With Olivia’s spunk, her determination, and the support of her family, she’ll move mountains.


From her parents:

Olivia is a 14 year old girl whose smile can light up any room. Although she has very few words, she communicates through her spirit to those who truly get to know her. Nothing is more powerful than the ability to express love without ever uttering a single sound.

2018-04-18_0010Since being diagnosed with Autism at the age of two, her life has been a story of ups and downs. Through it all, she continues to wrestle with a body that often doesn’t want to cooperate with a brilliant mind ready to explore all that life has to offer.

2018-04-18_0002Olivia is an intelligent teenage girl who loves to joke and mess with people. She is also a master manipulator and has more perseverance that any person we have ever met! With each year she learns more coping mechanisms to control her feelings and actions in a world that bombards her with challenging sights, sounds, and sensations.


Olivia has helped us to look at the world from a different lens and pause to discover things that others miss.

2018-04-18_0005Olivia has taught our family more than we ever could have imagined about the precious little things in life that most of us have the luxury of taking for granted. Yes, there have been many sacrifices and autism has turned our lives upside down, but in a strange and almost calming way it has given us direction to focus on the small achievements and grab onto the smaller moments in life that bring us joy.

2018-04-18_0006Olivia is surrounded by people that love her. She very often expresses the return of that love through hugs and kisses and as I said, a smile that speaks for itself. Each day is an adventure and each week a challenge. Olivia has taught us to persevere through the tough times, seek the light through the darkness, and never ever give up on the possibilities of tomorrow!

Tom and Katie, parents of Olivia
Franksville, Wisconsin


J’s Senior Session at the Skate Park [Gigi’s Joy Photography: Racine Senior Photograher]

Kenosha Senior Photographer skatepark Union GroveWe lucked out with a beautiful fall day at the Skate Park and the sky was a brilliant blue.

Kenosha Senior Photographer skatepark Union GroveI was excited for the challenge of photographing at the skatepark, and only slightly nervous about getting run over by other skateboarders. (As it turned out, other skateboarders don’t care about photoshoots – they just want to talk to their friends.)

Kenosha Senior Photographer skatepark Union GroveI love this next image – notice how the curve of his flying shirt mimics the curve of the ramps behind him.

Kenosha Senior Photographer skatepark Union GroveWe got some headshots and some more traditional senior portraits in before we headed across the street to the lake front.

Racine headshot photographer Union Grove

Waterford High School Photographer Union Grove“Instruction ends in the schoolroom, but education ends only with life.” 

—Frederick W. Robertson

Kenosha Senior Photographer artistic lakefront