My Own Story...

My path to a career in photography wasn't the typical story you might hear from other photographers. I didn't start a family photography business because I was passionate about helping families tell their stories and document their lives. And I am certainly not someone who could say that they can't remember a time when they weren't in love with taking photos. None of that is to say that I haven't always loved the art of photography (because I certainly have), only that I would have never imagined that it would become my career.

(Hey look, it's me!)

I learned to take pictures in high school. With a fabulous teacher guiding me, a Pentax K1000 film camera in my hand and use of a well equipped high school darkroom, I learned the so much about the concepts of taking and developing photos. Photography class was a beautiful highlight in the transitional years of high school. And although I continued to love taking and looking at photos, I had no intention of it ever becoming more than a hobby.


Fast forward twenty years or so and I had wound my way through those twists and turns that we all encounter as we transform from adolescents to adults. With two bachelor degrees in foreign languages and an MA in English, I thought that a career as a high school English teacher was my future. And then life changed, as it so often does. I found myself in need a part-time job with flexible hours. "Why not photography?" And that's how it started.

(Sunset feet + glowing sand)

I can skip the details about how I soon realized that I needed to learn how to manage a business and take way better photos and seek out my own artistic voice in order to actually be a photographer. What I won't skip is what I discovered along the way in that challenging, beautiful and life changing journey: family photos are more than a product to sell or pretty images to put on a holiday card.


Through these last nine years of working to feel qualified for the job I've chosen, I've learned that my "Why not photography?" question was the right one to ask of myself. I've learned that photos show so much more than what we look like. Family photography shows the ways we connect with the people we love, the tiny transcendent details that make us stop and remember the wonder of life, the beauty in what so often feels routine. In short, I found my commitment to and deep love for this work in the doing of it. Learning how to be a photographer taught me why it is what I'm meant to do.

(Nine years deep into this grand adventure, documenting my own life.)

If you're interested in learning more about me as a photographer outside of my work with families, just click below to view some more personal work.

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Catherine Hilcove Photography: Family Photography, Madison WI