Your School Has a Story to Tell

I believe that photography tells stories. Weddings, births, family gatherings, a quiet morning at home: each of these moments is an equally worthwhile and meaningful story to tell. A story's importance is not about its plotline, but instead it rests on the emotion that it makes us feel.


And your school has a story to tell, too. Each day in every one of your classrooms a perfectly unique story is unfolding. It might a story of cooperation and collaboration or perhaps one of exploration and discovery. Whatever the narrative, the story of your school and all its inspiring and beautiful particulars deserves to be told and shared.

As an administrator or a teacher, each school day may seem to be simply a variation on a set of carefully crafted and thoughtfully implemented routines. But from an outsider's perspective a day in a school or a classroom is a fascinating and emotionally poignant story waiting to be told. Your school's mission and guiding philosophy are what makes its day-in-day-out narrative compelling and worth documenting.


Using my years of experience photographing young children, I can turn your deeply considered and meaningful approach to education and childhood development into a heartfelt and impactful story that will resonate with parents, children and the community at large. You can give parents the gift of an intimate view into their child's life at school, provide a lasting memory for a child of what their school life was like as they grew from baby to kindergartener and have access to a catalogue of authentic marketing photos.


The structure and pricing of each school storytelling session is specific to the circumstances and needs of your school--just get in touch and we can talk about how to tell your school's story.

Why Documentary?

Family Photography Madison WI: Why Family Photo Sessions Don’t Need to Be Stressful

Imagine this: you’re a parent living in Madison WI and you decide it’s time to schedule a family photography session. An easy enough task, right? But then you start to think about all the reasons why maybe you haven’t had family photos taken in way too long. Your kids are so full of energy (or maybe really shy!). Life is really busy–like, actually really busy. The thought of cleaning your house or finding a location for photos just feels overwhelming. And then maybe you say to yourself, “I’ll do it another time.”

I get it. And I’m here to tell you, as a busy mother and a family photographer, that it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Planning a family photography session in Madison WI can be easy, pretty stress free and actually super fun.

So next, imagine this: you decide to schedule that family photo session and you get in touch with me. I will tell you that it doesn’t matter if your house is perfectly clean or a huge mess. I will tell you that your kids don’t need to act any differently than they usually do to make amazing family photos that you will treasure forever. And I will tell you that it doesn’t matter where in Madison you choose to do your family photo session. These photos will be meaningful and important exactly because they will celebrate the unique beauty of your real life.

Why you will love documentary family photography

Just the idea of getting your energetic children to sit still and smile at the camera for more than five minutes might seem impossible. And that makes sense because they’re perfectly wonderful, perfectly normal kids! Yes, it’s nice to have a photo or two each year where your whole family is together and smiling, but how representative of your real life are those “say cheese” photos? I’d guess that most of your days are filled with the beautiful, messy business of living life, rather than sitting still and looking into a camera. And it’s exactly that perfectly imperfect, day-to-day, real life that I capture when I photograph families.

Let your child wear their favorite, food-stained princess dress. Don’t worry about the mess of toys that is inevitably strewn across your living room floor. Encourage that raucous backyard play that your children love. Sit back and enjoy being with your special people. And let me show you just how much joy, beauty and deep love there is your everyday life. Real life is full of wonder and magic and laughter–all you have to do is let me help you remember it.

Family Photography: Let’s make this easy, Madison

Just how easy and relaxed can it be to have a family photo session that authentically captures your uniquely beautiful life? The answer is really easy. You don’t need to find the best locale or make sure that we do your photos when the weather is just right. All you have to do is tell me about your family and let me help you design a session that will tell your beautiful story.

Do you love spending Saturday mornings at home? Does your family play at a special park over and over again? Do you love hiking or biking or visiting the farmer’s market? Let me learn a little about you and the things that bring joy to you and your family and I’ll help you plan a session that captures the real, authentic you.

Real families, real lives, real photo sessions

So you can see how super simple (and fun!) a family photo session can be, here are three examples of how other real families have chosen to spend their time in front of my camera. A look through these sessions will show you that family photography in Madison WI isn’t necessarily about a perfect location, beautiful golden light or perfectly behaved children. Love, connection, joy, laughter, togetherness, authenticity–these are what make documentary family photos so beautiful.

Family photography session Madison WI
Family photographer Madison WI

When home is where the heart is: family fun meets family photography

When you’ve recently finished building your dream home it makes sense to want to preserve the memories of your life as it’s lived there. This amazing family welcomed me into their home for a weekend morning of play, backyard sledding, lunch and nap time and it was fantastic. Yes, it was chilly and there was running and yelling and those things are exactly what made it beautifully real.

See their energetic, winter morning at home here.

A relaxed Saturday morning: a joyful family photo session

At home family photo sessions in madison wi

This beautiful family chose for me to spend a regular Saturday morning just documenting all the things they love to do. They played games, sang songs and danced, hung out in the yard, laughed and had fun. Their daughter wore her favorite pink dress, their son was a bit cranky and spit up a lot and their basement had recently flooded. It was REAL and it was wonderful–full of true joy, laughter and beauty.

See their Saturday morning family photos by heading here.

Life on a farm: family photography at the family business

family photography madison wi

When your daily life is structured around the care and maintenance of a small dairy farm it makes perfect sense that your family photo session would be too. I spent a delightful few hours with this fun and energetic family roaming around their beautiful farm. The kids stomped in puddles, we stopped by a favorite tree to do a few posed photos and we spent time checking in on their cows.

Get a glimpse of what real life is like for this delightful family.

What Parents Think:

"After looking at Catherine's work, I immediately saw that she understood how to make people comfortable and capture small moments for their simplistic beauty. During the shoot, she lived up to expectations.


Casually chatting to make sure everyone felt at ease, while also blending into the background so our family could carry out our daily lives uninterrupted for her to document. The outcome of our session was lovely!


She provided images that made me laugh, choke up or see our family dynamic in a new, special way. I am grateful for this gift and this wonderful phase in our lives that is now frozen in time because of her."

"Catherine came into our home and captured our chaos perfectly in beautiful photographs. While we relaxed and chatted, Catherine snapped away and made us feel at ease while our kids danced and played.


I was completely blown away when we received the final product! My kids do not sit
still so I wasn’t sure how the pictures would turn out, but Catherine truly
captured their wild, crazy, wonderful essence!


These are photos we will cherish for the rest of our lives."

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Catherine Hilcove Photography: Family Photography, Madison WI