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.

Ask Me All the Questions!

Why Should I Invest in Family Photos That Just Show My Everyday Life?

Madison Photography

If you’re anything like me, you feel like life moves quickly. Sometimes much too quickly. It feels like I blink and a season passes. My kids grow, I get more gray hair, we love, we laugh and our time as a family goes on. And then when I start thinking about the speediness of it all I get a little panicked. Have I remembered enough? Have I documented our current stage of life thoroughly enough? I’m part of the Madison photography community and I don’t think these questions are just for those us who are constantly toting our cameras around.

I think that these feelings of anxiety about the speedy passage of time and the ever-changing nature of life are so universal and make so much sense. And I really think that investing in documentary family photo sessions are one of the most important answers to them. As someone who has spent countless hours documenting families’ “regular” lives (my own family included!), I can tell you that devoting time and resources to remembering just how you are right now is invaluable, even for children. Just imagine being able to look back in 30 years and see all the beautiful, everyday details of how you and your family spent a typical Saturday morning and you’ll understand a bit of what I mean.

For me, Madison photography is about helping you remember just that. How your three year-old loves to wear mismatched shoes, the daytime bedhead that your 7 year-old refuses to brush out, the laughter your family shares when you play a game, the love that is so clear and obvious among you and your family when you just take a tiny step back–these are the things that I can show you when you choose to invest in a beautifully real documentary family photo session. Photos can freeze time and really is there any better reason than that to spend the time and effort to remember right now forever?

How Do I Prepare for a Documentary Photo Session?

I have great news for you: it is SUPER easy to prepare for a documentary family or newborn family session. Before we book your session, I’ll send you a short questionnaire that will help you make choices about what to actually do when I come to take your photos.

Maybe your family loves to hang out at home on Saturday or Sunday morning, reading, playing and eating brunch. Fantastic! I’ll make sure I catch the snuggles while you read a picture book, the joyful laughter while running around the backyard in pajamas and the little smear of jam in the corner of your toddler’s mouth (and tons of other moments, too).

Perhaps your family loves to take a hike or go boating on warm summer afternoons. Sounds delightful! I love a good adventure and will tag along with you and capture all the fun and joy that being in the great outdoors brings your family. Think hair blowing in the breeze, toes dipping in the water, scrunched up noses as sunscreen is applied, the joy that spreads across your face as you enjoy the beauty of your family–I’ll be there to capture it all.

Whatever your family loves to do together is what will make a great photo session. You don’t need special outfits or a perfect location–all you need is what you already have. Trust me when I say that Madison photography for families can absolutely be this easy and stress free.

What Happens If My Baby Cries or My Child Is In a Bad Mood?

I’m a mom too and I’ll be honest here: every baby cries and every kid has cranky moods and none of it will phase me. But maybe you’re worried that your family photos will be filled with tears or sad faces and that’s not what you want to remember. I get it.

But I also know that tears and tantrums pass and smiles and contentment usually follow. I also know that life is complex, both happy and sad, good and bad. I believe that there is deep value in remembering both sides of that coin and that documenting the less-than-perfect moments is just as important as capturing the wonder, the beauty and the love.

The upshot is that whatever happens during our photo session will make for beautiful, meaningful photos. I might even venture to guess that the range of emotion and feeling that you’ll see in a candid photo session will be more emotionally resonant than just smiling faces looking right at the camera. (See more of my thoughts on Madison photography sessions here!)

My house is too messy, I need to get a haircut, my kids are so loud, my life isn’t super interesting, [insert insecurity here]…..

You’re a person, you have insecurities. We all do. (Here’s a secret: I have tons of them!) The beauty of documentary photography that showcases our real lives is that it celebrates the imperfections that make our lives unique. Life will never be perfect, but that’s exactly what makes it beautiful and meaningful. When I photograph families, I make sure that I am guided first and foremost by my sense of empathy and my eye for connection and love.

Let me show you exactly how what you might see as a too much is really just right. You love your family for who they are, not for who you wished they could be. Let me show you how you are just exactly enough too. And that when you let yourself relax into the crazy, gorgeous, real, messiness of life you’ll see its transcendent meaning and beauty.

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