Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it a family portrait looks like and what it means. I’ve been incredibly fortunate over the past few months to photograph some truly amazing families. And the act of documenting their love, humor, joy, compassion and, above all, connection, has made me think about what the deeper meaning behind a family photo is. Creating these Madison family photos have given me the chance to see how families interact and to reflect on how best to capture that interaction in order that each family might best remember their lives at this particular and unique moment. Sometimes these family photos feature beautiful smiles directed right at my lens, but other times the quintessential family portrait from a session might feature the backs of heads, a sideways glance or even just feet. A family portrait need not conform to some rigid formula of pose and smile, but rather it can tell the story of how a family relaxes into one another, how their hands touch, how they look at each other, how a silly moment makes them all laugh.

I love photographing families because it gives me the opportunity to show families how beautiful and meaningful all these iterations of their family photo truly are. While it is absolutely wonderful to have that one photo that showcases everyone’s smiling faces, I find such joy in creating family photos that highlight the beauty of other ways of being a family. I’ve now been doing Madison family photos for almost two years and each opportunity to create an intimate portrait of a family’s connection and story is a gift. Thank you to all of the families who have trusted me over the past couple of years to capture the beauty of their story.

Family looks at flower by lakeside


family Backyard running race


Flying in the living room during family photos


Silly faces at the breakfast table


A brand-new family of five


Family playing together during photo session


Relaxing on the couch during madison family photos


Playing in the backyard during family photos


Everybody in the kitchen for family photos


Madison family photos by lake mendota


Family at the playground during photo session


Lakeside for family photos


At the capitol for madison family photos


Family photo bomb


A Brand new family


Everybody gets a snuggle


Overture Center family photo


Front yard excitement





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Catherine Hilcove Photography: Family Photography, Madison WI