Why I Take Pictures

“Photographer in Madison WI” is more than my job title, it’s my passion.

photographer in Madison WI

My path to becoming a photographer in Madison WI was not the most direct one. But it’s also not a totally unexpected result of my background, life experience and interests. My grandfather was a professional photographer and had a portrait studio on Main St. in his northern California hometown. And he passed his love of photography down to his daughter, my mother, who was an avid amateur photographer for as long as I knew her.

Growing up, my family’s bookshelves were populated with beautiful books of photography and my mother enthusiastically documented all of the many adventures of our life as a family via her camera. In fact, I remember feeling acutely embarrassed by her insistence on photographing all of our big days and family vacations. And I very much recognize the irony of those feelings now that I am repeating that very same behavior in my own life as a mother.

As an adult, though, I treasure the photos that documented my life as a child. And that gift of remembrance that that she gave to my family became even more meaningful after her death in 2011. The deep meaning that I see in the way that these photographs preserved our life with my mother is exactly why I photograph my own my life and why I care so passionately about photographing other Madison families’ “ordinary” lives.

Documenting My Own Family

Madison WI family photographer

While being a photographer in Madison WI is the job that I love, my choice to pursue it as a career is a direct result of my deep belief that pictures of your everyday life as a family are priceless. And I hold that belief close to my heart in my own day-to-day life. I try to take out what my girls call my “big camera” as often as I can and I don’t think there is anything too mundane to capture. Our lives are made up of seemingly ordinary moments. It’s simply the sum of them that make a life well lived extraordinary.

I take pictures of my children eating breakfast, putting on their socks, playing in the front yard and riding their bikes. I bring my camera when we walk to the library, go to the doctor, go out for ice cream or take a hike. They tolerate me toting my camera around when have big adventures or we go on vacation, but also don’t mind if I take photos when we’re walking to school or drawing with chalk in our driveway. And it’s the cumulative story of our life that these photos tell that touches my heart and brings meaning to this pursuit.

I really love a good story. And the day-in, day-out record of my own life with my beloved family is the story that I want to tell for myself, my husband our daughters. Each photo I take of us adds to that story that I hope to share with my children as they grow. And it is in large part due to the photos my mother took before her death that I came to truly understand the vital importance of documenting my own family’s life and giving this visual story to my daughters. Being able to look back and see the details and beauty of life through her eyes made it clear to me that I wanted to give that same gift to my family.

A Photographer in Madison WI

Madison Wi family photographer

While the journey of telling my own story started well before we moved to Madison in 2017, becoming a professional photographer in Madison WI has felt like arriving at a destination. My family and I love this town and being able to work within this beautiful community and tell the stories of other families who also call it home, is a never-ending privilege.

My own life experiences and personal photographic work has made me come to believe so very strongly, that documenting families lives honestly, with authenticity, empathy, joy and humor is how I want to spend my days. Offering documentary family sessions as a photographer in Madison WI is my way of showing families that their regular lives are beautiful and amazing, imperfections and all. In fact, it’s the act of documenting all those “imperfections” that makes documentary photography so meaningful. Life is by nature imperfect and I believe that’s what makes it so incredibly special. I photograph your family as I photograph my own: with an eye for the little moments that make the ordinary extraordinary. Your real life is beautiful: let’s tell your story.

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Catherine Hilcove Photography: Family Photography, Madison WI