The Military Family Tribute is located at the State Capitol Mall in St. Paul and will forever stand as a personal thank you to those who provide the true foundation of support to our military personnel - their families. Minnesota is the first state in the nation to create a permanent dedication and monument of this nature.
On June 13, 2015, the Minnesota Military Family Tribute was formally dedicated in a ceremony which brought together politicians, military personnel, gold and blue star families. These photos are simply a glimpse from that day.
Learn more about the Minnesota Military Family Tribute on their website at www.militaryfamilytribute.org.
Minnesota soldiers hail from each of the state's 87 counties. In this part of the tribute, 87 stones are arranged into northern hemisphere constellations. These stones serve as a unique visual connection between loved ones that are deployed, their families at home and the shared stars of the night sky. Excerpts from correspondence sent between soldiers and their family members are etched onto these stones and provide a window into the lives of our military families and their sacrifices.
GOLD STAR TABLE
At the west end of the promenade, the Gold Star Table recognizes the supreme sacrifice of our Gold Star Families - those who have lost a family member in service. The space features a sculpted table representing many narratives. It recalls the tables we gather at as a family to share dinner, stories and laughter. It is a place of gathering, reflection and recreating memories.
Made of enduring bronze, its five-pointed foundation resembles the Gold Star. Northern hemisphere constellations shine through the table's surface, allowing light to pass through and creating a guide to the night sky. Polaris, the North Star is emphasized, a constant navigational guide to home.
THANK YOU MILITARY FAMILY WALKWAY
The promenade is expressed as a graceful arc which responds to the seasons. Majestic rows of trees line the path, providing shade in the summer and places of rest on the benches below. Fall brings a symphony of color as trees turn from gold to red and late in winter the ash-grey bark creates a contrast of color and texture in fresh fallen snow. Summer brings vibrant beds of flowering plants including red poppies to announce the entrance to the tribute as a tie to the memory of our veterans.
When I first started working with Backing the Blue Line, I knew I would be spending a lot of time with wives as they supported their husbands in law enforcement and the communities they serve. What I didn't truly realize is how much I would come to enjoy seeing into that world and meeting the families they live each day to protect.
Recently, I traveled beyond the Metro to spend time with Officer Maros and his family. What made this day absolutely perfect was not his beautiful wife Tina, or their incredibly sweet and lively children. But, instead at the onset of our 2-hour drive to get there, I got pulled over by the cops. I haven't been stopped since my children were babies, but on the very day I am to shoot my first law enforcement family, I was speeding through a construction zone and got pulled over.
It was almost comical, if not poetic!
(Fortunately for me, the officer gave me a very kind warning and let us on our way.)
As I move forward with plans for other work with Backing the Blue Line, I am delighted to have this outlet to support law enforcement families. Seeing Officer Maros in full uniform, I realized I suddenly became nervous. (That same panic when you see them in your rear view mirror... oh gosh, am I speeding? Did I miss a stop? Is that really a gun on his hip?) Then, I saw him get down on his knee and smile with his children.
That is when I understood what Tina meant when she said 'Sometimes, its justice. Sometimes, its just us.'
Community service and celebration are a big part of my work. While portraiture is my creative passion, community connections bring me great joy as I branch out of my comfort zone and get to know the bigger city in which I live.
These events allow me to not only give back to my communities, but also get to know the many wonderful people that contribute to the world in which I live.
While this gallery does not show all of the events I have done, it will give you a flavor for some of the awesome events that occur in the beautiful Twin Cities!
In a continuation of the Summer Sessions series, this collaboration between Christine Zrust Photography, Tori D Photography and Sarah Chacos Photography embraced vintage styling, haunting images and stories told from places we often fear - the unknown.
Steampunk Gothic explored a darker style with vintage elements - perfect for the Halloween season!
Hair & Makeup Styling
Event Management & Logistics
Being engaged to a soldier, you will often find me watching videos of military homecomings. Beautiful families being reunited, children surprised at community events and, of course, my favorite, the first time a baby meets their daddy. However, Friday, I was blessed to be a part of this heartwarming event first hand as Superior, WI welcomed home 95 soldiers from 950th Engineering Company after ten months deployment in Afghanistan.
On this day, it was the Shafer family, excitedly awaiting the return of their husband, father, and son. There are no words to adequately describe the grace and beauty Amanda carried as she attended to every detail, from her perfectly manicured nails, to the personalized shirts the boys were wearing. The bundles of energy played joyfully with others, excited by the crowds and activity, while the youngest Shafer simply slept the time away in the stroller. (Well... until, Daddy arrived, then it was all smiles!) To look into that beautiful baby face, you saw the face of his father and the recognition as each smiled in declaration... 'I know you'! This was the first time they would meet, but watching them together, you realized they have known each other for some time.
To the Shafer family, I want to simply say thank you for sharing this day with me. I was honored to share in this moment and will forever remember this experience as excitedly say "Welcome Home" to Sergeant First Class William Shafer and the soldiers of the 950th EnCo.
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I adore photographing couples. I cherish the time spent observing two people together and the unspoken language they share between them. How they communicate love, passion and adoration with a glance, a touch, a whisper.
But, what happens when two people are separated by miles?
The love story between this couple unfolded over 13 weeks, as Johnathan continued his military training at Fort Benning, GA and Caroline eagerly awaited his return... Both dreaming of what was and what will be again.
For this unique session, we planned a photoshoot in the week prior to Johnathan's departure. From there, one image was posted each week until he returned home with reflections and stories from the couple.
One day, I will publish a PDF storybook of this campaign. But, for now, it is the images that tell their story.
It is no secret . . I absolutely adore couples!
There is something about photographing two people together just inspires the heart. To see how to hearts are connected and how the simple glimmer of an eye, caress of a hand or gentle laugh can say so much.
Over the years, I have photographed engaged couples, new beginnings, anniversaries, proms, grandparents and everything in between. And no matter what the story is the couple brings to the table, one thing is for sure. The language between them is always unique and each story unfolds in its own time and way.
This page holds just a random assortment of the many couples I have photographed over the years. Some friends, some lovers and all as unique as the story they hold.
One of the greatest things in being a photographer is the ability to do impromptu shoots with your family.
Gorgeous day? Hair looking great? Perfect!
Let's hit the local park and get a few quick picks!
As most people know, I do not do a lot of weddings in my body of work. While they are always beautiful and fun events, I simply tend to focus on other genres that play to my greatest passions - storytelling and invention.
Then I met Bryanna and Zach.
From the moment they began telling me of their personal interests in the performing arts, to the fun design for their wedding reception, I knew this was going to be a couple I would adore working with for their wedding. With a passion for movies, performance and stories, their engagement session would not become simply a documentation of a moment or a ring, but instead the channeling of three Disney stories following the journey of love.
101 Dalmatians, the kind and lasting love of Roger and Anita. Seeing Bryanna and Zach navigate the journey of our shoot, it was clear from every moment they looked towards each other's eyes to the way Zach touched and guided Bryanna with such chivalry that theirs was just that. A lasting love that will guide the way of many beautiful stories to come.
Little Mermaid, the dramatic and romantic love of Little Mermaid's Arial and Eric. While fairytales cannot hold a candle to the real romantic love of Bryanna and Zach, it was a fun day to explore this contemporary Disney story. (PS. This musical is especially close to their heart as Zach proposed to Bryanna on a Gondola while recreating the beautiful boat scene - complete with Kiss the Girl playing in the background and a photographer lined up to capture the moment! Now THAT is the way to do it!)
Peter Pan, a charming and youthful love. While everyone remembers this tale for Peter's flights, Neverland and Captain Hook, this story was chosen to reflect how Peter and Wendy navigate blossoming love for the first time. A thimble, an acorn and a very jealous Tink! Bryanna and Zach, like Peter and Wendy, are joyful, energetic, playful and always in search of a new adventure.
Their wedding will reflect their favorite love stories, movies and other fun elements. But, more importantly, it will reflect them and all the stories they are writing... together!
What is more fun than photographing a family?
Photographing them again!
I was blessed with a fun reunion with one of my favorite (and largest) families - the Julkowskis! Year one was Dodge Nature Center, so this year we were off to Hidden Falls Regional Park. Another great nature location and another great season of family.
It is so much fun to see how each of these kids have grown and changed since our last session. (Including one more senior making his way into the adult world!)
I wish you guys all the best and look forward to seeing you again next year!
Meet the Julkowski Family!
This incredible family started with a loving mom and dad and over the years grew to include 13 adopted children and 1 biological child. Talk about a blended family!
This amazing crew brought probably one of the most fun photo sessions I have had in years! Never would have imagined that 15 people could have been photographed so smoothly in less than 2 hours.
What a loving and amazing family!
l have delighted in photographing performing arts and theatre quite intensely for the past 10 years. It is beautiful, ever changing and always inspiring. But, when a national dance competition came calling, I had no clue what I was in for!
652 performances on 2 stages over 3 days! 3 minutes to capture 100+ images of fast moving dance performances, with a new performance on the very heals of the last. Oh, yeah! THAT is machine gun shutter fire! (And the reason my left arm would be in a brace for several days after the event!)
Hip hop, lyrical, ballet, tap, theatre... oh so many beautiful styles and oh so many amazing dancers!
One day, I will make my way through the 234,000 images from that weekend and put together a proper gallery to share. But, for today, here is a sneak peak at the imagery from a wonderful national dance competition hosted by In10sity and its media contractor, A Cut Above the Rest Productions.
So many beautiful faces, personalities and spirits over the years.
This is just a short collection of some of my favorite subjects and images in that time.
This weekend, I had a marathon run of photography sessions. Engagements, seniors and families. Every single one was a delight and every single one was a lot of work.
At the end of the day, when my head hits the pillow, I pray that the images I take have meaning to those for which they are intended. Sure, we all as photographers want to take beautiful portraits. But, for me, it is so much more important to take pictures of relationships and interactions, moments and experiences. I want them to look back at these pictures years down the road and not think of how they looked - young or old, small or big. But rather, smile in that way that brings their heart to a fuller place as they think of how those people gave meaning to their life.
This gallery post is of my work with the Longaneckers. This family took a long journey to build their family with adoption of three siblings. This session marked the final step in that journey and first premiered on my blog on the day their adoption was made final and they announced their new forever home and family.
So many portrait photographers get lost in their day to day work that they lose sight of unexpected moments and opportunities that deliver beautiful photographs.
This past year, I decided to enjoy my camera again. To pick it up and capture those beautiful moments, lovely scenes and things that capture my eye and heart. To create photography that is just for me and the joy I have always found at seeing what lies at the other side of the lens.
In doing my new campaign series Wanderlust Traveler, I have been blessed and delighted to work with several young and beautiful girls - each as enchanting as the characters they work to create.
In meeting them, it became clear that I couldn't reduce their beautiful faces to a simple campaign photo. They had to be photographed as simply and stunning as they are. The result is a gorgeous look at emerging beauty - set in a time with mother nature is at its most glorious!
Thank you to the gorgeous beauties - Ellie, Eleri, Lilli, Valerie and Grace!
Distance is never easy in a relationship. Especially when the one you love is in the military and it is their birthday which you cannot celebrate.
Caroline wanted her love to know that his birthday wasn't forgotten and a simple note in social media wouldn't do. So, instead, she opted for a photoshoot and a release of balloons in his honor.
This chapter is an excerpt from a larger editorial shoot called 'Once Upon a Today' which explored popular fairytales and stories. This one is based upon the Little Red Riding Hood.
Sometimes, the wolf is not always what we have been led to believe! And.. sometimes... it is the wolf that wins!
At its earliest origins, “Little Red Riding Hood” was a seduction tale. An engraving accompanying the first published version of the story, in Paris in 1697, shows a girl in her déshabille, lying in bed beneath a wolf. According to the plot, she has just stripped out of her clothes, and a moment later the tale will end with her death in the beast’s jaws — no salvation, no redemption. Any reader of the day would have immediately understood the message: In the French slang, when a girl lost her virginity it was said that elle avoit vû le loup — she’d seen the wolf. This is a fascinating perspective on a story of carnal desire and the societal changes of today brought on by the Feminine Mystique.
Event Hair & Makeup Styling
SALLY GRAFF & BHS THEATRE GUILD
Models (Little Red Riding Hood Story)
Models (Other Stories)
EMILY THORKILDSON, SETH HANNASCH, SUZIE JUUL, TRES WUERFFEL, VANESSA VU, MARAYA LAWSON, MAXWELL KERWOOD, SEAN FISHER, BRIANNA GILLESPIE, ANUGRAH MANZKE, BETSY TOZIER, CHRIS MERRILL, KATIE COHEN
Over the years, I have been blessed to know Hall family through the high school theatre company. As years passed, I would go from photographing the Hall kids on stage, to photographing Brian as a model in my conceptual shoots.
When it came time for him to enlist in the Navy, I was delighted to be asked to capture family portraits of this loving and amazing brood.
We weren't out to get a group photo for the wall or a wallet. But, instead out to capture a moment in their lives, their relationships, interaction and connectedness.
The best part of photographing families? Seeing the love and care that binds people together and revealing that legacy to their future generations.
Photographs from Heatherlynn's CD Release Party for her album 'Storydwellers' at the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis. A really great night of music and an honor to be asked to shoot it.
To learn more about this great artist, visit her website at www.heatherlynmusic.com.
I don't know what was hotter. The horrendously humid heat that day, or the incredible skills of these two models. Corey is a seasoned pro and incredibly easy to work with, Jena is an emerging talent with a whole lot of wow!
To learn more about Corey or book him for an event, go to www.facebook.com/coreymcintoshmodel. If you are interested in getting into modeling, Corey is an outstanding resource of information and referral. Look him up!
Weddings are such a beautiful and special time in life. Not only for the couple who are committing their lives to each other, but for their friends and family who will forever be bound and changed.
As a photographer, I relish the opportunity to sit back and capture those moments and details. It is such a gift to observe life - changing, growing, capturing new color and vibrance.
Unlike most portrait photographers, I do very few weddings. I want them to each be special in my heart and as such, I will usually only commit to handful. You will rarely see them in my portfolio or on my website - not because I am not proud of the work, but because in my heart, they are someone else's memories and a chapter for their own book. Not mine.
Thank you to every couple who has allowed me to be a part of their special day.
These images are from Laura & Michael Woodward's beautiful outdoor wedding at Windbeam Farms. The day was shared with Victoria Dempsey as my second shooter and it was a perfect day for a perfect wedding!
Prom & Homecoming...
Is there any time during the school year that is more fun and full of jubilation?
Whether you are looking to create a style that is high fashion, simply fun or reflective of who you are at this time in your life, I encourage all couples to create images that capture this time in all its grandeur.
Over the past several years, I have become more and more ingrained in the culture of military life - both the pride of being a soldier's family, but also the pain of worrying about what it is they are called to do. With that in mind, I have aligned my work with many noteworthy programs aimed at helping military families. Beyond the Yellow Ribbon and Operation Love Reunited are just two, and the great organizations that brought the Stolp Family in front of my camera.
Army Specialist Stolp and his family soon ready for his second deployment, this time in support of Operation Spartan Shield in Kuwait. While they have navigated the difficulty of separation before, this time it was especially hard as he and his wife, Kimberly, were enjoying time with their very young 18 month old twin boys.
So, with orders on the table, it meant we were working quickly to get in a session to not only give Stolp photographs of his beautiful family to take with him, but also for his young children to have here at home to keep his presence with them.
So, as I sit in my home tonight, safe and sound, I will think of Stolp and what his wife, Colleen, and their children Mackinzee, Kylee, Zakary and Carter are sacrificing for others. The next seven months will not be easy, but we will excitedly look forward to the turn of the year when we can enjoy a homecoming session to welcome him home!
After taking several months away from work to spend time with my own family, I was delighted to mark my return to photography with a day spent with this charming family.
It was a grand adventure at the ever popular playground - Hot Sams- and a sunny afternoon following Carter and Vivianna around, going wherever their hearts took them. From space ships and vintage cars, to the old west and sharks, Hot Sam's has it all!
All in all... it was a wonderful time with two energetic kids and a great afternoon spent going wherever their imaginations lead us.
In the past few weeks, I have found tremendous joy is discovering the beauty of the world and details that are so often overlooked in the rush of a life and a busy day. As I began to enjoy the macro details of photography, my thoughts began to wander and I again felt like a child seeing the world for the first time.
Thus a new series is born and one that I hope will carry over the coming years with new eyes of a child and the realization of so many adventures that lie in this wonderland to which we are born.
Thank you to the following models who bring not only personality and character to their images, but also the inspiration behind some of the wanderers journeys.
GRACE VAN SICKLE
VALERIE VAN SICKLE
Some images in this series will use stock elements from other photographers to achieve the final vision. Accordingly, we give credit to the following:
Walking Giraffe by Kayosa Trahana ShadowWing
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT...
The album called 'Autumn Darlings' found here. This was part two of the session we did together with some of these girls. Beauty and imagination? These young models are amazing!
Recently, I had the great opportunity to serve as the guest photographer for Prior Lake's Next Top Model - a local competition for emerging young models.
While the theme of this two day session would require me and my assistant to spend the day chest deep in a running river and getting stuck in the mud, the end results were well worth it! These beauties were truly amazing and absolute pros through some very cold water and very testy bugs!
Looking back at the journey of one's life, it is easy to forget how every choice begins and what influences guide you along the way. I have changed a lot over my life and spent time with so many diverse, colorful and kind people.
This past summer, I was honored with the opportunity to reconnect with a former high school classmate when I was asked to capture her children in a fashion driven photoshoot. Though I hadn't seen Stacy in over 20 years, I delighted in the opportunity to visit her family as they vacationed in Minnesota after years abroad - enjoying a roadtrip to Detroit Lakes and a weekend with three of the most beautiful towheads you have ever seen! (Plus, how can you not love shooting dresses shipped in from an Australian designer just for the occasion!) It was a great time reconnecting and hearing how our journeys had taken us to different places in the world, yet mirrored the same path as parents.
Our session together would take on multiple chapters. First, a vintage style concept influenced by the stories of Box Car Children, then on to the personal interests of each child. From Princesses to Flash to Mermaids, it was a wonderful day in the imagination of children and a series I won't soon forget. Seeing them reminded me how much I adored being a parent and allowing that imagination that brings life and color to our world as adults.
There are many images to come, but for tonight, enjoy a look into our time with Neren, Phillip and Nila.
For many years, I have specialized in fashion, beauty, style and love genres - where storytelling and design are the most fun!
Weddings DEFINITELY combine all of these great things!
While I limit the number of weddings I do, they do cross my path from time to time and each one is more amazing than the last. This page is just a small collection of images that will grow over time to showcase some of the wonderful couples I have had the honor to capture on this special day.