There’s a new resource for Madison area parents! is a website that lists hundreds of links for pregnancy, groups, classes, activities, fitness, services, dining and shopping. Features showcase local events, specials, books, project ideas, recipes, decor, new products and much more. You can also post questions and comments to other local parents on their Facebook page: Madison Mamas

I’ve already found the website extremely useful for finding new kid-friendly places to shop and eat in the area. The site is so well organized, it’s simple to find exactly what you’re looking for. And I love the “Features” section – it’s given me some great ideas! (and was kind enough to feature RM blogger – and local Barefoot Books Ambassador – Kat yesterday! Thanks, ladies!)


Local Family Photographers

It’s so nice to have someone capture those memorable moments in your life. And it takes a special someone to capture those moments when they involve little ones who don’t sit still and say “cheese.” We asked you, our RM readers, to tell us about your favorite local family photographers. Thanks to everyone who sent something to us and for sharing your adorable photos!

The reviews below are personal to the people who shared them. We realize that you may have hired/met with the photographers listed below and had a completely different experience. If that’s the case, please feel free to leave your own review in the comments or e-mail Raising Madison and we’ll put it on the blog!

John Kuehl was recommended by RM reader Kathy:

“I really like John’s way of photographing our kids. He doesn’t use any props or directs them how to sit/stand/walk, etc. He let’s them be who they are – kids. I also like how he uses natural light for his shots.

John also really interacts with our kids to get them comfortable with him and to get some great pictures – he’ll crawl under a bush to ‘hide’ with my son or ‘chase’ him in the grass, all while shooting pictures.”

Lea Wolf was recommended by several different RM readers! 

Britt says:
“I wanted to be sure that Lea Wolf was featured in your upcoming review of local photographers. She came to our house when our daughter Gemma was four days old to take pictures. Lea is patient, sweet, knows babies and families, and has a talented eye for color and composition. I’ve attached one of my favorites she took of our daughter. The best thing about Lea is her willingness to “wait for it” – she doesn’t force anything. Her candid shots are amazing!! She captures all the normal moments – the babe is nursing, or maybe even tearful – and makes them art. In my opinion, she’s the best in Madison.”

Wendy adds:

“I would like to tell you about our friend and family photographer Lea Wolf, with Lea Wolf Photography. She had taken our family photo for Christmas 2009 and during this past summer, 1 month after my son Lucas was born. She arrived in the late afternoon to capture the setting sunlight, and asked me of whom she should make sure to take photos. We did an indoor and an outdoor photo sessions. I have included two photos of this past summer’s session. Her website is new this year, and she’s included many sample shots.”

Courtney said:

“We rely solely on Lea Wolf to capture our family as we grow.  For over four years, she has captured our wild and organic family with an artist’s eye.  With humor, patience, and kindness, she makes the sessions pure play.  Every year, I find moments she’s captured that bring tears to my eye – the spark of independence in our five-year-old’s eye; the pure love of a two-year-old for her parents; and the private connections that the adult partners so rarely have.

We know our children will grow up too fast – and so we are grateful to Lea for her unerring ability to translate our family’s spirit and lifestyle into images we treasure.

Check out her work – bet you’ll love it as much as we do!”

Jills adds:
“When I was seven months pregnant, my mom somehow talked me into recording the moment with professional photos. I was hesitant at first – I usually hate having my picture taken AND I was huge – but I finally caved and booked a maternity/newborn shoot. I chose Lea Wolf because of her background as a doula, thinking “If this woman attends births on a regular basis, she’s seen it all.” Indeed, she has. The first session felt like hanging out with my husband and an old friend… in fact, I got so wrapped up in talking about my pregnancy and upcoming birth with her that I completely forgot about the camera.

We were so thrilled with her maternity and newborn shoots that we arranged a family shoot later that summer; once again, Lea’s natural playfulness and obvious love of her art immediately put me and my (equally camera-shy) husband and stepsons at ease. As a result, we got some gorgeous photos that really capture our personalities – especially the kids’ silliness, which we love! We couldn’t be happier with this passionate and talented photographer’s work.”

Casey Bower is a RM reader and a photographer herself! 
I’d describe my style as modern, clean and fresh. I’ve been told that

my images have a sense of warmth and familiarity about them. I strive
to have my photos tell stories about the child and family I photograph.
I also aim for pure images that can be enlarged as art

pieces for the home. To me, there is nothing more comforting than a
home filled with photographs of the people who live there.

Mallory Powers from Fitzgerald Photography shares:
I want your family session to capture your family being real.  I don’t seek out the perfect picture; you know the “dress all in the same colored shirts, pose awkwardly, and say cheese!” shot.  By learning your child’s favorite Backyardigan character and by running and playing hide and go seek, I engage with children and help draw out their personalities.  With over ten years of childcare experience and a goofy sense of humor, my portrait sessions are more like a playdate, rather than a traditional “sit here and smile nice” session.  What I do by connecting with your child is build a collection of fun and candid images that is a “portrait” of your family.  I love to capture your family laughing together, a tickle session between siblings, your son flying around the room with his favorite blanket cape or your daughter’s face in a big tantrum complete with crocodile tears.  Because, as a mother, I know that everything in childhood is fleeting and everything in childhood is beautiful in its own way.  I would love to talk more with you!”

Donna Boucher was recommended by RM reader Monica

“I can’t say enough good things about Donna Boucher. She took my son’s 2 year photos last year at a park in Waunakee and was such a wonderful person to work with. She is very sweet and has a great sense of humor (which is important when working with crazy toddlers who keep running away from the camera). It was a sunny but COLD autumn day and she happily ran all over the park with my kiddo. At one point during our shoot, she was flat on her belly at the bottom of a playground slide, waiting to capture a perfect moment.  You gotta love that!

I found her rates to be very reasonable and the quality of her prints was quite good. She’s based in Verona but will do location shoots all over the greater Madison area.”

Maureen Cassidy recommended by Kathleen:

“Our families favorite photographer has become Maureen Cassidy. I met her at a free pregnancy shoot she was conducting for pregnant women this Spring. I have returned to her to have infant photos done, and more recently family Fall Fun pictures. Maureen is calm and fun, encouraging and creative, artistic yet simple. She uses only natural light photography so there is minimal equipment as distractors for the kids, and she is better able to move around and capture the impromptu shots that really show who we are. She has two young children and understands the frequently changing needs of babies, toddlers and young children.  My only regret of her is that I didn’t know her when I got married!”

Maddy adds:
“I saw your request to hear about local photographers, and I wanted to tell you about my experiences with Maureen Cassidy. I cannot say enough great things about Maureen! She took my maternity shots as well as newborn shots of our twins. She was so fun and lighthearted, it really made the sessions fun. She interacted so well with my two-year old daughter and had lots of patience to get just the right shots. I cannot tell you how many compliments I get on the photos she took! People told me they were “breathtaking” and “unbearably cute.” I couldn’t agree more! We keep going back for more… Next week, we’re having our third session in six months! I attached a few of my favorite shots here.”

Sochi shares:

“My experience with local photographer Maureen Cassidy was so wonderful, I wanted to share it!  She is a total pro who put me at ease and made me laugh. The infant photos that she took will be with my daughter and I for the rest of our lives.

Her photos are beautiful and sweet. I think her talent for portraits and especially children is very rare.She seems to be able to translate a person’s essence straight from their eyes to the page.

Looking for a photographer? Danielle Bradley from First Moments Photography (the same lady who took our lovely Raising Madison photos) is holding an Open House! The Open House is Saturday, Dec. 11 from 11-2 pm at the new First Moments Photography Studio. There will be kid-friendly activities, photo incentives, refreshments, as well as a drawing for a free photo session.   This is a great opportunity to meet the photographer and check out some of her work. First Moments Studio is located at 4700 McFarland Court in McFarland.

First Moments Photography

Danielle Bradley from First Moments Photography contacted Raising Madison a few months ago to chat about our blog and suggest a post idea (more on that later). She also offered to do a free session with us and our little ones so we’d have some nice photos to put on the blog (did you notice our new header? We put some new photos up in the mamas of RM section as well). In return, we agreed to write a review post about the session.

Danielle definitely had her hands full with our little group. Right off the bat, she was great about working around the differing schedules of three busy mamas. During the session she faced a very social 4 year old, a toddler who wouldn’t sit still, a toddler who didn’t want to leave her mama’s arms, and an adorable little baby (Charlie was the most cooperative of the group).

We met Danielle at the Capitol on a surprisingly hot and humid day. We knew we wanted a group shot for the blog along with shots of our kids, but beyond that we weren’t too specific. We spent the entire photo shoot on the Capitol steps, and I think we were all surprised at that and at how many posed pictures Danielle had us (attempt to) sit for. As you can see, it was a struggle just to get them all to sit still at the same time, let alone look at the camera and smile!

Danielle had a very engaging and patient manner with the kids. She brought toys and a feather duster that were able to bring out big smiles in our little ones. Maggie and I were a bit surprised when she offered candy to our kiddos, however – neither of us give our girls candy yet, and we don’t really agree with the idea of using candy to bribe kids to sit still (plus, they’re toddlers, so it wouldn’t have worked anyway!).

I wish we had done more candids (and had moved to the lawn to let the kids run free) because the candids Danielle did take are some of the best photos of the session! As Maggie put it, Danielle has a good eye for composition and was able to capture some great, happy faces. And Tiffany said that the candids Danielle took captured some of Tiffany’s new favorite photos!

We have nothing but respect for anyone who is willing to photograph kids and babies! We spent a nice afternoon with First Moments Photography and came back with some beautiful photos. We all enjoyed browsing through our proofs on the super user-friendly site she uses for hosting, as well!

Thanks, Danielle, for the fun session and the wonderful moments you captured for Raising Madison!

First Moments Photography is located at 4700 McFarland Court, McFarland. By appointment only. 608.204.9747.

And now onto Danielle’s suggestion: Raising Madison’s next review post will be on Local Family Photographers! We’d love to hear about your experiences with any of the many local photographers in our area. Photographers, we want to hear from you as well! Please e-mail us at raisingmadison [!at], and we’ll compile everything into one post, which we’ll publish in late November. Feel free to include a sample photo or two for us to share as well.

Fitzgerald Photography Mini Sessions

Local mama and photographer Mallory Powers from Fitzgerald Photography contacted Raising Madison recently to tell us about her autumn mini sessions. It sounds like such a fun idea for a family photo shoot that we wanted to share the info with all of you!

Details are available on the postcard below – along with an adorable photo of Mallory’s son Liam!