Nicki Handel Photography: Blog en-us (C) Nicki Handel Photography (Nicki Handel Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:17:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:17:00 GMT Nicki Handel Photography: Blog 120 80 An Easter Surprise

Once upon a time, a wonderful couple dreamed of having a child of their own. No journey to parenthood is the same, but theirs was particularly challenging. Throughout the years, this couple faced obstacles that many people would have struggled to overcome. But they overcame every hurdle that crossed their path and continued on together, maintaining hope and faith that their greatest dream may one day come true. Ultimately, they turned to adoption as a means to become a family. However, this chapter of their life turned out to be much harder and the wait much longer than they could imagine.


After hitting the two-year mark in their journey to welcome a child into their family through adoption, with no foreseeable end in sight, this couple decided to take a much-needed vacation. Little did they know that this vacation was in fact a "babymoon," for by the time they would return home, their dream of becoming parents would come true!


Caryn & Keith were on a cruise, enjoying the break from technology that comes with no cell reception, oblivious to the miracle happening back on the mainland. Unbeknownst to them, the adoption agency was trying desperately to get in touch with them to share the wonderful news that a birth mother had chosen them to adopt her son! Caryn & Keith didn't regain cell phone service until coming back into port in the early morning hours on their last day of vacation. It was then that they saw that they had missed dozens of calls while they were out at sea! The message that most caught their attention was from the adoption agency, simply saying to contact them ASAP. Assuming it had something to do with their paperwork, Caryn & Keith immediately called them, brushing aside the early hour of the call. It was then, with the morning sun beginning to rise, that they learned that their greatest dream had come true: their son had been born!! 



As the shock & pure joy washed over them, preparations began in full force, starting with their flight to return home! Upon their arrival, they headed straight to Babies R Us, and proceeded to buy anything and everything they could think of to welcome their son home :). 




Oh, the excitement they must have felt as they anticipated finally meeting their son, must have been incredible! The next day, just over 24 hours after they heard the wonderful news, their son was placed in their arms. Finally, their family was finally complete.




A journey that had pulled these two through unimaginable difficulties, filled with countless sleepless nights longing to become parents & wondering if that dream would ever come true, had finally brought them to their happy ending. Please join me in welcoming home sweet baby Caleb Christopher!! 



In all of my Newborn sessions, I have to say that I have never worked with a more cooperative baby! Caleb slept through the ENTIRE shoot, allowing us to move him as needed with ease. A sweet little peanut, he gave us some adorable smiles :). 






Born shortly before Easter and home with Mommy & Daddy the day before Easter, he was the perfect Easter baby. How adorable is this bunny outfit and Easter set-up?!!


Caryn & Keith, I am so full of joy for you both that your little boy is finally home! Thank you for letting me be a part of capturing this beautiful moment in your family's life :).

]]> (Nicki Handel Photography) dane county newborn photographer in-home newborn photographer madison newborn photographer sun prairie newborn photographer Wed, 25 Apr 2018 22:33:08 GMT
Location, Location, Location!


It’s not just true in real estate- one of the biggest decisions to make in planning your photography session is choosing the right location!!

A great location can make all the difference in how your shoot goes and what your final images look like. Through the location, the mood is set:

~GARDENS for celebrating love, whether romantic or family 

~FARMS for connecting deeper to the natural world

~URBAN areas for an edgier feel

The right location inspires creativity for both the subjects and the photographer, offering variety in your portraits and helping them stand apart. One of the main reasons I choose to shoot outdoors, rather than in a studio, is because of that wonderful added element that nature brings! Nothing gets me more excited for a session than getting to shoot at an incredible location!!


Here in the Madison area, we are blessed with an abundance of green spaces and potential locations. Key elements to consider include: what might be in the background (homes/buildings?) and how does the light fall (are there fully shaded spots for brighter days?)? Some locations can be hit or miss depending on the sun or crowding from other visitors.

A great example of this is Burke Park (shown below). It is an excellent photography shooting location because of the variety in backgrounds available- and it’s free! The flip side is that because of those very reasons, everyone wants to shoot there! It is not uncommon to shoot here at the same time as 3-5 other photographers. This can lend itself to logistical problems in waiting for a certain spot sometimes. Burke also has a pavilion available for groups to rent, meaning you could run into a large crowd having a party. Understandably, this could cause some unintended "photo bombers" :). Now, don’t get me wrong- I absolutely love doing sessions at Burke Park, and have a blast shooting there; no matter the lighting, there is a way to use this location! It’s my go-to suggestion when a client is undecided. As you can see from these pictures, it photographs beautifully! I just like to remind clients that shooting in a public park has potential drawbacks, and heading into the shoot, you don’t always know what to expect.

The wonderful variety of Burke Park

Tenney Park ~ Fall 2016


Another example of a great public park is Tenney Park in Madison. It has some great bridges that lend themselves to beautiful portraits. However, it is a well-visited park (meaning occasional pauses throughout the session as bikers, joggers, etc., move along) and has a good amount of sunlight coming through the trees on bright, sunny days (which can lead to uneven/unflattering light). However, at the peak of fall, it has beautiful color on the trees! I think on an overcast fall day after the leaves have changed, this makes for a stunning location!

Tenney Park in September 2016                            

**Quick tip: Although photographers love that “golden hour” before the sun sets (for me, it's the last 20 minutes  when the sun is on the horizon that I especially love!), did you know that overcast days are ACTUALLY the best for portrait photography?! The clouds act as a diffuser for the sun, creating beautiful light without the brightness that leads to squinting and harsh shadows!**        


Should you Choose a Private Location?

The reality is that the best way to ensure the perfect location for your shoot, where you have more control over the surroundings, is to choose a private location. With a private location, you are ensured not only a wide variety of unique & gorgeous backdrop options, but an elevated level of style due to the care & attention of the wonderful people maintaining the grounds. And of course, with your private shooting time, you are less likely to bump into other groups! The downside is that there is a permit fee, but I feel it is SO worth it for the end result! Let’s check out a few of my favorite private locations in the area! 


Olbrich Botanical Gardens

~ Madison ~

Permit Fee of $30+tax

WOW- just wow! If you’ve never been to these FREE gardens, do yourself a favor and GO! Go take a walk through the beautiful trails, view the fountains, sit awhile on one of the benches and soak in the beauty surrounding you. I love shooting here for 2 reasons; first, because it is SO gorgeous, offering limitless options for stunning portraits. Second, I can’t believe that they offers this stunning oasis free to visitors, and I like that each shoot I do there helps, even in a small way, to support all that they do.



                             Paradise Park

~ Cottage Grove ~

Permit Fee of $25+tax

I stumbled upon this little gem and immediately fell in love! Owned by a married couple and adjacent to their own home, it’s used primarily for hosting outdoor weddings. When weddings are not going on, it’s available for portraits.

From bridges and flowers to waterfalls and a wonderful koi pond, you feel like you’ve been transported to a secret garden, hidden from the rest of the world. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so check out just a couple shoots I’ve gotten to do there. Stunning!


UW Arboretum

~ Madison ~

Permit Fee of $30+tax

This is my favorite Fall location so far. I have not yet had the pleasure of shooting a Spring session there, but I imagine it’s just as wonderful. Like the Gardens, the Arboretum is FREE to visit, and I love supporting them by holding sessions there. With the variety of trees, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better display of fall leaves!



Well there you have it- my favorite locations for your outdoor photography sessions! Where do you want YOUR next shoot?!

Comment below- do you have a favorite location from a previous photo shoot?! What places am I missing? Is there somewhere awesome you’ve always wanted to try?

I am always looking to for new places to shoot, and I would love to hear your ideas!


]]> (Nicki Handel Photography) Photography Locations in Madison Fri, 30 Jun 2017 20:42:38 GMT
What an Incredible Honor!!


I have been informed that Nicki Handel Photography has just been named one of the Best Maternity Photographers in Madison for 2017 by Expertise! How cool is that?!!

Obviously, I am beyond thrilled to have my work recognized. I have to say, the fact that it is for Maternity shoots specifically is just so perfect. Maternity shoots will always hold an especially close place to my heart, as my very first shoot as a “real” photographer was a Maternity shoot. In fact, that shoot happened 3 years ago this month, so what a beautiful reward for all the hard work of the last 3 years to have my business recognized!

It feels like I've come full circle :).

The notice of this recognition comes at such a perfect time too, as I just began an extensive training workshop that will take my Maternity photography to a whole new level. Through this incredible education opportunity, I am learning from some of the best maternity photographers in the industry. With training in everything from capturing the emotion between parents-to-be, to use of lighting in ways to create stunning imagery, to creative posing, this education will help guide me to really improve my maternity portraits that much more.

What better way to improve my skills than to learn from the very best? :) 

That's one thing that I will always carry with me, no matter how long I am in business: I believe like there is always more I can learn, always more room for me to grow as a Photographer, and it's so important to me to constantly be striving to become that much better at what I do.

I am so excited to take what I am learning and use it to create even more incredible portraits for my beautiful expecting mommas!!!

Of course, I have to take a moment to thank Expertise for recognizing me; I'm so grateful and honored. However, my greatest thanks goes to all my beautiful clients who allow me to continue doing what I love. Thank you all for letting me be a part of capturing some of the most important moments in your life; it is a blessing and my honor :).


Check out the article from Expertise here:


]]> (Nicki Handel Photography) Expertise Best Maternity Photographer Madison Sun Prairie Maternity Photographer Thu, 25 May 2017 17:18:30 GMT
Photographing a Beauty Queen

I had one of the coolest experiences so far in my photography career this past winter. I got to shoot a real-live Beauty Queen! Maybe it’s because I have a daughter at home obsessed with princesses, or maybe because I am a little obsessed with Disney princesses myself (um, my dog’s name is Jasmine, named after Princess Jasmine in Aladdin!), but the truth is I was so thrilled & honored to get to do a photo shoot with a real Queen :). 

Allow me to introduce you to Lynz Parks, the reigning Mrs. Wisconsin US Continental 2017!



So I just have to say that Lynz is one of the most awesome people I’ve ever met. Not only is she beautiful on the outside, but she is smart, driven, and just an incredibly kind person. Our paths crossed at a local vendor fair for women with small businesses, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet her. 



Our shoot was so enjoyable, as she was wonderfully easygoing & engaging. As it was winter in Wisconsin, we weren’t about to do any shooting outside, so we actually wound up shooting right in her salon, Bella Donna Boutique, in Sun Prairie, WI. Did I mention that she is a crazy talented nail artist?! On top of her duties as Mrs. Wisconsin and running her nail salon, she also serves an educator & mentor for up & coming nail artists through her Crowning Touch Nail Academy.

Wow- impressive! 


What really captured my heart with Lynz is what a powerful platform she has chosen to focus on with her reign: Infertility Awareness. Lynz is very open about her own struggles with infertility, which you can follow here: Having personal experience myself with losing multiple pregnancies, I find Lynz’s courage & strength in her own journey to be incredibly powerful. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with Infertility, I strongly encourage you to check out her blog for support.



By far one of the best parts of my job is the incredible people I get to meet doing what I do. It was such a blessing for me to have the opportunity to do this shoot for Lynz. I'm excited to see what the 2017 shooting year brings, and what kind of wonderful people I'll get to work with!



PS Did you notice that I have an indoor set-up? That's right- although I primarily shoot outdoors, I do have a backdrop & lighting equipment to do more formal shooting indoors! Keep that in mind, especially in the coooold winter months ;).


]]> (Nicki Handel Photography) madison photographer portraits sunprairie wisconsin Thu, 27 Apr 2017 01:29:20 GMT