I'm mthree. Those are my initials. Always have been, and thanks to a hubby with a "M" last name; always will be.

I've been a designer for over ten years, I was an animator and a filmmaker once, I was a bride before I was a photographer, I'm a new business owner, but I've always been an artist.

You can get a glimpse of where I've been, a better look at where I am and a peek at where I'm going right here.

You gotta S -T-R-E-T-C-H your browser window to see the BIG pictures...

Monday, March 31, 2008

Miscellaneous Monday

Only four days until Opening Day! Baseball season is finally upon us, which means summer can't be far behind. It is always interesting to see who has bought tickets around us each year. And inevitably, we end up hoping some of the fans surrounding us are just there for opening day and won't be annoying us all season. But nothing can put a damper on hubby's love for the stadium hotdog, my love for an icy Miller Chill, and the racing sausages. Bring on the tailgating!


We saw 21 with some friends over the weekend and it did not disappoint. I also highly recommend the "el Nino" margarita at Chili's.


I shot a fun engagement session with Alejandra and Eric last Friday, watch for the highlights later this week. It felt good to be behind the lens again, even if it was cold and muddy out.


Thanks to the two readers who tried their hand at the snippets contest/challenge. I appreciate your efforts and they were all great - I'll be drawing from that inspiration as I finish up the project for sure. I really thought my readers would have been all over the challenge, but I guess maybe it wasn't simple enough? Let me know what you think. Since I didn't get 25 submissions, the contest part is kind of null and void. Thanks to all who tried, chuckled and put brainpower towards it though!


If any of my brides are considering having an umbrella on hand for your day - please do, and please let this inspire you:

Available from Signature Bella.
Oh, and M1- this would be a fabulous addition to your store!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pretty Packages

Kate B. in Madison - don't read this one, I don't want to spoil the surprise!

These two pretty packages left the studio on Tuesday...

They got all nestled into a shipping box...

What was inside? Some lovely Engagement Party Invitations for Kate and Andy's party in Madison. Turns out, Kate's godparents really loved the Save the Dates I made for Kate & Andy, so they ordered a coordinating set of engagement party invitations. I just love how these turned out, so pretty and crisp, with a touch of vintage.

(as always, contact info has been blotted out)

On an unrelated note - Really? No one has any submissions for my "snippets contest". I know you do, go ahead, write something!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Write a Snippet, win a prize.

So, I've been working on a little re-branding of Mthree Studio. It is so easy to get distracted from the main focus and flit to all things beautiful (not unlike wedding planning, actually). Like for example, I recently ordered some test business cards on some shimmery paper using that gorgeous image of the bride that shows up first on my website slideshow. And the cards are gorgeous - but they aren't really Mthree. I want my company to have a style all its own. One that you will recognize instantly as Mthree. I think I have it mostly figured out, but I need a little help with some details. This is where you come in, dear blog readers.

Here is a snapshot of part of two promotional postcards for Mthree Studio. I'm playing around with using little snippets of "stories" to give the photography a bit of a witty wink. I want the phrases used to feel like we are getting a snippet of a story, and to relate to the pictures, but to also give the picture another dimension, like you are being let in on their inner thoughts or a joke. The snippet should also be a little witty, maybe a bit funny. No matter what, it should make you smile.

Writing these little snippets is proving to be a bit of a challenge. So I'm throwing it out to you, dear readers. Here are the shots I'm looking for snippets for (I have some possibilities for them, but I'm not sure). Get your creative juices flowing and give me your best. In submitting your ideas you understand that your words may be used in my advertising without compensation. If I get at least 25 suggestions, I'll have an impartial panel of three people pick the best suggestion of them all and that person will get a $25 itunes card. That is the contest part. (I know you love contests!) The contest will end at midnight on Friday, but feel free to keep submitting if you come up with something. And feel free to pass the word - the more people with brains on this, the better!

Once all of the new branding materials are ready, I'll be revealing them on the blog - part of that "new things are coming" stuff I was teasing you all about a few weeks ago.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Miscellaneous Monday

Topper's Pizza is coming to Franklin - Hallelujah! This will be a serious blow to my diet, but I can't wait. I will happily add an extra day to my gym schedule to accomodate. Topper's was a staple in college (Steven's Point) and I know that is true of my Whitewater and Madison friends also. Hubby once had his parents bring home some Toppers from Madison (where they were visiting his sister) to us here in Milwaukee as a Sweetest Day gift. That is how much I love their cheesy breadsticks. It will be five minutes from our house- Woot! May 27th can not get here fast enough for this.


Damask Patterns - oh how I have loved you so, and you have really taken the fashion, wedding and design worlds by storm. But I am sorry to report that Damask has jumped the shark. (Sorry Darci and Katie!) I saw it on one of those "Get 10% off everything you can fit in this bag" brown paper bags from Office Max. What in the world does Office Max have to do with the damask trend? I don't know - but seeing it in grayscale on their brown paper bag insert in the Sunday paper can only mean that it has gone too far. Time to retreat. Darci and Katie - your weddings will still be gorgeous, I have no doubt.


This is what is great about Wisconsin: All the snow melts to the point that it is hard to find patches of leftover snow. The temperature warms up just enough to make us believe spring really is coming (Hubby even put up his basketball hoop)- and think "my, how short winter was - that wasn't so bad!" And then two days before Easter - BAM! All the snow, and I do mean ALL of it, is back. In one day. For those of you not in SE Wisconsin - we got 18 inches, count 'em, 18 inches of snow on Friday. It is as if it never left at all. What is that saying about March going out like a lion?


There is a bird that has decided the small windows near our cieling in the entry way are either its best friend or maybe the path to heaven. Yesterday morning and today it has spent a good half hour or so continually flying into them and tapping them with its beak - when it gets tired it walks up to them and does the same. Hubby thinks the bird can see itself in the windows, so he tried to scare it off this morning with the telescoping duster. The result? Twenty minutes later, the bird is still at it and Hubby said the funniest thing of the day "well, either I've scared it off, or I mated with it - I'm not sure". Ahhh, life in the suburbs....


I have a fun contest/challenge for you all tomorrow - tune in to check it out!


Have a great Monday!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Go See This Movie

Last night hubby and I finally watched "Across the Universe" and it was amazing. I've been dying to see this movie since it came out and the wait was more than worth it.

You know how sometimes you see a movie, a play, a piece of art, a book that is just so utterly brilliant - this is one of those things. Every frame is beautiful, every song that has been re-arranged is wonderful. The choreographed numbers are phenomenal. The effects are not just top-notch, they serve a storytelling purpose. The actors are more than great and their voices are crystal clear. The imagery, oh my, the imagery! Did I mention every frame is gorgeous? It is a complete experience that is just so well done that you know it had to come out of its creators - the couldn't stop it. As a former filmmaker, it takes a lot to impress me in this genre - and this is one of my all time favorites now. And it certainly doesn't hurt that it is all based on Beatles music - just brilliant. Why hadn't anyone done this before?

Go see this movie. Go rent it, better yet, go buy it. You won't regret it. If you are one of my former students - take time off of your thesis project this weekend and sit down and watch this film! You need to.

I think I'm going to pop it back into the dvd player and watch it again...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Photo Fieldtrip - Nelson Family Farm

**This is a repost of last weekend's post - that one was broken. This one, hopefully is not.**

Way back in last fall, I shot Laura & Jesse's Engagement session at the Nelson Family Farm. (On a side note, Laura & Jesse are already married - having taken the plunge on leap day in Vegas- I'll be shooting their "Happily Ever After Party" in May) The Nelsons are good family friends of ours, and their farm has been in the family for generations. You know I love the patina of history - so after Laura and Jesse and I were done with their session, I took some time to wander the farm myself, camera in hand. They have several weathered red barns and one in particular that is half-collapsed and full of all sorts of long abandoned projects and supplies. And all over the farm are little glimmers of personality - liscense plates used to patch holes, the remains of a tree that grew too close to the silo struts, windows dirty with time. To say I had a good time exploring is an understatement.

I bought some new slideshow software for the studio - as I get to know it better I'll be able to add effects, custom timing and music to the slideshows. I thought the images from this fieldtrip would make a good test.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Design Suite Process - Part2

This is another post in the continuing series of posts on the Wedding Suite Design process. Please click on the tag to the right "Design Suite Process" for the previous installments. We've been following Mike and Naomi's design process...

So, after getting all of the design concepts, Naomi and Mike narrowed their preferences down to three designs. Mike had concerns that the invites not be too frilly and girly. Naomi had a strong preference for number one or two, but wasn't sure about the floral motif. They also had some alternate wording they wanted to try out. So, I took those notes and re-interpreted the designs for another go-around.

For invite number one, I changed the wording and also the ribbon tag to utilize more of a monogram instead of the "2 become 1" phrasing on the previous design.

For invite number two, I took the somewhat more masculine motif used in invite number 1, and replaced the flowers with that.
I also gave them a number of different color combination options, as I wasn't sure how subtle they were going to want it.

Stay tuned to see which design Naomi and Mike picked in the next installment.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Miscellaneous Monday

If you saw the Nelson Family Farm post over the weekend - you know it was broken. I took it down and am fixing the slideshow issues. I plan to repost it soon - maybe even today if I am feeling very productive.


Yesterday hubby and I were driving up the I-94 corridor near Ryan Road and we hit a stretch of road that had NO SNOW on either side. It was very surreal. A group of friends we were out with this weekend concluded that all of the snow this winter made it go by much faster.


The plans and bushes in our yard are starting to reveal themselves as the snow retreats and it is sending my mind buzzing with all the gardening work to come. Our yard is a massive yardwork task. One I failed at miserably last year. I hope to do better this year.


The greater part of the professional photographer world is in Vegas this week for the national convention. I'm not going but will be reading about it on all of their blogs I'm sure. If anyone else is out there in Milwaukee-land isn't going and would like to have a non-WPPI get-together, I'm game.


I realized that my former links page on the old website doesn't exist on the new one. I've added the links to a sidebar here on the blog to compensate. The professionals whose links I have included are top-notch all the way and more than deserve your consideration. Check them out!


Happy Monday!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's Here! The NEW WEBSITE!

Well, it went live much faster than I expected and the all NEW MTHREE STUDIO WEBSITE is HERE!
Click on the link to the right - where it says "Take me to Mthree" to check it out.

It is a flash site and I've been working really hard on, trying to get everything tweaked just right. Slideshows,
fading images, music (well, the music isn't working yet - but it will soon) - it is all so exciting!

Please take a look and let me know what you think - honestly.

Eventually, there will be a matching Design site accessible from the splash page. But for now, the photography one was plenty of work.


P.S. - Bonus points to my Mother in Law if she can find herself in the Weddings gallery. :0)

(here is a screenshot of the opening image on the home page...)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Miscellaneous Monday

Hubby was very sad that I didn't to Miscellaneous Monday today - apparently he looks forward to it. So with an hour left of Monday, here we go. If you read my "New things coming" post earlier today, I've ammended it into this one.


I'm not making any guarantees about when... but new things are coming around the studio.
Here is a preview of one of them (teasingly out of focus of course):


Dare I say spring is coming? I can see our driveway - not just parts of it, but all of it. Even the iceberg at the bottom of it is a mere shadow of its former self. I even saw some grass today - and it was green! I'll be the first to admit that I'm not ready for spring - I like winter when I have hubby all to myself and don't have to share him with fireworks. >Sigh.<


Our niece turned 16 last week (we have two of them for those of you who remember me mentioning the other one's birthday) - she had her boyfriend at her party. Old enough to drive and have a boyfriend. It is always a bit of a shock how old they all are. I promptly told her to be a better driver than I was, or even than I am.


I babysat our friend Jamie's puppy last week - you've met him before on the blog - Optimus Prime. One day was all it took and I still miss him. I find myself looking around the house for him, feeling like something is missing. He made working at home a lot more fun that it already is.


June is strangely un-booked for me. Is no one getting married in June this year? I only have one wedding that month, and that seems quite odd. June brides - come on over here! I have dates, good ones! On the flip side, I have three or four weddings in November - November! Maybe that is where all the June brides are...


My sister-in-law gave us a membership to Netflix as part of our wedding gift, which we recently put into action. We are loving it. We finally get to see some movies we have wanted to see (Andy - I'm actually seeing movies!) and we are so much better at mailing them back than we have ever been at returning the rented ones. Maybe it is because returning them means a new one is coming. So far we have seen "American Gangster", "We Own the Night", "Waitress", "Because I Said So" (hubby did not watch that one, declaring it a 'chick flick') and "LadyKillers". All have been good - Amercian Gangster and We own the Night were truly excellent, though they have a lot of shooting. LadyKillers was a little slow, but I love a Coen Bros. film. And Waitress had a bit of a flat ending. I loved Because I Said So, very feel good and warm and fuzzy - and funny.

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Design Suite Process - Part 1

Obviously, not much is happening in photoland here at Mthree lately - February and March are notoriously light for weddings. But the design side of things has been keeping me more than busy. As many of you know, I specialize in Wedding Design Suites - a full set of all your paper (and other) design needs for your wedding. I have a full complement of these clients this year, so if I can keep up with myself, you should see lots of beautiful paper goods on the blog.

There is one bride who is close to finalizing all of her invite pieces, and I'm so in love with her design, I asked if I could share the whole process on the blog, and she agreed. And so begins a multi-part series that should span a few months as we design everything needed for Naomi & Mike's wedding in June.

When someone inquires about a design suite, we sit down and talk about all of their plans and inspirations for the day. I try to get a good sense of the style, feel, formality and budget of the couple so that I can design a suite that is appropriate. I bring along tons of pictures and samples to sift through - which we do with great relish. We also talk about their specific needs such as invitations, save the dates, rehearsal dinner invitations, placecards, thank you notes, welcome packets, menus, programs, etc. I make a long detailed list of what they want, what they need, and some key choices so that I can make an estimate for them. Each estimate is based on all of the above and then quantity of each item they need, the type of materials they would like and the printing processes they prefer. These three things have a big impact on price. By far the biggest factor is the printing process they choose - laser, offset, serigraphy, letterpress, or engraving. I draw up a detailed estimate and submit it to the client. If it meets their approval, they sign it, send in a retainer fee and we begin.

Each client then gets a detailed design schedule - with so many clients, I have to have everyone worked into the calendar so that we don't get behind on anything. Invites have to go out when they have to go out, there isn't really much leeway there and having the schedule allows us to meet those deadlines. The schedule will tell them when they owe me information like info for their invites or the list of names for their place-cards and also when they can expect to receive designs for review.

Once we have the schedule in place it is time to get to work on some concepts for their invites. (If they ordered Save the Dates, we would do those first, but we are going to skip those in this series) Based on our conversations I come up with five or six ideas for their invites and send them to the couple for review.

For Naomi- I actually got to help design the look of her wedding a bit. She and I met because she is using the same photographer I had for my wedding and had seen the bridesmaid dresses for my wedding and wanted them as well. The photographer put us in touch and one thing led to another. I helped her find the dresses and then she came to me to help her design the wedding as well. What she wanted was similar to what I had done, but we changed it a bit. So Naomi's wedding will be vintage in sensibility, sweet, delicate in details and really just pretty. Her colors are a purply-brown taupe, champagne pink and off-white. All of her pieces will be serigraphy printed.

To start the process, I design just the main invite piece. Once a design is chosen, I move on to the other components (rsvp card, reception card, etc) So, here are the design concepts I came up with for Naomi (all designs are copyright Mthree Studio):


Which design do you think they ultimately chose?
More to come in Part 2...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Grandpa's Camera

I think I've established before that I'm a bit old school with my personal work. I shot my thesis film entirely in an old 35mm film camera on a home-made motion control rig and cut it all on a flatbed - not the computer. I have a degree in printmaking, specializing in intaglio - a process that has been around for hundreds upon hundreds of years. I once got a grant to do a wood engraving project - remember Durer from your art history class - that would be his process. So it is no surprise that when my parents found my grandfather's old film camera I got a little excited.

My grandpa was a photographer - not as a profession, but as a very active hobby. I remember being scared of the darkroom in their basement as a little kid. They also had a bowling alley down there - so pretty cool grandparents, right? I didn't develop my interest in photography until after he passed, but I know he is pleased to see me working in it.

Anyway, we found this old camera and I'm itching to learn how to use it. I'm completely thrown by the fact that when you pop up the top and look in the viewfinder everything is backwards. I have absolutely no intention of cleaning it - at least at first. I love the patina that dirt, time and history leave on something like this, so I want to shoot some without taking that off. I'm putting this up on the blog because I have no idea where to start finding info on this camera besides a google search. If anyone out there can point me to some good resources, I would greatly appreciate it. Better yet, if anyone out there knows how to use a camera like this and has one of their own - I'd be more than happy to do a photo fieldtrip and learn from you!
And no, it's not for sale, so don't even ask.

I've taken some fun pics of the camera and all the parts that were in the box - including this super space-age flash and the cutest little telephoto lens ever. As you can see, my obsession with my 50mm lens and shooting wide open continues...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Sad Day...

(image from google images)

It is a very sad day in the Michel house today, and well, pretty much anywhere my husband is. Brett Favre has announced his retirement today (coincidentally on the 4th) and hubby is in deep, deep mourning. Hubby is quite possibly one of the most dedicated Brett Favre fans there is and waking up to this news has not done well for his state of mind. I can't even describe how incredibly deflated he is. Here are some quotes of what he has said this morning (my husband, not Brett):

"I feel like my heart has been ripped out"

"This is very traumatic"

"He was my favorite football player since I was 12 years old! Now what?"

"Every Sunday I had Brett Favre as a constant - for 16 years! I am still going to watch the Packers though - that's my team."

"I don't handle change well"

I have tried a number of different things to say to him- none of it has worked. This is going to be a long day, and a longer football season. My Mother-in-Law, knowing of course of her son's devotion, has already texted me from her job trying to warn me about the retirement, and also to express her sympathies to me - obviously because she knows how Hubby is acting.
I don't think there will be any way to cheer hubby up today. For those of you outside of Wisconsin, this post likely seems quite melodramatic - all I can say is that it is a brutally honest account of what is going on. The news stations have been covering the retirement for about two hours now, completely ignoring regular programming. The only thing that trumps any news about the Packers or Brett Favre in this state would be maybe the death of a sitting president - I am not kidding about this.

If you are also suffering today from the loss of Brett Favre, my sympathies to you as well. Go Pack!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Miscellaneous Monday

I have an active imagination - horror movies only make it more active and after watching one I am the equivalent of a five year old screaming about monsters in the closet. My mind can conjure just about anything up out of even the smallest shadow. So imagine my horror last night when I saw the trailer for "Shutter" - a horror film where the camera attacks the photographer or the pictures do. Either way, this is not what I needed going through my head when I pick up my camera. Needless to say, I will not be seeing that movie.


Special thanks to my Father-in-Law who fixed my car this weekend. My brakes went out quite suddenly a couple of weeks ago and so I've been driving around one of the in-laws spare cars while we waited for FIL to return from out of town. Thank goodness for having mechanics in the family - car repairs are such a dream. I drove my good 'ol Jetta this morning and it was soooo nice to have it back! Thanks FIL!


For the first time ever in my life I believe, I have gone to Target and emerged with nothing. I went in looking for a cute laptop bag I saw two weeks ago in the ad and it wasn't there and in some strange way I found nothing else to buy. I'm quite certain this has never happened to me - usually I can't emerge from that store without spending at least $50.


I know I'm a little late on this one - but I can't believe that the people of the city of Milwaukee actually re-elected a city official who is currently in jail for political crimes. Amazing.


After three rounds of pop-overs I have learned a few tricks. Heat the pop-over pan in the oven before filling it to avoid the funny looking bottoms caused by not using whole milk. My obsession with this food continues...


Girl Scout cookies have arrived and my addiction to the peanut butter patties has been reborn. I understand the mentality of a crack addict when these things come around - they are my crack. I am not being flippant with that comment. I can not get the thought of these cookies out of my head - I am constantly thinking about them in the refridgerator, and constantly getting up to get just one more. Before I know it the whole box is gone. I know I could sit down and eat them all at once. Thank goodness I have enough willpower to keep them in the fridge, forcing me to burn .5 calories walking to it each time.


I have started my week off badly. This morning I got up and drove to Brookfield for my hair appointment (quite looking forward to it in fact) and arrived (on time!) to discover that my appointment is, in fact, next Monday. Grrrr. This can't be a good start.


We can't go to Jimmy Buffet this year and I am more than bummed. Some friends of ours are getting married on the same day as the concert. We already tried to figure out how to go to the tailgating portion (which is really the whole point) and still make it to the wedding - but there isn't any way. I'm super happy for Sara & Nick, and excited to be there for their day, but also very sad to be missing out on this annual tradition with our friends. Maybe we can throw our own Buffet style party at the house...


Be sure to check out my guest blogging adventure over at Bespoke today.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, March 1, 2008


So, I tried to make the popovers (you were all waiting with baited breath, right?). And they turned out fairly well.

One of my brides read about how I wanted to figure this out and generously shared her family's recipe - so, so nice of her and this is why I love my brides. I found the special pop-over pan at Linens n' Things and so this morning I gave it ago.

Overall, they turned out pretty good. The hardest part is that you aren't allowed to open the oven at all until they are completely done. If you do, they will collapse. Mine came out a little funny shaped on the bottoms - and a little undercooked inside. So I'm going to give them another go this afternoon later. I think I was a little timid beating the eggs...

Anyway, here is the recipe, courtesy of Katie. Give them a try yourself, you can use a muffin tin, just fill the tins halfway and use every other one.

2 eggs
1c. flour
1c. milk
1/2 t. salt
Ingredients should be at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 450.
Grease pan(s).

Beat eggs slightly. Mix in remaining ingredients until incorporated. Do not over mix.
Fill custard cups 1/2 full or muffin tins 3/4 full (the bigger container should be filled 1/2 full). If you use muffin tins fill every other cup.
Bake 20 minutes at 450. Turn down oven to 350 and bake custard cups 20 minutes more and muffin tins 15 min. more.
Pop-overs should be golden brown, slightly shiny, and crispy, when done. Serve warm however you please; with powdered sugar, jam, soup, etc.

Good luck and enjoy!!