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...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Assistants

As some of you may know, I do not tackle a wedding day alone. Well, tackle sounds very brutish - how about I don't rise to the occasion of a wedding day alone? Yes, that is more like it really is. I have assistants, fabulous assistants.

(Katie hanging out during the ceremony at Heather & Chris's wedding)

One is my sister (who also helps me out here in the studio once a week), one is my best friend and one is my first full-fledged Mthree Studio bride. All are married and so they have been in the very shoes of my couples. Each has their own strengths and abilities, and I love experiencing a wedding day with them. I bring them along to help keep me on track, navigate maps, carry equipment and water, babysit equipment, fetch things, fluff dresses, fix flowers, keep me company on long car rides, and do just about anything that will help us stay on schedule and ensure a fantastic wedding day experience in both reality and in pictures. Sometimes they become the Bride's new best friend and sometimes they are just a fly on the wall. Along the way we have many adventures, which we often recount at the end of a long wedding day over drinks or the long drive home.

(Harmony helping out Lindsay during Bridal Party pictures)

I can think of several wedding days that would have gone much awry from my standpoint without their help and cool heads.
These ladies will do anything to make a day go right. Traipse through fields, carry twenty coats, run to my car a hundred times, rebustle a dress, buckle a shoe, help a staggering drunk groomsman walk... you name it and they have done it.

It is not always a glamourous job. Jamie assisted me with the first wedding I ever shot, more out Hubby's fear of me driving down to Chicago alone than any other reason. She was rewarded with a three-hour drive home in a snowstorm, and yet she keeps coming back for more. Katie followed not long after when I needed someone to assist me for Harmony's wedding and thank goodness it was her - after the ceremony I realized I needed more memory cards and she was cool-headed enough to find them, buy them and return within 30 minutes (now I carry enough memory cards for three weddings). Harmony jumped on board almost by accident on a Trash the Dress shoot and has been a faithful shooting companion for me ever since. It is a job you really have to do because you enjoy it.

(I only have one shot of Jamie this year. She is famous for getting caught in loooong conversations with guests)

As fun as I make it all sound, the job has a lot of down time. Once the dinner is over, I pretty much have things well in hand on my own and they are stuck with the avid sport of people-watching. As a result, they find themselves often hit on, asked to dance and the wallflower conversationalist. But they do get free cake. And, as Harmony puts it, I have more romantic candelit dinners with these three than my own Husband.

(Harmony doing what they do all too often - let me test lighting)

They have saved my hiney more times than I can count, and I hope I've given them many great memories in return. It is a rare profession where you get to enjoy it with your friends and family, and in this regard I know I am extremely lucky.

(Katie had run out of hands, so when I handed her my sunglasses, they went on her head with her own. Fashionable, this one.)

After a long wedding season at the very least, they deserve a virtual round of applause for all the hard work they have put in on behalf of my business. Ladies, I am standing and applauding right now.
Don't fret, I properly took them out to eat at Branded last week, where we drank wonderful cocktails and learned of the goodness that is white truffle potato chips. It was so surreal having all three of them in the same place at the same time, and the evening quickly dissolved into a review of all of our greatest bloopers, gaffs and shocking moments.

(Harmony holding all the purses and jackets during bridal party picture time at Carlyn & Dave's wedding)

I can't even tell you how much I am looking forward to all of 2009 weddings with this crew.

(a special thanks also to Monica Gill and to Hubby who were fill-in assistants this year too)

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Junk Drawer

Thanks for tolerating my unannounced absense from the blog. I've been trying hard these last couple of days since Christmas to step away from the computer and do other things. I'm not a big fan of this time of year, inbetween an end and a new beginning. It feels like limbo land to me, and I hate limbo land. So, I gave myself a few days to decompress the year, to do other things beside sit on my duff and stare at 32 inches of artificial glow (oh, my lovely Mac, you know I love you).

One of those days I spent three hours cleaning our kitchen. An hour of that was spent cleaning out our junk drawer. Since it could no longer be opened or closed easily, it seemed it was time. You know you have one of these, everyone does. I think even Martha Stewart has one, though hers is likely much more interesting with great backstories for every item stashed within. I figure I proubably last cleaned out our junk drawer about a year ago - so the contents inside pretty much represent what gets tossed to the side of the road in a year of our lives. Looking at it that way, a junk drawer is pretty telling. And as I lined the items up on the kitchen desk, I couldn't help taking inventory. I'm not sure what it adds up to or what it all means, but I found it amusing. Here is a complete list of our 2008 "junk":

-Enough Culver's "Scoopie" points for two free custard treats. (!)
-A small bottle of magnolia blossom lotion from Bath and Body Works
-A tube of crazy clue (I can finally fix my kitchen shears now)
-A disposable mascara wand (?)
-An art eraser
-White out
-A maglite mini-flashlight
-$2.50 in Potowatomi casino chips
-1 box of matches
-My ipod from 2003 (that's right, first generation)
-A sheet of return address labels Hubby made (i've been looking for those!)
-A garage door opener (not for our house...)
-The adorable homemade dollar bill cufflinks Craig made for hubby as a groomsmen gift (those shouldn't be in there)
-The battery covers to two mysterious black plastic devices
-Two dog collars
-A blank christmas card
-A blank birthday card I remember purchasing for Hubby's Aunt and never mailed
-The adhesive for plastic window covering
-A post it note pad with a phone number written on it - no idea who's
-A spool of grey thread and two sewing needles
-Two u.s. calling cards, unused.
-The remote control for the outdoor snowman that Hubby's parents gave us the first winter we lived here
-Two keys that match, but I have no idea what they belong to (I'll bet Hubby does)
-Double stick-tape
-19 various pens and pencils (and yet, we can never find one)
-9 refridgerator magnets
-A miniature "7" billuard ball
-A receipt from Lucille's Rockin' Pianos for $27.21 (apparently I was a cheap date that night).
-A financial calculator
-Three different versions of Hubby's business cards
-Spare keys to Hubby's truck
-2 cent stamps
-A mysterious roll of exposed film (should I get it developed? I can't even remember the last time I shot film)
-A roll of tape
-Extra blades for a box cutting knife
-Touch up tooth whitening gel
- A night light
-A mini-crow bar
-A trailer lock
-Three markers
-Hubby's old driver's liscense (he looks soooo young!)
-12 free movie passes (still good! score! )
-A box of glow stick necklaces left-over from Craig and Jamie's wedding.
- 83 cents in change

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I know it is a total cop-out, but I'll try to get some pictures of Ringo on Christmas morning with his real santa hat on for you all. He got a haircut yesterday and is looking mighty cute - we've taken to calling him itty-bitty because he looks so skinny. I've been shopping and wrapping like a mad-woman the last three days - with Jamaica, finishing up editing the weddings, and Hubby dealing with a nasty cold, there hasn't been much time for Holiday preparation in the Michel household this year and I've jam-packed it into the last 72 hours. I just have food to make left on my list today. That, and proubably snowblowing since it hasn't stopped snowing in the past three days either.

Have a Happy Holiday! Be safe, be warm and be jolly!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Deb & Tony | Wedding

This wedding was special for me in a couple of ways. First, it was my first Destination Wedding, which I loved, adored and couldn't have been more excited about the change of scenery for. Second, it was the marriage of one of Hubby's oldest friends, someone he has known for over twenty years, since elementary school. Third it was a most unique experience getting to know all of the guests for several days before the wedding, which made shooting all the more fun. I miss so many of them and all of their comedic antics. We also got to spend time with some of Hubby's friends who we hardly ever see, so that was a big bonus too. Oh yes, and it was also the first time Hubby got to actually assist me for a wedding, which was actually lots of fun. So, enough about how I felt about it, on to the story of Tony & Deb's wedding in Jamaica.

The wedding was held at the Sandals Resort in Montego Bay. Most people think you have to use the resort photographers if you are getting married at an all-inclusive - Not So! All you have to do is ask to bring in your own photographer.

Deb (like Racheal) is also an event planner in her professional life. Much went awry on this wedding day, but I think her experience helped her handle it with a cool, calm and happy demeanor. In the end they were married and everyone had a great time - what more could you really want?

Tony waiting for Deb, they did a first look:

We spent some time grabbing portraits while we waited for the minister...

A few minutes from the start time of the ceremony, and still no minster had been seen. So, Deb placed a call to the resort's wedding planner. I think her face in this shot says it all as she is told he is stuck in traffic...

So, guests had to be notified (as they were all sitting on the beach, and we had to rearrange the schedule a bit. But, he did show up and the wedding did go on, just a little later than planned. But the upside of that was some gorgeous sunset light.

Island tradition says to wave to a plane as it leaves. Since Sandals-Montego Bay is right next to the airport, we waved a lot, even in the middle of the ceremony:

I think this shot is hilarious. Tony's brother on the right is all zen, Pat is happy and attentive, and Phil, well, Phil looks worried. Hubby tells me that Phil always looks that way, and that it wasn't a reflection on the ceremony (just kidding Phil, you know we love you):

Look to the right in this shot and you'll see how close we were to regular sunbathers on the beach. There were 3-5 weddings a day on the beach, so you could watch them from your chair easily.

We also snuck in a few pictures before the sun completely set:

The reception was right on the beach too making for a wonderful, laid back party atmosphere:

Hubby took this one. That is his drink in my hand (one, I don't drink at weddings, two, I don't like pina coladas)

Mmmm... Baked Alaska, in a pineapple:

Tori and Guida, I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist:

Possibly one of my favorite reception shots ever - does it get any better than a Bride leading a conga line in the ocean?

After it started raining, the party moved to the Piano Bar next to the pool:

Tony and Deb- I know I speak for both Hubby and myself when I say we were more than honored to be witness to your wedding. To see two friends come together amongst so much love warmed our hearts greatly. We wish you all the best in you future together. And a HUGE thank you for having us along to photograph your day!

Check out the slideshow for a shot of Hubby with four drinks in hand (there's one of the groom double-fisting it), a good recording of what too many fruity drinks can do, more lovely shots of the ceremony on the beach and of Tony and Deb before and after, some fun drunk/dancing shots, Hubby and his friends in a sing-along, the wedding planner who had the couple stab the cake, the cat who befriended Tony's Dad and Stepmom to the point where they let it stay in their room, the staff who joined in on the fun at the reception, what happens when I let Hubby change my camera settings (you'll know when you see it) and more island antics.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Racheal & Jason | Wedding

Racheal and Jason's wedding day was perfect. I always worry when the Bride is an event planner - they tend to put more pressure on the success of their wedding day. But all of those planning skills came thru and the day went beautifully. I've known Racheal & Jason since a few months before they were even engaged, and it has been such a joy to watch them through this whole process and a real privilege to be there on their wedding day to capture it.

This little one, I just have to tell you about her. Racheal calls her "monster", which is a name she got even before the family discovered that she can growl. Like, seriously growl like a monster. It is soooo hilarious! This is obviously a quieter and sweeter moment with her grandma:

The ceremony was held at Jason's family church. Most churches, especially in winter are DARK, in a way you can't even believe. This one was too, except for the front, which was expertly lit with some well hidden stage lighting. To me, this was total salvation (pun intended). Look critically at the lighting in your church, it can make a huge difference.

The groom's look:

Racheal studied abroad and her "London Mom" flew all the way from England to be there for the wedding:

We headed out to downtown Milwaukee for some picture time, and then on to the SafeHouse for some fun time:

And then it was off to the Venice Club for the rockin' reception. While on the bus, the groomsmen devised a game for the guests to play in place of clinking the glasses. The decided that if people wanted the couple to kiss, they would have to sing a song with the name "Faulks" in it (the new married name of the couple). I have to be honest, I figured one, maybe two people would actually do it. When we were on song number ten or twelve during dinner, I knew we were in for a fantastic reception. These two little guys definately gave the cutest delivery:

This one was just too funny not to post:

Racheal's Dad was diagnosed with cancer shortly after I met her. He has fought a long and hard battle with it, and recently has found himself cancer free. I know it has been a tremendous year for him and the family, and when Jason asked for a round of applause in respect for this battle here is what I got:

A great shot of Jason's mom:

I have no explanation for why I love this shot. It is one that would normally get deleted. But there is something about the way Racheal is burying her head in Jason's shoulder and his expression that I can't stop looking at:

Loved this shot of Jason's sister and her family watching the first dance:

I have to confess, this wedding was made a whole lot more fun by the fact that two of my aunts were there (one as a bridesmaid and one as a guest). They are such a barrel of fun:

If you remember Racheal & Jason's engagement story, then you'll catch on to the theme of their wedding:

Racheal & Jason - a thousand congratulations. I know the road ahead for you is bright and happy. Thanks so much for inviting me into your life to capture this special day.

Enjoy the slideshow!