We are James + Katie Stokes, a husband & wife team located in Medford, Wisconsin who travel across the State, the US, and abroad photographing weddings, seniors, and lifestyle portraits. Our small business is our full-time profession and we enjoy every challenge and triumph it brings. We are truly blessed to do what we love and meet incredible people who value life, faith, & family, every day!
We want to capture simple true-to-life moments of you playing, laughing, loving, – that brings joy to your heart, tells your journey, and enriches your soul!
This might sound prophetic, but photographs can change lives that transcend generations. One day we hope the moments we capture will remind our clients and loved ones of how blessed they are to have lived and experienced the joy of God’s goodness in your life.
I, James, grew up on a dairy farm. It was the greatest childhood a kid could ask for, but I knew very early on that I was called serve people. My father was an amateur photographer who collected old cameras and lenses and my grandfather was an oil painter. I guess I just combined to two to create my own art. Film and darkrooms are very much a part of my past, however, being a computer geek has allowed me to fully embrace digital photography and all it has to offer.
It has been an incredible blessing to pursue my calling and love for others through photography. Being able to tell authentic stories through timeless photographs is part of the WHY I get out of bed each morning, but it is bigger than that. As father of five, I don’t really get a choice. My children have shown me how precious and fleeting life is. In the beautiful controlled chaos that is our life, I am reminded of the BIG PICTURE through small intimate moments we so often forget without the help of photographs. I am reminded to be THANKFUL for everything I have been given.
I believe that God can use something as simple as a photograph to repair a marriage, enhance a family, or tell a story nearly forgotten.
My perfect day is spent on the water or exploring the great American west. Utah and Wisconsin are my favorite places on earth and if I could live in a tree house I would. I dream of owning a Tiny House and living off the land. If I wasn’t living the American dream, I would be caring for orphans and widows (James 1:27). A prayer and dream I believe will one day come true.
Katie is a loving mother to our six children and the love of my life. We have been best friends for nearly fifteen years and married for six. It might go without saying, but I think she is pretty great! She has been blessed with creative talents and ambition that are seemingly infinite. Katie has devoted herself to motherhood and providing home-based education for our children, which has been both our greatest challenge and greatest reward in parenting.
Her sewing machine and camera compete for her spare free-time affections; it is her joy to create the majority of our custom handmade packaging. Katie’s kitchen is her office – where she spoils us with Country Living recipes and healthful crockpot meals. She enjoys being a wallflower on a wedding day and capturing quiet unseen moments. Life through her telephoto lens is much different than my own; with an eye for details and heartfelt emotion, her images add variety and a female perspective, which greatly compliment our style as fine art storytellers.
We could not function as a household without her talent and endless support to our family and our business. Her personal sacrifice and dedication to our marriage make capturing life our beautiful reality. We are thankful to be living out our purpose each day as we strive to serve others with the gifts we have been given.
Since we live in the Northwoods, we embrace all that nature has to offer! In two words I would describe our aesthetic as Rustic Romance. We absolutely love the outdoors & barn weddings, much like our own! We like when our faces hurt after photographing two people desperately in love. Katie and I are fueled by moments filled with laughter and genuine emotion that are both fun and romantic. We want the images we capture to feel fresh and original having an organic feel. We are drawn to the look, feel, and cohesiveness of film. Katie and I try to replicate this in our work by using wide-open apertures, natural light, and warm creamy skin tones.
The combination of documenting and stylizing allows us to blend the art of photojournalism and beauty that is fine art photography. We push ourselves to be creative and adventurous and if that means risking getting a little dirty, wading in lake Michigan, or standing in a canoe, so be it.
OUR FAVORITE LENSES:
JAMES: 85L & 35 L KATIE 50L & 70-200 2.8
OUR FAVORITE DESTINATION WEDDING:
Dublin, Ireland We dream of traveling back to the Emerald Isle as well and Ireland & the UK. Both Katie and I have British & Irish roots!
WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR VIEWERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR WORK?
We want our photographs to feel alive! While they exist in two dimensions we want them to exude a feeling, a memory, nostalgia. We do this by curating photographs that fit our personal aesthetic and personal criteria. We want our images to both tell a story, but also be a cohesive body of work. Each image needs to lead into the next all the while being able to stand-alone as apiece of art. Our goal is to design an album for our clients that will stand the test of time. Shooting with this in mind allows us to systematically approach a wedding day, which actually gives us freedom to try new things!
WHAT IS ONE THING WE WISHED WE HAD KNOWN WHEN WE STARTED TAKING PHOTOS?
I personally wish I would have believed in myself more. I never thought I could be a photographer, like actually make money doing what I love. I am still in awe of this fact and I live each day as a gift. Secondly, I wish I could have given myself permission to simply BE MYSELF. This is a struggle for me even to this day with their being so many social pressures that pay into being a photographer in the age of Pinterest and a highly competitive industry. Ideally, I would like to photograph a wedding as if I were shooting it for myself. These images, sadly, don’t make it on blogs or Style Me Pretty, but they mean the world to me; those are the candid photos of my grandparents, parents, friends, & family enjoying one another. Isn’t that what the day is all about- coming together? After the big expensive party is over, what will you tangible have? Hopefully, it is more than some digital images that live on your hard drive – but some real printed memories, bound and displayed in your home and in the homes of those you love.
We make a point of trying to photograph every person at a wedding. This is often difficult, but it is a challenge we know we will appreciate 25 years down the road when we can’t quite remember all the beautiful faces that were present on the day we started our journey as husband and wife!