Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog.  Here is where I put words to my photos, journaling my thoughts as I visit the places that have become sacred in our history, legendary in our lore, and somber in our rememberences. 

     Along with my own meanderings regarding photography, I will routinely share information from others, offer tips and suggestions, and even share some behnd the scenes moments from some of my shoots. 

     Here you will get a better idea of my portrait and wedding sessions as well, and my passion for providing you beautiful photography of your family and elegant wall decor for your home.

     Feel free to subscribe and check back often as many customer perks will be offered as well. 

 

     As always, your feedback, questions, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

 

 

Scott

 

This Is The Shot! 5/9/14

This Is The Shot!

 

Random reflections of my favorite photographs throughout my career. Why I shot them, why I love them, why I think they work, and the stories behind them. Here are the images that, when I looked through my viewfinder, gave me that “This Is The Shot!” moment…

 

Port Review HartfordPort Review HartfordWisconsin, Photographer, Model, Wedding, "Wisconsin Wedding Photographer," "Appleton, WI Boudoir Photography"

 

Utilizing the psychology of color is a common thread in my work.  Scientisits discovered a long time ago that color has a definite effect on our emotions, moods, and perceptions.  Advertisers spend millions of dollars every year simply testing color because they are well aware of it's attributes. 

 

In the shot above, the color and shade of green utilized was carefully calculated.  Green is the most calming color to the viewer.  The goal of this shot was to portray confidence in beauty, but on a more soothing and refined level.  If red was chosen for the backround and wardrobe, the feel of the photograph would be much different.  The skin tones and gold accessories accentuate the gentle, natural, holistic healing power symbolized by the color green, as does her hand and finger positions around her face.

 

The rest was up to the model to complete the goal with the right facial expression and attitude, which she pulled off flawlessly.

 

 

What do you think? Do you think this is "The Shot?" Why, or why not? Feel free to comment.

 

If you would like to explore the opportunity for me to capture these moments for you, feel free to contact me through www.scottwittmanvisual.com, or at 920-205-4181. You can also like my new Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for the latest in updates and special offers.

 

 

 


This Is The Shot! 4/14/14

This Is The Shot!

 

Random reflections of my favorite photographs throughout my career. Why I shot them, why I love them, why I think they work, and the stories behind them. Here are the images that, when I looked through my viewfinder, gave me that “This Is The Shot!” moment…

 

 

Model Port Update 1Model Port Update 1Model Port Update Hartford

 

While a student in art school a phrase I repeatedly heard my photo instructors emphasize was that before one could become a photographer, one has to learn to see.  Seeing, photographically speaking, is recongizing scenes compositionally, interactions between light and shadow, subcontexts of colors patterns, textures, etc. 

The person who most taught me to "see" was George Hurrell, in my mind, the greatest glamour photographer we've ever had.  I studied his work extensively as a student; his masterful manipulations of light and shadow, his tedious attention to detail, and his exceptional ability and understanding of how to portray mood and emotion to the viewer - unmatched to this day.

I do not, save for rare occurrances, emulate Hurrell's photographic style in my work, but traces of Hurrell's inspiration are alive in every shoot I do.  Loretta Young once commented, “We thought we were gorgeous because by the time HURRELL finished with you, you were gorgeous.”   I think of this quote everytime I view my subject, whether I'm shooting a family portrait, a model, or a wedding.  They all deserve the same.

The above shot is but one result.

 

What do you think? Do you think this is "The Shot?" Why, or why not? Feel free to comment.

 

If you would like to explore the opportunity for me to capture these moments for you, feel free to contact me through www.scottwittmanvisual.com, or at 920-205-4181. You can also like my new Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for the latest in updates and special offers.

 


This Is The Shot! 3/27/14

This Is The Shot!

 

Random reflections of my favorite photographs throughout my career. Why I shot them, why I love them, why I think they work, and the stories behind them. Here are the images that, when I looked through my viewfinder, gave me that “This Is The Shot!” moment…

 

 

Heritage Park WeddingHeritage Park WeddingHeritage Park Shawano WI Wedding  

 

There's an old adage in photography the eludes to the fact that often times the best shot comes when you least expect it.  This shot actually came AFTER the photo shoot was completed, or at least, I thought it had. 

This was photographed at a wedding in Shawano, WI.  

The bride and groom had previously chosen Heritage Park in Shawano as the location they'd like me to shoot outdoor portraits of themselves and the wedding party.  It is a beautiful park with a number of restored historic buildings dotting it's landscape, making for very charming and alluring wedding portraits.  Time was scarce, as it usually is when photographing after the ceremony and before the dinner.  Everybody in the party was so wonderful and cooperative it made my job that much easier.

After only approximately 25 minutes of shooting formals of the bride and groom, as well as the entire party, I announced that I thought we had everything we needed and we could all begin the transit to the reception hall.  Moments later, just as the wedding party was about to engulf them in a circle of hugs, the groom pulled his bride towards him one final time before the euphoria of the night to come was about to begin.  I quickly drew my camera back up to my eye and captured one final frame...this one. 

Literally 2 seconds later, the newlyweds were consumed by the arms of their friends in the party.

"The best shot comes when you least expect it." 

Often times, capturing the most touching moments means the photographer must realize the shoot is really never over.

 

What do you think? Do you think this is "The Shot?" Why, or why not? Feel free to comment.

 

If you would like to explore the opportunity for me to capture these moments for you, feel free to contact me through www.scottwittmanvisual.com, or at 920-205-4181. You can also like my new Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for the latest in updates and special offers.

 

 

 

 


This Is The Shot! 03/24/14

This Is The Shot!

 

Random reflections of my favorite photographs throughout my career. Why I shot them, why I love them, why I think they work, and the stories behind them.  Here are the images that, when I looked through my viewfinder, gave me that “This Is The Shot!” moment…

 

 

White WeddingWhite WeddingWelome in.

 

This was taken at a wedding at High Cliff State Park in Appleton, WI. 

The children are the bride's from a previous relationship.  After the ceremony, the bride, groom, and two boys took a walk to take in the occassion in private.  I wanted to respect their moment so I did not follow them.  After taking just a few steps in their direction, the younger child turned and put his arm around the groom, their new step-father.  A poignant moment providing for a moving photograph symbolizing the acceptance of another into one's own family. 

The smile on the child's face further illustrates his feelings on this day, as does the proud, confident expresson his older brother gives as he peers directly into my camera.

Wedding days can be hectic, especially for those being united.  There are hours of entertaining, seemingly endless hugs and handshakes from well-wishers, limos, buses, food, dances, photos, loud music etc.  This newly unified family knew that was all coming and made it a point to escape, if only for a minute, to take a little time to acknowledge what had just taken place.

This is a moment in time that will never be again.  Because of this photo, they can have it forever.

 

What do you think? Do you think this is "The Shot?" Why, or why not?  Feel free to comment.

 

If you would like to explore the opportunity for me to capture these moments for you on your special day, feel free to contact me through www.scottwittmanvisual.com, or at 920-205-4181.  You can also like my new Facebook page and follow me on Twitter for the latest in updates and special offers.

 

 

 


Sarah and Tim

I'm often asked if I shoot weddings, as I do not emphasize that genre in my content.

Short answer to that question:  Of course! 

Give me a call or send me an email and I'll give you the longer answer.  Let's talk about what we can create together....


The Rape of Wounded Knee

  As a historical landscape photographer, I often find myself experiencing many different emotions and feelings while standing at the sites and on the same ground that various fascinating events in our history took place. Whether standing on the crest of Little Round Top at Gettysburg, exploring the Gold Rush towns of the Black Hills, or gazing upon the small Wisconsin lake that inspired John Muir to become the “Father of our National Parks,” these sites help me feel more a part of the American Experience so many of us have lived for. While these emotions flow freely, the one that more often than not takes hold is pride.

Pride in being an American.  Pride in knowing that so many past Americans gave their lives, and life’s work, so I could prosper and live in ways of my own choosing so many generations later.  Pride in knowing that they have given me the same opportunity to help make this a better nation and world for those who will follow me.

But something happened this past June that I wasn’t prepared for. While standing at a site, a site I knew was not one of happy occurrences, that sense of pride was nonexistent. Rather, there were sharp feelings of shock, anger, shame, and embarrassment.

While traveling through the Black Hills of South Dakota, I took an unplanned trip to the site of the Battle of Wounded Knee. As we know today, this was not a “Battle” at all, but rather more widely and appropriately referred to as the “Massacre at Wounded Knee.” While the specifics of that horrendous December, 1890 day have been debated for over 120 years, the bare facts remain the same: hundreds of mostly unarmed Miniconjou Sioux indians were rounded into a circle and mowed down by the US 7th Calvary, heavily armed with countless rifles and Hotchkiss rapid fire machine guns. Of the 350 indians murdered that day, (some reports say closer to 450) all but 120 were women and children. The Calvary even chased down those that had escaped, up to 2 miles away, and finished them on the spot.  

After the “Battle,” and as some of the bodies lay where they fell for up to two weeks, the US military hired civilians to bury the dead. A trench was dug in the frozen ground at the base of the hills that the Hotchkiss guns fired from, and 150 indians were thrown into a mass grave, leaving at least 200 unaccounted for. Those bodies were most likely scattered throughout the frozen, blizzard covered land, so remote still today, the bones of which may still be lying there.

This incident, forever immortalized in Dee Brown’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” is now referred to as the end of the almost 300 year-long struggle between the expanding US and the Natives who were already here. What happened at Wounded Knee was so brutal, so appalling, that both sides simply stopped fighting.

This was only the beginning of a stream of circumstances that have continued to inflict injury and suffering upon this, what should be, sacred land.

In 1973, the community of Wounded Knee was seized by an urban indian militant group known as the American Indian Movement. For 71 days, Wounded Knee was held captive as AIM said they were protesting the re-election of corrupt Tribal Chairman Richard Wilson. The standoff led to several shootouts with the FBI, leading to numerous deaths, some of them still unsolved to this very day. In the years following the standoff, violence and murder continued on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where Wounded Knee is located. Most of these murders, many of them still unsolved, were the actions of corrupt tribal politicians fighting amongst themselves.

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, located in SW South Dakota, is among the poorest regions of our nation. It has been compared with Third World countries, and the comparisons are valid.

When I visited the actual Massacre site at Wounded Knee, I was at first confused. Confused at how a site of such importance could be left in such disregard. The grass is uncut, (or at least not cut nearly enough,) and weeds grow indiscriminately. While my wife and I walked the grounds, we continually kicked candy bar wrappers, empty water bottles, blowing shopping bags, etc that are strewn about. Children are climbing on the chain link fence which “protects” the mass grave still there. Panhandlers mercilessly solicit their homemade jewelry until you finally relent. Some of the Natives there were polite and helpful. Some were downright scary and a bit threatening. It is not an enjoyable place to visit - nor should it be - it is a site of great sorrow, but it was frankly unbearable due to the lack of respect shown to those who came to pay theirs.

My confusion turned to anger when driving through the Pine Ridge Reservation. Homes are more like huts. Garbage is blowing everywhere. Dogs run loose on the highway, suffocating in the heat. The lack of pride demonstrated by this way of life was simply outrageous, even insulting.

I have heard the “This is what we did to them” arguments; the referral of Pine Ridge as the "1st concentration camp in America;” that we have destroyed their economical way of life, and these conditions are a result of broken treaties and stolen land over a hundred years ago. It is these very arguments and this defeated state of mind which sustains this level of helplessness.

The Pine Ridge Tribal Council is the bulk of the problems today and has been for many, many years. It is infiltrated with corruption, lies, cronyism, and a disturbing lack of educated members.

Unemployment on the reservation is upwards of 89%.

That’s right…89%.

There are no banks, hardly any commercial businesses, and adequate housing for the close to 40,000 residents is at pathetic levels. The complete instability and incompetence of the Council prevents any possible employers from moving in. There are millions of dollars every year, granted to the Tribe through the US Dept of Interior for economic growth and housing which “vanish.” There are claims by some Sioux leaders that close to 1 billion dollars…1 billion!…has been given to the tribe over the last 10 years alone. That is American tax payer funded money. Where is that money going? No one on the Council can say.

Really?

That is why it angers me, and as an American tax payer, it insults me.

This is what Pine Ridge has done with that $1,000,000,000:

  • 97% of residents live under the poverty line
  • No industry, technology or commercial infrastructure
  • No public transportation
  • Only a handful of paved roads, making many homes on the reservation inaccessible in winter
  • No discount stores or movie theaters
  • 1/3 of all homes lack basic running water, sewage and electricity
  • Over half of the homes currently standing need to be burned down due to black mold. There is no insurance to cover this
  • Healthcare is virtually nonexistent
  • Teen suicide is 150% higher than national average
  • Infant mortality rate is 300% higher than national average
  • Diabetes and TB rate is 800% higher than national average
  • Alcoholism is pervasive and well beyond an epidemic
  • Life expectancy is 45-50 years, the lowest of anywhere in America.

All for $1 billion.

The Massacre at Wounded Knee occurred over 120 years ago. It is unfortunate. Many atrocities occurred throughout America’s expansion, both executed by, and against, Americans. But those wrongs cannot be remedied anymore. The past is over.

One drive through the Pine Ridge Reservation, and one visit to Wounded Knee will illustrate the sad depression of pride and rampant corruption that runs amuck abound a once proud people.

It will take a complete systematic change of attitude to fix these problems, though not enough tribal leaders and residents have offered up the effort to show they even care.

It is true the Massacre at Wounded Knee is still occurring. Except this time, amid the barrage of blame and finger-pointing, it’s self-inflicted.

Maybe a billion more will help…

 


Photography Apps


A Looming Decision for Two Rivers...

http://www.wbay.com/story/21875903/2013/04/03/future-of-thermo-fisher-plant-under-discussion?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8739429

 

Two Rivers,

James Edward Hamilton, an early pioneer and the man most responsible for putting your town on the map, now needs your help.

His manufacturing complex, built over a 40 year period from the 1880s to the1920s, and covering over 12 acres of waterfront property, may be staring down the wrecking ball.

J.E. Hamilton was born in Two Rivers in 1852. After his father, also prominent in Two Rivers' history and twice an elected member to the State Legislature, was killed in the line of duty in the Civil War, young James wandered a bit. He moved to New York with his family, and then returned to Two Rivers working various odd jobs. He then left for the Dakota Gold Rush in 1876, only to return again a year later - but this time he returned a determined man. He famously said to his mother after telling her he would be staying in Two Rivers for the long haul, "If there's anything in the old town, I'm going to get it out of her,"

 

Did he ever.

 

By 1880, J.E began his own business developing wood type. By 1885 he expanded his business to include furniture and cabinets, and by 1889 the Hamilton Manufacturing Company was officially incorporated and housed in the largest factory complex of it's kind in the world.

The factory complex continued operations as Hamilton's Wood Type Manufacturing until 1992 when it was acquired by what is now Thermo Fisher Scientific. By the mid-2000's dark days were looming and trends were not heading in the right direction. This last fall, the last 200 manufacturing employees at the factory, built in 1881, were let go.

 

The question now is what happens to the old complex.

 

The easy answer is what seems to be the opinion of the majority of Two River's current business owners: Tear it down.

 

Really? Just tear it down? Wash your hands of it? The tradition, symbolism, and legacy of those buildings mean nothing to you?

 

The legacy of Hamilton Wood Type Manufacturing is that it was the lifeblood for 130 years of Two Rivers residents. Inside those walls were generations of blood, sweat, and tears shed by factory workers providing for their families, planning for their futures, as well as their children's futures. Many of them often times working overtime, or double shifts, so their children could go on to a brighter future and live the American Dream.

And you want to tear that down...

It is understandable that not all of our historic buildings can be saved. Some of them have deteriorated to the point where they just simply aren't safe anymore. Just 10 years ago however, almost 1,200 employees still worked inside these walls at Thermo Fisher. No doubt that extensive repairs are needed, but It is unlikely that a sprawling complex of this stature would go from being safe for hundreds of employees to beyond repair in just 10 years...and if it did, the city itself should be ashamed.

Some business owners, as in the news clip above, are clamoring for the buildings to be torn down and "something attractive to the community" put in it's place.

"Something attractive to the community?"

The Hamilton Buildings have their own "site file" at the Wisconsin State Historical Society, containing scores or writings, clippings, and historical documents pertaining to the buildings and their history. It housed the museum dedicated to the largest collection of wood type in the world and was a destination for artists, scholars, students, and craftsmen from the world over. It even has an award winning movie produced about it entitled, "Typeface" released in 2009.

Yes, maybe something more "attractive to the community" would work....

 

As a historical landscape photographer, I have seen the results of other community leaders and business owners from decades past who thought the same about certain structures in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. They, too, thought razing older buildings and putting in "something attractive" was the best way to implement innovation and promote commercial and residential development in their communities. Our streets are littered with these "attractive" sights throughout our state, and sadly, throughout the country. More often than not, these properties are now abandoned warehouses, old parking lots with cracked, uneven, weed-riddled pavement, or condo and retail space which never hold tenants. The community leaders who made those decisions are no longer around to answer for their decisions, and current leaders refer to the actions of their predecessors as "unfortunate," or "mistakes."

Two Rivers, you now have a chance to not make that same mistake. A "build it and they will come" mentality is unrealistic. You will never be a destination city...and that is OK. It is in your simplicity, identity, and history which lies your beauty. Hamilton IS your identity, your history, and your legacy - not condos or boutique shops. It is what you are not which makes what your are so unique.

If you tear these buildings down it is a virtual guarantee future generations will wish you hadn't.

Work with Thermo Fisher to repair and revitalize the buildings, acquire them, and build a task force to recruit future companies to once again provide for future generations of Two Rivers families.

James Edward Hamilton not only provided a good living to many generations of Two Rivers residents, he also built the Hamilton Community House, was instrumental in the founding of the Bank of Two Rivers, Grace Congregational Church, The Two Rivers Coal Company, and the city's early light, water, and phone companies, much of this paid for with his own money.

 

The spirit of J.E. Hamilton is no doubt somewhere, watching what may become of the pillars of his life's work.

73 years after his death, it's time to pay him back.

Scott Wittman is a professional photographer specializing in Historical Landscapes and Elegant Portraiture based in Appleton WI. More of his work can be seen at www.scottwittmanvisual.com.


Studio Ready to Roll

Appleton Photo studio

Consultation Area

I'm happy to announce, after taking about a month longer than first thought, the studio is now open and fully functional.  There are still some cosmetic issues to deal with, but nothing to prohibit shooting.    

 

Low key and Main backround shooting area

 

High key shooting area

 

Hair/Make-Up Area

Still some more pictures and mirrors to hang, nooks and crannys to tidy up, but for the most part this studio is ready to roll.  (Special thanks to my dad for helping me out with so much of this!)  Looking forward to creating some great work here.

 

Scott


An Officer and an Indian

 

As March is Women's History Month, I thought it fitting to research the very first woman ever written about in Wisconsin's recorded history.

Her name was Hopokoekau, or, "Glory of the Morning."

She is, to this day, the only known female chief of the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk Indian Tribe, and quite possibly the subject of Wisconsin's very first documented love story.

In an island village located near the northern base of Lake Winnebago, Glory of the Morning was born around the year 1711. Her father was the Ho-Chunk chief at the time. The island, formed by two branches of the Fox River flowing out from Lake Winnebago, today includes sections of the cities of Neenah and Menasha.

In her early years, Glory of the Morning made quite an impression on the tribe. Her wisdom, unusually superior, set her apart from others, including her brothers and the elders of the tribe. At age 18, her father became ill and passed away, leaving the Nation without a leader. In a stunning milestone event, Glory of the Morning was named to succeed her father as chief, causing a brief uproar by many in the tribe.

 

The French Come to WI

 

During Glory of the Morning's reign as chief, the French became involved in the Fox Wars throughout present day Michigan and Wisconsin. For the French to continue building it's empire in North America, the Fox River was vital to it's access to the Mississippi River and the western lands. The Fox River, however, was controlled by the Fox Indians, who resisted France's domination.

The Fox Indians were a deadly menace to the French. Surprise attacks and all-out slaughters were carried out by both sides, leaving a bloody, haunted history flowing through these waters.

Throughout the years of the Fox Wars, as well as the years of the fur trade, many French-Canadians passed through the region while serving their country's interests. One of these men was a French military officer named Joseph Sabrevoir Descaris. Descaris and his men established friendly relations with the Ho-Chunk on the island, ultimately culminating in Descaris' marriage to Glory of the Morning.

The officer was so enamored by the chieftess and the island village that he resigned his commission in the French military and became a fur trader, remaining on the island with Glory of the Morning and her people.

Breaking with much of the Greater Winnebago Nation at the time, Glory of the Morning aligned with the French against the Fox Indians in warfare throughout the 1730's and 1740's, though It was also largely through her efforts which led to peace finally being established between the two and ending the wars.

 

Duty Calls

 

In time, Descaris grew restless. His home country was facing an ever growing threat to it's empire in North America from Great Britain. He could not simply stand by. He was still a Frenchman, and with his country on the verge of war with it's greatest European rival on another continent, he was again ready to be an officer.

After seven years of marriage to Glory of the Morning, and with her, fathering three children, Joseph Descaris left the island and returned to his French-Canadian roots to re-enlist in the military and fight for his country. Glory of the Morning was torn. She understood the obligations of duty he felt for his people, as she felt the same for hers. Because of this, she decided to let Desacris go on without her, citing her refusal to leave her people without a leader. She did, however, offer for him to take their youngest child, their daughter, Nqno'abewiga. One can only imagine the scene of their final goodbye.

 

 

She would never see either of them again.

 

Years later, when the British invasion of North America was in full force and the French and Indian War was raging, Glory of the Morning remained loyal to her French-Canadian husband, and ordered her braves on the warpath against his country's enemy tribes. Their eldest son joined his father at the Battle of Ste. Foy, a French victory reclaiming the city of Quebec from the British.

 

It would be the last French victory of the French and Indian War.

 

Among the 833 French casualties of that day, was one Joseph Sabrevoir Descaris. Wounded in the battle, he died several days later. His son survived and returned to his mother on the island. Their daughter remained in Canada, living out her days married to a French-Canadian trader in Montreal.

Today, the Descaris name is still prevalent in the Ho-Chunk/Winnebago tribe, the pronunciation evolving over time, and is now known as the famed "Decorah" family. The chieftess and the officer's offspring thrived in a very celebrated line of Ho-Chunk Chiefs, including Spoon Decorah, Old Decorah, One-Eyed Decorah, and Waukon Decorah. Their influence was instrumental in many of the treaties signed between various Native American tribes and the United States.

 

As for Glory of the Morning?

 

After 1766, she disappears from written history - and astonishingly re-appears in an account by famed 19th century author Juliette Kinzie, who visited the tribe on the island while her husband was an Indian Agent stationed at Ft. Winnebago, WI. Mrs. Kinzie describes the following encounter:

There was among their number, this year, one whom I had never before seen—the mother of the elder Day-kau-ray. No one could tell her age, but all agreed that she must have seen upwards of a hundred winters. Her eyes dimmed, and almost white with age—her face dark and withered, like a baked apple—her voice tremulous and feeble, except when raised in fury to reprove her graceless grandsons, who were fond of playing her all sorts of mischievous tricks, indicated the very great age she must have attained.

The astonishing aspect is that this account illustrates a visit Mrs Kinzie made to the island in 1832, when Glory of the Morning would have been approximately 121 years old! As there is no recorded date of her death, history can only believe what seems to be the unbelievable.

 

The Treaty of the Cedars

 

After the Treaty of the Cedars was concluded in 1836, the Ho-Chunk, along with thousands more Native Americans from over 4 million acres of land, were relocated west. This land included what is now the cities of Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Oshkosh, and Stevens Point, among many others. The U.S. government took control of the land, and subsequently sold the island to James Duane Doty, who proceeded to name it after himself.

Today, when walking along the rows of giant oaks and willows abundant throughout Doty Island, it's easy for one's imagination to overflow among the serenity of the sound of water and light wind, among the modern streets, lined with mansions built by 19th century paper barons, and among the island's many parks which hold their scenic beauty throughout any season. It's easy to imagine why the Ho-Chunk chose this place as their home centuries ago. And it's easy to imagine the spirits of two long lost lovers, a Forest Queen and a military man, choosing to remain here together in death, which war deprived them of in life.

 

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