Now It’s Personal settles in to vintage Saukville home on Milwaukee River
With a stunning view of a bend in the Milwaukee River, the setting for the newly relocated Now It’s Personal photography studio is pretty as a picture.
That is exactly as owner Tanya Haswell intended.
The Saukville studio is located in a converted home at 1084 S. Main St. on a 8.3-acre riverside parcel.
“The house was built in 1964 and everything inside was original — the flooring, the light fixtures and even the appliances,” Haswell said.
That outdated look may have been a deal-breaker for a potential home buyer, but Haswell said she was looking for studio space, not a place to live.
Besides, she was moving her business from a small, 100-year-old home on South Mill Street, so the upgrade was dramatic.
“To me, I was moving up 50 years,” Haswell said.
“I understand 1960s decor is making a comeback, so we are good. I have clients come in and say the place reminds them of their grandparents’ house, which is kind of nice.”
Rather than gutting the building, it was left much as it was, with the bedrooms repurposed for studio use.
One bedroom is used for baby photos, another for more intimate boudoir pictures and a third for storage of props and toys.
A large front room is used for family portraits.
The kitchen was left untouched, and the living room has become a waiting area.
What immediately caught Haswell’s artistic eye was the sweeping river vista offered from a bank of east-facing windows in the living room and the landscaped backyard.
“I was looking for a parklike setting, so I didn’t have to drag clients out to a park for outdoor portraits, and this property certainly has that,” she said.
Thanks to the minimal interior work, the turnaround was amazingly fast.
The sale was finalized on a Friday and Haswell saw her first clients in the house the following Sunday.
Although the building is right on the river, it was constructed on a slight rise that protects it from flooding, even during the recent heavy rains.
“I didn’t even need to get flood insurance,” Haswell said, although noting some of the grounds are in the floodplain.
Haswell got into professional photography six years ago, just after her third child was born.
Her studio specializes in newborn photography.
“Taking pictures was always something I enjoyed. When I started the business, I thought it would be great to have maybe two sessions a week,” Haswell said.
“It has gotten so far beyond that I have to struggle to get free time on weekends to be with my family.”
Haswell said she has learned a lot of tricks about how to get compelling images of babies.
“I wish I knew this stuff when my kids were newborns. We don’t have a lot of portrait photos of them,” she said.
Haswell said it is virtually impossible for a parent to get great pictures of their own child.
The key to good photos is to get the child — and his or her family — to relax.
“As a parent, you can get so stressed. Parents often say to me, ‘You are so calm.’ Having gone through everything in raising three children, I tell them, ‘Of course I’m calm. I got eight hours of sleep last night and I know I am going to get eight hours of sleep tonight,’” Haswell said.
It is pointless to try to get a baby to pose for a portrait, she said.
“I just capture the child interacting with everything around them,” Haswell said. She relies on an assistant to keep the child engaged.
While clients watch her work her camera magic during a studio session, they don’t see the time she puts in behind the scenes.
“I may get 500 pictures from a session and whittle that down to 30 edits from that,” Haswell said.
“After a photo session, I am excited to get home and see what worked — to see if I got that money shot every photographer wants.”
That requires spending hours before a computer monitor working in Photoshop. She became acquainted with the software while working as a graphic artist.
“When I’m home, often the only thing my kids see is my head sticking up above the computer,” Haswell said.
She said most of her clients request photos as digital files rather than photographic prints, because they are more flexible.
“If you have a box of photographs and they get damaged, they are lost forever. With digital images, you can save them on a computer and always have access to them,” Haswell said.
Image information: NOW IT’S PERSONAL photography studio has relocated to a riverfront home on Saukville’s far south side. Business owner Tanya Haswell was drawn to the parklike setting of the property. Haswell specializes in infant photography, and has converted rooms in the home (lower right) to specialized studios.
Photos by Mark Jaeger