Milwaukee may be thought of by some of America as Brew City for the many breweries that came from the influence of the German immigrants who settled there in the 1800s. It may be thought of by others as Cream City, yet it’s not for the cheese that Wisconsin is associated with, but actually for the limestone and magnesium-rich clay that was used for bricks to construct its older buildings. Yet beyond its nicknames, whether properly understood or not, Milwaukee is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the United States. It’s also a city of invention, where local creations include the QWERTY keyboard that led to the modern typewriter, the first answering machine, and maybe the city’s most famous export: the first Harley-Davidson. It’s the city where Teddy Roosevelt was shot mid-speech and continued speaking, while it’s also the city that hosts the world’s largest music festival, Summerfest. The point is, a lot happens in this city, making editorial photography in Milwaukee a pivotal aspect of telling the many stories that come out of it.
At Wonderful Machine, we define editorial photography as anything done for a publication that tells stories about people, places, and events. This can stretch across multiple specialties, resulting in an excitingly diverse group of professionals to represent it. Of this group, here are the 7 best in editorial photography in Milwaukee.
Sara Stathas has been a professional photographer for over 20 years. Specializing in both editorial and advertising photography, Sara’s experience has given her a dynamic approach to her craft that reveals itself in a portfolio showing mastery across multiple specialties. Whether it’s travel, agriculture, portraiture, or food, one concept that runs through Sara’s work is the completeness of her imagery. Earning a BFA in painting before her work in photography, she always includes the environment around her subject within each photo. It could be as simple as a color or it could be as complex as a well-composed scene, yet the effect is always the same: you are taken into the world of who and what Sara is photographing.
Whether I’m one-on-one with a farmer in the orchard or working with a team in the studio, my goal is to bring a unique vision to the project. I aim to collect moments that are part of a larger whole.
Working worldwide and thriving on a desire to explore, Sara’s work stands out for the personal attention she gives to revealing something deeper about her subjects by using the colors and space around them. As an editorial photographer in Milwaukee, she stands out in her ability to tell a story as strong in a single image as within a series.
John Sibilski grew up in the world of creativity. With an art director for a father, he gained an early appreciation for attention to detail as well as a knack for collaboration. This especially shows itself in John’s more action-oriented photography, where he often covers people doing dangerous jobs, from the industrial sector to firefighting. In these images, his subjects are in the moment and completely undistracted from their work. This level of trust and respect goes hand in hand with covering events as they unfold and capturing people who have stories to communicate, a perfect asset for an editorial photographer in Milwaukee. His ultimate interest is authenticity, and this shows itself in every corner of John’s portfolio. Covering many photographic specialties, John excels in all of them by bringing the same sense of there being no photographer present. Human interactions in his imagery all have an honesty to them, especially in his portraiture and lifestyle work, which may be the most difficult specialties of all to create a sense of the natural in.
Kat Schleicher grew up in Illinois and discovered her passion for photography while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. Since then, she has lived by the Rocky Mountains, in Japan, in Los Angeles, and now is based in Milwaukee. Working nationwide, Kat’s adventurous path has informed her ability to see the stories of people from all walks of life everywhere she goes.
I create to connect. Photography and motion are the tools I use to share my story, and the stories of those I capture on camera, with the world.
Kat focuses on people in her work and what truly stands out in her portfolio is the genuine emotions she captures in her subjects. This makes her portraiture and lifestyle work especially compelling because she doesn’t always go for a smile. She allows her subject to feel how they feel and be who they are. At the same time, her healthcare photography allows for the same honesty in the warm moments of connection that occur in the delicate circumstances of being in a hospital. These moments cannot be faked and are often quite moving. This, along with her awards, most of which are recent, shows Kat to be a strong voice not only in editorial photography in Milwaukee but in photography as an art form.
CJ Foeckler is a professional in both commercial and editorial photography as well as retouching. What sets him apart from most photographers is the nearly 20 years he spent as an art director. With a very strong eye for advertising and marketing, CJ embraces a daring creativity in his methods to bring out the cutting edge in his imagery.
I enjoy working with clients that are willing to push their visuals to the next level and are open to experimenting together. I like to work with all kinds of light and creative processes to constantly push my photography.
With his years in art direction informing his collaborative approach to capturing the mood and environment of his subjects, he also brings a fascination in working with light and shadow.
I love moody lighting that isn’t overdone – every highlight and shadow is very intentional and I tend to pay attention to all the details that most don’t.
This lends itself to the portraiture side of editorial photography because just as he is able to capture a feeling in his subjects, he highlights it by utilizing the light and environment around them. This is evident in the diversity of portraits he has done for Milwaukee Magazine, where every person is shown in a specific place to express more about their story in a single image. His expertise in working with light as well as in a hectic environment also shows in his ability to capture images of great clarity at massive, high-energy concerts. At the same time, his carefully-planned artistry shows in his moody portraits showcasing the quiet moments of figures in Milwaukee’s community.
Kevin Netz is a Milwaukee native but began his photography career in Detroit. There he cut his teeth in a competitive environment at a time when jobs were scarce, giving him an experience that he carries with him to this day: showing up and doing something special. Returning to his hometown, he joined the Kohl’s team as a staff photographer, as their studio is located in Milwaukee. Taking the fast-paced, perfectionist demands of corporate retail photography, Kevin branched out and set up his own studio in 2012. Free to embrace his own creativity, he has been in business ever since. While he continues to shine in lifestyle and advertising photography, his editorial work has made him a sought-after name nationwide. His coverage of bicycle and motorcycle events show how willing he is to get into the action and move with its flow. His work in documenting the farming and fishing industry takes this up-close approach and diversifies it. A vibrant outdoor light marks his coverage of farmwork while harsh fluorescent lights, as well as stark black & white imagery, define the aggressive work within a fish market. Wherever he’s shooting, Kevin Netz will take you there.
David Szymanski works professionally in both commercial and editorial photography. His work is exciting, colorful, and full of a sense of exploration. Growing up with parents who owned a travel agency, David was born and raised with the wanderlust that defines that market. Developing a fascination with showing common, everyday scenes in a new way, his work is marked by a variety of unique images within all of the specialties in his portfolio. David presents the subjects of his portraiture each within their own special world, often in the activity that they are passionate about. A playfulness marks much of David’s work, especially in his coverage of children in education settings as well as sports events. In fact, his sports work is notable for including every aspect of the spectacle, wherein the athletes, mascots, and fans are only the beginning of what he showcases. Bringing a true heart for storytelling to editorial photography in Milwaukee, David has a limitless curiosity matched only by his craftsmanship.
Darren Hauck’s work is often on the more serious side of editorial photography. Both a photographer and filmmaker, he has traveled the world to capture moments that weave beauty, tragedy, and sometimes even danger into an honest look at the human condition. Earning a BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Darren took his interest in challenging the awareness of the people around him and embarked upon a career that has been going on for 15 years. Connecting a sense of struggle between many corners of the world, from Asia to Central America to the Midwest, his work is notable for its raw honesty. His courage to put himself at risk has resulted in coverage of disasters, shootouts, and the aftermath of war. Yet still, Darren also presents images of people living their lives and supporting their loved ones warmly in any of the conditions, near or far, that we consider harsh and difficult. His work shows farmers satisfied with their work, athletes meeting their goals, and cultures worldwide enduring this strange, wild, and challenging adventure that we call life.
With all of the endless possibilities that an editorial photographer in Milwaukee, let alone anywhere, can cover in their work, it takes a great deal of spirit to stand out in capturing life as it unfolds. These 7 professionals each bring their own magic and approach to this, which, in a world where so many stories are waiting to be told, sounds just right.