Worn Out By Fun

Summer camp is quickly coming to a close.  Culver Woodcraft is a non-stop place and it shows.  

I have often joked with clients that we are a lactose intolerant studio…. No Cheese, please.  I am very fond of a genuine smile.   Actually, I’m fond of any expression that is genuine.

Sometimes photographers, pro and amateur, can run right over the real expression looking for what is expected.   Or we stumble into a scene and alter it to fit what we think should be before we recognize what gem may sit before us.   A quietness in thought and an awareness of your surroundings, your subject, and your expectations are key.    


The portraits I have made of my kids are precious to me.  They are emotional reminders of who they are and what they were like as they grew.  Over the years I have worked to bring this quiet sensibility to benefit our clients.  To make each portrait reveal the true personality of my subjects.

P.S. Ry looks dead tired.  He had two weeks left at camp and was having the best time of all the years he has gone.  

Just out of View


Over last weekend we had some time to kill while waiting to meet up with Ryan at camp.  Elise and I took a moment to sit by the lake and enjoy the morning.  It was a beautiful sight watching the small sailboats from the summer camp skimming across the lake.

I became fixed on a rock in the water that was just below the surface.  It never really poked through but as the waves would pass the surface of the water would show signs that it was down there.  I know the rock is there.  I can see its shape, sort of.  I know it's there because it creates splashes and ripples as the waves pass.  Even so, really seeing the rock is just out of reach.  Maybe if the lake were quieter I would see clearly.

The Long Way

Where does it go?  Not sure.  We went the other way.

A metaphor for my photography career.. on a path… but not so sure where it will go.  But go it will..  Kinda fun.  Maybe that’s what drew me to the image.  

I must say that my career doesn’t feel this straight, maybe there are some curves up ahead.  Or a hot dog, who knows

Angel’s Grin

This carving is from Nederluleå, a medieval church in Gammelstaden.   The church was dedicated in 1492.  And I read that there was a wooden church on the site before the current field stone building.  That goes back a bit further than I’m used to in the midwest.

#wehmeierportraits #iphonography #hipstamatic #sweden #iphonography #blackandwhite #blackandwhitephotography

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Raging River

While we were in Lulea, visiting Elise’s brother David and his family, we took a few day trips to see the natural beauty of norther Sweden.  One of those trips was to see Storforsen, one of Europe’s largest rapids, on the Pite River.  This rapid is about 3 miles long and the volume of water that is rushing through is awesome.

On the trip, I certainly created may images of the thing we saw.  But I knew I wanted to make a body of work that went beyond a travel journal.  The last time we were together to see the whole family was in 14 years ago and who know when we will all get back together.  With that in mind I wanted to create portraits of the family members that will become a lasting record of our time together.  What we saw is important but who we were with and how we felt together is just as important to remember.

A Good Show

About two weeks ago I happened upon a nifty photography exhibit at the Art Institute in Chicago.  It’s kind of unique because it is based around, Hugh Edwards, a former curator of 30 years for photography at AI.  There is some really nice work from Ansel Adams and Edward Weston as well as Civil War era images.

When I was in college my professor, George Strimbu, would sometimes show us work that he had made as a student at the Institute of Design in Chicago and would talk about some of his professors.  Some of the people he talked about are in the show.  It was fascinating to see this work and relate it back to what I remember of George’s work and the photographic philosophy he taught from.  I have always been grateful to George’s guidance and mentorship.  I also thank my stars that we met at the absolute right time to set me on the path I have been following for 30 years.

Seeing the work and reading about how these artists were forging new paths with their vision, it does make me wonder what that evolution must have looked or felt like. When seeing the collection, I try to put my mind back to the time these images were first seen and how they must have seemed so different but today, normal.  

The Photographer’s Curator: Hugh Edwards at the Art Institute of Chicago, runs through October 29th

Image ©2017 Robert Wehmeier

Quiet Moments

I love the quiet moments that appear when you least expect them.  Paticularly when chaos is unfolding abound you.  Years ago I took a class with the great photographer,  Jay Maisel, where he shared many of his insights.  Being a proud New Yorker, many of his insights are too colorful to share. But one that has alway stuck out for me that I can share here is “If you not seeing the photograph in front of you… turn around”.  I love the idea of using photography as awareness training – not just being aware of your surrounding but really IN that place and open to seeing.

This is from a family trip to a nature/beach area on the Lule River with David’s family when we were visiting in Lulea, Sweden.  Between Lucas throwing every stick he could find and Ryan doing his best to loose his phone in the sand, I turned around….

Counsel Fire

This will be my last year going out to Culver to visit the kids at camp.  Ryan will be attending band camp next year just as Brooke is this year.   During these summer visits, I try to meet up with Ross, my roommate when I was at Culver for high school.  He claims that he has been visiting his kids at camp for more than 20 years.  Probably true since he has one that has graduated college and a last one in upper camp.  He is far better at math than I am so I’m not going to argue how he came to this figure.   We were joking this last weekend about whether we were going to see the counsel fire.  Counsel Fire is a long tradition at Culver Woodcraft Camp where the campers gather to watch fellow campers preform a legend or story from different American Indian tribes.  Most people would find the campers preforming Indian dances to be the core of the performance.  It is certainly something to see, there is much hard work on the part of the camper.   The part I am most interested in is the story, what wisdom was being told by Native American around the campfire ages ago.  I have read and listened to Joseph Campbell talk about the hero’s journey.  This, however, is where Ross and I part company.  He can’t stand the stories or the recording.  The pops, the hiss, the 1950’s diction…..  Even though the camp has “cleaned up’ the recording and put them on CD, I think the analogue nature of the recording and their age lends a great deal to the experience.  I have a feeling I will miss this next year.

The images are from the final Counsel Fire where distinguished former campers perform a fire dance.

Where to Next?


Follow the arrow…. to space or a ship at sea.

It so much fun letting little ones wander.  In their exploration I wonder what the grand story is and what the arrow on the pavement means.  Lining up perfectly..  ready..  set……   Over the many years photographing little ones I’ve noticed that the hands are a great way to see their thinking.  At this age, the hands also have a natural grace that reminds me of many great masters paintings.  This grace is fleeting though… Catch it while you can.