• Welcome to my Sun Prairie photographer blog. You will find images from my recent photography sessions including maternity photography, baby photography, and family photography. I also do sessions with newborns, toddlers, children of all ages, seniors, and special needs photography including families living with autism. Each photo session is just as unique as the people standing before me and it's always a pleasure capturing just who they are.

    My photography business is based in Sun Prairie, WI, although I also serve the surrounding Madison areas including Stoughton, Oregon, Verona, Middleton, Monona, Fitchburg, DeForest, Mount Horeb, Waunakee and Cottage Grove. Feel free to peek at my site here or contact me at carrie@carrieanciaux.com or (608)834-9303 for information about booking a session. To see my style on the Flash Gallery, check out my website.

  • Right now!

    April is Autism Awareness Month! Stop by the blog all of April to read the stories and view the images of this year's 13 Stories of Autism participants. Also stop by the Stories of Autism national site at www.storiesofautism.com to view the nation-wide gallery of subjects.

  • Carrie in the News!

    Carrie's Stories of Autism photography has been featured on NBC 15 Madison's news. Check out their website for more information!

will, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

He was one of the first students I met as a new Speech/Language Pathologist to the local school district.   I came well equipped as a newly trained PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) therapist and was ready to make a difference with kids who were non-verbal.  He was a second grader who was petite, smiley, loveable.   We worked on functional communication by teaching him to request his most favorite things:  musical toys, board books, videos, Elmo.  He was easily pleased by most anything in his box full of reinforcers which went where ever he went.  He rocked, he spun his string, he licked his palms.  Here all along I thought I was teaching Will something important and life-long when really it was quite the reverse.

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Terry and I found out I was pregnant right after I landed my first full time job teaching. My other 3 children were in middle school and very close in age. The age span between the youngest and Will is 12 years. Will was born October 15, 1999, about a week after my 42nd birthday. We named him William Robert.   William was his grandfather’s name and Robert was from another special friend. He was born at 5:06 pm at Meriter Hospital in Madison. We knew because of my age that I had a greater chance of having a Down Syndrome child, but we chose not to find out during my pregnancy. Will’s birth was without complications and I worked all day teaching. We did not know until the next day that he had Down Syndrome. He was little, but so were my other three children, James, Katie, and David. We were lucky that he did not have any other complications like heart problems, so we were able to take him home that next day.
Will went everywhere with us because our children were very involved with school and sports activities. His first music concert was when he was 3 days old. Our daughter, Katie, had a band concert at the High School Auditorium. This should have been an indicator of his love of music. Our lives continued on through his baby, toddler and and preschool age as a typical Down Syndrome child with delayed milestones. He never really crawled, he scooted, and he finally started walking when he was 18 months. He was very small for his age. Will loved to smile and was always a happy child. He would interact with babies and played with his brothers and sister and loved to tease our dog and cat.

willblog05willblog02Will went to early childhood at age 3 and daycare while I was at work. At about 3½ we started noticing that he was not talking very much. We were told that that was typical of children with Down Syndrome and not to worry. We had him in birth to 3 for physical therapy and speech therapy. Will would take a string and twirl it around and around and he was also rocking and making noise when he was sitting. He would play musical toys over and over again, many times it was the same short lyric. He was also not giving eye contact like he had been. We were informed by school personnel that these types of symptoms might be an indicator of autism. He was diagnosed by the time he was 5 and he had stopped talking except 1-2 words.
This added diagnosis was very difficult to accept. We did not have that much knowledge of autism and how that would affect his learning. We started to read and tried to do the programs they suggested for autistic children, but found out that much of his learning needed to be changed when he was younger. We had 3 children in high school/college so we decided to continue with public school and to provide the best we could for him. We noticed he had sensory issues and stopped touching animals including stuffed animals. It took a lot of behavior modification to get him to hold stuffed animals. Finally we used musical stuffed animals to change this. He is still unwilling to touch real animals, but lately he found u tube videos of barking dogs and that is helping him be less nervous about touching dogs.

willblog01willblog03Today, Will is an amazing 15 years old who loves Special Olympics bowling, running track/softball throw and his greatest love is music and computers. He is able to use Garage Band on his I Pad and is creating music during band and at home. He loves swimming, our boat, and the convertible where he wants to go fast all the time. He likes the air through his hands and face. Will is still non verbal, but is becoming more vocal with sounds. We are hoping some day to hear the words Mama and Dadda again. He uses a communication system and is able to tell what he wants through that technology. He is a happy young man who has a laugh that is so contagious he will make others around him laugh and smile. He is an uncle and loves to face-time with his nephew who is 4 months old and who also has an October birthday. He is helping out more at home putting his dishes up to the counter, doing small chores around the house, and loves seeing his brother, David, after school who is helping watch him. He has an incredible memory and remembers where things are even if he hasn’t been somewhere for a long time. Will is a special young man who has enriched our lives and the lives of his classmates and people he has met. Many of his classmates come up to him in the community and make a special effort to say hello to him. He continues to provide us with love and keeps us young.

Life doesn’t always gives us what we want, but God will only give us what he knows we can handle. The journey has had its twists and trials but we watch as he continues to grow into the wonderful adult he is becoming and continue to hope that he will be able to achieve all he is capable of achieving. We have been blessed with 4 children who are all different, but continue to show us the meaning of love and life.

Leanne and Terry,  Parents of Will

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A special thanks to all who have contributed to the Carrie Anciaux Photography Stories of Autism Annual Picnic.   This picnic invites the 47 families that I’ve photographed over the past 4 years together for an afternoon of fun.  Some families will meet for the first time while others reunite knowing that no judgement is placed on behaviors or appearances.   Love, support and friendship is offered at no cost.  Last year’s group released butterflies as a symbol of “spreading autism awareness and acceptance”.  This moment was definitely one of the best memories I have from that day last August.  If you’d like to support our picnic, please visit this site and donate $5, $10 or any amount you’d like.  Each $5 increment will earn a raffle ticket for a drawing to win a Carrie Anciaux Photography photo session & $100 photo credit or a Judy Endow unique print.  Drawing will be held May 1st.  Thank you to all who support and love someone on the autism spectrum!

-Carrie

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grace, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

Her head faces away while her index finger pounds they letters on the keyboard.   “I’m not good at this.”  her Mom, Vicki, translates for me.  She sits in her swing feeling connected to safety and sways back and forth slowly. Her face is sweet and beautiful but she has a fire in her eyes too.

Just like many others I photograph, she was wearing a new shirt for the occasion and had had a recent hair cut.  Just like so many others when I first arrive and unveil my heavy-duty camera, she felt a bit anxious.    And just like many others who step in front of my camera, Grace relaxed and let her true self be known.  Thank you, Grace, for being just like so many of us.

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Grace’s Story

“I want people to understand autism is an important aspect of my life.”

My name is Grace. I have a brother, sister, mom and dad. I will be 21 on June 4th, 2015.   I have lived in three places in my life. First with my family in Deforest until I was 15. Then I lived at ODTC for 2 years and I liked it there. It’s where I found myself after I had lost my way.

Now I live in Middleton with a roommate.  I go to Middleton High School. This year I am taking Geometry and Sociology. I’m happiest when I’m at school and staying busy and focused.   I talk by typing and using my iPad. I feel nervous when people don’t know I can’t talk because they probably think I am just stupid.  I know I am not stupid but it makes me nervous that I can’t talk to them and tell them that.

I am on a journey and I am getting better at living it just the way I am.   I want to be a person who helps others but I need to find myself first.   It is hard to be me and I struggle every day to not push people away.

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Things in People Which I Like:

-They talk to me

-They say that I am smart

-They ask me to type with them

– They are quiet

-They give me help when I need it.

-They don’t worry about catching autism

What I’d like you to know:

Listen carefully to people like me because we are not good at being who we were meant to be.

Grace

graceblog05We’re only 10 days into Autism Awareness month and our mission of raising funds for the annual Stories of Autism picnic is underway!  I’m so pleased to say friends and families are stepping up – Thank you for your donations so far both to me personally and to the fundraising site!  This picnic will invite all 47 participants including Grace and her family together for an afternoon of friendship, sensory-based activities and smiles.  Balloon animals, a bouncy house, painted faces, pony rides and T-shirts saying “I told my story.” are all covered by your gifts.  Each $5 gift increment enters the giver into a raffle to win a Carrie Anciaux Photography photo session & $100 credit OR a Judy Endow original print.   Drawing will be made on May 1st.  Thank you for your support!

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autism awareness day 2015 | stories of autism, carrie anciaux photography

Unreal. Can’t hardly believe it.

Today is April 2nd and the fourth “World Autism Awareness Day” where I’ll have the privilege of sharing images and stories on my blog from my experience as a volunteer photographer for the national Stories of Autism project.  Charlie Cotugno’s non-profit project focuses mainly on increasing awareness, acceptance and inclusion of individuals on the autism spectrum but it has done so much more.

A little background… In 2011, I was a speech language pathologist who had taken a hiatus from this career path to focus all of my efforts on building my photography business.  This is when I stumbled upon Charlie’s website.  I immediately felt a calling to get involved.  I wrote Charlie to inquire and hours later my “volunteer photographer” status was confirmed. I was about to unwrap the gift.

Looking back to this time, I was unaware of how things would unfold and develop. Like this project, like the impact it would have, like how it would come to bring joy. Lots and lots of joy.   I photographed 11 individuals in 2012.  I photographed 20 individuals in 2013.  I photographed 14 individuals in 2014.  And this year, I photographed 2 individuals.  All of these individuals have a medical Autism diagnosis.  All of them living lives affected by autism – some significantly affected, others not as much- but all of them with stories of courage intertwined with pain and gratitude and family. And every single one of them digging deep to share how autism affects their lives so others might understand a bit more.  Unwrapping the gift.

Each April, Autism Awareness month, Charlie updates the national Stories of Autism website to include the current year’s gallery (it’s LIVE now!).  You’ll find not only the individuals I have photographed this year there but also people from all of the world’s images and stories.   Please stop by and check this project out and read the unique and special stories.  The images are Beautiful. Powerful. Special.  Just like the individuals whose essence are captured.

Throughout April, my blog also highlights the participants (so bookmark this page, friends).   Images from their session as well as their personally written story are shared so that others might enjoy a glimpse into what it truly means to have autism.  The goal is always understanding and awareness and learning tolerance for how God made us.  How we are all different. Unique.   This year, you’ll meet Grace and Will, our newest ‘family’ members so please check back frequently right here.

amelia06In 2013, I photographed a little sweetheart named Amelia (above).  Amelia’s family shared her story but then found themselves feeling deeply connected to other families (who participated in the project) as they read stories on the blog.   There were similarities in the facts and emotions presented in the stories that made an impact on their hearts.  Clara, Amelia’s mother,  shared that she’d love to meet, in person, the other families to offer support and friendship.  It was this notion that gave birth to the idea of creating an event where ALL of the participants [and families] that I’d worked with over the years come together and meet.  And that’s just what we did.

This year will be the third annual Stories of Autism Picnic hosted for those families photographed by Carrie Anciaux Photography.  Last year we raised money to create an ever so memorable event including pony rides, a bouncy house, face-painting, balloon animals, and a butterfly release which symbolized the spreading of autism awareness into the world.   Via media attention, the goal of spreading autism awareness was attained but most importantly a sincere feeling of non-judged connectedness, community and understanding for those on the spectrum was nurtured… a rare feeling from what I’ve been told.

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We are already planning for this year’s event which will be held on August 8th.  Forty-seven families will be invited and each will bring a dish to share.  Friendships will be renewed and new faces will be welcomed with acceptance and love.  If we’re lucky, the weather will cooperate and so will the ponies.  The fun will last for 2 hours but the memories will last much longer.  All of this is because of the generosity of others.  I’m asking that you consider supporting our picnic event through a monetary donation.  Any gift is appreciated and will be recognized.   You may easily contribute through our My Event fundraising page here or directly to myself or a family you know who has participated in my project.  One last tiny incentive to those who donate in the month of April, Autism Awareness Month: One complimentary FAMILY SESSION + $100 PHOTO CREDIT will be randomly selected on May 1st.  Winner must be within 30 miles of Madison, WI.   Thank you in advance for your support!

Peace,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

calling class of 2015 | carrie anciaux photography, senior portrait photographer

Helllloooo Class of 2015!  From what I’ve heard the hallways are a buzzing … excitement about prom, of course but then also, “Who’s doing your senior pictures?  Well if you’re still in decision mode, take a look-see at the future seniors below.  These young people have been especially hand-picked to represent my business as Class of 2015 Senior Models.  They know first-hand what it’s like to work with me from pre-session questions like “What do I wear?”,  to the in-person ordering on the big screen, to the delivery of a beautifully packaged box of stunning portraits.  They will tell you all about the ‘experience’ of the photo session and how easy, relaxed and super fun it was.   Best of all, use their name when booking your senior portrait session (by July 1st)  and receive a $50 credit towards your order- not too shabby! Hope to see you this summer!

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henry, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

Last but certainly not least.  Henry’s story of autism wraps up April, Autism Awareness Month, by exploding the cute-o-meter!   Henry can charm your socks off and also happens to be the little brother of Owen, whom you’ve met earlier on the blog.   Enjoy his story and images and thank you for supporting the families by visiting the blog this past month!

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Henry’s Story

Henry came to us four years ago. Again another surprise; all of my babies were born early. He spent some time in the hospital, luckily with nothing too major. Henry came home to quickly become the third child. Spending a lot of time on mom’s hip, Henry got all the love and attention the baby of the house gets. With two older siblings, one of which with ASD, you do what you can to make the house go. At about eighteen months of age my husband and I were noticing that Henry was delayed. He wasn’t very verbal. No mama, dada, no, yes, dog, cow, nothing, and boy did we try. It’s been said that the third one takes the longest because everyone does the work for them. However, this was different.  With his brother’s recent diagnosis of ASD and learning more about the early signs of autism, we became more concerned and contacted our pediatrician. Birth to 3 Services came out to work with Henry.We tried anything and everything to get him to communicate with us in any way. Several screenings were done, hearing tests, and finally, after our third appointment at the Waisman center Henry was placed on the Autism spectrum. He was three years old.

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Again we get to embrace a different parenting style with our little boy. We were relieved that there wasn’t anything more to concern us. “I got this”, I said to myself. Quickly we contacted the needed services for Henry to get him started with intensive therapy. Henry is a loveable boy who loves odd objects. We have a box of different things he has attached himself to. They vary from a Lego doll head, to a label from a chair, even a Keurig coffee filter. He’ll attach to different items and boy if it’s lost, you will find it. Some days, that’s all he needs to regulate himself. 

He loves to choose his own clothing. Some days it’s his stripes, some days it’s his black. Most often these outfits don’t make sense, but it works. He’s dressed. And he always loves to wear his basketball pajamas. Henry can point out the ABC’s to you without a flaw, count, knows all his colors; he’s pretty on top of it. He may not be able to communicate very well, but he is very smart. Henry has dimples, a smile, and gives you a hug that will make your worst day melt away in a heartbeat. Henry also loves art, and is very content with painting ceramic pieces. Many in which he gives as gifts to his therapists or teachers. Maybe I have another artist on my hands? Maybe a brain surgeon?

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Looking back at my life and current parenting strategy, I’ve learned many things. Now, when I see that screaming child in the store, I’ll look the mom in the face and say, “Been there, done that”. When I hear that child in church blurting out verbal sounds randomly, I say a prayer instead of turning around with a scowl. “I sure hope and pray that child gets the help he needs,” I think to myself. When I see a child carrying around a nasty blanket I say to myself, “Yup, sensory. Probably a real challenge to wash that thing”. And most importantly, I’ve let go of the outfits. If they’re dressed, they’re dressed. Some days you need your stripes, some days you need your black.

Renee, mother of Henry

You guys did it!  My heart is so full of gratitude and joy because as friends, family and supporters  you’ve filled the red of our goal meter on our fundraising page!  This picture below is from last year’s event but you can expect an even larger group of families this year. And yes, there will be ponies!  A big hug and thanks to each of you who donated to our Carrie Anciaux Photography | Stories of Autism Picnic fundraiser.  (Any additional monies will be donated to a charity of our choice that we vote upon at the August 2nd picnic.)

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