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the boy who fought on

I recently blogged about an extraordinary family and the incredible spirit of Ryan, the son and younger brother. Many people since then have asked me how he is doing, and I’m so sad to say that he passed away on February 19th, which happened to be his 16th birthday. I was honored to celebrate his life yesterday at an achingly beautiful service with hundreds of people who loved him. Ryan was featured in this article shortly after his death, and the unbelievable courage, humor and sense of self this boy possessed is highlighted there. His motto, inspired by the USC Trojans football team he adored, was “Fight on!” That attitude of determination and sacrifice in the midst of one’s own hardships will continue to live on in the countless people who have been touched by this amazing boy, whose greatest hope was that no child would ever have to go through what he had endured. Donations to his record-breaking Relay for Life campaign will continue to be accepted in Ryan’s honor through this link, already visited by thousands of people around the world, both strangers and those who knew and loved him.

After the service yesterday, everyone was given a balloon to release in honor of Ryan. His sister, Mallory, held the sole purple balloon, representing her beloved brother and hope for the future. The red and yellow balloons corresponded to the USC colors and white was chosen to thank the angels for gently guiding Ryan home. It was a poignant symbol of his life, and the path that he has now blessedly taken toward peace. 

♥ t.

Ryan Davidson  |  February 19, 1993 – February 19, 2009


Jennifer Chaney - Oh Tara, that is heartbreaking. Thank you so much for posting it and sharing it with us all. Your photos are wonderful and I’m so glad the parents had you to help document their amazing son.

Sarah - Wow, Tara. Beautiful image, and such a beautiful family. He sounds like such an amazing person. My heart breaks for his family.

natasha g - What a beautiful way to celebrate his life…

Sheila McKay - What a beautiful picture Tara. My heart aches for the family of Ryan my heart goes out to them.

~SarahInParis~ - Oh Tara thankyou for sharing this. So incredibly sad for the whole family but what a wonderful gift for them. The balloon image is simply beautiful which I am sure reflects Ryan’s life. Thanks for making me stop and appreciate my little cherubs and realise how lucky I am they are healthy! All my love to you and Ryan’s family! xx

Dana F - What a touching and inspiring image to honor a courageous young man. You can actually feel the love in that image. Many blessings to you and his family.

Brie - thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures and the blessings of ryan’s life with me. my heart and prayers go out to all who knew him and miss him dearly. thank you for your celebration of all that life brings through your great pictures.

Shuva Rahim - Tara, thank you for sharing this story with us. God bless you and this family.

LaurieK. - What a beautiful picture. May God bless and keep him.

tara - and thank you, care, for being the one to share every part of that experience with me. i feel so blessed to have been by your side through every inspirational moment, both heartbreaking and uplifting. i’m so very glad that God spoke to your heart that day…

carrie ann - t, thank you for capturing this awesome moment as the bluest sky was filled with a confetti of bittersweet colors. the Davidson family is blessed to have the photos you’ve taken to cling to when their hours are dark and their hearts need comfort. thank you, too, for being a dear friend… you’re truly one in a million-

spunky ballerina | madison children’s photographer

This beautiful child is named Eve and is three years old, going on 27. Her momma is Jen of the fabulous Madison Mom Appeal blog…local friends will definitely want to check her out! Eve literally shoots light and energy out of her eyeballs, I swear. She is a tiny firecracker, made purely of sweet sassiness, belly laughs and self-confidence. It was a real joy to spend some play time in Jen’s lovely and stylish home. Along the way, a small snack of melon and sliced turkey was enjoyed by Eve (quite typical and encouraged during photo sessions with me). She was mildly shocked and highly amused to discover that her dog and my little boy have the same name. And I left feeling very certain that I have found another little darling to add to Simon’s “future wife” list of possibilities. Thanks for the fun, girlies!

Also, I am trying out something new with blog comments (thanks, Cindy, for the fabulous idea!): my clients will receive a beautiful print on me if there are at least 25 comments for the blog post of their images. Woo hoo! So let’s get Eve and Jen a nice Valentine’s Day gift, shall we? Let the commenting begin…

♥ t.


this little diva has some very fancy moves
time for some snugglin’

forever family, act one | madison children’s photographer | tara kuhlow photography - […] he arrived was his charming and vivacious big sister Eve (the spunky ballerina first blogged about here). My time spent with this growing family was bursting with joy and giggles, the air thick with […]

welcome home, little musa | madison children’s photographer | tara kuhlow photography - […] with more shots of “the little moose”, as big sister Eve (who could forget my “spunky ballerina“?) lovingly calls him. Can’t wait to share more […]

Miguel - OH MY GOODNESS, Jen! These are the SWEETEST pro photos I have ever seen! I’ve looked around at different photo studios for several years and I’ve liked a couple, but these are just precious. My fave is the one of you both (time for snugglin). Keep on keepin’ on, Jen! and thank you Tara for sharing your gift.

Maria Hays - Tara, she is so super cute. Love that her personality shines through in your amazing pictures!

Dana F - I love the whimsy in her expressions in these images!

Looks like an incredibly fun session!

Belinda - Amazing, my friend!

Sandy B - the fact that you put the last one at the “end” made the surprise delightful. I love the one with the polka dots on the wall. What a cutie.

Shannon Seip - I love the sparkle in her eyes and how Tara’s captured the essence of playfulness!

Holli Kirchner - My fave was #3, but they were all just beautiful!

Lisa - What beautiful photos of a gorgeous ballerina! Just too precious for words!

carrie ann - Sweet sassiness exudes from this little lady- great job capturing this beauty in action!

Sarah Cahalane - Absolutely LOVE the tongue sticking out!!! What great moments you were able to capture!

Anne - These are adorable! Eve has grown up so much since I last saw her…I can’t decide which is my favorite picture, but I think it might be #5. 🙂

Judy Werner - Wow! You did it again, cousin! My favorite is of this precious little girl and her momma…..I absolutely LOVE those shots! You are one amazing and talented woman. I am still waiting to see what it costs to get you to come to Montana and shoot my family. Hugs and kisses to you!

Carrie D - dancing on her bed! love them!

Kate Bast - Beautiful. Sweet Eve and her mega personality just jump out of these shots.

Jessica - I LOVE these pics!!! Beautiful and FUN!

Jen Sadkovich - These are absolutely wonderful! Eve has changed a lot since I last saw her. The pictures really capture a sense of playfulness and sweetness at the same time. LOVE THEM!

Peg - My favorites are the zoom shots of Eve’s eyes but the dancing one with her big round eyes and tongue sticking out is especially cute. Nice work!

Kristie - Tara – these are so fantastic!! Eve is such a doll!! I have to agree with Kim… that last shot ROCKS!! What a fun session to share!!

Heidi Kenney - Wow! Love these pics!

Amy Mueller - Wow – it was for a magazine shoot, right? That what it seems like. Awesome, awesome, awesome!! Eve’s SO cute!

Catherine - These are beautiful pictures of Eve! I love her curls and tutu!

James - I have to say that the fifth picture is my favorite, but these are all incredible shots.

Anina - Fantastic job once again photographs that tell a story. A beautiful fun girl is what i read in the pictures. I cannot wait to see your next project.

natasha g - What a little sweetheart! You can tell her personality right through the pictures. Awesome job Tara…

Kate Jablonski - I have never seen such nice pictures of her before…unbelievable!!!

Mary Jablonski - I always thought my grandaughter was beautiful, but you made her look stunning. I am in love all over again…

christy - I just love all of these so much!! You captured so much cuteness!! I love the progression from silly playful girl, to in mamas arms, then crashed out on the couch! Beautiful work ; )

Holly Mercier - These images are as sweet as sugar. An endearing look into the little dancer’s world…

Ellen - The tongue is way too cute!! Reminds of two kids I know. Go 25!!! If I comment multiple times, does that count?!?! 🙂

kim donohue - Love them all but gotta say the last one rocks!!! Great job my friend.

Tamara Lalanne - Oh these are ADORABLE! What a doll. Love them all. The third is a favorite along with the bw on the couch. The last one is classic too. It looks like you wore her out. Great job!!!

Jennifer Chaney - These are awesome! As I scrolled down I kept changing my mind as to which was my favorite, but then I got to the last one and there is no contest… that is the cutest little shot! Love ’em all!

the power of 10 | madison children’s photographer

In honor of my beautiful firstborn, Avery Hazel, and her three best friends turning ten years old, I offered them a fun and relaxed photo shoot. My intention was to encourage the girls to recognize and celebrate the amazing, intelligent, kind-hearted, strong young women they are growing to be and the loving, intense bond they are blessed to share with each other. I find that parents (myself included) tend to overlook this stage of our children’s lives, photo-wise. There are often big gaps in albums between the sweet innocence of baby, toddler and early childhood years and graduation portraits. The “tween” years will go past so quickly, as have the ones before this, and sooner than I like these girls will be women. My goal was to capture a moment in time, so that they can vividly remember the delight of 10-year-old silliness with your friends…the beauty and magic of girlhood.

My sincere hope is that they can look in the mirror and see what the rest of the world does…unique and fabulous girls who will take on the world someday, both individually and together. To Avery, Grace, Kailey and Malaika: I am so very proud of you all. Thank you for all the joy and giggles we shared as I snapped away during your shoot. Most of all, thank you for being such incredible examples of the meaning of “girl power.”

























sweet sisters | madison children’s photographer | tara kuhlow photography - […] may recognize Grace (the big sister) from my session with Avery and her BFFs here. She is a beautiful, funny and kind-hearted girl and so when offered the chance to photograph her […]

Liu - Tara,
Wow, you are amazing in terms of your talent and embrace of the human mind, body, and soul! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and the wonderful photos you’ve captured… most of all the photos of your daughter Avery and her BFFs (as they turn 10), including my niece Malaika. Reading your intro to their photos has left me with tears, of joy:-). You also have an art with words. I only wish we lived closer (our little boy is turning 5 months on May 31st). Someday when we’re in Madison we’ll have to schedule a photo shoot!
Thanks for entering my niece Malaika’s life.

Sandy B - What beautiful girls. I think about my friends at this age and how wonderful it would have been to have had these kinds of memories. great job!

Jenny Coan - These pictures are phenomenal!!!! Your daughter and her friends are precious!!!! These pictures really tell a story!

Jessie Kileen - Wow — these are moving images — creative, fun, interesting and above all, an homage to your daughter. You really are in the right field, Tara.

Belinda - Amazing shoot Tara! I love what you wrote about it too. Lovely.

Nikki S - Okay… not that it’s your goal to be famous – I know you are doing what you love, but I’m looking at the work of someone with an amazing gift. I’m talking Annie Leibovitz greatness here. I’m SO incredibly proud of you. The emotion you capture is so real and so alive and so touching. All of this said… I’m seriously considering flying you out to shoot Kevin’s 8 year-old and his 99 year-old grandfather. I’d love to do this for his birthday in July. We should discuss this. xo, Nik

Ellen - These are the best thing I could have seen today. I have been sitting here feeling all sad about my “baby” girl turning two and wondering how that could possibly be. But these pictures have made me feel a level of excitement for what is to come. So, thank you for the stunning photos and the brighter day. Definitely mission accomplished. 🙂

Anina - The pictures are so powerful, capturing the girls personalities and the moment–you are a fantastic photographer. Thank you for giving Malaika the opportunity to treasure her friendships that she can re-visit when she turns 100 years old! Not only are the photos great, Malaika’s experience of the photo-shoot was phenomenal. Her first sentence out of the millions that followed about the photo shoot was, “I had the best time of my life today, it was great fun!” Thank you so much Tara for giving the girls this experience and the outstanding photos.

SarahInParis - Hey Tara what fabulous images and no doubt they will be treasured by everyone over the years. A really fabulous celebration session!! Beautiful work! xx

Laura - You have given these girls a gift they will treasure forever. You’ve captured an essence that they will hold in their hearts and reflect on as they learn and grow – hopefully together! – and turn into teenagers. Thank you, thank you, thank you. For the pictures but more – for the love and the “power of 10” that will last forever.

carrie ann - SERIOUSLY!!! These are making me tear up- for the beauty of them, for how special these girls are, for my own little ones in 7 & 10 years! You are a fantabulous photo lady and Momma!

ryan the great

Not long ago I had the absolute honor of meeting the amazing Davidson family…Kirby, Amy, Ryan, Mallory and Shiloh, the Yorkie. They belong to the same church as my best friend and fellow photographer, Carrie, and she and I were welcomed into their home with huge smiles and graciousness. The positive energy and joyful spirit of this family is made even more remarkable by their story.

Ryan, at 15 years old, has been living with brain cancer for the past 9 years. He has endured so much health-wise, yet remains grounded and full of abundant faith and hope. The family has recently received news that his most current tumor is inoperable and that all medical options have been exhausted. Shortly after our photo session, Ryan’s condition took a negative turn and he is now on Hospice Care. We are all praying for his continued comfort and peace.

Ryan’s wish throughout all of his struggles has been that no other child should ever have to go through what he has suffered. No child should have to deal with cancer. He recently set a goal of raising $15,000 for Relay for Life and surpassed it easily through donations from friends, family and others who have heard his story. Please visit Ryan’s Relay for Life site here to read more about the incredible strength and courage of this boy and to help him fight to end cancer.










Nana - How amazing it must have been to witness this love first-hand. It is wonderfully evident the love they all share! It made me tear up! Great pics, Tara!

Laura - What an amazing gift you gave this family! The love they all share is so evident in the pictures you captured. You will live forever in their hearts and help them to never forget the true essence of their family. You have been blessed – how lucky you are!

stripey socks | madison family photographer

My dear friend Kristi (who also happens to be the gorgeous and fabulously-talented graphic designer who created my logo) was kind enough to invite me to shoot her family recently. Her sweet and silly boys (all three of them!) were a joy to photograph and remained very patient with my crazy ideas. There were big, fat snowflakes falling as we headed outside and although it was cold, the entire family persevered and we were able to get some shots in the good ol’ Wisconsin out-of-doors, too. Thanks very much for the hot cocoa and candy cane, guys!







Anina - I can see the different personalities in the photographs which shows great talent; glad you are sharing your gift.

Nikki - I’m a huge fan of your work, Tara. It’s just great.

LAURA JIRSA DILLE - Your blog is very cool.

Bonnie - Fabulous photos! You are very talented and have such a creative eye. I am so proud of you.

elizabeth - beautiful family! beautiful photos!
I am sure your friend will treasure these for a long time.


Ellen - Makes me almost think WI isn’t too bad in the winter! Great pics!

Marti - Tara,

I love seeing your photos! Mike and I are getting excited to update our family picture soon. We will have to talk soon.

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