We're excited to announce a new idea to open this year's PhotoMidwest Festival: the Focus Weekend, a concentrated weekend of workshops, discussions and photoshoots. With access to three days of photography events, and photography professionals of all walks, the Focus Weekend is the single biggest chance for you to refine your craft and connect with others looking to do the same.

A Focus Weekend pass is required for all events. Passes are are available for all three days (Friday - Sunday),  the two weekend days (Saturday and Sunday only), or the new rush ticket 1-day (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday). Tickets to individual sessions are not available. When purchasing a pass, you will be able to select morning and afternoon sessions. Passes also include admission to both evening film screenings.

Focus Weekend Passes are available with discounts for current PhotoMidwest / CPM members. Some sessions have limited enrollments; and event registration is first come, first serve. Register now!

Focus Weekend Overview


Morning Session


Afternoon Session



9:00 - 12:00

1:00 - 4:00

6:00 - Late


All attendees: Portfolio School
Jurors: Wally Mason, Sarah Stankey, and Paul Henning

Alec Soth Tour and Film “Somewhere to Disappear”

Brewery Photoshoot
Ale Asylum


iPhoneography Workshop
Suzanne Rose

Evening Reception & Saul Leiter’s Film “In No Great Hurry”

Street Photoshoot: Farmer’s Market

Craig Schreiner et. al.


Approximately 12 Noon: Landscape Photoshoot, Malcom Stack Foundation

5 pm: Cave of the Mounds Photoshoot

Plus... be sure to join us for the public PhotoMidwest Festival Opening Reception and Gallery Walk with PhotoMidwest Invitational juror Wally Mason on Thursday, September 25 at 6:00 PM in the Overture Center for the Arts, Promenade Lounge.

Focus Weekend Details

Friday Morning Session Options

Ale Asylum Brewery Photoshoot, Chris Riphenburg / Bill Pielsticker
Friday Morning Session, 9:00 AM @ PhotoMidwest Studio

Photographers are always looking for inspiration, and the recently expanded Ale Asylum brewery near the Dane County Regional Airport offers plenty of views to help inspire photographers. The working portion of the brewery has several 100 barrel tanks for fermenting and conditioning the beer, tall ceilings, lots of natural light, mazes of pipes, and a serpentine bottling line.

Guided by PhotoMidwest President (and beer aficionado) Bill Pielsticker, this special-access tour is hosted by head brewer Chris Riphenburg, with access to nearly all parts of the plant.

Note: Participants will meet at the PhotoMidwest Studio and carpool to the brewery. Participants should bring their photo equipment (including tripods, and macro lenses) and wear footwear suitable for wet and slippery surfaces.

Friday Afternoon Session

A Public Portfolio Review, with something for everyone to learn...
Portfolio Review "School," Wally Stevens, Sarah Stankey & Paul Henning, 1:00 PM @ PhotoMidwest Studio

Professional portfolio reviews are widely regarded by many artists, photographers included, as an important (if not pivotal) event in their development as artists. Not only does a review provide the benefit of suggestions on improving your work, you just might discover ideas for new areas to explore, opportunities to exhibit work, and suggestions on marketing your work as well as connecting with others in your field.

But the process can be as opaque and intimidating as it can be beneficial. So many artists, unsure of who to talk to or where to start, never realize the potential benefits that a traditional one-on-one portfolio review might offer.

To help open everyone's eyes to the process, the PhotoMidwest Festival is offering a special Portfolio Review "School" - a public review by our three-member panel of professional reviewers. Come and learn what each reviewer is looking for, and why, as they spend the afternoon viewing, discussing, and perhaps debating the strengths and weaknesses of several member portfolios. A question-and-answer session will follow the public reviews. 

(Note: All 3-day attendees will attend the "school," so don't worry if it doesn't show up on the registration form. If you sign up for Friday, it includes the Portfolio School.)

Portfolio Review "School" Panelists

 Wally Mason

Wally Mason

Wally Mason - In addition to serving as juror of the PhotoMidwest Festival 2014 Invitational, Mr. Mason is soon to become the director of the Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska. Mason has been the Director/Chief Curator of the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin since 2007. From 1996-2007 he was the Director of the University of Maine Museum of Art. He has curated over 90 exhibitions. Prior to moving to the museum world he taught at Phillips Academy, Western Michigan University, University of Vermont and University of South Florida. Mr. Mason holds a BA from Beloit College and an MFA from Indiana University.

 Sarah Stankey

Sarah Stankey

Sarah Stankey received her BFA in photography from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2013. She is now living and working in Madison, Wisconsin. Her photographs have been exhibited in group shows throughout Wisconsin and in New York City, including the Perspectives Gallery and Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee, the Overture Center in Madison and Soho Photo Gallery in New York. Sarah’s work has also been featured on numerous online platforms including Art Photo Index, ND Magazine, Aint-Bad Magazine, Lenscratch and F-Stop Magazine.

 Paul Henning

Paul Henning

Paul H. Henning has been in the professional photography business for 40 years, and in the stock photography industry for the past 29. Mr. Henning was a professional corporate location photographer for 15 years. In 1985 he co-founded and later directed Third Coast Stock Source, a Milwaukee-based general subject stock picture library. After a couple years as a manager in London's stock industry, in 1999 he returned to Milwaukee and founded Stock Answers LLC, a consultancy that works with both stock photographers and picture libraries.

Interested in being reviewed? We're looking for a few brave souls to be subjects of the review. This special opportunity is at no charge to you if selected. Contact PhotoMidwest President Bill Pielsticker (bill@sandhillaudiosystems.com) for more information.

Saturday Morning Session

Farmer's Market Photoshoot, Guided by Franklynn Peterson
Saturday Morning Session, 6:30 AM @ Capital Square

The Dane County Farmers’ Market is the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country, meaning that all of the vendors, about 300 throughout the year roughly 160 participating every Saturday from April  through the first week in November, must grow or make their own products. No reselling is allowed. Thousands of people attend this iconic Madison market every week.

Guided by veteran photographer Franklynn Peterson, this photoshoot will explore the full range of experiences of the market, from the vendors setting up through the throngs of attendees. Participants should gather at the Starbucks (1 East Main) on the Capital Square prior to heading across the street to the market.

Saturday Afternoon Sessions

Portable Mindset: Fine Art iPhoneography - Suzanne Rose

Saturday Afternoon Session #1, 1:00 PM @ PhotoMidwest Studio


During this workshop Ms. Rose will share her complete ‘Portable Mindset’ of iPhoneography by revealing how to develop a concrete ‘Photographic Practice’ from capture to print, through innovative workflows with a fine art approach.

Please arrive with iPhones fully charged, and preloaded with the required camera and editing apps. A full list of required apps and equipment suggestions will be sent directly to participants via email prior to the session. In addition to classroom time, field work will be part of this workshop. All iPhones and iPads are welcome. Open to all skill levels.

 Suzanne Rose

Suzanne Rose

Suzanne Rose is a nationally recognized artist that practices the fine art of photography as a ‘mindful minimalist’ - in style and philosophy. She is a National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts (NFAA) fellow and a five-time recipient of the Wisconsin Arts Board fellowship for individual artists.

Educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Suzanne has always remained close to her Midwestern roots by photographing thematic bodies of work of family and community that explore memory, purpose and place.

Photojournalism: Changes & Challenges - Craig Schreiner et al

Saturday Afternoon Session #2, 1:00 PM @ Tamarack Gallery

Access to documentary images and the stories they tell is practically unlimited
today. However, photojournalists and documentary photographers have needed to
navigate waves of the rapid change in what they’re being asked to produce and how
their work is funded. How have photographers adapted to these changes? What have
been some of their greatest challenges? What opportunities do new media have to
offer photographers interested in documenting and narrating important stories? A
panel of photojournalists moderated by photographer and teacher Craig Schreiner
will explore these questions and what they mean for photographers interested in
documentary work. This panel will leave participants with a better understanding of
photography and its role in the documentary media landscape.

Sunday Session

Malcolm Stack Foundation Photoshoot 
Sunday Morning Session, leave at approximately 12 noon @ PhotoMidwest Studio


This is the first of a two-tiered photoshoot designed to give photographers the opportunity to interpret two very different landscapes. The first stop is at the Malcolm Stack Foundation property near Ridgeway in Iowa County. The Foundation land is home to spectacular pine relics, soaring sandstone cliffs, numerous rock outcrops and shallow caves and rock shelters. The rocky outcrops have protected the pine relics from fire, resulting in quite aged trees and allowing for regeneration.

This photoshoot will be guided by a local expert Fred Madison, now retired from the Wisconsin Geological Survey and Natural History.

Participants in the Stack Foundation Photoshoot will then travel to the Cave of the Mounds after a late lunch stop. More on this photoshoot, below. Note: due to the travel times, only the Cave of the Mounds Photoshoot is available for the afternoon session if choosing the Stack Foundation morning session.



Cave of the Mounds Special Access Photoshoot 
Sunday Afternoon Session, Approx. 5:00 PM @ Cave of the Mounds


Cave of the Mounds, a National Natural Landmark, has been identified as the most beautiful cave in the upper Midwest, and is commonly referred to as the jewel box of America’s major show caves for the variety and delicacy of its formations.

Attending this guided photoshoot, we'll have special access to the caves after hours, allowing use of both tripods and small flash units (speed lights) to create some spectacular landscape and macro imagery simply not available to regular tours. In addition to the great guides at the Cave of the Mounds, this photoshoot will be guided by a local expert Fred Madison, now retired from the Wisconsin Geological Survey and Natural History.

Although participants in Sunday morning sessions 1 and 2 may sign up to join the Cave of the Mounds photoshoot, the program is intended as a continuation (i.e. comparison and contrast) to the morning photoshoot at the Stack Foundation Property, as Cave of the Mounds is relatively nearby in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin.