Excelsior Family Portrait Photography

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Senior Sessions aren’t what they used to be, and we love it!

I never remember my high school senior photos being as fun as they are now! I feel old even admitting that while high school felt like yesterday, it will be nearly 20 years here soon….ya…don’t grow up kids, before you know it you will be mid 30’s and wondering WTH happened to time! Anyways….these senior sessions with Ava & Liam were pure perfection and we couldn’t not share!!


We chose the arboretum as our backdrop and it did not disappoint! We love all the texture and amazing colors in the fall that just really pop. Just keep scrolling, you will see!!! 🙂

Also, if you haven’t been to the Landscape Arboretum, GO you won’t be disappointed!

Such a fun senior session and Ava was a natural in front of the camera! Enjoy your senior year girl!!


Liam was also a natural in front of the camera! We loved his shooting his senior session in and around Excelsior. As the oldest of 3 boys, Liam really set the bar for his little brothers to rock their sessions in the near future!

Liam, who mainly lives in athletic gear playing Baseball & Hockey, chose to show off another side of himself, and we loved it, of course his Momma too! 🙂

Here’s to wishing for warmer weather and lot’s of Senior Sessions in our future!!


Studio 220 Photography | The Landscape Arboretum | Excelsior


Well hey there! Guess who just got family photos done? The Butlers! For the first time in years we actually got our yearly family session captured ahead of time. Even more amazing… it was AWESOME! Thinking back on years past we have waited until the end of summer, battled with sports schedules and school year prep. We’ve sweated our way through 100 degree sessions. We’ve cried our way through outfit woes. Literally, the family photo session was a thing of dread for us. Until now….

Family Photos Excelsior
Historic Water Street, Excelsior

To commemorate our recent move of the studio to Excelsior we wanted to highlight the city in the photos. We got to work with Jamie from Studio 220 who totally nailed it! She achieved rockstar status when Tim turned to me said “I’m actually enjoying this”. More surprising yet, the kids were angels. That just doesn’t happen during the yearly family portrait session for us!

Family Photos Excelsior
Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail

One of our favorite things to do on a Saturday is to bike the trail. Sometime’s it’s to Olive’s for Pizza and other weekends we venture west to Victoria. It’s an easy ride for the kids and the scenery can’t be beat.

Family Photos Excelsior

We will have the honor of being featured in an upcoming issue of SouthLake Neighbors Magazine and they wanted a few shots in our home. Shooting here was comfortable for the kids and a natural environment for us to capture the family!

Family Photos Excelsior

Meet The Butlers

Tim and I met at a photography studio way back when! There was a mutual intrigue as we quickly found that we couldn’t possibly be more opposite! We became best friends while working together and I’m blessed to say that has never changed. Tim moved on from the company to pursue a career in Sales and now is a Regional Sales Director for Catalant out of Boston. Sally launched La Vie Photography in 2005 and together the founded Studio 220 Photography in 2007. The new company was lovingly named after the birthday of our oldest son, Noah, born on February 20th, 2008.

The Crew

I don’t think Tim and I every would have thought we would end up with 4 babes but our large, chaotic family is EVERYTHING! As mentioned, Noah is our first. He turned 11 in February and is a 5th grader at Minnewashta Elementary. He is a 2nd year violinist, loves reading, football and anything that can be found behind his iPad screen. Cooper (9), is obsessed with sports, football being at the top of his list. He plans on being drafted by the Packers at age 14! Dream big, little guy! Quinn (5) is the angel of the family. He’s loyal, wise as hell, and the glue the holds the family together. He attends preschool at Westwood. And then there’s Liv (almost 3). She is strong, independent, hilarious… everything we didn’t know our family needed.

Family Photos Excelsior

We are settled in at the new studio location and are beyond excited to plant our professional roots in this community. Come and visit us at our new studio at 332 3rd Street, Excelsior. We hope to get to work with you this year!


As a neighbor, mom of 3 boys, and female entrepreneur my girl Jenny Shawgo holds a special place in my heart. She’s been on the friend list for years but since moving to her neck of the woods she’s become one of my favorite go to’s for a good laugh, a much needed cry and ever for a glass of rosé!

Each year at ice out this crazy clan subjects themselves to their very own polar plunge on their Lake Minnewashta beach. However, 2019 will go down in the record books… all FIVE Shawgos took the plunge (even mom who is usually on cheer and towel duty)!

Before we got suited up we spent a few minutes capturing family photos and I absolutely love how these photos capture the spirit of this family. This tribe is all about family, fun and friends. Can’t you see why?

Jenny is a managing director for Beauty Counter. She’s my go-to skincare dealer and is ever working to educate me on health and wellness. I’ll be honest, I’m quite the project! Like my husband, Tim, Tom work in sales for Salesforce as a Strategic Account Manager . Needless to say we adore everything about this family and have way too much in common with them.

The Shawgo Family

Meet the boys: Tucker (12), Tyler (10), and Beckett (7). You can find them in one of two places at all times; the hockey rink or the lake depending on the month! Despite their unique personalities and individual strengths you can see their tight brother bond. There’s always lots of love shared amongst theses three.

Now on to the fun stuff! If you haven’t ever dived into a recently thawed lake just for the fun of it I don’t recommend it!!! I kid. Actually, no… it’s actually really unenjoyable!!! But if you’re brave, love yourself a great tradition and don’t care about personal comfort this is for you.

Picnic in the snow? Why not!
Can you find Tom in the last photo?

My giant thanks to the Shawgos for letting me play with you your clan. I love these photos and LOVE you!

Have you booked your family session yet? We would love to work with your family. Visit our WEBSITE for information and samples of our work.


The struggle is real! The photographer search begins. You need to do a family session because it’s been 3 years. You know a co-worker from work knows a girl. And your best friend from high school has a photography business. Yelp gave you a handful of highly rated professionals… With endless choices, why choose Studio 220 for your family portraits?

We Capture Genuine Moments & True Emotions

We believe that a single photograph can capture all of the emotion you feel when you look at your daughter as you tuck her into bed. Or what if looking at a photo of your son at the age of 7 (with that awful haircut and mischievous grin) could take you back to an entire season of his childhood?  Of all the things you invest in when it comes to your family, is there anything more valuable than capturing this moment in time for you to forever remember all that it meant to you?  We think not!

We Help You Find Your Why

Family Portrait

Let’s start here. Why do you want to hire a photographer? Are you looking to get your holiday card out to 200 swooning friends and family?  Or perhaps you’re looking to capture all of you; the smiles, the tears, the holiday card and the epic outtakes. Maybe you want to capture what your everyday life looks like through a lifestyle focused session (LOVE these)!  Whether more traditional or no holds barred is your thing, we are crazy about story-telling and would love to capture your family’s life.  Whatever story you want told we will capture and bring these images to life, which leads us into our next why…

Family Portraits
View Our Portrait Gallery HERE

Your Family. Your Story.

One more reason to choose Studio 220 is that we are committed to building lifelong relationships with our clients. As a result we are passionate about getting to know you and capturing that in imagery. To do this we simply ask questions. In addition to providing you endless resources to plan and prepare for your session, we will also ask for you to engage in the process. What makes your family sing? What do you do with a day off together. And perhaps our favorite, what does every day look like?

We Are Fun!

Need we say more! We are a team of artists who love kids, story-telling and photography!  Because of this you will have no other choice then to have fun right along with us! In addition, we have a few tricks up our sleeve to make the whole group as excited as they would be for the tilt-a-whirl, cotton candy and unicorns!


We Offer Fail Proof Planning Resources To Each of Our Clients

We know that preparing for your portraits can be flat out painful. Styling, scheduling, shopping, and all that goes into a session. Even knowing the end result would make it worth it, you collectively mourn the coming of your yearly portraits (are we right?). That is why we have everything covered from day 1!

Pre-Session Planning Consultation:  Our portrait team is crazy about setting you up for success.  We offer a complimentary planning consultation in studio or over the phone to discuss everything from outfits to timelines.  In order for this to be a connected experience that results in genuine moments during your shoot we want to get to know your family’s unique story so we can best capture it.  We’ve crafted a pre-session workflow that includes a planning guide, clothing tips and tricks, questionnaires to hear your wishes and hopes.  All-in-all you will be totally set up for a successful shoot!

The Guided Artwork Experience: We invite each our clients to the studio for a same day (or same week) viewing party. That’s right, it’s a party! The juice boxes will be flowing, the music playing and Kleenex waiting. Rather than viewing your images for the first time on your smart phone we want you to take in the emotion of your images. Let’s be clear: This is NOT a sales session. This is us bringing your portrait experience full circle.  Using our professional skills and services to guide you through the “what now”. 

Stress Free Sessions:  Let’s be honest, the stress levels skyrocket to all new levels the day of your yearly session! Your family portraits can be a downright near root canal experience. Who wants to sign up for that?  A huge part of our training and innate skill set is loving and working with families in the best and worst of conditions.  Tantrums, runny noses, the kid you can’t actually get a photo of with his feet planted on the ground… yeah, we’ve seen it all.  No matter how your family performs we will make sure you are enjoying the session and everyone leaves happy.  Can you imagine?!?  

It Gets Real sometimes. We will laugh right along with you! #outtake #boyswillbeboys

No Session Fees: We really just said that! You’re not paying to hang out with a photographer for an hour, why should we charge you for that? Instead, you’re investing in capturing memories of this moment in time and documenting it through heirloom pieces of art.

We offer pricing to meet all budgets AND Your Entire Pacakge price is one big studio credit

Endless Product Options:  You’ve had an incredible experience with your photographer, now let’s make it last by creating heirloom pieces of art that are customized to meet your specific needs.  Nothing you don’t want, everything you must have! We have searched high and low for the latest, greatest in product offerings. To name a few, we offer: Canvas, Metal Prints, Albums, Framed and Mounted Prints, gifts, and of course, Digital Files. So there you have it! You want it, we got it!

We will help create a beautiful gallery wall or curate a collection of timeless digitals.

100% Satisfaction Guarantee: Our number one goal is building lasting relationships with each of our clients.  We want to see you this year and for years to come.  If your experience is anything less than excellent we will offer a complimentary re-shoot.  We know photography is an investment and we want it to be one that you consider “worth every single penny”.  It really comes down to caring about our clients and taking care of them.  It’s as simple as that!

From Our Family To Yours

Founders Tim & Sally Butler with the clan: Liv (3), Noah (11), Cooper (9), Quinn (5)

Let’s be real.  There is no “us” with out “you”!  We are beyond thankful for our clients and value the trust they place in us.  Planning for a portrait session is work… we get it!  We have created a process that is meant to be fun and effortless.  A refreshingly easy and exceedingly enjoyable experience is our mission.  You are sure to have a blast, enjoy the time spent together as a family and walk away with high fives and heck-yeah’s!   Taking care of you is kind of our thing.  Building lifelong relationships with clients and our community are goal number one around here. 

Contact us today and get to know us a little better.  We would LOVE to work with you this summer! 

Sign Me Up!


Come for a session, stay for the day!

Admittedly, we are a little obsessed with the charming streets and small town feel that Excelsior offers it’s visitors. Naturally, it makes for a perfect setting for your portrait session but while your here stay experience all that historic Water Street has to offer.

We’ve put together a list of our family’s favorite outings to help you craft the perfect itinerary for a memorable day in Excelsior!

Studio 220’s Favorite Shopping Destinations

Let’s start with the adults, shall we? If you’re looking for the perfect gift or sentimental trinket you will have endless options at Capers. This adorable shop is brimming with gifts for just about everyone (including your four legged friends)! I usually pick up my candles and small thank you gifts here.

My all time favorite destination for a little self love is Gray Home + Lifestyle. To start, you are likely to be greeted by two of the cutest pugs in the world! This dog friendly store is like walking into a magazine. They offer everything from handmade jewelry to dish-ware, throws, clothing, and more. I want all the things! I especially love that it’s a mother / daughter owned store. These powerhouse women have an eye for clean, simple design that makes a big impact. I intend on convincing them to create a registry for those of us that want one of everything #searchnomorehubby!

Other favorites worth visiting: Golden Rule, Primp, Ooh La La, Sweet Nautical Boutique, and any of the antique shops sprinkled through out Water Street.

Studio 220’s Favorite Eats

Obsessed doesn’t quite describe my feelings towards Olive’s Fresh Pizza Bar. Inside diner tip: their wine pour is reason enough to pop in! Favorite pizza: The Sicilian, you’re welcome! On the other hand, we have a permanent table for 6 reserved for us at The Suburban where we have our order memorized (1 Burger of the month, 1 pork sandwich, 2 Mac&Cheese, and 2 orders of sliders). The best tater tots in the whole world can be devoured here, just sayin’!

Olive’s & Suburban | Fave Family Dining

Our favorite go to’s for a much needed date night include: Red Sauce Rebellion (check out the Rebel Room for a killer cocktail and lounge vibe), Coalition for delightful fine-dining, and Maynards on the lake for the best patio.

Studio 220’s Favorite Things To Do With Kids

Best Toy Store: Something Safari (seriously we can not enter Excelsior with out a visit)!

Best Activity: Tommy’s Tonka Trolley, paddle board and kayak rental right on the bay.

Best Ice Cream: Sorry, this one is a tie. We are a house divided and usually split up! It’s a win win with Licks Unlimited and Tommy’s Tonka Trolley!

Best Rainy Day Getaway: Excelsior Dock Cinema

In addition to this there is the sprawling Excelsior Commons Park where you can find 2 beaches, ample room to run and play and a park for the little ones. We also love taking a trip on the Trolley and Minnehaha Steamboat each summer.

So there you have it! Hours of entertainment for everyone! If you’re planning a session in Excelsior take a few extra minutes to create some lasting memories while you are here. We have no doubt you will return to these local gems time and time again!

Kind of makes you want to book your session, doesn’t it? Click HERE and we’ll send you information!



Before we give you tips for an awesome portrait session let’s be real for a moment. The dreaded family portrait session… we know, we get it!  In our home it goes something like this; wife subtly books a session and might mention said appointment to husband sandwiched in between much more exciting news in hopes that he won’t object.  From there, it’s off my check list until suddenly, the session is only 4 days away!  I don’t have time for online shopping, I do the obligatory spin through Target to try to find 6 reasonably priced outfits that won’t alarm my better half, and ultimately I end up with a trip to Nordstrom walking out way over budget and with 2 bags of clothes everyone is going to wear once and complain about the entire session.  

That’s only the beginning.  Can we talk for a minute about what in the world happens to my family 3 hours before our photographer shows up?!?  It’s like Armageddon!  The baby falls into a corner resulting in the most perfectly placed bruise front and center on her forehead.  The older brothers decide that it’s been way too long since they’ve had an all-out brawl and now is the perfect time.  And the poor middle child…  He didn’t nap, he stained his brand new over-priced button up and he can’t find his other shoe. Hang in there mom, T-minus 4 hours until you can collapse on to your couch, undoubtedly covered in sweat and tears (not your own) and enjoy the hardest earned glass of wine you’ve had in ages!

At the session you are greeted by an enthusiastic and optimistic photographer. You might resent her cheer for a quick and regretful moment. It’s go time and, “Mom, I have to go potty”…. The next hour you use every shred of self-restraint not to look like a villain from a Disney classic but for the love… “Stop hitting your bother”!!!  

Can I get an Amen?  Maybe that’s just our family but in case any of the above statements bring back deep repressed memories, we got your back!  


Let us share a few tips and tricks to prepare you for your very favorite portrait session EVER with Studio 220 this year! 

Tip 1 | Book Early!

Let’s start with when to schedule your session.  Most of our clients prefer to do their session outdoors in our coveted summer months.  We agree, this is truly the best time to get the most from your session.  We are all so busy with school schedules, summer activities and travels that most of our clients place a frantic call in late August realizing that school is starting, fall is coming, and they haven’t booked their session yet.  Not only does this mean you will be facing limited availability but you’re booking a session in one of the busiest times of your family’s calendar.  Instead, we suggest booking your session in April or May for a mid-summer shoot.  This gets it on your calendar and gives you the time to prepare and above all, have a perfectly timed session.  We love June through August sessions as it reflects the peak of summer. 

We offer an in-depth planning timeline to our clients in our VIP Family Facebook page.  Join Today.  

Tip 2 | Day of Best Practices

Whether or not you followed our planning guide, the day is here.  Embrace it, heck… laugh at it if you need to!  Here are a few helpful tricks to make this one of your favorite days of the year:

  • Get sleep!  Get bath time out of the way the night before, treat yourself to a facial (here is my favorite at home regiment) and make sure the whole family gets a healthy 8 hours of sleep.
  • Eat nutritious, low sugar meals the day of your session.  We want the kids to have healthy energy, less of the crash-and-burn so if possible, swap the Coco Puffs for eggs and bacon!
  • If your kids still nap, make sure to give them both the time for a regular nap and plenty of time to wake up before the start of your session.  No one wants to be thrown in front of a camera and told to be happy 5 minutes after waking up!  
  • Pack water, small bite size snacks that don’t stain clothes or teeth (Goldfish or fruit snacks are great options).  This said, pack light!  We will be moving about and want you as free from baggage as possible. 
  • Perhaps the most important thing in your bag will be your bribes.  Yes, I said it.  You have now entered the non-judgement zone.  Do sweet tarts bring smiles to your little one’s face?  Does the mention of extra screen time elicit the inner angel you otherwise call your 10-year-old son?!?  If ever there was a time to test out the behavior = reward strategy, it’s now. Like NOW!!!
  • And finally, my personal favorite tip on this listis the family reward that follows a good session.  For us, it’s a trip to the Suburban for burgers and beer followed by Licks for ice cream.  We want you to remember this as a special day with your family.  Make it something memorable by adding an activity or outing to bring you all together and reward the whole gang with quality time together. 

Check out our post about favorite things to do in Excelsior and make a day of it!  This happens to be the most magical place on earth (if you ask me)!

Tip 3 | Let It Go

As Elsa so wisely sings, Let It Go!  Like no matter what, let it go!  I wanted our family session to be perfect last year, even going so far to have my hair and make up done to ensure I would look and feel my best.  I did feel pretty damn hot (as in 120 degree heat index hot).  My luxe beach waves turned into a swampland the second I walked outside to load my babes into the car.  My makeup… need I even tell you what happened to that?  I was devastated.  There was the usual mayhem and unending bickering as we traveled to the lake for “the most perfect family photo you ever saw” (remember that poor girl that ended up shopping Nordstrom, yeah, I confess)!  

As my boys splashed in the lake with their dress shirts on I sat on a nearby bench as the photographer captured joy.  JOY! It hit me.  My kids were having wet, messy, amazing fun.  Tim and I gave each other our secret “Oh screw it” look and all the stress, irritation and despair melted away right along with my mascara. We laughed.  Threw out an abundance of smiles and hugs, then we hustled our butts to Olive’s for pizza and wine in the comforts of air conditioning.  And the photos… they are perfect.  Perfectly that year.  

So, there you have it!  Our top three tips to not only surviving but LOVING this year’s family portrait session.  

Ready to get yours on the calendar?