September 8, 2002
Sheboygan photographer Trish Brunner--
has winning ways with kids and pets
Mary Ann Holley, Sheboygan Press staff
It's not unusual for Trish Brunner to spend her days wrangling children and coaxing pets to do something out-of-the-ordinary. Brunner, photographer and owner of Legacy Studios in Sheboygan, specializes in portraits of children and pets -- the subjects many photographers loathe because it takes the patience of Job, she said.
But that's not a problem for Brunner, who has been in the business for five years. She says she can't resist a good challenge.
"You spend as much time as you need to get that shot," said Brunner, who got interested in photography at age 10 while working with her father, Vernon Schauer, a photographer and detective who shot evidence and investigative photographs for the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department.
Her segue into children and pet photography has nothing to do with the little darlings being wild and crazy criminals-at-heart, but learning the ropes from her father gave her the know-how to get to look beyond the basics -- to capture that discreet quality or unusual look.
"My dad was the only one who took me seriously at a young age. He'd give me his 35mm camera and let me work with it," Brunner recalls. "I'd shoot photos and he'd take me into the lab at the sheriff's department and teach me how to develop my own film."
Brunner has since won numerous awards in professional photography circles. Her south-side studio at 1402 S. 12th St. is filled with portraits adorned with blue and red and purple (traveling loan awards) ribbons from state and national competitions.
A print of a local youngster, Christian Ramos, 3, son of Roy and Rachel Ramos of Sheboygan, has five ribbons (two regional, two state and one national) hanging from its frame.
The print most recently won a blue ribbon in the Professional Photographers of America International competition, helping inch Brunner toward master's degree status, attained when 13 blue ribbons are achieved at international competitions. She currently holds three.
The photo also gained recognition in "A Court of Honor," for the best print of its class in the children's portrait division. It will be printed in a book titled "The Elite Collection" for state professional photographers.
"Only the best of the best based upon the highest scores go into the book, not all blue ribbons," Brunner said.
In the Professional Photographers of America International print competition, Brunner won three blue ribbons out of four prints submitted.
"Judges are looking for something different," Brunner said. "They're tired of ballerinas and little boys with cane fishing poles."
The unusual approach
While she does entire family portraits and isn't limited strictly to children and pets, Brunner is one to go for the unusual, artistic approach to photography.
She may spend two to three hours shooting a litter of nine, 8-week-old Rottweiler puppies, placing them in a neat little row and capturing their image at just the right moment, or she may trek along a trail to get a shot of your little ones at their favorite fishing hole.
Animals of all shapes and sizes -- swans, stallions, African pygmy goats or dogs and cats -- have been caught in her camera lens, though she says she's not limited to the young or the four-legged.
With a personal love of animals and owner of a bearded collie who gave birth to her own brood in July 2001, Brunner succeeded in keeping the rambunctious puppies in line to create the perfect portrait.
She may have a crew to help her along. One helper per puppy usually does the trick, Brunner said. But no matter what, the job gets done.
"If people tell me it can't be done, I'll do it," Brunner said. "I like a challenge. I push even harder when people say it can't be done."