Classic Milwaukee Wedding Photographer
Meet Joel

Joel Nisleit Self Portrait

Serving your family, and mine

I'm Joel, and on behalf of my wife Heather and family, it's nice to meet you, virtually!

My true success in wedding photography came when I realized I didn't have to do it to be happy. 

So many other photographers are grossly in love with what they think they do for you, how they live, breathe and sleep weddings, with a camera in one hand and a latte in the other.

That's not passion. That's drool from their branding and marketing mentors.

Everyone wants to be part of the cool club, the ones who shoot all the "it" weddings and hang out with all the "it" venues and professionals, or have the popular style.

If they develop a sweet enough brand, they can get more bookings or "own" the market, and if they can get more bookings, they can make more money. And if they make "enough" money, they can achieve financial and personal freedom and then somehow be cooler and happier than everyone else.

It took five years to realize I was going down that same meaningless path of enslavement and to change it.

I shifted my perspective and focus from status and power to promoting happiness through the art of photography, and that's what drives me.

I shoot real couples at all sorts of weddings everywhere, from fancy ballrooms to tents and picnic tables. The common denominator isn't status, budget, location, shape or size. It's values -- an experience, detail, attention, time, craftsmanship, impact, legacy.

Love and family are important in my life, so I can't help but make them important in my work. Not to purposely sound like Mr. Rogers, but it's just a really good feeling to know my pictures are part of people's actual family legacies and history.

What will people be able to tell about you from what your wedding photography? What will your wedding photography say about your life and values?

And yeah, photography is important right now also, to enjoy, to remind, to grant you a taste and an impression of the experiences, the journey, that make life worthwhile, and all that good stuff.

If we don't agree on that, or that this is an experience worth collecting in print, or a professional photographer other than your cousin is worth investing in even if your cousin has a great business -- if your biggest concern is how cheaply you can get away with a USB -- then we don't need to work together, and I'm happy with that.

The obligatory personality snapshot

Best song ever:

Third Eye by Tool

Best classical music:

Chopin, the Ocean etude

Most recently discovered track:

Seven by Fever Ray

Best TV show ever:

The Walking Dead.

Favorite movie:

Can't pick one, but Blue Velvet. Lord of the Rings. Dances with Wolves.

Guilty pleasure:


Favorite place to travel:

Alaska, the American West, Hawaii

Favorite book:

The Voynich manuscript because nobody knows what it says

Favorite eats:

Cheeseburger from Charcoal Inn Sheboygan (North)

Staying small and independent

In 2014 the wedding photo mills I'd been working for gave me a choice. I could keep shooting cookie cutter weddings for people I hadn't previously met, putting speed before quality. Or, I could make fairy tales.

"I couldn't be part of a system in which quality and the client experience took a back seat. So I went rogue."

It's not about the quantity of pictures or how often you look at them. It's the quality of the experience each time you do. That's why you'll be part of an experience, not just a transaction. I'm your personal photography MacGyver. 

I'm always curating the experience I provide to be the best possible, from the way you interact with me to the way you collect pictures. Your family album comes from a boutique binder in New York that's exclusive to professionals. Your memory drive is engraved crystal, with 10% of the wholesale price going to benefit poor and orphaned children in third-world countries.

Me with one of the most highly regarded wedding photographers and photography educators in the world, Jerry Ghionis (on the right ;-D).

Photography background

You might understand more about my penchant for glamour and classical photography when you consider what I did for my first six years as a professional photographer.

From 2004 to 2010, I worked as a photojournalist/reporter for the Dodge County Pionier in Wisconsin, where I was an innovative photographer, page designer and writer, winning Wisconsin Newspaper Association awards in those categories in 2007 and 2008 (click here; General News Photo, Group E).

I had photographed everything from meetings to sports, accidents, grip and grins, school events, community events, a funeral and photo essays. Some of it was fun, and the job afforded me some cool privileges. But there were no fairy tales, no chance to make the world as I wished it would be. I had to be the guy who asked the uncomfortable questions and took pictures where no one wanted a photographer.

"Newspapering became a passionless grind. Now I get to make fairy tales."

As someone entrusted with your wedding, I believe in being an active, fully-trained professional, which is why I'm currently a candidate in the Professional Photographers of America Certified Professional Photographer program.

As a proud member of the Horicon Chamber of Commerce, I help support local businesses and find ways to give back to the community through photography education.

I've spent hundreds of hours studying, training and honing my craft at all levels. I continue to study the latest business and photography techniques to improve my service and results and have trained with the best photographers in the world, including Jerry Ghionis and Doug Gordon.

With a vision for a better photography experience for classic Wisconsin couples, I began studying and practicing wedding photography in 2012. I briefly contracted with American Wedding Group and Edward Fox Photography before specializing as a wedding artist full-time on my own in 2014.

Member, Professional Photographers of America