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Wisconsin Lifestyle Photographer • Family Tradition Maple Harvest

Here are some of my favorite photos from a Wisconsin lifestyle photography project I just completed.  The story is focused on a friend of mine by the name of Brad Allen and the making of maple syrup.  Brad is the sixth generation of the Allen family to make maple syrup and the fourth generation to tap the maple trees on this plot of land north of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Brad, with the help of his wife Jude, is teaching the process to his twin sons, Sean and Seth, in hopes that they will take over the family tradition some day.  Just like in previous generations, there is a spirit of community here, with friends and family stopping by to help when they can. You can tell Brad values the tradition and loves being out in the woods making the syrup.  He applies a very old school process to making syrup and pays respect to the generations before him by tapping a few trees each year using the hand tools of the prior generations.  Brad’s dad passed away a few years ago, but one of his dad’s “crew”, Gene who is in is eighties, still helps. I ventured out to the sugar bush to document the process from beginning to end – from tapping the maple trees to evaporating the sap to syrup.  To process the sap, Brad uses the same 220 gallon wood fired evaporator that his father used;  in here, the sap boils until it becomes syrup.  The average ratio of sap to syrup is 40 gallon of sap to make 1 gallon of finished syrup.  This year they tapped 86 trees, collected around 600 gallons of sap and made 13 gallons of syrup. On the final weekend of the season for the Allen family, Brad’s siblings from around the country came to be part of the tradition; even his mom stopped out.  You could tell it was emotional for her to come out to the property with all the memories associated with the land and family tradition. 

I greatly enjoyed shooting this project and being with Brad, his family and his friends, documenting their family tradition.  It’s a great way to get outside and enjoy the outdoors after a long Wisconsin winter.  My wife Judy and I tap a handful of trees on our own property and continue a tradition she learned growing up on her family farm.

Thanks for looking!

Mike