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Sam Shilling Photographer Portrait

hello, friend!

I'm so glad you're here. Thank you for taking the time to look at my work.

My name is Sam (she/her), and this is Ampersand Photography, LLC. I've been in the wedding photography business for seven years now, and have enjoyed photography as a hobby for many more. 

As a kid, one of my favorite things to do was sit with my grandma, pull out her photo albums and have her tell me stories about the pictures we saw. It kind of makes sense that now my job is to take the pictures of life happening, which then bring stories to tell for generations ahead. 

I live in the greater Milwaukee area with my husband, our baby, Evelyn, and our dog, Pepper! I've got Wisconsin pride coursing through my veins, and tattooed on my skin. I have a genuine appreciation for our beautiful city and state. My husband once called me the Unofficial Milwaukee Ambassador. I just love our history, culture and community. 

I love suspenseful books, potatoes in all forms (including raw), playing games, peanut butter, 77° and sunny, ice cream, dogs, and truly just being around people. If left to my choosing, I would talk about beer or travel until my jaw falls off. I love listening to others' stories. I love grandparents. I love people, genuinely. I have a habit of never having met a stranger. If you're still reading this, I bet we'd be friends.  

My gear and I have traveled to across the US, hiked through Canada, and wandered through the streets of Europe.  I hope to make it to Norway, Thailand or Mexico next. I'm excited for all of the good eats! Copenhagen and Vancouver are two of my favorite cities. 

why photography?

Taking pictures feels like a super power. You have the ability to freeze a moment in time, forever. I often go back to photos I've taken over the years and my body fills with gratitude that someone took the moment to stop and say "wait, let's take a picture!". 

Photographs instantly transport you through time, bring back memories and feelings, and allow you to relive some of life's best moments. 

Some of my earliest memories take place in my grandparent’s basement, playing with an old camera that my grandma gave me, and pretending to take her picture. With my first smart phone, I started just taking photos for fun, for me. I finally made the commitment to learning formally during my last semester of college. I had bought my first DSLR a year before, and needed to know what all the special buttons meant after getting bored of shooting on auto all the time. Walking out of my first lesson left me with feelings of determination combined with a new found excitement and sense of wonder. Those same feelings are still felt each time I pick up my camera.

Sam Shilling Portrait Photographer


why ampersand?

At one point, I had close to 35 ampersands collected around my house. My husband and our roommates at the time started to enjoy the game of "find Sam's latest ampersand purchase" as I'd hide them in magnets, bathroom decoration and wall hangings. I've since paired down my collection, but I'll always treasure the ampersands we used as guest books for our wedding.

I can't really explain it, but I've always been drawn to the ampersand symbol. I just like the swirly, dance-like flow of it. It looks sort of like an S (like my name!), sort of like an 8 (my lucky number!) and sort of like the treble symbol in music (you guessed it, I love music).

I love that it signifies more, standing as a symbol for the word "and". I am very much an "and" rather than "or" type of person. I hate to choose, I'd much prefer a getting both rather than deciding between two things. Besides, the best things in life come together: mac & cheese, peanut butter & jelly, rhythm & blues, milk & cookies... you get my point. More is better, at least in my book. 


a little extra fun

Wedding Photographer Ampersand Sam Shilling

If you had to watch a documentary, what would you want it to be about?


What's your favorite wedding song? 

Post-wedding traditions? 

What is the most adventurous thing that you’ve done?

How do you take your coffee? 

What fictional character do you relate to the most? 

What other work do you do? 

Ooh, I typically go for historic documentaries, sociological/psychological/science topics, global cultures/travel, or food-based content!

"Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston will forever bring out my best dance moves. Really though, most 1970s and 80s songs get me grooving. 

I do one of two things: I either stop at McDonald's for a coke and fries, or I stop for a scoop of custard from Culver's! 

My husband and I enjoy going on adventures when we travel. One highlight was going whale watching in Vancouver, or riding ATVs in Banff! We love seeing the National Parks and the great outdoors. 

Either hot or cold, with oat milk and a pump of hazelnut syrup!

I've had various people compare me to Leslie Knope. I love being well-organized, deeply love people, I'm masterfully busy, and try to be a peacekeeping problem solver. I've been compared to worse... 

Before I committed all of my time to photography, I worked in a subacute rehab as an Activities Director. I'm technically a COTA but used my certification to support people's emotional, social and leisure needs! I worked with the older adult population and LOVED it immensely. I still work as a pool therapist!! 

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