Tips for Getting a Family Snapshot with out of Town Relatives

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My family loves photos. Maybe that’s part of the reason I was drawn to photography, right?  Anyways, my mom has a standing request when it comes to family.  When we have relatives visiting from out of town, she wants a family portrait.  Specifically, she wants me to take a portrait of everyone.  Sometimes we’ve been able to go more formal or planned with the portrait session, and other times, it’s on the impromptu side of things.

And that’s where this family snapshot was on the spectrum.  Desired, but spur of the moment, as our weekend plans had been put through a blender and the timing was just not conductive for a true family portrait.

Seriously, I think it took me longer to pack my gear before our trip than the photos took for me to take.  I spent less than five minutes taking snapshots of the kids, and about five minutes max taking a group portrait of the entire group.

Pre-session planning?  Non-existant.  Coordinated clothing?  On hand, but not being worn.  Relaxed session with lots of time for getting people to warm up and smile?  Nope, no time for that.  You name it, we covered the list of what not to do when planning your family portrait session.

But that’s okay.

Because this wasn’t a family portrait session.

This was a family snapshot.

Sometimes you need to document those moments — and there isn’t time for anything better.

So, what can you do to get a family snapshot with your out of town relatives?

First of all, relax.

  1. Don’t worry about getting it perfect.
  2. It’s okay if not everyone matches
  3. If your kids don’t have their shoes on, don’t sweat it.
  4. Do what you can with the time you have.
  5. Document your family with a snapshot, and know that it will be enough.

Seriously.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Not every family photo will be elegant.  But it will be real and authentic.  This family snapshot isn’t a portrait I would call award-winning.  But it does capture the moment, the spirit of our crazy busy weekend together with my out of town relatives.  People are looking at the camera.  Almost everyone is smiling.  And that’s life.

Sometimes you take what you can get, and have to remind yourself that it will be enough.

You don’t have to do perfect.

kid snapshot outdoors family photo michigan photographer
I piled the kids on the swing for some quick snapshots while we waited for everyone to gather for the main photo. These three were ready.
kid snapshot outdoors family photo michigan photographer
They were happy to smile for the camera….mostly, lol!
silly photo kid snapshot outdoors family photo michigan photographer
And then came the real highlight. Kids always love those silly pictures!!
kid snapshot outdoors family photo michigan photographer
The littlest cousin was ready for his photo, so we added him into the bunch.
kid snapshot outdoors family photo michigan photographer
No smiles from him, but looking at the camera — that works for me! We were tight on time, as I mentioned.
out of town relatives snapshot of group outdoors family photo michigan photographer
And here’s the whole family snapshot, with everyone. It’s not going to win any awards, but this is a precious portrait because of all the out of town relatives we managed to get together in one photo. Sometimes that’s what matters.

You know when I mentioned that family photos tend to happen every time we have out-of-town relatives visit?  Well, I wasn’t kidding.  And I’m thankful I have these, to show you how different styles of family photos can be valuable and precious — whether they are true studio family portraits or simple family snapshots on the fly.

Here’s a set of family photos from when my cousin and her daughter were visiting from out-of-town. Naturally, we did a portrait of my grandfather with (some of) his great-grandkids.

extended family portrait outdoors chelsea mi photographer dexter mi family photographer
Cousins together for the first time. They were happy to smile for the camera as long as I let them do a silly picture at the end!
extended family portrait outdoors chelsea mi photographer dexter mi family photographer
Great Grandpa with his oldest great-granddaughter.
extended family portrait outdoors chelsea mi photographer dexter mi family photographer
While not all of the great grandchildren, this was everyone there at that point in time!
extended family portrait outdoors chelsea mi photographer dexter mi family photographer
And the four generations all together!
extended family portrait outdoors chelsea mi photographer dexter mi family photographer
My cousin and I got a photo together too. Again, these were a step above snapshots, but as you know — a photograph can be priceless when you have memories connected to it!

This last family portrait I’m going to share is the most formal.  We did a studio portrait with three generations of extended family.  My mom has a set of these displayed in her living room as canvas gallery wraps — they look gorgeous.  We used the portrait of my kids for part of our Christmas card :).

extended family portrait indoors studio portrait dexter mi photographer ann arbor family portrait
Here’s a more formal family portrait that we did a few years back. That checklist of things to do before a portrait session? Complete! My mom has this hanging in her family room, and while it no longer shows everyone in the family, it is still a valuable family heirloom.
extended family portrait indoors studio portrait dexter mi photographer ann arbor family portrait
This portrait is also hangs on the wall next to the one above. Love it!
extended family portrait indoors studio portrait dexter mi photographer ann arbor family portrait
And one of my parents with their grandkids at the time. My mom was over the moon when she got to see the sneak peek from her portrait session for the first time. <3
extended family portrait indoors studio portrait dexter mi photographer ann arbor family portrait
And here’s my family from that same session. I can’t believe how much the boys have grown!!!
extended family portrait indoors studio portrait dexter mi photographer ann arbor family portrait
Those smiles are so cute!
extended family portrait indoors studio portrait dexter mi photographer ann arbor family portrait
This is one of our all-time favorite portraits of the boys with their dad. It’s a bit silly, maybe even worthy of the “outtake” status,… but I always include family portraits like this because it shows the loving and fun dynamics of a family relationship
extended family portrait indoors studio portrait dexter mi photographer ann arbor family portrait
And one of me with my boys. So sweet.

So, there you have it.  Family photos don’t always have to be perfect.  But they will always be representative of your family.  Make the best of the situation, get as many smiles as you can,… and if at all possible, have a family portrait photographer do your next family portrait.  Because I know from experience.  When you’re in charge of taking the picture, it’s a more stressful environment.

That’s why I do this.  I want my clients to be able to have memories of their family — without having to go through the stress of getting everyone posed for a family photo.  When you tell people to just listen to the photographer — you get to hand off the responsibility. It’s no longer your job to make sure everyone looks good, or that everyone is smiling for the camera.  That’s my job.  Your job is to relax and trust me to create images you will want to give to your grandchildren one day.  For more information about scheduling a family portrait session, call 734-424-0472 or contact the studio via our website.  I’ll walk you through the whole planning process and make your next family portrait the most relaxing one yet!

Getting Kids to Smile for a Family Portrait at Island Park in Ann Arbor

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This summer I photographed the Holler family at Island Park in Ann Arbor.  I had been talking with Marcy about outdoor locations for their family portrait session… and we settled on Island Park.  Why?  That’s where she had her senior portraits done way back before kids!  (Marcy and her husband Jacob have three adorable girls that did a great job during the session)

The day of the session came, and the weather was great.  We met during the morning so it wasn’t too humid and hot out …and I kept everyone in the shade to help with the heat too!

Now, sometimes, kids smile right away, and other times, kids just don’t feel like it.  Well, Isabelle, the big sister, was a pro.  She made sure to smile for the camera, and was a delightful conversationalist!  Her twin sisters, though, fell into that other category.  Some people might find that to be a problem.  But not me.  It’s just a matter of finding the right way to break through that shell and find the smiles I know are waiting to be shared.

Evelyn and Sadie, even when not smiling, were such sweet girls.  And about halfway through the session, I found the magic key to unlock their smiles!  Honestly, I don’t even remember exactly what the secret was — but it involved me being super silly, making crazy sounds, and waving one of my hands in the air while holding my camera with the other.

Whatever I did, the girls loved it!  We got some adorable smiles, and as you might expect, some cute waves too.

In all seriousness, this session was a breeze.  I never worry about a situation like this because 99.99% of the time, I can find a solution.  And for that 0.01%?  Well, honestly, that’s so rare…. but unless they’ve fallen asleep during their portrait session… I am always confident about getting adorable portraits of that child in a more serious or candid style portrait.  Life is all about adapting and rising to meet whatever curve balls are thrown your way, right?

So, enjoy these portraits of of the Holler family 🙂

island lake park ann arbor michigan family portrait session kids portraits outdoors family photographer
We walked along the path and found this nice little set of stairs down to the river’s edge. I had the girls sit on the steps for some portraits, and then I gathered everyone together for a standing portrait right in the same spot! Someone else visiting the park had forgotten an inflatable rubber ducky inner tube float, so I used that to get the twins’ attention for this portrait. Isabelle got a kick out of me holding the duck over my head and being silly!
outtake from family portrait session, taken just before a posed portrait. family portrait photographer ann arbor michigan photos of family
Then we moved onto another spot at the park. We went down a side trail to find this cool little spot. I included this outtake because sometimes it’s helpful for you to see what really goes on right before a great family portrait. Seriously, it’s okay if your kids are being kids. I have kids of my own, and appreciate the nuances of herding cats ;).
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Here’s the shell that Isabelle found at the second spot… she was so excited!! And yes, she asked me to take a picture, ….for which I am a pushover 🙂
family portrait by huron river island lake park ann arbor mi photographer michigan family portrait photographer
After some arranging and making sure the kids were happy AND safe, we took some more family portraits. I love how this portrait turned out… even though the twins aren’t smiling, they are definitely engaged and looking at the camera, so we’re all good, right?
candid family portrait island park ann arbor michigan portrait photographer family portrait by huron river in ann arbor michigan
Sometimes it’s nice to have a more candid portrait, where no one is looking at the camera. I like how the entire family looks like they’re having fun. Even the twins are giggling a bit. Dad for the win!
family portrait by the huron river in ann arbor michigan, family sitting on a fallen log, outdoors portrait session family photographer
This is my absolute favorite portrait from the Holler’s family portrait session. It’s also around the time that I figured out my crazy trick for getting the girls to smile. Coincidence? Maybe not. Anyways, I love how the family is framed by the Huron River, and that you can even see some of the Ann Arbor skyline peeking above the trees at the horizon. Lovely!
family portrait island park ann arbor michigan family portrait session outdoors photographer
On our way back to the car, we tried for one more group family portrait — by this bridge. The twins were getting a little bit wiggly by this time, so we decided to call it quits and head back to our cars. On the way, Isabelle kept up a great conversation with me…such an adorable girl!
twin girls child portrait island park ann arbor michigan child photographer location child portraits
On a whim, we decided to take a few photos of the girls…. in this patch of grass right near the parking lot. The girls were very happy to be free from mom’s and dad’s arms, and they were very intrigued by the branch with dead leaves that Isabelle found for them. Such a sweet candid portrait of the twins… I love this whole series I’m about to share with you 🙂
child portrait photographer location portrait session island park ann arbor michigan child portrait photographer baby girl portrait in grass
Amazingly, we managed to get very cute portraits of each girl on her own. By this time, I didn’t have to make my own silly faces, because the entire family helped get each girl’s attention when it was their turn. Love that light highlighting those curls!
child portrait photographer location portrait session island park ann arbor michigan child portrait photographer baby girl portrait in grass clapping
So far, so good. The sun went behind some clouds, so that gorgeous highlighting was gone, but this expression is so adorable I just had to share!
child portrait photographer location portrait session island park ann arbor michigan child portrait photographer little girl sitting in grass and smiling
And finally, this one. She wasn’t ready for the session to be done, in all seriousness. After we got these portraits of her, and we ended the family portrait session for real… Isabelle asked for one last portrait of her beside a tree. It was so sweet!

If you want to have a family portrait done, but are worried about whether the photographer will be able to get your kids to smile, don’t be!  Get in touch with me and we can go through all the details, and I’ll be more than happy to work with you to create a family portrait session.  Contact the studio at 734-424-0472 or via our web form today so we can get started!

10 Tips to Help You Choose a Location for Your Senior Portraits

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When senior year finally rolls around, there’s a lot going on!  Add senior portrait decisions on top of that, and you might feel a bit overwhelmed, right?  After all, senior portraits have come a long way in the past 30 years or so.  What used to be a simple studio formal portrait with one outfit has become a mini model session with multiple outfits and even multiple locations.

Senior portraits are no longer just a milestone.  The senior portrait has become an experience, a rite of passage.

And with that, the stakes are a bit higher.  Not only do you have to find a decent-looking outfit, you have to pick the right location for your senior portrait session.  If your photographer is like me, they’ll be able to list off a bunch of neat spots based on your interests.  But still, it can seem a hard to commit to just one spot.

senior boy leaning on boardwalk railing - michigan senior portrait photographer dexter mi photo
For T’s session, our main location was Mill Creek Park in Dexter. I love how versatile this park is — even though I’ve photographed numerous high school seniors there this year, every session feels completely unique and different.

Maybe you’re worried about the weather being bad.

Maybe you’re concerned that the location is “too popular” and your photos won’t look special.

Maybe you’re not sure if the location is really a meaningful spot to you personally.

You’re not alone in feeling this way.

But don’t worry!

Let’s take this step by step.

Could bad weather ruin your senior portrait session on location?

Honestly, it won’t ruin your senior portraits.  But bad weather might make us change the date.  When planning a senior portrait session outdoors, I always tell my clients that bad weather is a possibility.  That’s why we watch the weather in the days leading up to the session — if it looks like it will be rainy or stormy, I’ll touch base with you to discuss options for rescheduling for another day, or moving to an alternate (indoor) location.  It’s as simple as that!  No fees to reschedule either :).

What if the location for your senior portraits is popular?

Definitely a possibility.  But, here’s the thing.  Your senior portraits will be special because of who’s in them.  You like the location?  Cool.  You like the photographer’s style?  Great!  You’re still a bit concerned?  No prob!  Just talk to your photographer.  When I know you’re looking for something a creative or different at a popular location for senior portraits, I can make adjustments to the session so you end up with totally unique images.  The more you share your vision with me, the better job I’ll do of making that dream a reality!

I’ve done senior portrait sessions on the same day as other photographers, even passed them on the paths.  And I can guarantee that even with the same location, each photographer can create totally different looking images.  The location is just one facet of a senior portrait.  Trust me.

Maybe you just aren’t feeling like any location is “meaningful”?

Yeah, that can happen.  But trust me.  If you’re not set on a particular location, there are things we can do to make sure you end up with senior portraits you love.  If you like being downtown, we can plan a session in downtown Ann Arbor, Dexter, Chelsea, or wherever you like to hang out!  If you are more of a nature person, you’re in luck.  The greater Ann Arbor area has a ton of parks with grass, trees, paths, and even water.  If one park doesn’t stick out to you, that’s fine!  We can pick a park that is convenient and easy to get to — because if forests and trees are your thing, you’ll love the results regardless of the park you pick as the location for your senior portrait session.

Now for those tips.  Which are really questions to make you think….

10 Questions to Help You Choose a Meaningful Location for Your Senior Portraits

You can think of this as a list of tips, formatted as a questionnaire.  By answering these questions, I bet you’ll be able to see what types of locations are really meaningful for you!  Or, if you can’t, maybe a family member, or even your photographer, will be able to help you connect the dots.

1. Where do you go, or what do you do, when you have had a stressful day and just want to relax?

You might go for a run.  Or maybe you head to your favorite cozy chair and curl up with a book, a blanket, and your favorite hot beverage.  You might have an instrument you pick up and let out some chords and melodies, letting the stress of the day fade away.  You could be a nature person — you head outdoors to breathe in some fresh air.  What works for you?

senior girl portrait in sunflower field, sitting on tree stump, dexter michigan photographer
Rachel has always loved sunflowers so we included sunflowers in her location senior portraits.  Her mom told me about a photo of Rachel when she was little holding a sunflower.  I think this is the perfect portrait to pair with that treasured family snapshot!  [And in case you’re wondering, no there wasn’t a tree stump in the middle of the field.  I brought a stool, and used some Photoshop magic replace it with a tree stump :)].

2. What are your hobbies?  Where do you go to do what interests you?

If you like to swim, you’ll head to the pool.  If working out is more your thing, you’ll go to the gym, or maybe the great outdoors for a cross-country hike.  Maybe you meet up with some friends to make music together.  Or you’re an artist at heart and you love going to your studio… or downtown Ann Arbor so you can sketch passersby.  Where do you go when you do what you love?  Think about how we can incorporate your hobbies into your senior portrait session!

musician senior portrait, music instrument senior portrait photographer ann arbor michigan senior photos
If you’re a musician, it might be only logical to include a portrait of you with your instrument. I love the autumn colors in the background, don’t you?

3. Do you have any pets?  Or do you like animals?

While some people are ambivalent when it comes to pets, most of us know where we stand!  If you have a dog, a cat, a horse, or any other type of animal… do you want to include it in your senior portraits?  Some pets, like dogs, are pretty versatile and you can easily transport them to most locations for a senior portrait session.  On the other hand, if you want senior portraits taken with your horse, we’ll probably head to head to the barn where your horse is stabled.  Cats are rather particular about their surroundings, so if you want to include your feline, that likely means a senior portrait session at your home.  It’s all about making the animal feel comfortable.  I’m happy to photograph a variety of animals, and am personally not afraid of bugs/insects/snakes — but it’s always best to let your photographer know ahead of time if you plan to include your pet.  I like to be prepared!

high school senior girl with labrador retriever dog on grass, ann arbor michigan senior photographer
Like any young dog (and maybe labrador retrievers in general), Roy was full of energy and excited …but willing to be around my camera equipment. Here’s one of him playing a bit with Genna while we got him in position for the real senior portraits.

4. Do you play any sports, or are you on any teams?

If you play football, you might want to do your senior portraits at the high school stadium.  Or if you are on track, it might be cool to create some portraits of you at the starting line.  If you know you want to do something sports-related during your senior portrait session, but you’re not particular about the location, we can definitely work that into your senior portrait session!  I’ve done sports-themed senior portraits in the studio.   And if you play soccer or another outdoors sport, it’s pretty easy to find a nice looking patch of green grass for your themed portrait if you don’t feel the need to pose by a soccer goal!  Think about the sports you are involved with, and which might be good to incorporate into your senior portrait session.  This should help you come up with some senior portrait session location ideas!

high school senior soccer goalie, girl portrait, outdoors dexter mi of skyline high school senior ann arbor mi
Caitlin’s mom loved this portrait …and I think this one might be my favorite of the soccer senior portrait series too. What do you think?

5. Do you like the outdoorsy, nature look?

In the greater Ann Arbor area, we have a TON of parks and recreational areas.  I am always happy to suggest locations if you need ideas.  Some of my clients are happy with whatever location I suggest, as long as it is outdoors and is some sort of natural setting.  Other clients want me to do portraits at a specific park where they spend a lot of time.  I’m happy to make suggestions, but it’s ultimately up to you.  If you like being outdoors, I bet you have some places that you go to frequently.  If you go there a lot… chances are it might make for a meaningful location for your senior portrait session!

senior boy portrait photographer fall colors dexter michigan
…..seriously. The sun, peeking through the trees. Gorgeous. I love those rays of sunlight, the dappled leaves, and the whole setting. It’s amazing how beautiful nature can be! I’m so glad we were able to create senior portraits for Ian that included the fall colors 🙂

6. Do you like going downtown?

If the answer is yes, think about where you go when you head downtown.  Is it to a particular park?  Maybe you go window shopping, or maybe you love being right downtown by Michigan Theater.  I’ve done senior portraits all over the place… and no two senior portrait sessions ever look alike.  If gritty urban portraits are more your thing, we can definitely talk about a visit to graffiti alley — they walls are always changing so you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a unique backdrop for your senior portraits.

If a smaller downtown scene is more your thing, we can look into downtown Dexter, Chelsea, Saline, or even Ypsilanti.  Each city has their own unique charm, so if one spot means more to you, by all means, let’s head there!  If you like going to Depot Town in Ypsilanti, it’s always a nice spot.   If you want to head downtown Ann Arbor, expect to do a bit of walking. I will add that parking is usually plentiful, unless you want to have your session downtown during the week of the Ann Arbor Art Fair (been there, done that!)…and then it’s going to be more walking!

graffiti alley, ann arbor, mi portrait photographer senior portrait photographer downtown ann arbor, location senior portraits ann arbor
We went for a more serious look with this really edgy senior portrait. I love how the colors fad to black. …and A’s hair looks great with all the colors at Graffiti Alley in Ann Arbor!

7. Do you have a favorite hangout?

Over the years, I’ve photographed seniors in coffee shops, libraries, book stores, restaurants… you name it.  If there is a place that you go to hang out, chances are good that we can plan a senior portrait session there.  If you love the store where you work, maybe you want to have senior portraits done there.  Maybe you go to Nichols Arcade a lot, and want portraits there.  Get the idea?  If there’s a place that you go with your friends for fun, maybe we can make that into a location for your senior portrait session.  It would definitely be memorable!

blimpy burger ann arbor senior portrait session, location senior portrait ann arbor mi photographer senior photos on location
We created this edgy senior portrait at the old Blimpy Burger before it was demolished. It really sticks in my mind as a favorite portrait session location — because it was meaningful to my client. He worked there :). Best part? I got a burger after our session was complete!

8.  If you had a friend visiting from out of town, where would you want to take them?

The spots that you want to share with an out of town friend may include a great place for your senior portrait session.  Maybe you want to take them to Gallup Park because of all the cool walking paths and bridges over the Huron river.  Maybe you would take them on a walking tour of downtown Saline because you love that area (followed by a side trip to Curtiss Park).  Or maybe Michigan Theater would be at the top of your list.  Wherever the spot — you’ve chosen it because it’s important to you.  So maybe it’d be a great location for your senior portrait session!

senior portrait outdoors dexter mi ann arbor photographer, friends photo senior photo
For that matter, why not invite a friend to tag along for your senior portrait session? We had a fun “friends” photo during the middle of this senior portrait session at my studio…

9. When you scroll through your phone’s camera roll, is there a spot where you frequently take photos or selfies?

If you have location tagging turned on, take a peek at the different spots where you tend to take photos.  Do any of those locations seem like a fun spot for senior portraits?  You might be surprised to find some ideas for where to have your senior portrait session!

If you take a lot of selfies, think of where you were when you tend to take those photos.  Maybe we could use that location for a fun “candid” senior portrait of you taking selfies!

senior portrait silly face, relaxed and casual senior portrait of girl, ann arbor michigan senior portrait photographer
It’s okay to be silly during your senior portrait session!  We took a series of photos, some smiling, some silly… doesn’t this senior portrait remind you just a bit of a selfie?

10. Does your family have a location that is meaningful to you as a family?

Okay, I know these are your senior portraits.  You want them to be special to you,… but sometimes part of that “special” comes from doing portraits in a location that you’ve gone to since you were little.  So, if you can’t come up with any ideas, but know you want something special… try asking your folks!  You could do your senior portraits at the same park where your mom or dad took you as a kid, or maybe your backyard has many happy childhood memories for you.  We can incorporate those memories into your senior portraits by choosing that as your location!  If you have older siblings, your parents might suggest the same location as their senior portraits.  If so, don’t worry about your senior portraits looking the same.  We will be able to make your experience unique to you, I promise.

Also, if you end up doing your senior portraits at your house, we could do some pictures of you in your environment — your room!  That’s up to you, of course.  Some people prefer to stay outside in the backyard for senior portrait sessions at their house.  But I will say, choosing your home as your senior portrait location all but eliminates your travel time.  And outfit changes will be a breeze!

senior portrait lake michigan channel to white lake, senior portraits lake michigan photographer senior photos
Maggie has family on Lake Michigan, and many weekends are spent on the lake. So it was only natural that we did some of her senior portraits on that side of the state. here’s a gorgeous senior portrait of her next to the channel.

Now, look through your answers….

Do you see any similarities?  Any locations listed more than once?  Maybe that’s a spot to consider for your senior portraits.  Seriously, though, there is NO wrong choice when it comes to a location for your senior portraits.

Your portraits will be a reflection of who you are because you are in them.  Your senior portraits will be meaningful because you are special.

You don’t have to stress out over finding the perfect location.  It’s okay to flip a coin, or ask others for input.

I hope these tips to help you choose a location for your session have been helpful.  I’d be happy to help you plan your senior portrait session in further detail too — just call the studio at 734-424-0472, or get in touch via our web form.  I’ll look forward to chatting with you soon!

Painted Portrait – a Father Daughter moment…

One of the nice things about creating a painting is that I can meld several photographs into one piece — and it looks totally natural.  This painting was based on several photographs that we took during Yara’s newborn portrait session (see the blog post with some of our favorite newborn photos of Yara!).  It took me several versions of the painting to get things exactly the way I was envisioning, but that’s why I do this.  Because when all the pieces finally fall into place, it looks amazing.  Here’s the final painted portrait of Yara with her dad.

father daughter portrait, baby girl with her dad, newborn portrait photographer dexter mi photography baby photographer ann arbor mi, painted digital portrait, digital art.
I absolutely love how this painted portrait turned out! Adding in Yara’s dad made all the difference in the world. For me, the painting while cute beforehand, becomes something more. The beginning of a wonderful father-daughter relationship is captured here in the final version of the painting…. love it!
baby girl wearing unicorn bow, painted portrait, digital painting, portrait artist, infant portrait photographer, newborn photographer dexter mi ann arbor baby photographer
I love the pastel tones in this painted portrait of Yara. This is the first version of the painting that I worked on before showing it to mom and dad. We felt it was lacking something…. so I added in dad. Isn’t it amazing what a difference it makes?

If you’d like to learn more about commissioning a painting from an existing photograph, or from a portrait we create during your next portrait session with me, get in touch! I’d love to talk with you about how the process works and help create a family heirloom that matches your lifestyle and vision. Contact the studio via our web form or call 734-424-0472 today!

Being part of the team…

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What’s the whole point of being on a team, anyways?  Well, for the kids on the Pistol Prodigies in Manchester, I think it’s to build character and learn responsibility.  If you’re looking for a nice group of kids — the Pistol Prodigies team in Manchester definitely fits the label!  I’ve done team photos for the group for the past few years, and they are always more than courteous, and exceptionally polite.  And this year was no exception.

Why do I say that?  The kids always thank me after I take their pictures.

In an era of self-entitlement, that’s actually very special.  And while it speaks volumes about the parents who are raising these kids, I think it probably also says the same about the leadership of the Pistol Prodigies team too.  Scott and Lisa Poet are down-to-earth, friendly, and do a great job of teaching responsibility and safety to the kids on their team.

Here are a few photos of the whole team for you to enjoy!

pistol prodigies manchester michigan youth team, sports photograph michigan
I love the warm sunlight on the grass in this portrait, and the shadows in the foreground. Makes for an interesting group portrait!
pistol prodigies manchester michigan youth team, sports photograph michigan
Here’s the group with their sponsorship banner. The sun darted behind the clouds for this portrait, so we got a completely different feel to the image. Cool, huh?

 

For more information about the Pistol Prodigies, visit their website: www.pistolprodigies.com.  If you want to see how much the team has changed since last year, check out my post from last year!  They placed really well, and have many medals to show for it.  Pretty cool that there are still sports out there that are awarding based on merit still!

 

 

Outdoors pet portraits of Apollo with his human siblings

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Every so often, my kids look up at me with those adorable puppy dog eyes and ask, “Mommy, can I be your assistant when your next client comes?”  While I think that’s adorable, I have to say no, and promise they can help me another time (when my clients are not there).  It’s cute.  Just like when I loaned one of my old DSLR cameras to my oldest the other day for experimentation.  He took some pictures, came back to me, and asked, “Mommy, am I a professional photographer?”  Adorable, right?  I smiled and answered, “do you want to be?”

Anyways, today they helped me out with an equipment test photoshoot.  I took some portraits of our dog, Apollo, using some equipment I’m testing out (I write articles and reviews for an industry magazine).  The kids had fun, and the dog loved all his treats.  Here are some of the photos we took.  Make sure to scroll to the end so you can see when my assistants jumped in front of the camera for a cute outtake :).

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Before I got started with the equipment test, I needed a few “no flash” photos. This was one of the natural light portraits of my pup. He was intently watching the treat 🙂
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Love that nose!!
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Tracking the treat. Lol. I love that you can see the treat just at the edge of the image in this one.
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As a word to the wise, if you keep your camera in an air-conditioned room… your camera lens WILL get foggy when you bring it out into this humid Michigan weather. …and yes, you’ll have to wipe off your lens more than once. I kind of like the ethereal feeling that the lens fog brings to this portrait though… 🙂 This is the start of my portraits with lighting, as you might notice by the different feel to the image.
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He’s so treat-oriented… this works perfectly :).
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It’s always fun for me to experiment with different looks. Yes, it was bright and sunny (wait, cloudy?) out… but my lighting and camera settings made this look super dark and dramatic. More treats for a good puppy!
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Apollo got the hang of this whole posing for the camera thing pretty easily. Bright flashy thing? Awesome… a treat comes next!!
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Aww I just love this puppy, he is too cute 🙂
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The dark stormy looking sky in this one is awesome, don’t you think? Remember, it wasn’t really this dark out,… that’s just my in-camera magic :).
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I figured a couple with our house in the background would be cool, since the yard is where Apollo loves to be. Outdoor dog all the way. And still happily contented with watching for treats…
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And for this one, I let the natural light impact the image a bit more. There’s still flash, but not quite so much moodiness. Isn’t that cool?
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And here are those outtakes of my kids. At this point, the sky had gotten nice and blue, and my kids were more than happy to jump in for a few outtakes with their pup.
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With all that energy, I had to work a little harder to get Apollo to focus on his treats (instead of the grass, which started to become very interesting).
photo session outtake, example of photo without professional lighting and equipment, see blog post for actual photos of session
Just for the sake of comparison, I figured I would throw in a snapshot of this same setting. Here’s my point and shoot camera, capturing the same scene. Crazy how different it looks, right?
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And one last one…. of my three guys being adorable in front of the camera. It may not be a portrait with coordinated outfits and all that jazz, but it’s still pretty cute, especially for an “outtake” …right? Love that blue sky!

Do you want a nice portrait of your pet, or your kids with your pet… but don’t want the hassle of wrangling all those bodies?  Let Betsy help you plan a portrait session for your family, furbabies and all!  Contact the studio at 734-424-0472 to get in touch today.

Group Portrait of the Ann Arbor Grail Singers

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Because of all the musicians in my family, you could say music is in my blood.  And yes, I play occasionally — most often piano accompaniment these days.  A year or so ago I was able to join the Ann Arbor Grail Singers for a performance, which was really fun!  Sadly, my schedule didn’t allow me to continue on singing with them, but I was really excited to be able to come back to photograph the group last year right before their performance!

Now, usually I photograph groups or individuals with some kind of studio lighting, even on location.  But in this instance, we didn’t have time to set up any kind of lighting, as the photoshoot happened right after the dress rehearsal and about five minutes before the doors were opened to the public.  We literally had less than five minutes to get this group portrait taken.  So, we made the best of it!

First, let me show you the beautiful space that the Ann Arbor Grail Singers performed at, and then I’ll share two group portraits of the Ann Arbor Grail Singers with you!

church architecture, musical group, ann arbor photo on location, ann arbor mi photographer, ann arbor grail singers
Here’s a pullback of the entire sanctuary. I loved getting to climb up in the choir loft at the back of the church (or is it organ loft? I don’t know…). There’s just something to be said for the ethereal feeling of old style churches. The choir was just rehearsing while I created this photo, it was not posed by any means.
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Here’s the entire group of musicians. Aren’t those robes colorful? They were hand made by an artist at the Ann Arbor art fair (if I recall correctly).
ann arbor mi photographer, ann arbor musician portrait, ann arbor grail singers
And one final frame of the Ann Arbor Grail Singers.  After this last group portrait was taken, I hightailed it out of there with my gear so that the doors could open and people could come inside to hear some lovely music performed by a friendly yet professional group of musicians.

If your ensemble or group is in need of a group portrait for publicity purposes, please contact the studio at 734-424-0472 so that we can discuss your needs and come up with a plan to fit your vision!  We can plan for your group portrait to take place either on location, as the Ann Arbor Grail Singers did, or at the studio.  It’s all up to you!

Newborn Portraits of Baby Yara

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I got to meet Yara this summer… and she is adorable!  Her mom had the cutest outfits planned for Yara’s newborn portrait session too.  The only problem?  Yara, who was wide-eyed and cheerful at the beginning of her portrait session, just could not stay awake by the end!  No matter how much you plan, this sometimes happens… so we made some adjustments in our plans and instead of creating newborn portraits of a wide-eyed baby girl, we created some adorable sleeping newborn portraits at the end of her newborn session. Not what mom had planned, but sweet nonetheless.

Such is life!  Next time Yara comes to the studio, she will be a bit older, and I know we’ll capture some portraits with her not-so-sleepy-personality on display!

So, here’s a sneak peek of Yara’s portraits…. enjoy!

baby girl portrait in studio, newborn photographer ann arbor mi portraits, newborn baby portrait with bunny rabbit outfit
Yara was wide awake at the beginning of her portrait session… just about as wriggly as a baby bunny too! But we got some cute portraits, including this one of her peeking out from under her hat. Love it!
baby girl looking over mom's shoulder, in studio portrait sesison, ann arbor child portrait photographer, dexter mi photography studio
Between outfits, Yara needed some snuggles with her mama, so I got to capture this adorable portrait. Such a sweet baby girl!
outtake from a studio portrait session, how to get babies to fall asleep during a portrait session, newborn portrait photographer ann arbor dexter mi
This is an outtake from Yara’s session. I think sometimes it’s helpful for my clients to see photos like this, because it can be super tough to visualize how baby gets settled into a particular pose or prop. Well, we do it carefully! Yara’s mom was within reach the whole time, and I always tell parents that safety comes first. After Yara fell asleep, her mom was able to move just out of the camera so I could capture the next few portraits.
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First, a close up of the adorable little sleeping beauty. Love that bow!!! Yara’s mom did a great job of picking out outfits and putting together accessories for the portraits. We may not have gotten any portraits of her awake in this outfit, but… sometimes that’s how it works. Newborns will be unpredictable in whether they are awake or asleep. Fortunately Yara will be coming to the studio frequently (Baby’s First Year plans rock!)… so next time around, we’ll get more portraits of an awake baby girl, I know it!
`sleeping newborn portrait, child portrait photographer, dexter mi portrait photographer, ann arbor child photographer
And here’s the final frame. I absolutely love this one. So serene, so sweet. Yara was so precious to work with, and I look forward to seeing her again soon!!

That’s all I have for a sneak peek, but there is another adorable portrait in the works.  I have a little more work to do on it yet, as I’m making a digital painting…. but I’ll share that with you when it is ready for the world to see :).  So, for now, enjoy these portraits, and try to decide which is your favorite!

If you have a newborn, or are expecting soon, please contact me at 734-424-0472 to learn more about our Baby’s First Year plan!  It’s a great alternative to an a la carte portrait session, and you will love how easy your portrait experience is!  I’ve worked with babies of many temperaments, and it’s always fun to help bring out their personalities so you will end up with adorable portraits like these ones of Yara.  Not one newborn portrait session is alike, I can tell you that for sure!

Outdoor Soccer Portraits at the Studio :: Caitlin’s Senior Session

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Caitlin came to the studio this summer for her senior portrait session.  Last summer, when I did her brother’s senior portraits at Mill Creek Park in Dexter, Caitlin tagged along too.  It was fun getting to see her again, and create some new, updated, portraits of Caitlin for her very own senior pictures.  This time, we stayed inside the studio for most of Caitlin’s portrait session, since the weather was ominous and all.

Our plan, assuming the weather held off?  To finish off the session with a series of outdoor soccer portraits.  Thankfully, the weather turned out beautifully (isn’t it crazy how that always happens?)…. and Caitlin’s senior portraits were able to go as planned.  Bonus?  You’d never know it was terribly muggy and humid from the photos.  Love that Michigan weather, right?

I really can’t say which of these outfits was my favorite.  Caitlin did such a nice job of curating (or is it coordinating) her own outfits, down the accessories.  While I’m happy to give advice, I love it when my clients are confident in their own style and know what looks good on them!

So, without further delay, here are her senior portraits.  Enjoy!

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We started off in the studio with a more formal outfit. I was originally going to take the brown out of this backdrop to match Caitlin’s dress, but it looks too good with her curls!
studio portrait dexter mi photographer senior girl portrait of skyline high school senior ann arbor mi
We created a few full length portraits of Caitlin… I love how the stripes on this dress change in size… so fun!
ann arbor dexter mi photographer studio portrait senior photo session girl sitting on chair of skyline high school senior ann arbor mi
This was another one of Caitlin’s outfits. I love how the sweater and sunglasses complement her dress… such a nice touch! And that smile… gorgeous!
high school senior girl studio portrait, taken in studio with sunglasses. dexter mi senior portrait photographer of skyline high school senior ann arbor mi
Here’s a closeup portrait of Caitlin with her sunglasses. So gorgeous!! And the curls… killer!
senior portrait cowgirl studio portrait photographer dexter mi senior photos of skyline high school senior ann arbor mi
I absolutely love this portrait of Caitlin… she looks so relaxed and cheerful… plus she nailed this outfit. So pretty!
senior girl portrait cowgirl themed studio portrait with cowboy hat, dexter mi senior portrait photographer of skyline high school senior ann arbor mi
And a closeup of Caitlin. Love the hat, love the smile. Seriously, right?
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When we headed outside for the last part of Caitlin’s senior portrait session, she was really in her element. She plays soccer — and I hear she is an awesome goalie!
high school senior soccer goalie, girl portrait, outdoors dexter mi of skyline high school senior ann arbor mi
Caitlin’s mom loved this portrait …and I think this one might be my favorite of the soccer senior portrait series too. What do you think?
outdoors senior portrait with trees and grass, soccer goalie girl portrait photography session of skyline high school senior ann arbor mi
Then again, I just LOVE the wide expanse of sky in this portrait. It’s so hard to pick a favorite… but if you were going with a wall portrait, this would be my pick — it would look great in larger formate!
closeup portrait of high school senior girl, outdoors portrait of girl in soccer goalie uniform, dexter mi photographer of skyline high school senior ann arbor mi
And the game face. I might have that titled wrong, but we were going for something more serious or fierce, rather than just cheerful here. Do you think we got it?

Have you been thinking it’s time to plan your senior portrait session, but maybe you just want to enjoy your summer first?  No problem!  Give us a call (734-424-0472) or email us so that we can get the planning process started.  Let’s set a date now, and iron out the details as your session date gets closer.

 

 

A Studio Headshot of Sydney

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Life is sometimes so busy it’s hard to find time to do things for yourself.  Even if it is something helpful to your business, like getting an updated headshot portrait, right?

Well this past month Sydney came to the studio for a session, and she was on a tight schedule.  We scheduled the session to be an hour before she needed to leave for an appointment… no problem, right?  Well, add an unfortunate traffic jam into the mix, and things got a little more complicated.

Fortunately, I knew we could get a nice headshot in 15-20 minutes, easily.  Sydney was relieved to know she would have plenty of time to get a nice business portrait …and still meet her client on time.

Sydney and I briefly discussed how she wanted to look in her portrait…. Not too big of a smile, but definitely smiling, and a word that came to mind was “approachable.”

So, here’s the final headshot portrait that Sydney settled on. I love this one! She looks so approachable, friendly, and I think it really captured her personality well.

Business portrait, headshot in studio, Dexter MI photographer
Sydney’s business portrait…what a nice headshot, don’t you think?

 

If you need to update your headshot but haven’t because of a busy schedule, know that we can easily fit a basic headshot portrait session into most busy schedules. Contact the studio at 734-424-0472 to learn more today!

A Relaxed + Crazy Fun Family Portrait Session in Ann Arbor!

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What family portrait session would be complete without a little bit of crazy?  Because, honestly, that’s life with kids.  Fortunately, part of my job is to make the portrait experience be fun for the whole family… and we definitely succeeded during this portrait session.

When Cynthia and I chatted about what she wanted from her portrait session, she told me she was really just looking for one good portrait of everyone together. Well, I think we accomplished that — and more.  The kids definitely had me improvising, but that’s what I love about working with little ones!

We planned the family portrait session to take place at their home in Ann Arbor.  So, on the day of the session, we started out the session in the family room, and when I asked Samuel, Joseph, and Elijah to sit on the couch for me… the older two boys listened a bit better than their younger brother.  No worries.  He got to hide behind the couch for some portraits.  I convinced him to come out for a few portraits to check and see if my camera was working — and told him that he was invisible for my camera’s pictures.

That trick lasted pretty much the whole session…. and didn’t get old!

Once the rest of the family was ready, I photographed everyone on the couch before we headed outside to the backyard.  We did a series of portraits outside…. most of which were casual and on the fly.  I try to get a couple posed family portraits during a typical session, but am totally willing to create family portraits where kids can be kids.  Ryan and Cynthia were so patient with their kids’ antics, and I am glad they trusted me with creating their family portrait.

By the end of the session, I could tell that we were losing the two youngest kids.  It’s hard to try and sit still, right? I used a few tricks to get a few last portraits in, and then we called it quits.

Well, almost.  We realized that Liliana hadn’t been wearing her bow during the portrait session — so Cynthia asked if we could give it a shot.  Of course, I said yes!  It didn’t take long for someone to figure out how to take off the bow, but I captured several adorable portraits of her wearing it.  After a few more rounds of Mom putting on the bow, snapping a photo, and seconds later Liliana pulling it off…. we were all set.

I hope you enjoy these family portraits as much as I enjoyed creating them.  It’s always so much fun to work with kids — I love their energy and vibes!

 

family portrait session outtake, boys full of energy smiling for camera, ann arbor family portrait photographer on location
An outtake from ourcrazy but fun session! These boys were so full of energy — I loved it!
candid smile toddler boy portrait on location in ann arbor mi
This little guy was adorable… but definitely a wiggle worm!!
family portrait in living room, location portrait photographer natural light, ann arbor michigan
We got the whole family to fit on the couch for a portrait — the boys were really excited when I told them they could stand on the couch “just this once!”
boy outdoors smiling for camera, family portrait photographer on location in ann arbor mi
The older brothers had really great expressions — what fun to photograph them!
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Sometimes I think you just have to share the goofy shots. And these boys definitely loved being silly for the camera.
family portrait on location in ann arbor, in backyard of house, michigan portrait photographer
I really loved this family portrait. It took a lot of kid wrangling because one of the boys was getting antsy. I captured this shot by having everyone else sit for the camera, and then let the wiggle worm run and sit down “just in time” for me to take the photo. I also had him convinced that my camera thought he was invisible. He was so proud that I kept “missing” him in the photos! 🙂
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And then this little lady decided it was time to start moving. Naturally, right?
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Mom wanted one portrait with this adorable bow, so we reconvened for one last set of portraits. The bow didn’t stay on long… but it was long enough to get the shot!

If you have been putting off planning a family portrait session because it seems too stressful, or you’re worried your kids won’t be able to sit still…. please don’t wait any longer!  I love working with kids who are on the move, and it’s part of my job to create great family portraits while your little ones are on the move.  Contact the studio today at 734-424-0472 so we can chat about your family and what kind of family portrait you’d like me to create for you!

Jacob’s newborn portrait at the studio, plus big sis!

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For sleeping newborn portraits, it’s almost always best to do the session when baby is less than a week old. Why almost? Well, because every once in a while, you get a stalwart nap objector — like Jacob! Jacob was determined to stay awake for his newborn portrait session, even though there was sleepy dust in the air!

It was actually really adorable.  I used a number of my photographer tricks to help Jacob try to fall asleep, but ultimately we gave up and went for photos where he just looks like he’s sleeping.  Too funny, right?

Jacob’s big sister was very intrigued by the whole portrait session process.  She wanted a front and center view of the action.  And I literally mean that.  Fortunately, mom and dad came prepared with snacks, and I had a stash of new-to-her toys — so big sis was happily occupied for a lot of the portrait session.

Life is all about making adjustments and being flexible. And that’s how I manage my portrait sessions too.

Usually when we create sibling portraits in the studio, I have all the kids in front of the camera at the same time.  But, for this set of siblings, I could tell that just wasn’t going to work!

I am so grateful that my clients were willing to trust my vision… because by thinking outside the box, I was able to create an adorable portrait of both kids.  Before we photographed Jacob, I had big sis hunt for cheerios on the crate.  We got some cute individual portraits of her, and then it was time to swap kids!  My retouching magic put both kids in one portrait, and made the cheerios disappear.

I know you’ve been dying to see these portraits — so without any more chatter from me…. here you go!

 

newborn baby yawning while sleeping in forest. newborn photographer dexter mi studio portrait
Love this one! Since we were in the studio for the entire session, you know a little retouching magic happened here. But that’s okay, right? Jacob’s mom and dad loved this one… they’d seen my prep work for it (fake green grass, the wooden prop), but had no idea what I was envisioning for the final portrait.
newborn portrait session, infant baby photographer in studio
I loved this new photo prop — simple but adorable! The monochromatic tones really let you focus on baby Jacob — who was adamantly awake for most of his infant portrait session. Jacob’s parents chose to have this one printed as a canvas to hang in their home. It looks amazing on canvas!
sleepy baby wrapped in fabric, feet making heart shape
My heart melts with this one. I love how snug and sleepy Jacob looks… and how his feet make an adorable little heart!
studio portrait of newborn baby, newborn photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi
I love the cute wrinkles on Jacob’s forehead. Sleeping, or trying to, for this portrait 🙂
newborn baby boy with big sibling in studio
Jacob’s big sister was so adorable — you could tell she loved her brother! Darn that awkward toddler stage where well-meaning baby snuggles are just not gentle enough. But, I’m really pleased with how this portrait turned out. We photographed each child individually, and then I worked some magic to composite the two during retouching.
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And one final sleeping one of Jacob. He really was adorable in every photograph I created!

If you are expecting a baby, or have a newborn, I’d love to chat with you about planning a laid-back and stress-free newborn portrait session with me at the studio! We can do a standalone portrait session, or to help you plan ahead, we can discuss the benefits of my Baby’s First Year plan. Contact me today at 734-424-0472 to learn more!

A Family Portrait for the Snyders with their dog …and sunny skies!

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Last week I had a family portrait session here in Dexter — and the weather forecast was looking rainy as all get out. After conferring with Angela, we decided to go ahead with the session even if it ended up being indoors at my studio. Work schedules can be so tricky to work around, and they hadn’t had a family portrait done in a long time, so this family portrait would be happening, rain or shine!

When Roger and Angela Snyder showed up to my studio, the sun was shining, the sky looked gorgeous, and everyone was happy to be outside. What luck!

After saying hello to my clients, I knelt down to greet the littlest member of the Snyder family — an adorably sweet miniature pinscher. She greeted me happily, although I have a hunch she was more interested in the smells of my dog, than in letting me pet her.

That all changed when Roger gave me the bag of treats. Can we say treat motivated? I love that — it makes my job easier! Although, I have a hunch that the pup would say I was too stingy in doling out treats. 🙂 We chatted briefly about Angela’s vision for the session one last time. She didn’t have anything specific in mind, aside from wanting a photo of her and Roger walking away in the distance.

I knew the perfect spot for that photo!

So we worked our way around the edge of my woods, where there is a nice place for walking. Yes, we took some portraits on the way, both with and without the dog. Since she’s such a small pup, I offered to multitask and hold the leash while photographing Roger and Angela. Though, I had to laugh to myself a bit as I took pictures with a leash in hand! There’s no way I would have done that with a large breed like my 75 lb Labrador! I guess, another convenience of the miniature breeds, right?

The session went very smoothly, and the sun stayed out the whole time. It was fantastic. I am so glad we decided to pull through regardless of the weather!

Here is a sneak peek from the Snyder’s family portrait session. So many awesome ones, don’t you think?

Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
Angela mentioned she loved water, so naturally I had to include the lake!
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
And a farther back portrait from the same setting. This would look great as a canvas, don’t you think?
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
Here’s one of the portraits where I was both dog and camera wrangling!
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
Angela mentioned to me that she wasn’t a fan of super close up portraits, so we did quite a few wide angle ones like this.
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
And finally, the important series of photos — walking off into the distance! I love the light here, it’s just gorgeous. I opted to let the natural light speak for itself in this series.
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
And walking closer…
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
…and closer…!
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
Here’s a little outtake from the session I caught Roger and Angela as they were having a laugh!
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
And then we created this portrait. I guess that rain came in handy, because the grass looks so lush and green!
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
What gorgeous light on these two. Don’t Roger and Angela make a great couple?
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
A little more greenery…
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
I love this portrait!
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
I couldn’t decide between that last family portrait and this one. Gorgeous, right?
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors
I love the wide open feel of these portraits. Angela and Roger did a great job during their family portrait session!
Family portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi outdoors star wars themed
What a gorgeous day,right? Okay, okay. In case you’re wondering what’s up with the Star Wars shirts, Angela requested this portrait and outfit specifically to play a joke on her mom. What fun!

If you haven’t had a family portrait done in a while, please contact me at 734-424-0472 so that we can plan a session that will be perfect for you and your family. I’m happy to work with you whether you have a clear and precise vision for your family photos or if you simply know “it’s been a while” and you simply want a great looking family portrait to put above the fireplace!

Making Time to Enjoy Baseball

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Don’t you love being outdoors? I’m so glad that the warm weather has finally showed up! Although, with spring and summer comes a flurry of activities. Baseball, swimming, golf, nature walks, you name it!

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This was Toby’s first time catching. He looked like a natural!

My oldest son, Toby, has moved up to machine pitch baseball with Dexter Little League this year, so we’ve been spending quite a bit of time at the ball diamond. My husband is coaching for the fourth season, so we constantly have baseball gear coming out of our ears. It might seem like a big time commitment, right? Yes… but it’s worth it.

I get to set my to-do list aside and simply watch Toby being a kid. And I get to chat with other parents who are doing the same thing! And the little siblings have fun too, in their own way (Zack, my younger son, loves to playing on the bleachers, or in the ball diamond dirt). I love the community that comes with baseball.

Most days, you’ll find me happily carrying a pocket camera. But, every so often, I’ll bring my DSLR camera and zoom lens to a ball game. For me, there’s just something about capturing a moment, a memory. It’s the process of creating and documenting life… and while I’m often busy doing this for my clients, it’s important to me that I do the same for my own family!!

So, with that in mind, here are a few photos from one of Toby’s recent games. Enjoy!

dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Zack was on the sidelines for part of the game, cheering for his big brother.  Plus…. popcorn, because baseball and snacks go together. {Side note: isn’t this chair awesome??} 🙂
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
…part of the game is learning to sit on the bench when most of your team is out on the field.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Toby and a teammate on the bench.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
My husband, carrying on the family tradition of coaching baseball .
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Toby transitioned to machine pitch from t-ball really well! it was really amazing to see how much the kids had all matured since last season 🙂  {Side note: you can see Steven coaching at first base in this photo. I love my zoom!}
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Toby did a good job of getting on base…
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
…rounding third base…
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
…and safe at home! Toby was so proud of himself 🙂
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Even though the balls are thrown by the machine, kids still get to take turns playing the position of pitcher.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Go speed racer! Toby had fun looking at the photos I took to see if he was running fast enough for both his feet to be off the ground at the same time.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
As the sun got lower in the sky, Toby got another run. He was so proud of himself.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
I love seeing good sportsmanship!!

Thanks for letting me share these family memories with you!  I hope that you’ve found fun ways to capture memories of things you enjoy doing as a family.  🙂

Engagement at the Troll in Dexter, MI!

posted in: Photography | 0

On Saturday I left my older son Toby’s baseball game to go hang out at Mill Creek Park for an engagement photoshoot. Since Steven (my husband) was coaching the baseball team, I took our younger son Zack with me. Which was actually helpful…. because this wasn’t a typical engagement portrait. My client hired me to photograph her son as he proposed to his girlfriend.

engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
I love this one, it has the troll in the portrait and everything!

And I had to be inconspicuous.

So, I figured, what better way to be inconspicuous than to have a toddler in tow? Right? I mean, no professional photographer would be hanging out at the park with a kid, a toddler bike, and a wagon full of snack supplies!

It was kind of exciting, too! I hadn’t met the couple, I didn’t know what they looked like (aside from a photo that the mom had texted me). I knew where he was planning to propose (at the friendly troll statue next to the boardwalk. And we had a general idea of the time it would take place.

So about 45 minutes before the proposal was set to happen, Zack and I headed over to the park. Zack was on his bike, and I brought the wagon along just in case he got tired, so we could make it in time. We set up a “picnic” on a bench near the troll, and waited. Since I figured Zack might not be good at keeping a secret, I didn’t tell him what we were doing — we were there to “look for birds and other animals.”

For a three year old, he was a trooper! We hung out, I pretended to look for birds while secretly checking out everyone coming down the path — I didn’t want to miss the soon-to-be-engaged couple! Towards the end, Zack got a little antsy and wanted to start biking again. Fortunately, I was able to persuade him to stay a little longer with a cup of trail mix.

That was around the time when I saw my couple walking down the path. I tried to look the part of mom with camera, looking for birds with her toddler. When I saw him start to pull the box holding her ring out of his back pocket, I stopped trying to be secretive and just made sure I was in the right spot to get the best photos of them.

So, while my cover was blown, at that point she was focused on something other than me — her ring. It was so much fun to document her reaction; seeing people so excited always makes me happy :). At that point she kind of looked around at everyone standing and watching — and I said, “congratulations!”

He had succeeded in surprising her, and she started to piece things together. We introduced ourselves, and I took a few more posed portraits of them next to the troll. And that was it. I congratulated them a final time, and then they went back the way they came, arm in arm.

I was really proud of Zack for holding himself together, so we headed off for a celebratory ice cream cone at Dairy Queen (this time he didn’t bike; I pulled him in the wagon). What a fun day!

Here are some of my favorite images from the session (and to see the whole series, you’ll find a slideshow at the end of this post!)

engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
They showed up, and I was ready! 🙂
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
And he was ready too…. finding the perfect time to get out the ring!
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
He definitely surprised her!
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
…and of course, she said yes!!
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
The troll was happy to witness the proposal!
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
…so much excitement!
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
And of course, no proposal is complete without a kiss, right?
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
…I love her expressions, she was so excited!
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
Love this one. Sometimes you don’t need any faces in a portrait to tell a story.
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
…and the ring is on!
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
one final embrace before leaving…
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
…and off they went!
engagement proposal portrait photographer dexter mi
The happy couple 🙂

 

And, as promised, here’s the slideshow:

Congratulations!!! I am so excited to have been a part of your big day 🙂

Should You Send Out Senior Graduation Announcements?

posted in: Photography | 0

I can’t believe it’s already April! You’ve probably started planning your senior graduation party by now, right? And one part of graduation festivities is senior graduation announcements.

dexter michigan ann arbor michigan senior graduation announcement cards portrait photographer

But are senior graduation announcement cards a thing of the past?

That depends on who you ask.

Some of my clients opt out of senior graduation announcement cards, true.

But many more discover that these cards are really nice to send out to family members, good family friends, and other people who care that you’re graduating.  Yes, they might come to your graduation party. Awesome!

Pssst…. seniors, I’m going to let you in on a secret.

Before you decide senior graduation announcements are a outdated and a thing of the past, consider this.  If your parents invite their grown-up friends to your graduation party, chances are good that these people care about you.  And these people often congratulate new graduates ….with a congratulations card, yes… that more often than not contains money.

Parents, feel free to use that point when having the “can we send out graduation announcement cards” discussion with your kid.

It works, trust me.

But what if I don’t have time to put one together?

That’s where I come in.

Over the years, I’ve helped many of my high school senior clients get prepared for their parties — what role do I play? I assist you from the sidelines. Help you get one more thing checked off your to do list.

I love to create custom designed senior graduation announcements and even senior graduation party invitations! Sometimes the two are rolled into one, depending on my client.

I have a number of design options for you to choose from, and you can opt to keep the text as is, or customize it to your heart’s content.  Senior graduation announcement cards are available in sets of 24, and come with envelopes included.

If you want to learn more about this time saving service, please contact the studio today!

What choices do I need to make to get senior graduation announcements designed for me?

In order for me to design your senior graduation announcements, I’ll just need some simple decisions from you.

  1. First, you’ll get to choose the photos that you want on the cards!
  2. I’ll help you select a design that works with your favorite portraits.
  3. You tell me the details for your graduation party — date, time, place, etc — so that I can put that information on your announcement card.
  4. Then I work my magic and design your card with all your details!
  5. You get to approve a digital preview of the card, and after that, it goes to the printer!

What sort of information should I put on my senior graduation announcements?

This is the cool thing — it’s up to you!  These days, anything goes!

Here are some options to consider:

  • Include where you will be going to school in the fall, along with contact information (like phone, email info).
  • Details for your school’s official cap and gown ceremony (this is usually done in lieu of the next option).
  • Details for the graduation party your parents are hosting for you (date, time, place).
  • Some people keep it simple and just include their name, and their graduation year (i.e. Jane Smith, Class of 2018).

It’s really much simpler that it appears.  I promise.  In the time it’s taken me to write this blog post, I could have been sitting down with you and completely designed your senior graduation announcement cards …and you could have approved the digital preview.

Isn’t that cool?


Now, I know you’ve got a million things on your plate this year.  You have to make it through the end of the school year. You have to figure out everything you need to do before college.  You need to… oh, ok… I know you get the point.

But my point is this — let me help make your life easier.  Give me a call so we can design your senior graduation announcement cards.

It will make your life easier, I promise.

Calling Class of 2019 Seniors!

posted in: Notes | 0

...pssst... juniors!

It's that time again... that time when we start planning ahead towards next year.  Maybe you're really excited to be finished with junior year, and can't wait to be a senior!  Well, if you want to get a jump start on all awesomeness that comes with being a senior, you should look into our Class of 2019 Senior Representative Program.

Being a senior rep is fun AND easy!  You will be able to earn photos, cash, and more ....just for referring new clients to Betsy's Photography.  And that part will be easy, because you're going to love the senior photos we create for you.

Learn more about what's involved and find out how to become a senior rep today!  You can click on the button below to access a Google Drive hosted PDF with information about our Class of 2019 Senior Representative program.  

What's special about being a senior rep?

What do you get?  Well, check out the PDF for all the details, but to sum things up, you get:

  • a mini photoshoot at Betsy's Photography with your friends this semester!
  • your senior portrait session this summer!
  • web photos to share with everyone!
  • referral cards
  • and more, including referral perks and bonuses!!!

Wait.

What? What's the catch?  

Really, there is no catch. All you need to do to participate is be yourself, and refer anyone looking for senior portraits to Betsy's Photography.  

That's it.

Will you join us?  If you want to learn more, click the button below to access a Google Drive hosted PDF file with everything you need to know!

Don't wait too long to make a decision though, because we can only accept 2-3 senior reps per school!  

Have questions?  Feel free to contact the studio :).

Learn About Shutter Speed

posted in: Learning | 0

Learn about shutter speed, part of the abcs of photography, with fun activities for kids from BPhotoArt.com!Welcome back to our ABCs of Photography series!  With 2018, we’re relaunching this as a biweekly series, to help you finish working your way through the alphabet ABCs.  This week, we’re on the letter “S” … so we’ll be learning about shutter speed.

What’s shutter speed?  It’s how long the shutter is open, or the length of time that the exposure is for the photo you are taking (Check out our learn about exposure activity if you’re not sure what the term means).

To simplify things, let’s break down shutter speed into slow and fast.

A slow shutter speed means:

  • The camera is taking the photo for a longer time
  • Your camera has more light for the exposure (you can take photos in darker places this way)
  • Things are more likely to be blurry, or even abstracted
  • The image may look shaky  if you don’t hold the camera steady (tripod, anyone?)

A fast shutter speed, on the other hand, means:

  • The camera takes a fraction of a second to take the photo
  • Your camera has less light for the exposure (you might need flash rather than existing light)
  • Things in the image will likely be crisp and sharp (or, at least, not moving!)
  • You don’t usually need a tripod.

Some typical shutter speeds you might see on your camera are numbers like these (going from slow to fast):

1/2    1/4    1/8    1/15    1/30    1/60    /125    1/250     1/500    1/1000

The bigger the number on the bottom of the fraction, the faster your shutter speed.  Some cameras will even have longer shutter speeds, as in 1″ or 30″ — but we’re not going to get into nitty gritty details here.

Now, the question is, what can you photograph with different shutter speeds?

If you’re a photography guru, you might decry the fact I’m leaving out aperture and film speed here — yes, I know that it’s a multi part equation, but we’re keeping this as simple as possible.  Only one variable: shutter speed.

With slower shutter speeds you can photograph:

  • people or animals that know how to sit still and not move
  • nature landscapes or buildings that definitely don’t move
  • night photos that have streaks of light from moving stars (this would be a really slow shutter speed – maybe even minutes long).

With faster shutter speeds you can photograph:

  • kids running around at breakneck speed
  • sports athletes during a game
  • hummingbirds in flight

Learn About Shutter Speed Activity

Now, onto the fun part!  Let’s learn about shutter speed by doing an activity or two!  Depending on the ages of your kids, you might want to just do one or the other.

First, let’s look at some photos and try to guess which one has a fast or slow shutter speed.  I’m not worried about exactness, so use this as a dialog as to “why” they are either slow or fast.  Click on each photo to enlarge it, and read the caption while it’s enlarged to find out if you’re right!  (these are all stock photos used with permission via pixabay.com)

Alternate Activity for Learning About Shutter Speed

Okay, now for one more activity.  This one might be fun for younger kids.  Get out your camera, or cameraphone, and start taking pictures of your kids.  See if they can “trick” the camera into photographing them as blurs by moving fast so that the shutter speed is too slow to catch them.  You can also have them see if they can sit/stand super still so that the camera can catch them.

If you have more than one kid, you can tell one to sit still while the other runs through the room — and take the photo.  One kid should be crisp and in focus, while the other will probably be blurry.  Make sure to let them take turns!

Wrapping Up

Well, I hope that was a helpful dialog about shutter speeds.  As you learn more about photography, you’ll find that this only touches the surface.  But that was the entire point behind this ABCs of Photography series.  To simplify photography terms so that kids (and adults!) can start to understand them!

Make sure to check back in two weeks for the next activity in the ABCs of Photography (letter T). You might also enjoy revisiting our last activity where we learned about the rule of thirds (including a fun snack activity for kids!).


The ABCs of Photography - An Educational Series for KidsJoin Betsy as she works through the alphabet in this educational series for kids… The ABCs of Photography!  We’ll cover topics from A to Z, with activity ideas for both younger and older kids

Sign up for emails to get each week’s blog update delivered to your inbox, which will include future posts in this biweekly series.

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