Family Portraits at Home :: The O. Family

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Life can be so busy when you’re a parent.  Add those kid schedules into the mix and life gets more complicated, right?  That’s why we often plan family portrait sessions several months in advance.  It makes life easier for everyone!  And, when you decide to do your family portraits at your home, there’s another bonus!  I come to you — and you DON’T HAVE TO TRAVEL.  Yep, one less thing to do the day of your session.  How’s that for being efficient and minimizing stress?

The day of the O. Family’s portrait session, I arrived at their home and set up my equipment while the family finished getting ready.  We chatted a little to review what the family wanted regarding their portraits.  And then we got started!  Here are some awesome highlights from their session:

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Before the family portrait session started, I walked around the house to get a feel for the landscaping and which areas might look nice. This was where we ended up starting. I love how mom is holding both of her kids’ hands. <3
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I love the landscaping!  it’s all gorgeous, really. But this looked so nice, I had everyone gather on the stone steps. We did a series of portraits here in this location, but this was my favorite to share with you!
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Then we walked around to the back of the house, where there was this nice landscaping with stone steps leading down to the yard. I had the family sit on the rocks by this tree. This is another one of my favorites — I love how the house is included, but nature dominates the background, so it has a nice blend of architectural and natural elements. And, bonus for my subjects — we were in the shade, where it wasn’t hot! (er, *AS* hot).
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A sibling portrait, which I thought was cute….
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And then we did some mother daughter portraits. This one looks so lovely, don’t you think?
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Mom spontaneously gave her daughter a kiss on the cheek, and I am so glad I caught that moment for them 🙂
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Then it was time for the father son portrait. They goofed around a bit too — but settled in for this nice portrait of the two of them.
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Someone’s girlfriend made a cameo appearance towards the end of the portrait session (requested by Mom, naturally!).
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And last but not least, Mom and Dad. This is a painting created from a portrait that I took.
While I do have traditional training so far as painting goes, I’ve really enjoyed learning to paint digitally. For one, there is less mess. It’s so much fun to create these painted masterpieces for my clients — they LOVE the results, and I really enjoy being able to provide this unique style of portrait art !

If you’re interested in scheduling a family portrait at your home, please don’t wait to get in touch!  We can start the planning process now, and reserve your date in advance so that the whole family has it on their calendar.  Yes, it’s crazy to coordinate calendars these days, but when you plan ahead, you can make sure your family portrait session becomes a priority!  Call Betsy at 734-424-0472 or contact us via our web form today!

Senior Portraits Worth Traveling For :: Areonna’s Senior Session

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Would you travel three hours for your senior portraits? Areonna and her mom did just that!  Why make the trek to Ann Arbor to have me do their senior portraits?  Because they were looking for a unique senior portrait experience…. and they found me via a web search.  Love when things are serendipitous like that!

Anyways, Areonna’s mom contacted me because her daughter didn’t want senior portraits that looked like anyone else’s. And she’d seen my senior portraits at Graffiti Alley in downtown Ann Arbor — it was the perfect spot for Areonna.

While I always enjoy helping my clients plan their senior session, in this case I got to go a little more in depth… suggesting hair and makeup stylists in the area that would be close to the spot where we’d be doing her senior portraits in Ann Arbor.  You might think it would be stressful ….planning a senior photo session for someplace you’ve never visited, but that’s why I am here. I am happy to provide location suggestions, put together a collection of locations on Google maps, recommend stylists, whatever you need.

As usual, we monitored the weather in the days leading up to the photoshoot, and while it was muggy, there wasn’t a raincloud in sight.  We met at Nickel’s Arcade for the first set of senior portraits, and then moved onto Graffiti Alley for the second set.  It’s always fun to see what props people bring along with them for sessions.  I know I mention this a lot, but one perk of being my client?  I have a portable changing room AND a folding wagon (for extra camera gear and also for client outfits).  It really makes the whole senior portrait experience a lot easier.  I’ve done it the old fashioned way — and let’s just say, there’s a reason I bring both things with me! 🙂

Okay, enough chit chat.  Let’s get onto Areonna’s senior portraits.  Make sure to tell me which ones are your favorites.  I have a few in mind myself!

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Let’s start things off with a serious expression. I don’t know why, but I love this senior portrait. Areonna’s eyes are so intense and I’m just drawn to the image…. and artistically I like how the left side of the image is light, and the right side, in contrast is dark and shadowed.
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And here’s one of her smiling, in a different pose. Love that hair!
senior portrait of girl wearing hat in nickel's arcade, downtown ann arbor, michigan senior portrait session, michigan senior photographer
Areonna’s mom brought along a fun white hat, so we included that in a series of shots. It’s always interesting when you’re doing a senior session in someplace like Nickel’s Arcade — because there is a constant stream of people passing by. Areonna did a great job of ignoring them and I did my best to minimize the distractions . I love the contrast in this image, and how the light frames Areonna’s face, and the little bit of refined attitude that the white hat adds to the image. 🙂
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After that it was time for an outfit change. Areonna got to do this in the privacy of my portable changing room — right in Nickel’s Arcade. It’s so nice to do outfit changes this way!
I took a number of images at this spot, because I loved the location, the columns with their lines, and Areonna’s pose.
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Areonna brought her guitar with her for the session. So, I told her to sit down and start playing. This is a really nice way to get a cool candid senior portrait — and it also helps my subject relax. Because you can push back everything around you and just focus on the music. Love it!
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The guitar lent itself to more serious expressions, so I picked this one as my final sneak peek of Areonna in this particular outfit. Don’t worry, mom — I have some of her smiling for you too 🙂 🙂
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And with that, it was off to our second location. Areonna’s element — Graffiti Alley. She changed jackets for this set of images. You can’t see it in the photos, but there were construction workers doing a site survey right as we arrived. I chatted briefly with them to make sure we wouldn’t be intruding on their job, and then we worked around each other. I had to smile when they asked Areonna if she was a model, or what magazine the photoshoot was for …. 🙂 🙂
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As usual, I captured a range of smiles and more serious expressions. It’s hard to pick my favorites sometimes! Definitely a little less edgy.
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With senior photos like this, I kind of get why the surveyors were asking about us doing a magazine photoshoot. This really reminds me of a fashion photo with that intense serious look. 🙂
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A smile changes it up so much, doesn’t it? I love all these senior photos — Areonna just looks great!!
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This is one of my favorites with the guitar, I think. And Areonna’s hat with that graffiti — it looks totally planned, but I’m not sure we did that on purpose. Whoops, should I admit that? 😉
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Areonna also plays drums. She brought her drumsticks with her for the session. So I told her to play on the wall. She totally got in the zone and just started hammering out some awesome rhythms. This is kind of an outtake photo, kind of an artsy favorite. I loved how the black and white really changes the mood. What do you think?
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And then we did a more posed senior photo with the drumsticks. I couldn’t decide between this one and the next — so take a peek and decide which one you like better 🙂
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This one is with Areonna’s letter jacket, and is from a different angle, so the look is different — even though it’s really similar to the last one. Gotta include those hard earned letter jackets, right??
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I LOVE this portrait of Areonna smiling . It’s definitely a letter jacket senior photo, but with a bit of character. Maybe my favorite one of her smiling too. 🙂
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I couldn’t help myself — one last gritty senior portrait from Graffiti Alley. I love how the artwork here is ever-changing. Graffiti is so transient, but despite that the art gets documented every time someone comes here for a portrait session. Kind of cool.

If you’re looking to plan a really unique senior portrait session, please contact Betsy via our web form or call 734-424-0472 today.  Betsy will walk you through the planning process and answer all of your questions — whether you’re familiar with the area or not.  And yes, travel is an option (check out this senior session we did on Lake Michigan)!  If you have a particular vision for your senior portrait session — just let us know, and we’ll make your dream a reality!  Talk to you soon 🙂

Photographing Babies on the Move :: Portraits of Miss S.

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I can’t believe it’s already been four years since I photographed this little girl’s big brothers playing in the leaves.  How fast time flies!  Miss S. was so sweet, and blessed us with many smiles and cute adorable looks.

One of the tricky things, during a portrait session at this age, is that babies sometimes aren’t comfortable sitting up in a chair, but if you put them on the ground, they take off crawling.  So, I usually enlist mom’s help during the session.  Every time Miss S. crawled away, mom put her back in place.  And when we had her sitting in the chair, mom was right there out of the picture — ready to spot — in case this sweet baby girl started wobbling.  Learning to balance is so tough!

I’ve included a few pull backs from the session, so you can see what I’m talking about!

And you can also see the cute adorable mini set I have for little ones.  It helps make the environment feel a little more cozy (and much less vast and scary).  Plus, it functions as a containment zone if we’re photographing a mover!

I really couldn’t decide on a favorite.  I love the traditional Norwegian attire, but I also love the soft textures of the pink sweater with the whites and grays.  Adorable.  And, so sweet that Miss S. wanted to share the rattle with me!

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We started out with a classic setting for Miss S’s formal Norwegian outfit. She is so adorable!
studio pullback showing how we keep baby safe during a portrait session in our photography studio in dexter michigan
Someone decided to be done with sitting on the floor, so we tried several props before settling on the rocking horse — which was a big hit. I’m including this pullback so you can see how someone is always within arm’s reach — safety is always key!
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Here’s a cute portrait of Miss S. from the rocking horse series… Love those eyes!
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Then it was time for an outfit change — so I switched up the background too. I love how the pink knitted items pair with the grays in this image 🙂 — including Mom’s sweater ;). She’s in here, again, so you can see how close someone is during this whole baby portrait session. Have to keep those precious babies safe and happy!
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Once Miss S. settled in and was willing to balance on the chair all by herself, we got some cute portraits — like this one. My sister-in-law made the crochet octopus… isn’t it cute??
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Because we all know how quickly babies move from one toy to another ….I have plenty of fun toys on hand. This little rattle, with its pastel color tones, fit in nicely with the whole scene. Miss S. wasn’t big into smiling during this portrait session, but boy did we get a bunch of cute expressions 🙂
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It’s always nice to share! I spent a little time handing the rattle back to Miss S. during the session, which was so sweet. You can tell she has good role models in her life since she’s already mastered sharing 🙂 (for now, anyways, right?)
mom with baby girl during baby portrait session studio child portrait photographer traditional modern portrait dexter mi photographer
And because mom needs to be in some portraits too… we did a series of mommy and me portraits. Even though Miss S. has a serious expression in this photo, I love it 🙂 And her Mom looks fabulous, of course, right? 🙂
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Miss S. was kind of ready to be done modeling for the camera, but she pulled out a few stops to give us this portrait. I like how this portrait is more about baby, even though Mom is in the portrait and amazing 🙂

Getting good portraits of your little ones can be stressful and difficult — if you’re the parent.  That’s why we’re here — to make your life easier.  Let us help you plan your baby’s next portrait session so you can relax and let Betsy do all the leg work.  (is it really work if we’re having fun?).  Contact Betsy online or call 734-424-0472 to learn more about our baby’s first year plan or to start planning your baby’s portrait session!

Harry Potter Themed Baby Portraits :: Jacob’s 3 Month Photos

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Sometimes it’s fun to do something a little special when it comes to portraits.  Maybe you are a Harry Potter fan, like Jacob’s family.  Earlier this year you got to see Jacob’s newborn portrait session…. and now it’s time to share his three month baby portraits with you!

I was really excited when Jacob’s mom showed up with props in hand.  While it’s always fun for me to create unique portraits for my clients, I love it when they get involved in tailoring the vision and creating something truly personalized.  We made sure to put the Harry Potter books in the right order when stacking them, arranged everything so that it looked like we wanted.  After clamping the broom in place, we finally added the little wizard into the scene.  It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if you can, let me know yours!

We did two more settings for Jacob’s three month portraits — one with his parents’ textbooks and a doctor theme, and then a more traditionally styled portrait at the end.  What fun!

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When we first set Jacob into the Harry Potter theme, he was very awake and inquisitive. Lots of head holding, but still not really moving yet. Perfect for getting this kind of portrait!
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I love this expression. He’s so serious!
harry potter themed baby photo session 3 month baby portrait baby first year studio session dexter mi photographer
Those glasses are adorable. We tried a couple times to get them on Jacob a bit later in the series of photos I’m sharing….
harry potter themed baby photo session 3 month baby portrait baby first year studio session dexter mi photographer
What a cute baby smile! And all those details… the books, the broom, the cauldron, the wand….. love it!
harry potter themed baby photo session 3 month baby portrait baby first year studio session dexter mi photographer
Here’s that portrait I was talking about with the glasses. Jacob was not a fan, and they came off almost immediately, but we got one good shot — and that’s what matters sometimes!
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We changed up the set a little with my grandfather’s old navy suitcase. It seemed like a great fit with the Hogwartz and Harry Potter theme. This one was to showcase Jacob’s cute onesie 🙂
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We put all of those portraits together to create this really great memories panel. I love designing these pieces with my clients — it’s really fun to see the design come together. The Harry Potter quote just makes it perfect!
doctor themed baby photo session 3 month baby portrait baby first year studio session dexter mi photographer
And with that, it was onto the next outfit. Jacob got a little break and mommy time while we tore down the Harry Potter set, and then it was onto the doctor themed portraits. I love this one…. his eyes are so intensely adorable!  I had a little fun personalizing this one for him too 🙂
doctor themed baby photo session 3 month baby portrait baby first year studio session dexter mi photographer
Jacob’s dad ended up getting a print of this portrait for his office. No, we didn’t really go on location, but sometimes I’m able to work some computer magic and create whimsical images like this one.  For this one, we set Jacob up next to his parents’ textbooks on a piece of flooring, with a white background.  After some creative work on my part, Jacob magically appeared in a hospital!
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And after another break, we moved onto Jacob’s last outfit. He was getting a little sleepy but we got a few smiles out of him….
sleeping baby whitewash themed baby photo session 3 month baby portrait baby first year studio session dexter mi photographer
And then Jacob was tired out. Like that. He fell asleep and just chilled there while I finished up the session.  Love this sleepy smile…. adorable! What cute baby photos, right? This one ended up as a canvas wall portrait — which will look fantastic in their home.

 

I’m looking forward to seeing Jacob again for his next session — it’s always fun to see how much kids grow and change over their first year.  If you’d love to plan your own unique portrait session, please contact Betsy via the web or call 734-424-0472!  When we collaborate on the planning process, it’s easy to create a portrait that is themed to your interests and vision!

Have Camera, Will Travel :: Maggie’s Senior Photos on Lake Michigan

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Let me confess — I absolutely love doing portraits in new places.  So, when my niece asked me if we could do her senior portraits on the other side of the state, I didn’t hesitate!

Would I do the same for a client?

Absolutely!  You see, it’s super important to me that you are happy with the results.  If you have your heart set on doing a portrait session on Lake Michigan, like Maggie — I will figure out a way to make that happen.  Let me know what you have in mind and we can talk!)

Have camera, will travel!

Anyways, after packing up my gear (camera, lights, all that good stuff), we drove across the state to Lake Michigan.  It’s not that far of a drive, honestly…  And during the summer it’s gorgeous.  I wasn’t the only one who came prepared.  Maggie had a nice selection of outfits, shoes, and the like picked out for her senior portraits.  The trick was narrowing it down!

That’s where I come in.  In fact, I tell my clients to bring extra outfits if they can’t narrow their choices down.  I’m happy to provide suggestions or make an impartial decision if that’s what my client wants. :).

After hair and makeup were finished, we headed out to the lake.  Because we were planning a sunset portrait session, I kept a close eye on the clock so we could be in the right place at the right time.

We stopped at the lighthouse first, then walked out to the pier, and ended up down by the beach.  After the sun set, we headed into town to the local ice cream place — and did a few photos there just for fun.  Maggie’s cousins wanted to be in the photos too — so they met us at Dairy Treat.  Too much fun!

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I love how elegant Maggie looks in this series of photos. The lighthouse was the perfect setting… and that evening light from the sun on her hair? Gorgeous.
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Here’s another one from the same spot. <3 <3
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I know I already said it…. but I love that evening light!
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The sun started getting a bit lower in the sky, so we knew it was time to move on. We wrapped up with this outfit 🙂
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…by doing a final portrait of Maggie in front of the lighthouse. I love the wide angle feel of this portrait!
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Maggie’s next outfit was a little more casual. As the sun kept sinking lower, we walked out towards the beach. This shot is one of my favorites… I love the wide open expanse, the sun glinting off the water, and how the railing leads your eye straight to Maggie.
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Here’s a gorgeous close-up portrait of Maggie in the same spot… so gorgeous!
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It’s hard to pick a favorite sometimes. I liked this one too.
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As we walked up to the bench, we spotted a Little Caesar’s pizza box. Maggie loves pizza, so this silly photo was definitely fitting!
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Once we got to the dunes, Maggie changed into her next outfit. Love the light from the sun on her hair. So beautiful.
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Here’s a full length portrait of Maggie by Lake Michigan. You can almost see the lake… but not quite yet.
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A candid photo of Maggie that I really liked.
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And this one is cool because of the darkness that was starting to permeate the evening. Sunset was coming!
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Lake Michigan is really so amazing. The beaches and dunes…. just can’t be put into words. I thought this senior portrait kind of captured that sentiment. Maggie isn’t really the main subject in this photo, but a part of the scene.
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Time for some fun! And, you can see Lake Michigan finally! Our end goal and destination… just in time for the sunset.
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Gorgeous evening light…. xoxoxoxo
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….fun, fun, fun…. Who says senior portraits need to be all posed and such? This one is so cute! …and, so Maggie 🙂
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The sun was really setting by this point, and I used my studio lighting to get some nice light on Maggie’s face….and that gorgeous red glow from the setting sun on her hair.
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This one is just so gorgeous. Sunset on Lake Michigan. Perfect.
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And a fun candid portrait of Maggie jumping …because everything is better when you can be yourself!
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I seriously adore this portrait. You can’t really see Maggie’s face, but ….those waves… and the whole thing…. is just beautiful.
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Love how the waves kept rolling in…. We took a few of Maggie smiling at the camera….
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I think this is the one we ended up turning into a canvas wrapped wall portrait for Maggie. It looks fantastic!
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And then we did one last outfit change. While this outfit was the most casual, it also was the most representative of Maggie. I love how relaxed she got for this set of images.
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That view is amazing. This is one of my favorites! (I feel like I keep saying that…)
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This one was a fun photo to create. We took a series of exposures to get the perfect balance of sunset, my studio lights, and then had to time things for the waves to crash on the rocks. Love the result!
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Another one from the same series. I think I like how you can see the whole pier in this one.
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And….the final frame for the beach. Some of the family had hopped into the boat for a sunset cruise — and we spotted them going through the channel. Perfect time to get them in the photo!
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As I mentioned, we met up with the family at Dairy Treat …. and the little cousins wanted to be in some pictures too! Here are the girls….how cute that they all coordinate too (that was totally unintentional).
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And here are my boys with Maggie. Lol. Totally not color coordinating, but whatever, right?
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And a rooftop photo of Maggie, just for fun. Because what’s the point in doing a senior portrait experience if it’s not fun, know what I mean?

If you’ve got a special location in mind for your senior portraits, please do share!  While we most often photograph around the greater Ann Arbor area, I am happy to travel if you have a special location in mind.  Give the studio a call at 734-424-0472 or email us via our web form today!

Senior Portraits of Twins: David + Joseph

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Twins run in my family, so I am really familiar with how different twins can be — whether they’re identical or fraternal.  So, for this senior portrait session, I enjoyed the challenge of creating senior portraits for twin brothers David and Joseph …and giving each of them senior portraits that weren’t exactly the same.  My goal is always to let everyone’s personality shine through in their senior portraits.  And I think we did just that!

Both boys play football, so after a few portraits in the studio, we headed out on location to Mill Creek Park in Dexter.  It’s a tested and true location for senior portraits, and even though I do senior sessions there often, no two senior portrait experiences ever turn out alike.  Even these guys’ portraits are different — but similar enough that mom will be able to display portraits of her boys side by side.  Love it!

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Mom wanted some portraits of David and Joseph together, so we did just that in studio (and on location later).
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I know, I just gave the whole spiel about portraits being different and unique. And, here I am, giving you two studio portraits, both posed similarly. But I wanted to include these so you could see how cool the backdrop is — it looks different based on the different shirts — each one brings out different tones in the background. Sorry, I just think that’s so cool!
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See what I mean? The blue shirt totally changes the feel of the background. 🙂
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One more of the boys together in studio. Mom had requested to see some black and white images, and I think this one was the perfect one to do that. Great smiles, guys!
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And onto Mill Creek! We stopped at the boardwalk for a portrait with the train bridge in the background. David went first. I love how the hint of orange in the trees complements his shirt!
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And next, David stepped in front of my camera for some portraits at the same exact spot. See how different it looks, but the two images still complement one another?
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And then, a portrait of the boys together. Love that sky 🙂
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A quick outfit change, and the boys were ready to be photographed in their jerseys. David went first again. I seriously love this setting, no matter how many times I come here…. it’s always different!
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And a closer in portrait of David. Fabulous!
Dexter Mi photographer senior portrait photographer mill creek park dexter mi senior photos
Joseph’s turn. Since they both play football for Jackson High School, their jerseys are the same. So, yeah. But I do what I can to make little changes in the posing so that each senior portrait looks a bit different.
…and a closeup serious portrait of Joseph.
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David and Joseph didn’t want to be photographed with the same jersey on **at the same time** ….so David changed into the other jersey. One home, one away. That works! Again, those fall colors…. <3
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Then we walked down the path by the overpass for Main Street (is it still called that there?). David changed into his pink jersey. The team wore this as part of an awareness for breast cancer thing. So cool!
Joseph chose his other jersey for this shot, so they wouldn’t be in the same jersey.
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We did one last set of senior photos with David and Joseph together. David changed out of the pink jersey and into the gray one. I really like this one…but couldn’t decide between it or the next. Let me know your thoughts!
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I love that this one has a little more nature in it — would be great as a wall portrait, right?
Dexter Mi photographer senior portrait photographer mill creek park dexter mi senior photos
And then, just so you can see the impact of changing an image to black and white… here’s the same senior portrait again — but no color. I always love how black and white draws you right into the people, all the distractions are muted… <3
And we called it a wrap. Just for kicks, I took a photo of the equipment cart I’ve been bringing along with me. It makes life so much easier for everyone… I can haul my gear, and my clients can stow their extra outfit changes and accessories in the wagon too!

If you’d like to plan a senior portrait session that is relaxed, stress-free, and showcases your personality, please contact the studio at 734-424-0472 today!  Betsy will help you through each phase of your senior portrait experience, and you will love the results!

Senior Portraits at Cobblestone Farm :: Marissa

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Marissa is a senior at Chelsea High School — but she wanted to go somewhere else for her senior portraits. As in, out of Chelsea.  No problem!  We spent some time before her session at the studio talking about what Marissa liked and wanted for her senior portraits.  Sometimes during these planning appointments, I’ll even pull up Pinterest so we can pick out favorites …and so I can get a feel for what my client is looking for.  After we made a “custom pinterest board” for Marissa, I had a pretty good idea of what she was envisioning.

Style… check. (Love when technology helps like that!)

Next, with Marissa’s vision in mind, we started looking for locations.  Ultimately, we decided on Cobblestone Farm — Marissa really loved the barn and the little red building there. It wasn’t urban or grungy, and there were lots of natural options within a short walk.

Location ….check!

On the day of Marissa’s session, the weather cooperated.  Although it was a little hot and humid, you’d never know it from these senior portraits.  Take a peek and if you can decide on a favorite, be sure to let me know.  We ended up with such a wide variety of senior portrait images… and I loved the last set of portraits we did as the sun sunk below the horizon.  So much fun!

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Marissa’s senior portrait session started out by the old farm house. I love the old hewn wood… so much character. And Marissa looks amazing!
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Another from the same spot — I love the old window, all the little details that add so much character to this senior portrait.
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As we were moving on to the next spot, Marissa saw this fence and thought it looked neat. So, we did a few portraits here. Love how this turned out!!
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You might be wondering — “How can I change outfits on location?” Well, I have discovered it is much more relaxing for my clients if I bring along a portable changing room! See that big blue thing? It’s a pop up changing room that has been a lifesaver. Instant privacy!
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Okay, onto the next outfit. Marissa loved these stairs, so we stopped for a series of portraits. This one was my favorite. She looks so great!
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We walked around to the big barn, and did some senior portraits by the barn doors. They’ve been upgraded a bit, and have this cool veneer on them. Love how this portrait turned out!
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And another one. Marissa was rocking the serious model look throughout this entire session. 🙂
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When we were planning Marissa’s senior portraits, we spotted an image similar to this, and Marissa really wanted to do this for her senior photos. I love how this turned out. Sh…. don’t tell, but that sign was added after the fact. Would you have known if I didn’t tell you?
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And here’s the red wooden mini barn. Marissa’s more casual outfit went great with the red wood… Love it!
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I seriously love this portrait — and the next one. It’s a toss up. Which do you like better,…. Marissa smiling….
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…or Marissa being contemplative and serious? So gorgeous.
senior portraits at cobblestone farm in ann arbor mi, chelsea high shool senior portrait, senior portrait photographer michigan
The sun was sneaking below the horizon as we wrapped up the session. I spend a bit of time kneeling on the grass to find just the right spot for the horizon in this portrait. Marissa got to stay nice and dry, sitting on the towel I brought along. 🙂
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We were pretty much done when Marissa remembered she wanted a portrait sitting on a fence, or leaning over it. So, we made a beeline for this rustic fence…and did both poses. I love how this one turned out….
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But this serious portrait of Marissa is so stunning I had to include it as well. Isn’t it interesting how a few small tweaks can change the impact of a senior portrait?

If you’re looking for a customized and unique senior portrait experience, but don’t know how to put what you want into words,… give us a call at 734-424-0472 (or contact us online)!  Betsy will walk you through the planning process, help you determine your style, the location that fits your vision… all those decisions that can be tough if you don’t have someone to help you through your senior portrait experience.

Getting Kids to Relax and Smile for Pictures

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Sometimes I have a client who is worried I won’t be able to get good pictures of their kid.  Maybe you’re in the same boat.  Have you ever thought, “If I can just get one good picture from this session, I’ll be happy?”  Well, trust me, you’re not alone!

Certainly, it’s a common fear… but, let me help you relax.  I’m used to working with kids, and I have so many tricks up my sleeve to help kids relax and smile for pictures.

My solution is always to start thinking creatively.

I ask myself…

“What will get this particular child to open up to me?”

“Is there something I can say or do to help bring out their silly side, to help them relax?”

In my world, there’s no such thing as an unphotogenic child.  Every child is beautiful, and every child photographs beautifully.  Some kids just take more time to get to that place where we can create the kind of portraits you’re looking for.

Some of my solutions?

  • Interact them on their terms
  • Listen
  • Let them press buttons on my camera
  • Act silly

Because it’s important for me to help your kids relax and feel comfortable, I’m going to spend a lot of time focusing on your kids. Kids will be kids, and I know how to work with that.

So, trust me, ok?

Take a deep breath.  Relax.  And let me work my magic.

Case Study: Sarah’s Kids

Finally, before I wrap up this blog post, let me share a few photos from a sibling portrait session we did in the studio.  Sarah brought her kids, Conor, Grant, and Lila, in for a portrait session a while back.

Let me be honest, these kids did not have much interest in sitting still for the camera.  Lila was a wiggleworm, ready to move and explore.  Conor and Grant had no desire to sit still for pictures either.  Naturally, they all loved the toys I brought out to break the ice!  First, they checked out a miniature piano, which all three kids wanted to play.  Then, we moved on to trains and other toys — each boy picked something they wanted to hold before sitting on the bench.

Now, Lila wasn’t old enough to sit on the bench, but no problem.  In situations like this, I have mom sit behind the kids and be a stealth safety backup.  With mom’s hands keeping her from moving, Lila was not going anywhere!

This was one of those sessions where, no matter what — the boys just didn’t want to smile.  But, I snuck some smiles out of them, as you’ll see below.  Enjoy!

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Sometimes it takes a few minutes for kids to settle into a new place. For this session, I brought out a tiny kid piano and let them make some music. I love how the boys’ little sister got interested too!
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These kids did not want to stay put. Mom was actually behind the bench to hold her daughter in place, as it wouldn’t have been safe otherwise. Score for safety!
sibling portrait, portrait of kids, kid photographer ann arbor michigan child portrait photographer
This one is pretty cute, don’t you think? Sure, we have some toys in the picture, but that’s ok. There are days when that’s just going to be how it is 🙂
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Love those expressions!

Are you ready to book a portrait session for your kids?  Or maybe you want to talk about how we can make this happen.  Either way, I’m here.  Give the studio a call at 734-424-0472 or use the web form to get in touch today!

Senior Portraits with a Horse…(and a why we needed Broom!)

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Sometimes the trickiest part of a senior portrait session isn’t choosing the clothes, or even selecting a meaningful location…. it’s making sure the horse isn’t afraid of the camera equipment!  But that’s why we do a little extra planning ahead of time when we include animals in a portrait session — so I can know what to expect and make the best of any situation.

{In case you’re wondering what’s up with the broom — be patient, we’ll get to that in a bit!}

Maggie’s horse, Lainey, was very used to being photographed, so I could use my studio lights during this senior portrait session 🙂 ….had Lainey been frightened by the flashes of light, I would have planned for a natural light portrait session instead.  See?  It’s all just a matter of problem-solving!

We started off with some lovely fall portraits of Maggie with her horse.  You’ll see how gorgeous the portraits are in just a moment.  But let me tell you, finding the fall colors? A little tricky!  Most of the leaves had fallen by the time we did this session last year, so I had to find the best of what we had to work with.  Doesn’t it look nice though?

Maggie’s mom stayed beside me the whole duration of the session… with a broom in her hand.

Why a broom?

Well, she was holding the broom over my head and waving it so that Lainey, the horse, would pay attention to me and have her ears facing the camera.  Because if you’re on an equestrian team, you’ll already know that a horse’s ears need to be facing forward in photos.

I’m sure it was a pretty funny sight — Me making silly sounds so that the horse would look the right way, a broom waving around my head….

Near the end of the session, Lainey heard the feed pails — some of the other horses at the stable were getting their dinner.  She perked up her ears really nicely for that portrait!  But after that, she was on a one track mind…. dinner.  We called it quits for the day, especially since it was too cold for the final outfit (a summer dress).

A bit later this month, I’ll share photos from the other part of Maggie’s portrait session (on Lake Michigan) — but for now, enjoy these portraits of Maggie with her horse!

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Here’s one of the senior portraits of Maggie with her horse. See how the leaves are all over the ground? We had decided to stay at the stables, even though the fall colors weren’t in full glory, to make life easier for the horse.
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I love the lens flare and the wide angle perspective on this portrait! Plus, we got those ears looking at the camera. 🙂
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I love this portrait of Maggie looking at Lainey. We even got some nice fall yellow in the trees!
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Another one of the same… Lainey was getting a little chilly so we went with the flow of things and let her move around. Look at those ears paying attention to the broom!
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I love this portrait of Maggie with Lainey. As we were walking past one of the barns, I spotted this window and asked Maggie if she thought Lainey would get into position there. As you can see, we succeeded!
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And here’s a wide angle view of the space we were working with. Lainey wasn’t really happy about getting into position next to that tree, but she was such a good listener!!
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And of course, we had to include one of Maggie with her letter jacket!

If you have a horse or other animal you’d like to be photographed with for your senior portraits, please contact the studio today (734-424-0472) so we can talk details and decide on the best way to make your animal relaxed and comfortable for your portrait experience!

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.

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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.
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They were happy to smile for the camera….mostly, lol!
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And then came the real highlight. Kids always love those silly pictures!!
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The littlest cousin was ready for his photo, so we added him into the bunch.
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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.

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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.
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While not all of the great grandchildren, this was everyone there at that point in time!
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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.
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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
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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 🙂

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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 🙂
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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?
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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!
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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!
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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 🙂
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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!
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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 :).

lifestyle pet photo natural light dog portrait, pet photographer dexter mi ann arbor
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!!
dog portrait, natural light, lifestyle pet portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor photographer
Tracking the treat. Lol. I love that you can see the treat just at the edge of the image in this one.
dog portrait, pet photographer, location pet portrait, dexter mi ann arbor photographer
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.
pet portrait, dog photo, location pet portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi photographer
He’s so treat-oriented… this works perfectly :).
pet portrait photographer ann arbor mi dexter portrait photographer pets dogs
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!
chocolate Labrador retriever portrait, pet portrait, dog photo outside pet photographer ann arbor dexter mi
Apollo got the hang of this whole posing for the camera thing pretty easily. Bright flashy thing? Awesome… a treat comes next!!
chocolate Labrador retriever portrait, pet portrait, dog photo outside pet photographer ann arbor dexter mi
Aww I just love this puppy, he is too cute 🙂
chocolate Labrador retriever portrait, pet portrait, dog photo outside pet photographer ann arbor dexter mi stormy sky outdoor photo
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 :).
chocolate Labrador retriever portrait, pet portrait, dog photo outside pet photographer ann arbor dexter mi pet portrait at home outdoors
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…
chocolate Labrador retriever photographer pet pictures ann arbor mi dexter pet photographer
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?
portrait photographer outtake, kids being silly, fun photographer in ann arbor mi, relaxed photo session dexter mi photographer
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.
kid photo session outtake, kids being silly during session, photographer works well with kids, kid photographer ann arbor mi dexter child photographer
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?
child portrait photographer relaxed outdoors lifestyle portrait session dexter mi photographer ann arbor child photographer
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!
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Between outfits, Yara needed some snuggles with her mama, so I got to capture this adorable portrait. Such a sweet baby girl!
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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.
sleeping baby girl, newborn portrait photography, newborn photographer in dexter, mi, sleeping baby with bow and pearls
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!

senior girl portrait dexter high school senior portrait photographer michigan studio portrait of skyline high school senior ann arbor mi
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!
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We created a few full length portraits of Caitlin… I love how the stripes on this dress change in size… so fun!
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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!
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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.

 

 

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