Finding Time For Yourself

posted in: Fine Art | 1

With all the directions we’re being pulled in, it can be tough to carve out time for yourself!  Like me, I’m sure you wear many hats — perhaps including things like business owner, household manager, kid wrangler, laundry sergeant, extracurricular activity planner, ….the list goes on.

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Drawings and sketches in 2016, created by Betsy Finn. (Disclaimer: These are photographed with my phone… so I can share them daily!!!)

Posted by Betsy Finn on Sunday, January 3, 2016

Let’s face it. Our schedules are busy.  Life is busy.  And nothing we can do will make it seem any less busy.

Well, that’s not quite true.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve done one thing daily that has helped me feel like I’m treating myself.  I’ve opened my sketchbook and spent time drawing.  

For me, there is nothing more relaxing than the act of creating something.  

Whether it is a photograph, a drawing, a sculpture, …heck, even artisan bread… the process of creation is what leaves me feeling inspired, relaxed, and joyful.

Some days I haven’t been inspired, but once I forced myself to get started, that feeling was replaced by contentment.  It’s fun for me.

I have to admit I have a few ulterior motives behind the lofty goal I have unofficially set for myself. 

My not-official-goal?   Drawing every day — ideally finishing a new drawing each day.  

You see, I am a perfectionist by nature, and there’s a tipping point for me when I’m creating.  At some point, I usually reach a spot where I’m “afraid” to go on — a gnawing concern that if I do any more, I might “wreck” it.  Of course I know better than that little voice inside my head, but still, it is tempting to just stop and call it quits.  

And that’s the point where I have been forcing myself to continue on.  For better or worse, I’ve been forging ahead and finishing drawings that, several years ago, I would have left in sketch form.  

I have to say, it’s really exciting. Liberating. Not perfect, but hey, life isn’t perfect.  I don’t need my drawings to be either.

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By drawing daily, I’m doing something for myself — I’m helping myself to get past that mental roadblock.

And it’s amazing how once one roadblock comes down, others start to fall too.

You see, that whole thing about not having enough time for yourself?

It’s a myth.

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You can have time — you just have to make time.

Whether it’s an hour or five minutes, you owe it to yourself to do something for yourself regularly. Do you love to read?  Try to read a chapter every day — or even just a paragraph!  Or maybe you like to do something that can’t realistically be done on a daily basis.  Make time weekly.  By taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to take better care of others, to better fulfill your obligations.

Maybe you owe it to yourself to set a consistent bedtime, or to go for a walk every morning.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, or anything creative.  But find something you can do consistently and regularly.  Something that you enjoy.

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Here are some ideas to get you brainstorming ways you can take care of yourself:

  1. Start a thankfulness journal and write 5 things you are thankful
  2. Draw in a sketchbook
  3. Work your way through a book by reading a paragraph or chapter
  4. Go for a walk every morning, or after dinner
  5. Spend 10 minutes playing wholeheartedly with your kids
  6. Turn off your phone and just relax/meditate/think for five minutes
  7. Listen to your favorite music for 10 minutes
  8. Take a break from sitting at your desk — stand up and stretch!
  9. Subscribe to a daily podcast and listen to it
  10. Complete a scrapbook page
  11. Do a daily crossword puzzle
  12. Try to finish a brainteaser or sudoku puzzle
  13. Play cards (solitaire, etc) by yourself
  14. Take a shower or bubble bath
  15. Take a break after putting the kids to bed — the dishes can wait a few minutes
  16. Work on a jigsaw puzzle
  17. Take a power nap
  18. Just take a breather… a single deep breath in, followed by a deep exhalation
  19. Make a cup of coffee or tea for yourself (and sit while you enjoy it)
  20. Think about all the things in your life you appreciate

See, the things you can do to take care of yourself are so variable.  It doesn’t have to be the same thing every day, either.

Just make time for yourself.

Seriously.

You deserve it.

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If you have any tips about making time for yourself, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!  What are some ways you make sure to take care of yourself emotionally, mentally, physically, or otherwise?  What helps you keep a positive outlook on life?

 

Family Photos with Horses

posted in: Notes | 0

I recently did a family photography session that included the family’s horse.  We met at the barn where their horse was, and after doing a series of family portraits on location (without the horse), it was time to bring her in from the pasture.

Well, needless to say, since it was December, and on the warmer side, it was a little muddy.  My client took some time to brush off the dried mud, and then I had her walk up and down this stretch of ground between two of the barns.  I love capturing moments between animals and their people.  And this one is one of my favorites.  The fog lends an ethereal quality to the scene too.

Of course, with horses, one of the challenges is that most startle at a camera’s flash.  The same was true of this beauty.  So, we concluded the session with another series that included the whole family.

 

Managing Toy Clutter in the Family Room

posted in: Parenting | 0

bphotoart-managing-toy-clutter-family-roomDespite the fact that we have an entire playroom on the main floor of our home, there is inevitably an exodus of toys from the playroom to the other areas of our house.  Most frequently, these toys congregate in the family room.

And while I love seeing the boys play with their toys and read books, it’s not so fun to navigate a toy minefield when making my way through the family room.

Before my most recent find, a combination bookshelf and toy bin, we’d been through several variations of toy organization for the family room.

We tried — and gave up — on insisting that all toys and books be put away in the play room.  It just wasn’t realistic.

We used two bins to hold a selection of toys, and another for books.  This worked for a little while, but the organization was lacking and Zack, being a baby, enjoyed dumping the bins.

We gave up for a while and piled toys into any mobile cart/basket toys that the boys could push around.  This was more of a “throwing in the towel” approach… it only got the clutter off the floor and didn’t make life easier for anyone.

What I like about our current solution?  It’s practical. It has multiple levels, and there is a top shelf that Zack (the baby) can’t reach, so Toby can have a little safe haven in the family room for his lego creations or other things that might get damaged by little fingers.  Plus, since there’s an enticing bin of toys within easy reach, Zack doesn’t tend to try for the other (previously enticing) items.

Refinishing this toy unit didn’t take long — I sanded and painted the entire thing while Toby was at preschool one day.  In fact, I had it in the house and the boys were putting toys away in it before my husband even realized I had refinished it!

Going forward, here are my rules for managing toy clutter in the family room:

  1. This bin is not a catch-all for toys that have been played with — we’ll still be putting dress up clothes in their bin, magnatiles in their container, etc.  But it’s nice to have a spot to store things that don’t have a set home.
  2. Books need to be put away when not being read.  Either on this bookshelf, or the playroom bookshelf. My one exception is library books.  Those live in our library book bag (which you see in the bottom left corner — it’s white canvas with red straps).
  3. When you’re done playing with something, put it away. Enough said.
  4. After dinner every night, it is time to clean up any toys that are still out. In the playroom, in the family room.  While I expect the kids to participate, I intend to help with this because sometimes it’s a big job!
  5. No toys on the couch.  Yes, this is a rule — because my boys decided it was fun to clean up the floor by piling all the toys on the couch on more than one occasion.
  6. Keep the toys on the rug.  Even if toys are being played with, we still need to have a way to get from one part of the house to another — there has to be a pathway.  This is important because we walk through our family room to get from the garage and kitchen to the bedrooms.
  7. No books on the floor.  This one is hard to follow for the boys, but I stick to it because I want to avoid any more ER visits.  (Toby got a hairline fracture in his leg by slipping on a book on our family room when he was three

Here are a few photos of the before, during, and after.

This brightly colored kids' toy unit was a great find, but I wasn't thrilled about the colors...
This brightly colored kids’ toy unit was a great find, but I wasn’t thrilled about the colors…
I had some cans of brown spray paint left over from another furniture makeover, so I lightly sanded the surface and gave it a single coating.
I had some cans of brown spray paint left over from another furniture makeover, so I lightly sanded the surface and gave it a single coating.
The finished product, at home in our family room. It blends in MUCH better and the kids have enjoyed using it.
The finished product, at home in our family room. It blends in MUCH better and the kids have enjoyed using it.

Winter Storm

posted in: Photo Essay | 0

I love winter.  …the cold, crisp, air… the snow… the whole thing.  And so I was just about as exited as our boys were to get our first big storm of the season.  We got a lot of snow. The boys begged to go out and build a snowman, and so we bundled up and went out — but the snow was a little too crumbly.  We made a baby snowman, and then moved onto bigger and better things — a snow fort!  Steven shoveled some snow from the yard into piles during a driveway-shoveling-break, and then Toby and I built a knee-high (or waist-high, depending on who you ask) horseshoe fort.  Toby kept kicking holes in it to make space for a refrigerator.  Then, after a brief snowball fight, it was time to go inside — frostbite prevention!

We didn’t get back out in the snow that day, to play, that is.  We did take a drive that evening (as an aside, I’m really thankful we now have a truck).  The next morning, we awoke to a winter wonderland (okay, it was there the night before too, but give me a break here).  The boys were super excited when they woke up.  But, before they did, I was able to sneak out for a brief walk through our woods on my own (Steven was great, he saw the eager look in my eyes and said “go.”).

So, here are some photographs of my morning excursion.  I love the predawn quiet and stillness.  I got to see a deer, and tracks from several animals who’ve been using the path I made in our woods this summer.

But best of all, I got to see the sun rise and kiss the treetops with warmth and light.

snow on our bradford pear tree -- still with leaves
snow on our bradford pear tree — still with leaves
our house in the moments before the sun rose
our house in the moments before the sun rose
a quiet entrance into our woods
a quiet entrance into our woods
I wasn't the first one to use the path through our woods...
I wasn’t the first one to use the path through our woods…
waiting for the sun to rise over the horizon, I looked back at the way I had come through the woods.
waiting for the sun to rise over the horizon, I looked back at the way I had come through the woods.
Our playground collected a "modest" amount of snow...
Our playground collected a “modest” amount of snow…
I love how the monkey bars held onto snow!
I love how the monkey bars held onto snow!
My recently-hung windchime collected some snow too.
My recently-hung windchime collected some snow too.
The sun starting to rise and cast light on the trees in our woods.
The sun starting to rise and cast light on the trees in our woods.
As the sun rose higher the woods became awash with warmth
As the sun rose higher the woods became awash with warmth
I always love to look at how the snow coats one side of a tree during winter storms
I always love to look at how the snow coats one side of a tree during winter storms
Loving the warm rays on our snow-laden trees.
Loving the warm rays on our snow-laden trees.
A juxtaposition of near and far, shadow and sun.
A juxtaposition of near and far, shadow and sun.
I can't get enough of this tree. Loved looking up it!
I can’t get enough of this tree. Loved looking up it!
As the sun finished rising over the horizon, I enjoyed watching the steam rise across the lake (barely visible in this shot)
As the sun finished rising over the horizon, I enjoyed watching the steam rise across the lake (barely visible in this shot)
Another crooked tree that piqued my interest.
Another crooked tree that piqued my interest.
Another one of the path through the woods, now that the sun had risen.
Another one of the path through the woods, now that the sun had risen.
I love trekking through snow. This snowfall wasn't quite deep enough for me to pull out snowshoes.
I love trekking through snow. This snowfall wasn’t quite deep enough for me to pull out snowshoes.
An abstract shot of the sunrise through my tracks in the snow.
An abstract shot of the sunrise through my tracks in the snow.
As I headed back to the garage to go inside, I enjoyed one last peek at the sunrise, our woods, our house, and the horseshoe fort we'd made the day before. I love winter.
As I headed back to the garage to go inside, I enjoyed one last peek at the sunrise, our woods, our house, and the horseshoe fort we’d made the day before. I love winter.

Thanks for indulging me.  I know some of you aren’t fond of winter (*gasp!*).  But I really love all four seasons — except that constant state of flux where it freezes then thaws, freezes then thaws, etc.   Snow is gorgeous.  As Toby observed, it is “all sparkly.”  The snow shimmers, reflects light, casts a whole new wonder about the world. It makes the ordinary and the mundane seem surreal and magical.  It makes us take a pause from our daily routine to admire the wonders of creation around us.

At least at the start of winter, right? 🙂

Engineering Fun!

posted in: Learning | 0

Engineering Fun!We somehow ended up with a few extra PVC frame laundry hampers in our home.  So, as is usually the case, my creative toddler discovered a way to repurpose it.  Toby asked me about taking it apart.  I thought, “sure, why not?”

So, for the next hour, our kitchen became an engineering construction site.  Toby gleefully pulled apart the PVC pipes and connector pieces, reconfigured them in various arrangements.

The hamper became a car, a boat, among other things.  We rebuilt it into its original form, and then draped our play fort fabrics over it (see how we made our own fabric play fort kit from old sheets).

I ended up keeping the hamper, as it inspired so much creative play.

A few days later, I noticed Toby’s little brother using the hamper for a different purpose — Zack was pushing it around the floor happily.  The hamper was also a DIY baby walker!  It definitely came in handy during those few transition weeks as my not-quite-a-baby-anymore learned to walk on his own.

Take a peek at some of the pictures below…

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Toby disassembling and reassembling the PVC parts.
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Some of the parts were trickier than others to connect and pull apart.
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Toby would have taken the whole assembly apart multiple times if there had been time before bed.
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And then it was time to put things back together…
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Toby was able to manage most of the connections himself.

So, overall, I’d say this activity was a success.  Toby got to use some problem-solving skills and have fun constructing.  We didn’t spend a time, and in the end I still had my PVC hamper available for use (although I have to say, it’s been officially repurposed as a kid toy by now).

Cultivating Water Kefir

posted in: Learning | 0

bphotoart-water-kefir-experiment-Over the past few years, I’ve learned how to cultivate different fermented foods — sauerkraut, sourdough starter (for bread), kombucha, milk kefir, and now water kefir.  My toddler, Toby, has enjoyed helping with these processes.

I’ve found milk kefir to be the easiest of the fermented beverages to maintain, followed by kombucha.  Water kefir, thought, I found more tricky.  I think the original water kefir grains (not really grains, but that’s what the lumpy starter is called) weren’t hardy enough — but as is usually the case, the third time proved to be the charm.

After “killing” two sets of water kefir grains, I gave my water kefir making attempts a break.  Then my mom went off dairy and mentioned to me she would miss having milk kefir every morning.  So, for Christmas last year, I acquired a third set of water kefir grains.  Since they came a bit early, I ended up cultivating them myself, and giving her a whole starter of her own (plus some water kefir ready to drink!).

And that’s where this activity comes into play.

I had a learning curve with water kefir, because it was different than milk kefir.  With milk kefir grains, you just dump them in fresh milk, let the concoction sit for about 24 hours, and then strain out the grains from the milk-turned-kefir, and start again.

But with water kefir, you need to use sugar water.  The water kefir grains digest the sugar and turn it into probiotic goodness (similar to what the milk kefir grains do with the lactose in milk).  But the trick is this.  Water kefir grains like minerals too (which is the opposite of my kombucha starter — it dislikes minerals).  So, through trial and error, I discovered that my water kefir grains thrived in brown sugar water more than in white sugar water.

And I was curious how much of a difference it made.

So Toby and I performed an experiment.

Over the course of a week or two, we fed several different types of sugars to water kefir grains, and observed how quickly the water kefir grains multiplied (that’s one of the benefits of this, once you have your own starter, you’ll have plenty of new to share with your friends and family!).

We weighed out equal amounts of water kefir grains, and put them into four different mason jars (pint size).

Our control group was given nothing but plain filtered water from our fridge.  The remaining three groups each got white sugar, brown sugar, or unrefined turbinado sugar — dissolved in the same amount of filtered water as our control received.

After four days, we checked on the water kefir grains.

We did taste test the different water kefirs (though not the control group).  The molasses flavor was most pronounced in the turbinado, followed by the brown sugar.  We also strained out and weighed the water kefir grains from each of our mason jars.  It was interesting to see which had grown the most.  Those that we fed turbinado sugar grew the most, followed by brown sugar, then white sugar.  And our control group in water?  Those grains actually withered and shrunk (aka “died”).

We repeated the process for another four days, but unfortunately my kitchen elf must have run off with the sticky note containing the final weights of each set of kefir grains.  So I can’t share the number with you — but I can tell you that the trend continued.

So, based on our experiment, I can tell you that our water kefir grains were happiest with the most unrefined sugar.  Water killed them.  They survived with white sugar, and even multiplied, but to really boost their numbers I’d definitely use brown sugar or unrefined sugar.

Here are some pictures from our experiment…

Here's what water kefir grains look like.  Kind of like cottage cheese clumps...
Here’s what water kefir grains look like. Kind of like cottage cheese clumps…
Toby scooping sugar.
Toby scooping sugar.
Toby was excited to do this experiment!
Toby was excited to do this experiment!
We labelled each of the mason jars with the type of sugar the water kefir grains would get.
We labelled each of the mason jars with the type of sugar the water kefir grains would get.
Toby thought about which one would grow best.
Toby thought about which one would grow best.
I let Toby do the measuring and dumping...
I let Toby do the measuring and dumping…
We used different spoons to dissolve the sugars into their respective waters.
We used different spoons to dissolve the sugars into their respective waters.
Toby added water and stirred everything equally.
Toby added water and stirred everything equally.
The water kefir was put into mason jars and labeled for our experiment..
The water kefir was put into mason jars and labeled for our experiment..
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Finished water kefir, ready to drink!
Here are the visual results of the first four days' fermentation.
Here are the visual results of the first four days’ fermentation.
We weighed the water kefir grains...
We weighed the water kefir grains…
Like good scientists, we recorded our findings...
Like good scientists, we recorded our findings…

I’m sure we could have been a little more efficient in our experiment, but the whole point of this was to get my toddler thinking about what might happen.  He enjoyed checking on our experiment, and was excited to help weigh the water kefir grains.

Rooting + Dividing African Violets

posted in: Learning | 0

Rooting + Dividing African VioletsAround here, we love finding ways to bring nature indoors.  And one of those ways is to have houseplants.  For the longest time, my mother has had African Violets basking in the Northern windows of her home.

So, several years back I mentioned to her that I wanted to have some African Violets of my own for our house.  My mom made me a generous offer…

Her African Violets were ready to divide, so if I was willing to split them I could have some African Violets of my own to take home within the week!

I did a little research online about how to best divide African Violets, because all I’d ever done up to that point was root African Violet leaves.

It turns out either method is pretty simple.

Well, rooting the leaves is simplest. So let’s start with that.

Rooting African Violets

You get a few African Violet clippings from a friend with a healthy African Violet plant.

Take those clippings, and stick them in fresh water.

Leave them on your windowsill until the clippings start to grow roots.

I found it best to change the water out every couple days, so that things didn’t get slimy or gross.

Once you have roots, simply put into dirt and enjoy! I have always used “African Violet Potting Mix” — because that’s what my mom uses, but if you want to try general potting soil, that’s your prerogative!

Okay, now onto the trickier project… dividing African Violets.

Dividing African Violets

There are a lot of detailed tutorials, and even YouTube videos, about dividing African Violets.  So I’ll spare you that.  Take a quick search and you’ll find something that explains it in minute detail.

The basic premise of dividing African Violets?

The plant’s leaves usually all originate from one central location. So, when you see a plant that has two central points where leaves are stemming from, that means you can split the plant into two.

To do this, I gently eased the African Violet (and dirt) from the pot.  Then, I loosened the dirt from the roots so I could see the structure.  After trying to find which roots go with which portion of the plant, I used a sharp knife to gently slice through those intertwined roots.

We then put the plants into fresh soil, in new pots.   Well, actually, the plants soaked in water jars for a few days while I got around to locating my stash of ceramic self-watering African Violet pots.

But that’s it!  One key thing to remember?  As my mother told me — don’t get water on top of the leaves.  It’s not good for the plants.

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Two African Violets, ready to be potted, and three African Violet leaves, ready to root!
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Toby had fun digging in the potting soil to get the plants’ new homes ready.
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We filled the pots carefully with new potting soil for the African Violets (before Mommy put in the plants).

Practicing Scissor Skills with Family Photos

posted in: Parenting | 0

Practicing Scissor Skills with Family PhotosaThis is a fun little activity that I created on the fly for my four year old.  He wanted to cut things with his scissors… And I just happened to have some photos on hand.

Now, I’m not advocating you hand photographic prints to your child to have them practice their cutting skills, because we all know where that could lead.

(Yikes! It could be worse than “mom, I cut my bangs!!”)

But most printers can print out average quality photos, even on normal printer paper.  I used my color laserjet printer to print out some photos on standard printer paper — 9 images to a sheet.  This created some nice straight lines between the images, which I hoped Toby would try to follow when cutting.

It seems like I didn’t explain my idea quite well enough (or Toby had his own activity in mind) — the activity became a series of snips and cuts in seemingly random array.

Oh well.

In the very least, I provided my child with something of interest to cut.

The simple actions of cutting — scissor skills — were still being practiced:

  • holding the paper with your helping hand
  • proper scissors grip (thumb in the hole on top, fingers in the hole on bottom)
  • safety skills for using and carrying scissors

So, even though our activity didn’t turn out exactly as intended, I’m still calling it a win.

Toby got to practice his scissor skills using printouts of family pictures.

And, the icing on the cake?

My toddler got out the hand broom and dustpan, and swept up all the paper scraps …on his own accord.

Hooray for self-sufficiency!

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First Snow – Grayling, MI

posted in: Notes | 0

It’s amazing how transient things are, how quickly the seasons change.  We went up north last weekend as part of our continued “working on the cabin” saga.  And yes, that’s why things have been a little quiet around here on the blog.  Real life obligations always come first — in this case, it was an amalgam of things for clients as well as the addition we are adding to the cabin.

Anyways, last weekend we were expecting cold weather, but certainly not snow.  We unpacked the truck in between snow flurries and frozen rain showers.  And in the morning, we woke up to a winter wonderland.  Well, snow wasn’t completely covering the ground, but there was certainly enough for the boys to stomp about, shovel off the deck, and make snowballs.

Here’s a view off the back deck of the cabin, at sunrise.

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Yes, it was still snowing that morning.  The grayish white specks all over these images (faintly resembling sensor dust) are really large snowflakes coming down.  Zack was enthralled and wanted nothing but to be carried outside so he could try to grab snowflakes.  Toby tried his hand at catching snowflakes on his tongue, before moving onto bigger ventures — shoveling the deck.bphotoart-DSC_8305-grayling-mi

There’s something to be said for the warmth of the early morning sun coming up over a snowy scene.  These pictures simply don’t do it justice.

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The air was a bit hazy with all that moisture as the sun came up, giving off an ethereal glow…

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And here’s the best “it’s snowing” picture I took before heading back inside to make breakfast.  So many snowflakes in the air.  It was gorgeous.  Cold.  But gorgeous.

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Thanks for letting me share.  I’ll be working more blog posts back into the schedule this fall and winter, so don’t be surprised to see things get “back to normal” around here.  As always, I’d love to chat with you about planning a portrait session… so get in touch!

Simple Studio Portraits

Just because you choose to have your senior portraits done at the studio, that doesn’t mean your portraits will suffer. One benefit of staying at the studio for portraits is it’s simple to do both indoor and outdoor locations — without the hassle of additional travel.

We have a nice wooded area, complete with rustic forest path and patches of sunshine that make it through the leaves of mature trees. There’s no trekking along public park paths to get to “the perfect spot” — and while your senior portrait location may not be completely unique, your senior portraits still will be personalized to your taste!

Senior Portraits at the Park

I find that senior portraits, when done at a local park, always end up with a more casual and relaxed feel. Maybe it’s the simple fact of being outdoors, or just happenstance, but if I have a client who is looking for relaxed and casual — I’m definitely going to suggest someplace green and natural.

The nice thing about most outdoors options is the variety of backdrops. With one location, we can create a wide variety of looks quickly and easily. There is no better way to have a stress-free senior portrait experience!

Retro Hollywood Senior Portraits

posted in: Notes | 0

Sometimes it’s fun to do something a little different, a little retro. These Hollywood glamour style portraits have a retro vintage feel, and definitely are not your average senior portrait. While this style of portrait is easily created in the studio, it’s also simple to create on location.

Creating a vintage-themed portrait does take a little planning, but it’s easy enough for anyone to pull off this look with the right vintage attire, and oh, don’t forget the curls!

 

Senior Portraits at Home

Sometimes the best locations are literally just outside your front door. Or, the front door of a family member’s home. For this senior’s portrait session, we planned a relaxed outdoors series of portraits around her grandmother’s home. Additionally, we incorporated a few inside settings into several of the portraits (based on a preliminary walk through).

While having a plan is good, it’s important to go with the flow, so usually when doing senior portraits at a client’s home I will do a quick walk through of the location before the session officially begins. If my client has specific spots in mind for the portrait session, we’ll make sure to include those settings, but otherwise, it’s flexible.

And the results, as you can see, are always fantastic.

Senior Portraits on Location

This Saline High School senior wanted to have his car included in the senior portraits. So we planned a location portrait session at his home. While we were there, we also created a number of other portraits around the neighborhood. I love the wide variety of portraits you can get with a location senior portrait session like this.

Laid back, relaxed, casual, and stress-free. All part of the equation for fantastic senior portraits.

Senior Portrait with Musical Instrument

An important part of creating senior portraits? Finding ways to personalize them! For this senior’s session, we decided to incorporate his musical instrument. Well, one of them. Percussion players almost always get to play more than one instrument, so we settled on just one for the portraits.

Because of the instrument’s size, it was easier to create these portraits at my client’s home (versus transporting it to the studio). So, we planned a nice series of outdoors portraits in their backyard!

I love the vibrant colors of nature, and how they add depth and interest to the image.

Senior Portraits with Fall Colors

I love doing senior portraits during autumn. The colors are vibrant, transient, and beautiful. The colorful leaves provide a change of pace from summer green, and it’s usually still warm enough to forgo heavy jackets.

Here are some favorites from a senior portrait I did during autumn at Nichols Arboreteum. The fall colors really add another dimension to these images.

As an aside, I love including pets in portraits! Whether we go for something casual and more lifestyle in nature, or more formal, if pets are an important part of your life, please let me know so that we can discuss ways to include them.

Senior Portraits in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor has such a nice variety of locations and settings for creating your portraits! For this senior portrait session, we chose two spots in Ann Arbor that are almost iconic. — Nichols Arboreteum and Graffiti Alley. An interesting juxtaposition, I might add.

Nichols Arboreteum has acres of undeveloped land. There are a variety of natural areas: rolling hills with grassy open fields, deeply wooded areas, maintained gardens, and frontage on the Huron River. It is easy to spend the day at the Arb, feeling like you are far from the city of Ann Arbor.

In contrast, Graffiti Alley is at the heart of Ann Arbor, and is everything the Arb is not. Urban, gritty, and ever-transient, the graffiti art is likely to be different each time you go.

Senior Portraits :: Courtney

Courtney came to the studio for her senior portraits, and after discussing numerous location options, we decided to stay at the studio. You’d never know it from the portraits we created, but it was a ridiculously hot and humid day. Courtney’s senior portraits are so gorgeous; I love how the color of her dress contrasts with the vivid green hues of nature.

We also created a series of images indoors at the studio, so that the family could have a set of more traditional images to choose from. Those turned out great too!

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