Artistic Senior Portraits in Nature :: Claudia

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Claudia and her mom came to the studio in October for her senior portraits.  We did the indoor formal portrait for the yearbook, and then headed out to Mill Creek Park in Dexter for some more artistic senior portraits in nature.  I am really excited for Claudia and her family to see these photos, it was hard for me to pick my favorites to share for this sneak peek!

senior photos in nature, water senior girl portrait dexter mi photographer
We started out on the boardwalk for Claudia’s senior portrait session. I picked this spot because of the view you have …love including the water in senior photos!
senior portrait artistic style in nature, dexter mi senior photographer
Here’s another portrait of Claudia in the same spot. I love how relaxed this is, and it shows off her artistic style too!
senior portrait girl sitting cross legged on board walk, dexter mi portrait photographer
I pulled out my wide angle lens for this portrait, because I thought it would look nice. Love how the senior portrait turned out….don’t you?!
senior portrait, girl sitting in nature, mill creek park dexter michigan
And then a more traditional close up portrait. Claudia did a great job of putting up with the blinding sun, which was really obnoxious in this spot. We “abandoned” it for some other spots right after this portrait.
senior girl standing by water, dexter michigan photographer
I love photographing clients by this little section of rapids. It always looks visually interesting, whether or not the water is warm enough to dip your toes into. And on this day, it definitely was not. No matter. We got some great portraits with the water in the background!
senior girl standing on rocks by water, dexter mi senior photographer
Here’s a full length portrait of Claudia by the water. I captured this portrait before officially posing her. Actually, she was a natural so I kind of went with the flow for a good part of our session :).
senior portrait on rocks near water, dexter mi senior portrait photographer nature
I absolutely love this senior portrait of Claudia. The water is brilliant, and the reflection of the blue sky in the foreground of this senior portrait is so cool. Love it!
senior portrait of girl in grass, casual senior portrait photographer dexter mi
And then we did some portraits with the natural grassy area behind Claudia. It’s not exactly fall colors, but I love how the warm yellow tones complement her hair. So pretty!
Senior portrait girl on stairs in natural setting, dexter mi park portraits
Then it was time for an outfit change. Claudia brought a pair of jeans and this fun sweater for her second outfit. I love how this series of photos turned out. She looks gorgeous!
Senior portrait girl saline high school senior photographer michigan
Another portrait in the same series. I seriously don’t know which one I like best!
Senior girl sitting by tree, rays of sun light black and white artistic senior photo
OK so this is a really moody and artistic senior portrait that just had to be in black and white. I absolutely love the sun rays in this senior photo. Granted, Claudia isn’t really the main focus of this particular portrait, but it would be really neat to include in a senior coffee table album.
Senior girl portrait with tree, dexter rocks facebook senior photo michigan
Here’s another one from the same set. I was literally lying on the ground for this portrait. And….coolest thing? I discovered while editing these photos that one of the painted “Dexter Rocks” from Facebook was at the base of the tree! How fun!

i

Monarch Caterpillars make their chrysalises!

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The next big step for any Monarch caterpillar is to pupate!  That’s when it turns from a caterpillar into a chrysalis.  I was blessed to be around when one of the caterpillars pupated, but he was sneaky so I only managed to capture a before and after rather than a “during” …maybe next time.  (if you missed my earlier posts, you can see the caterpillars when they were tiny, and the caterpillars when they’d grown bigger).

For purposes of disclosure, I should mention that I rehung most of the chrysalises… they were either on tin foil that I secured to the twig, or tied up there with dental floss.  I did a bit of research beforehand so as to avoid damaging the creatures, don’t worry.  But I wanted to let you know because these photos have been photoshopped — to remove the unsightly dental floss, tin foil, etc.  I did my best to give an accurate rendering and not depart from reality.  Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to try the super glue method!

Anyways, enjoy these macro photographs of the Monarch caterpillar and Monarch chrysalises.  They are really amazing to look at close up… and I just today learned that you can tell whether a butterfly is male or female while it’s in its chrysalis.  There is a little seam at near those black dots at the top of the chrysalis.  Very interesting!  Maybe next time around I’ll know to photograph… 🙂  …hindsight is 20/20, huh?

monarch caterpillar pupating, monarch chrysalis chrysalises, nature photography macro photo
Some of the monarch caterpillars had already pupated, but one hadn’t yet.
monarch caterpillar pupating, nature photographer
This monarch caterpillar is in a “J” shape because it’s beginning to pupate. I learned (from my first grader’s book) that they make this “J” shape when they’re beginning to make the first transformation.
caterpillar pupating, monarch caterpillar, monarch chrysalis
Another photo of the caterpillar pupating with the chrysalises.
monarch chrysalises hanging on stick with pupating caterpillar, nature photographer michigan
As you can see, we had a number of chrysalises that formed at the same time.
pupating monarch caterpillar, nature macro photography
I really enjoyed getting to see this phase of the monarch butterfly life cycle. It’s not often that you get to observe the process from start to finish… usually those caterpillars are pretty sneaky and do their transforming when you’re not looking!
monarch caterpillar pupating, macro nature photography
I changed up the lighting a little bit for this one. Look at all the detail…. so amazing!
pupating monarch caterpillar, macro nature photo
Okay, this is the last one of the pupating caterpillar, I promise. We’ll move onto some close ups of the chrysalises next.
newly formed monarch chrysalis, just pupated, macro nature photography
That little guy from the previous photos? Well, I looked away for maybe ten minutes, and he (she?) had pupated. This is a VERY newly formed chrysalis. Once you scroll further down, you’ll see what I mean…
newly formed chrysalis, monarch chrysalis, macro nature photo
Another one of the newly pupated chrysalis. It’s so bumpy and shiny!
newly pupated monarch chrysalis, macro photography
It’s really tough to convey a sense of how shiny these things are, but I was finally able to manipulate my lighting just right to create this photo. Can you see the shape of the wings on the chrysalis? So cool!
monarch butterfly chrysalis, macro nature photo
Okay, now here’s a chrysalis that formed earlier. See how much smoother it is? You can still make out the shape of the butterfly wing, but it’s much more streamlined
monarch chrysalis, translucent
I took this photo because the little metallic flecks on the chrysalis are mesmerizing. Based on the research I did, people aren’t sure what those flecks are for. You can also see the semi-translucent nature of the chrysalis is in this photo as well.
monarch caterpillar pupated, macro nature photography
I thought this monarch chrysalis was very interesting. The caterpillar pupated on a leaf that had been resting on the “ground” of its hotel. I attached it to the stick so it could develop properly. But the reason I found it interesting is how you can still see part of the caterpillar outside the chrysallis. I really don’t know the technical term for this, my apologies.
monarch caterpillar pupated into chrysalis, macro chrysalis photo
Here’s another photo of the same chrysalis, it’s crazy detailed. I really found this to be amazing! If you can explain the science to me, I’d definitely be interested ;).
monarch caterpillar pupated chrysalis, macro chrysalis photo
Yes, one last one of the same chrysalis. I thought it was that interesting.
monarch chrysalis, nature photo macro photograph
Here’s a photo of a different monarch chrysalis from a different angle. You can’t really see the line of metallic flecks on this side. As I discovered later in their life cycle, this is the side of the chrysalis that will split open. Pretty neat.
monarch chrysalis, macro photograph
Another view of those cool metallic dots on the chrysalis. You can also see that part of the chrysalis is darker inside …very interesting.
monarch caterpillars, macro photo
All the chrysalises, lined up in a row. In case you’re wondering, no, nature wasn’t this organized. I transferred all of the chrysalises to this stick — the caterpillars had used their silk to attach to the aluminum foil lid of their hotel, and I cut it up into strips before wrapping it around the stick. For the photos, I did touch it out….
monarch chrysalises hanging on a branch., macro photo
And one final picture of the chrysalises. I thought this one was particularly neat because it really highlights that newly formed chrysalis and how it stands out from the others that have been hanging there for longer.

Looking Backward With Photo Memories

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Last night I was going through old photos.  While I have my client images well organized and backed up appropriately, my personal photos have been stored haphazardly on CDs, DVDs, and old external hard drives.  My goal?  To make sure my photo memories didn’t get lost forever.  If there’s interest, I’ll go over some ways to store photos in another article — send me an email or comment on this post.

Anyways, it was really interesting for me to note my experience taking a walk down memory lane.

Every photo was steeped with emotions, feelings, and memories.

When I looked through a series of images from a family vacation, I could recall additional events that occurred that same day.

It was amazing.

And poignant.

"To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward." ~ Margaret Fairless Barber ~ {Shared at BPhotoArt.com}
“To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.” ~ Margaret Fairless Barber ~

Some of my favorite photos now, are ones that wouldn’t have been all that important in the moment.  Photos of loved ones who’ve passed, photos of pets who aren’t with us anymore.  Even photos of the exterior of my childhood home.

Looking through all those photos made me nostalgic, sure.

But it also made me feel grateful.

Grateful for my childhood. Grateful for so many memories. And grateful for the photos to share with my kids.

Going through those photos was a chance for me to get out of the mindset where I can’t see the forest for the trees.  In the daily grind, sometimes you just forget to look at the big picture.  But those details, while they matter, have to be aligned with your master plan to be effective.

So, this year, as you look forward — consider looking backwards first. You may find, as I did, that it helps clarify things for you.  You become more aware of your blessings, or rediscover forgotten goals.

Clothespin Christmas Angel (an elf alternative)

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My kids are really excited for December.  And since Thanksgiving has come and gone, there’s definitely been an uptick in the Christmas spirit around our household.  Last year, I’d been considering making kindness elves for the Christmas countdown, but never got around to it.  I have never really liked the elf on the shelf idea, so this year I did a little more exploring of alternatives to elf on the shelf, and kindness elves.

Some people made kindness elves, kindness kids, etc — whose purpose was to help the kids learn to pay it forward.  I liked the idea.  But then I stumbled across this idea of a Christmas angel.

 

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

I decided to print out a few kindness elf printables for the Christmas angel to share with the boys each day.  After checking out a bunch of different options, I decided to use these cute circle tags by Passionate Penny Pincher.

And since we celebrate Christmas in both the secular and religious sense, the Christmas angel will also be delivering a daily advent prompt to help my boys understand things on a more spiritual level too.  That part was easy, as I found this printable that goes along with the Jesus Storybook Bible #afflink …so I printed out a set of free printable advent cards for December.

When the kids wake up, I’m going to have this cute little clothespin angel sitting out on the kitchen table with some of the printables I mentioned inside this envelope.  I also wrote a brief “introduction” letter to the boys, from the Christmas Angel, of course.  The text was inspired by a Christmas Angel note I found at The Riches of His Love.

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

How to Make the Clothespin Christmas Angel

Now, in case you’re wondering how I made the clothespin angel, here’s the quick cliff notes version.

(Sorry, I didn’t take step by step photos, as I honestly wasn’t sure how it would turn out!)

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

I took a square piece of fabric that was about five inches by five inches — and cut a small hole in the center. Then I pushed the clothespin through the opening.

Using the gold pipe cleaner, I made a halo at one end, then bent it around the neck of the clothespin angel to secure the fabric “dress.”

I used another gold pipe cleaner as a combo waistband and set of arms.

Then, I took two more pipe cleaners and bent them into angel wings.  Honestly, they looked more like flower petals than wings at first, but I still think it turned out cute!

I then attached the wings to the clothespin Christmas angel on the back side (at the “waistband”).

Using some permanent markers, I colored the main part of the clothespin gold (it turned out more brown, but oh well), and drew a face on the Christmas Angel too.

I kept it really simple… because, well, simple is better!

…and easier.

So, if you don’t have all the supplies, then by all means, improvise!  Make it work for you 🙂

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

I’ll see how many days we continue the Christmas Angel concept… it might be a huge hit, or it could be a bust.  I’m all for being practical.  So, I’ll try to report back and let you know how it turned out.  It may be that this Christmas Angel ends up as nothing more than a cute decoration for our Christmas tree!

What are your ideas for helping kids get in the Christmas spirit?  Do you try to focus on being kind, or…? Do you love/hate elf on the shelf?  Don’t care one way or the other?  That’s cool too.

Regardless, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

Easy Last Minute Thanksgiving Activities + Crafts

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Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on our family this year.  I’m not sure if it was just because life was busy, or we were preoccupied with school and the daily grind.

Whatever the reason, Thanksgiving is here.  And we haven’t decorated.  We haven’t finished going grocery shopping.  We know we’ll be spending Thanksgiving with family, but the details?  Nope.  Those are still TBD.

Maybe you’re a little more on top of planning ahead for the holidays than I am.  But, then again, maybe you’re not.  Whatever your holiday preparedness, I’m going to share some easy last minute Thanksgiving crafts and activities for the whole family!

And, if you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’ll even find a round-up of 12 or so recipes to help you use up your Thanksgiving leftovers.

There are several printables, some games, many crafts!  Most are oriented towards kids, but there are some that I think would be fun for adults too.

Okay, so without further ado, here are the activities.15+ Easy Last Minute Thanksgiving Activities + Crafts for Whole Family - BPhotoArt.com

Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Coasters (printable!)

I love the idea of these conversation starter coasters from Adventure in a Box!  You can print out the coasters from the free printable, and enjoy a number of fun conversations that might not have been otherwise had!

Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Coasters Printable - Adventure in a Box
Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Coasters Printable – Adventure in a Box

Thanksgiving Bingo (printable!)

If your family is into games, maybe you’d like to try this Thanksgiving Bingo Game from One Creative Mommy.  It looks really cute, and even if you don’t have Thanksgiving themed m&ms in the house, I bet kids would love playing with whatever snack or treat items you have on hand.

Best Thanksgiving Bingo - One Creative Mommy
Best Thanksgiving Bingo – One Creative Mommy

 

Egg Carton Turkey Craft for Thanksgiving

I love Red Ted Art crafts, and this Egg Carton Turkey craft is no exception!  Plus, it holds candy corn… too cute!  These would make adorable name cards for a Thanksgiving dinner, don’t you think?

Egg Carton Turkey Craft for Thanksgiving - Red Ted Art
Egg Carton Turkey Craft for Thanksgiving – Red Ted Art

Thanksgiving Gratefulness Game

Planet Smarty created this Gratefulness Game to Promote Wiriting and Math for her kids.  I love the idea of this game.  And, if you want to make a pretty thankfulness collage like is shown in the image below, check out the blog post for info on how to do that too!

Gratefulness Game to Promote Writing and Math - Planet Smarty
Gratefulness Game to Promote Writing and Math – Planet Smarty

Paper Roll Tukery Craft

How about this cute paper roll turkey craft from Non Toy Gifts?  Everyone is bound to have a spare paper roll (or two) lying around the house.  And, in a pinch, you could make a cylinder out of a piece of paper, right?

Paper Roll Turkey Craft - Non Toy Gifts
Paper Roll Turkey Craft – Non Toy Gifts

Thanksgiving Thankfulness Tree

Last year, we created this Thanksgiving Thankfulness Tree, and the boys loved it.  Even though we haven’t talked about it since then, my older son mentioned it out of the blue as we were talking about preparing for Thanksgiving.  I guess it really made an impression!

Make a Photo Thankfulness Tree for Thanksgiving - BPhotoArt.com
Make a Photo Thankfulness Tree for Thanksgiving – BPhotoArt.com

Pinecone Turkey Craft for Kids

Here’s another cute idea from One Creative Mommy!  Have the kids make pinecone turkeys!  I can totally see an extension activity for this craft — I think we’ll be making them using autumn leaves as the feathers since my boys love nature scavenger hunts so much.

Pinecone Turkey Craft for Kids - One Creative Mommy
Pinecone Turkey Craft for Kids – One Creative Mommy

Quilled Thanksgiving Cards

If your kids want to get in the spirit by making Thanksgiving cards, here’s a gorgeous craft idea from Red Ted Art.  You can make Quilled Thanksgiving Cards!  I think these would be fun for adults to make too…. but hey, maybe that’s just me.

Quilled Thanksgiving Cards for Kids - Red Ted Art
Quilled Thanksgiving Cards for Kids – Red Ted Art

Thanksgiving Cranberry Slime

Since no holiday is complete without a little mess, or a little science experiment,… why not give this Thanksgiving Science: Taste-Safe Cranberry Slime a try?  My boys would love doing this.  Although, you’d have to have cranberries (or get them on your next run out to the grocery store!).

Thanksgiving Science: Taste Safe Cranberry Slime - Schooling a Monkey
Thanksgiving Science: Taste Safe Cranberry Slime – Schooling a Monkey

Leaf Mandala + Thanksgiving Turkey Coloring Pages (printable! for grownups!)

Yes, I admit, this collection of Thanksgiving activities has been mostly centered on ideas for kids.  But, when the kids, are happy, the adults can be too, right?  Anyways, here are several Thanksgiving Coloring Page Printables from Red Ted Art.  Get the kids set up with an activity, then start coloring one of these yourself!

Leaf Mandala & Thanks Giving Turkey Coloring Pages (for Grown Ups) - Red Ted Art
Leaf Mandala & Thanks Giving Turkey Coloring Pages (for Grown Ups) – Red Ted Art

Thanksgiving Hats

Another cute idea to keep kids busy?  Make Thanksgiving hats!  There are ten different ideas in this post by Non Toy Gifts, and I have to admit, some are pretty creative!  My boys liked the boat hat best.

10 Thanksgiving Hats for Kids - Non Toy Gifts
10 Thanksgiving Hats for Kids – Non Toy Gifts

Thanksgiving Matching Game (printable!)

Here’s another cute printable that you can use to pass the time on Thanksgiving day!  Beauty Through Imperfection created a Thanksgiving-themed matching game printable.  If your kids are anything like mine… this should be a hit (no promises, they could be engrossed for hours, or it could last only minutes).

Thanksgiving Matching Game - Beauty Through Imperfection
Thanksgiving Matching Game – Beauty Through Imperfection

Turkey Place Cards

Since no Thanksgiving table is complete without decoration, these turkey place cards might be a cute project!  Although Mommy’s Bundle designed them for the kids’ table, I can see them in use at a low key family table too!

Turkey Place Cards for the Kids - Mommy's Bundle
Turkey Place Cards for the Kids – Mommy’s Bundle

Thanksgiving Turkey Snack + Kids’ Craft

If you’re looking for a somewhat healthy Thanksgiving snack, this edible craft turkey for kids from One Creative Mommy should be a hit…. it was for a class of kindergardeners, at least!

Thanksgiving Turkey Snack + Kids' Craft - One Creative Mommy
Thanksgiving Turkey Snack + Kids’ Craft – One Creative Mommy

Turkey Baster Pom Pom Game for Kids

This Turkey Baster Pom Pom Race, by School Time Snippets, is very simple, but I bet it will be popular with the younger kiddos!  Simple, no prep, and easy to clean up. My idea of a perfect game.

FUN Turkey Baster Pom Pom Game for Kids - School Time Snippets
FUN Turkey Baster Pom Pom Game for Kids – School Time Snippets

Turkey Bookmark Corner for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving Turkey Bookmark Corner, from Red Ted Art, is really adorable.  And is the perfect thing for Thanksgiving, don’t you think?

Thanksgiving Turkey Bookmark Corner - Red Ted Art
Thanksgiving Turkey Bookmark Corner – Red Ted Art

The Gratitude Game (Pick up Sticks)

I love this Thanksgiving-adapted take on pick up sticks, by Teach Beside Me!  The Gratitude Game inspires thankfulness by having you name something you’re thankful for each time you pick up a stick.  Great idea!

(Thanksgiving) The Gratitude Game -Teach Beside Me
(Thanksgiving) The Gratitude Game -Teach Beside Me

Cultivating Gratitude: Ideas for a Month of Thanksgiving

Even thought I’m posting this days before Thanksgiving, the concept of gratitude is still valuable.  Especially considering, for many of us, the next holiday approaching will be Christmas. And in a world of “I want” and “I need” — it’s nice to be intentional about giving thanks.

Cultivating Gratitude: Ideas for a Month of Thanksgiving - Betsy's Photography (BPhotoArt.com)
Cultivating Gratitude: Ideas for a Month of Thanksgiving – Betsy’s Photography (BPhotoArt.com)

Recipe Ideas for Thanksgiving Leftovers

This last one isn’t really a Thanksgiving Day activity, but since the holiday typically includes an abundance of leftovers, you may appreciate these ideas on how to use up all those Thanksgiving meal items!

12+ Recipe Ideas For Thanksgiving Leftovers
12+ Recipe Ideas For Thanksgiving Leftovers

Okay. Now I’m finished, I promise. Go enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations, have fun during your festivities, and make sure to remember the most important thing to be thankful for is the gift of friends of family.

“Why Do I Always Dislike How I Look In Photos?”

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This is one of the complaints I hear a lot.  Whether it’s a client coming to me for a session, or just a comment in the course of casual conversation, the sentiment is the same.  Most of us don’t like how we look in photos.

But why?

I ran across an article (What’s Up With That: You Hate Pictures of Yourself) the other day that hit the nail on the head. It talked about a term called mere-exposure:

Formulated in 1968 by a psychologist named Robert Zajonc, it basically says that people react more favorably to things they seen more often. Zajonc tested this with everything from shapes, to facial expressions, even nonsense words. Since we see ourselves most frequently in the mirror, this is our preferred self-image. According to the mere-exposure effect, when your slight facial asymmetries are left unflipped by the camera, you see an unappealing, alien version of yourself.

And wow.  I can’t believe I never quantified this reason before, but it makes total sense.  We all know ourselves based on part of our daily morning routine —  the mirror.  We’ve grown up seeing ourselves a certain way — and the bathroom mirror is we spend time making ourselves look beautiful, or examining the intricate details (and yikes, flaws) in our facial features.

So what’s that got to do with this?

Well, our faces aren’t perfectly symmetrical.

One eyebrow may rise a little higher on your left side, your smile might pull back a little more on the right.  But when we see these things in photographs, it’s on the “wrong” side.

When you see yourself in a photo — it looks “wrong” because it’s different.

The photo is flipped — it’s not a mirror image, so the facial features you’re used to are on the opposite sides.

And that’s where this sentiment comes in.  Even if you look great in your photos, they probably will look a little foreign to you because you don’t look the same as you see yourself in the mirror, day in and day out.

This is why sometimes everyone loves your photos but you.  They see you and know you as the photos capture you.

But you?  You know yourself in the mirror — the mirror image of that photo.

It’s not that you hate how you look though.  It’s just that you don’t really recognize yourself (This is The Real Reason You Always Hate How You Look in Photos):

Ultimately, when we dislike a picture of ourselves, it’s not that we think we look necessarily ugly. It’s just that we find our other self — our inverse self — more attractive.

If you ask a third party for their opinion on the photo, chances are you’ll get a different perspective on whether that photograph actually looks like you than if you tried to make that decision yourself.

Depending on the person, they may like one image of you better and another image less — purely because of which facial features and expressions of yours they have seen you make most!

So next time you see yourself in a photo and think about saying you don’t like how you look, just take a moment to remember — you know yourself as you see your face in the mirror.  There’s definitely no exact science to which photo of you is best.

But chances are, you do look good — like yourself — in photos after all (although maybe not to you!).

family-photo-mirror

 

Michigan Family Photo (in the studio)

posted in: Notes | 0

Here’s a simple family portrait that we did at the studio.  The whole thing took about thirty minutes, including photos of the kids by themselves.  If you’re looking for quick and easy, there’s nothing simpler than that.

bphotoart-family-kids-brothers-studio-photo-folio

And yes, the kids were being silly, but you wouldn’t know it by the end result (well, not by the family photo, at least).  We did take some silly pictures of the boys together, of course.  Want to know how this client thought the session went?  Here you are:

“Betsy was professional, efficient, and produced a lovely portrait for us! She was great handling my kids’ antics and going with the flow. Thanks, Betsy!” – Abbie L.

Getting your family photo done doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful.  You deserve a hassle-free portrait experience.  Choose a photographer you can trust to make that happen.  For more information about planning your next Michigan family photo with Betsy, contact her today.

Professional Portrait – Woman

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When it comes to convincing you of the value of what we do, there’s no better way than to simply pair an image with words.  Words, that is, from the client.  Because their testimonials cut to the heart of it all, and mean more than any words we could assemble.

I so appreciate what you have done.  You did a great job with taking the photo; you were professional and quick! My time is precious with a busy schedule but you got me in and out with a great outcome. The retouching you did was fabulous. Thank you so much.

bphotoart-professional-headshot-woman-photo-studio-folio

Yes, a picture says a thousand words.  But sometimes you need just a few more.  If you want to read more testimonials from other clients, please do so!  Rest assured that we can quickly and easily create a business headshot for you within a half hour at the studio.  You’ll be pleased with the results, and when you use your updated professional portrait you will be making the right first impression!

 

Family Photo at Barton Hills Country Club

posted in: Notes | 0

We photographed this family a while back, during the summer months. It’s always nice to be able to plan a family photo session for someplace outdoors.  And if you can choose a location that is meaningful for your family, so much the better!  For a golfing family, there is no place better for family pictures than at the golf course.  So we did their family picture at Barton Hills Country Club, their favorite golf course.

Family photos don’t have to be formal, they don’t have to be held in the studio.  It’s just as easy to go on location and find someplace that really reminds you of what’s important to your family.

Ann Arbor Graffiti Alley Senior Photos

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It can be tough to find a spot for senior photos that hasn’t been overused.  But even with a place as popular as Ann Arbor’s graffiti alley, it’s all about your vision.  Betsy uses her photographic talent to bring dramatic lighting and different camera angles together so that your senior photos will look unique — even if they are taken in a popular place for senior pictures.

Don’t worry so much about whether a particular spot is “overused” — make sure you trust your senior photos to the right photographer, so that you can get creative and unique results — no matter where your senior photos are taken.

For this high school senior’s portraits, we went on location for the bulk of her session.  We also did some traditional senior portraits back at the studio, though by traditional we really mean studio setting, with studio lights.  With the right clothing, even something simple can still be personalized and unique.  With senior portraits, if you’re going to do a two part session, we recommend starting at the studio — that way you have time to get used to being in front of the camera (Betsy will do her best to help you relax and start having fun ASAP).  These studio photos are often used for high school yearbook submissions, as they usually have backdrop requirements and such.  Once we have that out of the way, it’s off to the location of your choice for a fun and creative photography experience!

Newborn Baby Photos in Studio

posted in: Notes | 0

Sometimes with a new baby in the family it can be tough to get out of the house.  But one of the first excursions, in our biased opinion, should be for newborn pictures! If you are looking for those adorable sleeping baby photos, it is best to plan this session for the first week or two of baby’s life.  Because as we all know, babies sleep a lot to begin with, and then become more alert more often as they get older.  That’s why we have so much interest in our Baby’s First Year plan — it includes multiple sessions so you can have us photograph each adorable stage.

Siblings and family members are always welcome in newborn baby photos!  If you’re worried your kids won’t sit still for the camera — just relax and let us do our thing.  Betsy has many tricks to get willful little ones looking their best for the camera.

Extended Generations Family Photo

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There’s something unique and special about extended family portraits.  Yes, it can seem tough to get the whole family together.  But it is worth it. Because you’re bringing the whole family together.  So plan your session, have Betsy create your portraits, and then take the rest of the evening to be together as a family.  Life is too short, we all are too busy.  You have to make family a priority.  You deserve to have portraits not just of your kids, but of your entire family, on your wall.

A secondary challenge?  Location.  Sometimes people want to have their family photo taken, but aren’t sure where to do it.  Well, the studio is always an option.  But Betsy likes to recommend you consider having your family photo taken somewhere more unique to your family.  Your parents’ home.  The old farm house that’s been in the family for generations.  The park where your grandfather proposed to your grandmother.  Family photos are a special occasion — and it’s ok to put some thought into planning where you want yours done!

Family Photos with Horses

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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.

 

First Snow – Grayling, MI

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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!

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!

 

Michigan Pasty Recipe – Meat Hand Pie

posted in: Notes | 3

While Michigan doesn’t have an official state food, in the UP (upper peninsula), there is a fond love for the pasty.  Pasties are meat hand pies, and depending on who you ask, a pasty may or may not have specific filling ingredients (potatoes, onions, rutabaga, carrots, meat).  A little further on, I’ll share our recipe for Michigan Pasties, but first, a bit of history.

According to a student webpage project done for Michigan Tech University, the history of the pasty is quite detailed.  It was a common meal for workers in Michigan’s upper peninsula copper mines (originally Cornish, but adopted by other European immigrants).

The pasty became popular with these other ethnic groups because it was small, portable, was very filling, and could stay warm for 8-10 hours. Pasty rivalry occurred between the Finns, Swedes, Irish, Poles, Germans, Scots, Italians and French with each group contributing something in the way of seasoning and other ingredients. All groups agree that pasties must contain two things, potatoes and onions.

The pasty was eaten by hand, and could be reheated or eaten cold. We’ve tried both ways in our household; the boys LOVED having cold pasty leftovers for lunch.

The portability of the pasty not only made it easy to carry, but if it should get cold it would be relatively easy to heat up. This was done by putting the pasty on a shovel and holding it over a head-lamp candle. Miners never ate a pasty with a fork, they ate it end to end, and held it upright to keep the juices in. Since entire Cornish families worked in mines and each member of the family wanted different ingredients in the pasty, the Cornish wife would stamp the bottom corner of each pasty with an initial. According to the Cornish Recipes Ancient and Modern, “The true Cornish way to eat a pasty is to hold it in the hand, and begin to bite it from the opposite end to the initial, so that, should any of it be uneaten, it may be consumed later by its rightful owner. And woe betide anyone who take’s another person’s corner!”

bphotoart-pasty-meat-handpie-DSC_6990An internet search for “Michigan Pasty Recipe” will produce many different pasty recipes — according to a UP pasty resource  I found, it appears there is no longer a set of required ingredients:

Pasties consists of a crust filled with diced potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, onions & ground beef seasoned to perfection. Now some people combine ground pork, ground beef, and ground lean beef. Now a days they even have chicken, veggie, and even a breakfast one.

Another bit of interesting history trivia?  In 1968, then Governor George Romney declared May 28th Michigan Pasty Day.  Oddly I’d never heard this, despite being born and raised in Michigan.  Thanks, History channel!  Apparently the tourism industry …er, the Mackinac Bridge, helped elevate the status of Michigan’s pasty from a homecooked meal to a restaurant-worthy entrée:

 After the 1957 Mackinac Bridge opened the Upper Peninsula for tourism from southern Michigan, the pasty shifted from being a food mainly cooked at home by U.P. locals (known as “Yoopers”) to one sold at restaurants to visitors from southern Michigan and beyond (playfully derided as “Fudgies” for their preferred dessert).

I also didn’t know that there is an annual pasty festival in early July (according to the Pasty Recipe on the Cooking Channel!)

Making Michigan Pasties

And now, it’s time to share our take on a Michigan Pasty.  Well, at least, our most recent variant.  I admit, I’ll make them with whatever is on hand.  This time, we skipped potatoes entirely (gasp) because I didn’t have any!

I chopped up the vegetables first - carrots, onions, and celery.
I chopped up the vegetables first – carrots, onions, and celery.
Then, I combined all the spices.
Then, I combined all the spices.
I added the melted butter to the seasonings.
I added the melted butter to the seasonings.
And then combined all the filling ingredients (vegetables, meat, and seasonings).
And then combined all the filling ingredients (vegetables, meat, and seasonings).

Next, it was time to start on the dough for the pasty.  We used freshly ground einkorn flour, and shortening (rather than our typical butter).  My toddler helped with this phase quite a bit!  Also, if you’ve never heard of a Danish dough whisk (#afflink), you need to try one …or at least check out when we made Irish Soda Bread with the Danish dough whisk.  It really simplifies the dough mixing process; I love how easily the ingredients get blended together — and how little mess there is!

My toddler helped me measure and dump.  To the flour and salt, we cut in the shortening...
My toddler helped me measure and dump. To the flour and salt, we cut in the shortening…
Here's what the dough looked like after cutting in the shortening, and adding water.
Here’s what the dough looked like after cutting in the shortening, and adding water.
Next, we divided the dough into four equal parts.
Next, we divided the dough into four equal parts.
One at a time, we rolled them out onto our baking sheet (~10" rounds)
One at a time, we rolled them out onto our baking sheet (~10″ rounds)
Adding the filling to our dough - just on half the dough, leaving at least 1" around the edge.
Adding the filling to our dough – just on half the dough, leaving at least 1″ around the edge.
I used the silpat to help flip the dough over top so that it didn't tear
I used the silpat to help flip the dough over top so that it didn’t tear
And here are two pasties ready to go in the oven, already crimped!
And here are two pasties ready to go in the oven, already crimped!

And that’s it!  Into the oven for almost an hour, and when they come out, dinner is ready!

A quick snapshot of a finished pasty, right before my toddler cut into it.
A quick snapshot of a finished pasty, right before my toddler cut into it.

Michigan Pasty Recipe

Dough Ingredients

  • 4 c. einkorn flour
  • 1 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 t. salt

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 lb. carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 Vidalia onions, diced
  • 1 lb ground beef or venison
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 1 T. Thyme
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 T. rosemary
  • 1 T. coriander
  • 1 T. onion powder
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 t. pepper 

Instructions

  • Combine flour and salt in bowl. Add butter, and use a knife to cut into flour.
  • Add water, and stir with Danish dough whisk (#afflink) until well combined.  If necessary, add more flour or water so the dough is workable.  If you use normal wheat flour, you’ll probably need another 1/4 cup of water.
  • Divide dough into four sections (we rolled ours into balls) and set aside.
  • Combine first four filling ingredients in a large bowl.  Separately, combine butter and seasonings; drizzle over top of fillings and stir to coat.
  • One at a time, roll each dough ball into ~10″ rounds.  place filling on half the circle, leaving 1″ border around the edge.  You can mound the filling up high.  Then, fold the dough over top, and crimp the half-circle pasty’s edges together.  We rolled these out on a silicone baking sheet, and then used the silicone to help flip the thin dough over top.  If you plan it out right, there is room to roll out two pasties per baking sheet (with no need to transfer).  That way, you don’t have to worry about the dough tearing and the pasty innards leaking out!
  • After all four pasties are completed, place the baking sheets in the oven at 375 F for 50 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
  • Enjoy!

The nice thing about this recipe is that it comes together pretty quickly.  The ingredient list may be long, but if you have kids who like to “measure and dump” — no problem.  While older kids can be involved with every step of the process, you can let younger kids help help roll out the dough for their own pasty, place the fillings on the dough, and “check on the pasties” by looking through your oven window as it cooks.  My toddler was so excited to eat dinner the night we had pasties!

I love pie crusts, and the pasty crust is similarly delicious :)
I love pie crusts, and the pasty crust is similarly delicious 🙂

Have you made pasties before?  What fillings are your favorite?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.


tour-the-world-by-foodThis post is part of the Tour the World by food series — make sure to check out some of the other blog posts that highlight various state foods!

Here are some more resources on the Michigan Pasty (and other state foods), if you’re interested:

Don’t Lose Your Pictures

posted in: Notes | 1

Don't Lose Your PicturesLast year, my child accidentally did a factory reset on my phone. And he wiped the micro SD card clean too. At first I was furious. He should know better than to mess with Mommy’s phone, right? But then I took a breather. He was only three, after all. He thought the pattern passcode on my lock was a fun new game. And, I obviously neglected to realize that I had the default phone setting “erase all data after 10 failed login attempts” turned on. whoops.

So, as I thought things through, my anger dissipated. In its place, I was left with a keen awareness of just how fleeting electronic data is. Sure, I’ve tested and reviewed data recovery software before, but I’ve never had an actual loss. It’s not the end of the world. These weren’t wedding photos, or birth photos. I know enough to download photos to my regularly. So all that was lost? This past month’s cell phone photos and videos. But they were still memories that mattered. Memories of Toby being brave at the hospital when he got his x-rays, a video of him getting his cast put on.

Thankfully I don’t have to report to a client that I’ve lost their photos. And I pray I’ll never have to do so… my redundant backups should be prevention enough. But I’m still regret the loss.

So I thought I’d take a moment to remind you — please download your phone pictures regularly. Save them to your hard drive, burn them to a disk, put them in the cloud. Do something.

And what should you do if you lose your pictures? Take it as a reminder to do better next time. A reminder to be grateful for the memories you do have.

My attempts at using a photo recovery program were mostly unsuccessful.  Out of 3,358 files recovered, only 303 were fully recovered. The rest were partially corrupted. Thankfully I found the manual backup I’d done when switching phones several months ago.  So I’m only out 2-3 months’ worth of pictures.  Yes, this made me sad.  But you know what?  My life isn’t defined by the photos I have.. my memories aren’t relegated to pictures.  Sure, they capture the memories for me to enjoy later, but I can think back fondly on those memories without photos too.

I’m strangely okay with the fact that these pictures are gone.  My life is not defined by the pictures I take of it.  My enjoyment of this life is not dependent on the pictures I have captured.  Life is more than that.

I’m glad I’ve been documenting and sharing snapshots from our life on social media — snippets of those months are preserved there.  And, in the big scheme of things… no one has been hurt by this loss.  Maybe an emotional drainage has occurred, but nothing more.

 

20 Questions About Dad (For Your Child to Answer)

posted in: Notes | 4

bphotoart-20-questions-ask-child-about-dadEarlier this month I shared a post with 20 questions about mom that I asked Toby; it was really cute to see his answers.  So, for Father’s Day, I thought we’d recreate the list of questions, but this time ask the questions about daddy!

1. What is something dad always says to you?
I love you.

2. What makes dad happy?
That I play with him.

3. What makes dad sad?
That I don’t listen.

4. How does your dad make you laugh?
He plays with me.

5. What was your dad like as a child?
When he was none, then he was one, two, three, four, five…

6. How old is your dad?
Like 100!

7. How tall is your dad?
Five!

8. What is his favorite thing to do?
I don’t remember, but I probably know. … play with me!

9. What does your dad do when you’re not around?
Work.

10. What is your dad really good at?
Playing tennis.

11. What is your daddy not very good at?
Working.

12. What does your dad do for a job?
I don’t know what he does. He sits down and works.

13.What is your dad’s favorite food?
Some broccoli.

14.What makes you proud of your dad?
When I work with him.

15. If your dad were a character, who would she be?
I don’t know. Maybe a fire engine!

16. What do you and your dad do together?
I sometimes go in the back with him, and I dig…

17. How do you know your dad loves you?
If Daddy builds a train track with me, that means he loves me.

18. What does your dad like most about your mom?
That she cooks dinner.

19. Where is your dad’s favorite place to go?
To up north.

20. How old was your dad when you were born?
Five

21. If your dad becomes famous, what will it be for?
For playing with me.

22. How are you and your dad the same?
That I like to show daddy the bottom feeder. Daddy likes to build the playground with me. I like to build a snowman and throw snow at him.

23. How are you and your dad different?
I like to eat cereal and he doesn’t all the time.

Okay, so we did a little better with these questions a second time through, but I’ll admit he still didn’t want to focus on answering the questions.  Other things called.

Happy Father’s Day

I thought it was fitting to share this on Father’s Day, in honor of my husband and dads everywhere.  Thank you, sweetie, for all your hard work, for the times you make our boys smile and laugh, and the ways that you are a good role model for them.  It is a blessing to have these boys, and a joy to be raising them with you.  Here’s to many more years of parenting together!

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