Tips for Getting a Family Snapshot with out of Town Relatives

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

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

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

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

But that’s okay.

Because this wasn’t a family portrait session.

This was a family snapshot.

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

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

First of all, relax.

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

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

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

You don’t have to do perfect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, enjoy these portraits of of the Holler family 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe you’re worried about the weather being bad.

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

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

You’re not alone in feeling this way.

But don’t worry!

Let’s take this step by step.

Could bad weather ruin your senior portrait session on location?

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

What if the location for your senior portraits is popular?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Do you like the outdoorsy, nature look?

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

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

6. Do you like going downtown?

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

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

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

7. Do you have a favorite hangout?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, look through your answers….

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

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

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

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

Painted Portrait – a Father Daughter moment…

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

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

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

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 🙂
dog nose, lifestyle pet portrait, natural light photographer, pet portrait photographer, dog photographer dexter mi ann arbor
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.

Newborn Portraits of Baby Yara

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

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

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

baby girl portrait in studio, newborn photographer ann arbor mi portraits, newborn baby portrait with bunny rabbit outfit
Yara was wide awake at the beginning of her portrait session… just about as wriggly as a baby bunny too! But we got some cute portraits, including this one of her peeking out from under her hat. Love it!
baby girl looking over mom's shoulder, in studio portrait sesison, ann arbor child portrait photographer, dexter mi photography studio
Between outfits, Yara needed some snuggles with her mama, so I got to capture this adorable portrait. Such a sweet baby girl!
outtake from a studio portrait session, how to get babies to fall asleep during a portrait session, newborn portrait photographer ann arbor dexter mi
This is an outtake from Yara’s session. I think sometimes it’s helpful for my clients to see photos like this, because it can be super tough to visualize how baby gets settled into a particular pose or prop. Well, we do it carefully! Yara’s mom was within reach the whole time, and I always tell parents that safety comes first. After Yara fell asleep, her mom was able to move just out of the camera so I could capture the next few portraits.
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!

A Studio Headshot of Sydney

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I knew the perfect spot for that photo!

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

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

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

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

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

Engagement at the Troll in Dexter, MI!

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

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

And I had to be inconspicuous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And, as promised, here’s the slideshow:

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

Should You Send Out Senior Graduation Announcements?

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

dexter michigan ann arbor michigan senior graduation announcement cards portrait photographer

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

That depends on who you ask.

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

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

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

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

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

It works, trust me.

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

That’s where I come in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some options to consider:

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

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

Isn’t that cool?


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

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

It will make your life easier, I promise.

Ann Arbor Rainy Day Senior Portraits :: Genna

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It seemed fitting that I should post rainy day senior portraits on a rainy winter’s day like today.  After all, it doesn’t feel like winter right now here in Michigan at all, does it?  Anyways, before I share the still senior photos, here’s a video highlight reel of some of favorite senior portraits from Genna’s senior photo session.  I just have to say, I’m so grateful that these old growth trees were plentiful in number, because even though it was rainy we stayed relatively dry!

 

And in case you’re not one for video shows, here are some still portraits from Genna’s senior photo session.  Enjoy!

senior portrait yellow labrador retriever dog wearing cream bow tie outdoors, dexter michigan portrait photographer
Meet Genna’s dog, Roy. He’s the reason we had our session during the rain — scheduling can be tough when you have to arrange for a service dog-in-training to come too!
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.
senior portrait girl and dog laying down in grass, ann arbor michigan senior portrait photographer
I love working with dogs. Because there’s nothing better than a senior portrait with your dog in the photo, right? Here’s Roy focusing on me for a nice senior portrait with Genna!
senior portrait with dog, girl and her labrador retriever, in front of brick wall. Ann Arbor Senior portrait photographer
Here’s one final favorite portrait of Genna with her dog. I love this one, it turned out really well! Yes, it takes a little more effort to add a puppy into the mix, but I’m up for the challenge. If your dog can sit and is interested in treats, chances are good that I can create some nice portraits of you with your dog!
senior portrait of girl, close up in nature. Ann Arbor senior photo session, michigan photographer.
This senior portrait of Genna turned out so amazingly, don’t you think? It’s a bit more of a closeup, but for this portrait, the cropping really works well.
senior portrait of girl sitting next to brick wall, ann arbor michigan senior portrait photography
I love the perspective on this senior portrait. The brick wall just draws you right in to where Genna is sitting.
senior portrait girl sitting on chair in middle of park with trees. ann arbor michigan senior portrait photography
Genna and her mom also brought along a chair for the senior photos at the park. I love how this one turned out. The canopy of trees is gorgeous, and Genna looks so elegant sitting there in nature.
senior portrait of girl with mustang convertible in nature, ann arbor senior photo with car, michigan portrait photographer
Right from the beginning when we planned Genna’s session, we knew there would be something involving this awesome teal mustang and the trees at Burns Park in Ann Arbor. Genna’s mom pulled the car into place while Genna changed outfits, and we ended up with this really neat portrait. I always try to do a mix of serious and smiling expressions, because you never know what is going to be your favorite for a given image.
senior portrait of girl sitting in car and smiling, leaning out window. Ann Arbor senior portrait photographer
I love this portrait of Genna. She is really relaxed and happy, don’t you think? Make sure to enjoy the next two photos as well, because we did a series of silly faces that was really fun 🙂 (and would look great in a senior portrait coffeetable album).
senior portrait silly face sitting in car. ann arbor relaxed senior portraits
one of the senior photos in the silly face series I mentioned. So fun!
senior portrait silly face, relaxed and casual senior portrait of girl, ann arbor michigan senior portrait photographer
…and the final one I’ll be sharing in the silly face series. This might not be anything you’d buy as a single print, but as a series, it is just perfect.
senior portrait of girl with leather jacket next to mustang car, vintage style senior portrait ann arbor michigan photographer
Then we added a red jacket to the mix. I like this portrait of Genna, it’s a little vintage right?
senior portrait photo session of girl with vintage jacket and car, michigan portrait photographer ann arbor photos
I really can’t say which portrait of Genna is my favorite. She had ideas for her senior portraits and we did our best to work all of them into her session. While I’m happy to take charge and give suggestions or directions to my clients, I also love it when my clients take an active role in planning their session 🙂
senior portrait of girl not looking at camera, in front of blue car. dexter michigan photographer, ann arbor senior photo session
And I’ll leave you with this last almost-outtake from Genna’s senior photo session. She’s not looking at the camera, but I just love it.

 

You might think it’s a little early to start planning for senior portraits, but in fact, we’ll be publishing our senior portrait “model” call soon!  If you’re interested in have a two part senior portrait session and getting some *perks* for sharing your senior photos with all your friends, then you’d be a perfect fit!   Let me add that you don’t have to look like a model to participate.  We love having real, normal teens as a part of our program — because everyone is special in their own way.

To learn more about planning your senior portait experience with Betsy’s Photography, please contact the studio at 734-424-0472.

New Year, New Goals! {and another self-portrait}

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It seems like every year I do a new self portrait.  I don’t know if it’s to help ring in the new year, to keep my image looking updated and current, or what.  Maybe it’s just because I’m a photographer and I can’t help myself!  Anyways, this portrait was fun because I had curls!

But with the new year also comes new resolutions, right?  At least, if you’re into that.  I didn’t make any resolutions, persay, but I did take a mini-retreat  during the winter break — that alone time with my planner, my laptop, and a cup of tea was invaluable for helping me plan out my vision for 2018.  I always think big when it comes to planning, but this year it seemed smart to take some extra time to lay out a game plan for achieving balance between the many different hats I wear.  …entrepreneur, yes, but others too.  …wife, mom, pet owner, homeowner… you get the idea.

Long story short?  I came up with several mini-goals for each month to help keep me motivated, excited, and on track to have a great year!  But enough about me, right?  Here are those self-portraits I was talking about.  I LOVE how they turned out.

self-portrait studio photo dexter michigan photographer
This is my favorite self-portrait of the bunch. I plastered it everywhere on social media etc because …it’s good to have a consistent image, right?

 

studio portrait professional headshot photographer dexter mi
And another one from my mini professional portrait session.

 

photographer ann arbor mi headshot portrait professional photo dexter mi
And here’s my last favorite photo. I guess it’s only fitting that some photography studio equipment would work its way into one of my professional portraits, huh? I thought about bringing out a camera too, but that seemed a little cliche at the time.

 

Are you excited about what 2018 holds?

I am.  And I hope you are too.

But if you need some encouragement to get excited about your resolutions, your “new you” for 2018, make sure you’re not neglecting yourself.  We tend to take care of things that are more pressing and put our own personal needs at the bottom of the list.  But if you don’t make time for the things that motivate you, how will you have enough energy to change the world?

Make yourself a priority.

And if you haven’t had a new professional portrait done in a while, please consider letting me help you update your image.  I can provide clothing suggestions, makeup tips, and do my best to make sure you will be at ease for your photo session.  Because for your headshot to look like you, …well, you have to feel relaxed and be comfortable.

Whenever you decide you’re ready, I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

{call 734-424-0472 or contact Betsy today}

Portrait of Kids in the Studio

posted in: Photography | 2

These adorable little munchkins came into the studio for their portrait session this month.  Shh… don’t tell their grandparents, because it’s a holiday surprise!  It was really cute to see the kids interact, and to hear their ideas for how the portrait session should go.

portrait of brother sitting on sister's lap, kid portrait photographer dexter mi
I’d photographed Bella and Cole before, but they’ve grown so much since then! Bella wanted one of Cole sitting on her lap, so we did that portrait first.
brother clapping and smiling in sister's arms, children portrait photographer dexter mi
Cole was very excited…but as with all toddlers, he needed a little encouragement to smile for the camera. (This age is so cute…you get the cheesy “smile for the camera” grins and have to catch them off guard for a genuine smile). Love how this one turned out!
boy with stuffed animal, studio portrait photographer dexter mi
And a portrait of Cole by himself. I forget whether this was a bear, a bunny, or a dog, but the stuffie was definitely his favorite! 🙂
Bella had envisioned this portrait of her and her brother. I was happy to oblige! This portrait of the kids turned out so cute!
kids portrait in studio, photographer portrait studio dexter mi
And then we did a few portraits of the kids without the book. This one is cute, even through they’re not looking at the camera, don’t you think?
boys portrait brother in studio, photographer dexter mi
Next, it was time for a portrait of Bella and Cole’s cousins. Bryce and Trent were so cheerful, it was fun to photograph them!
portrait of kids in studio, children photographer dexter mi
And finally, we created a few portraits of all the kids. I like this one — they arranged themselves from youngest to oldest! Although, the younger boys weren’t as thrilled about this idea as the older kids. It’s all good though. What a cheerful bunch of kiddos!

 

If you are looking for the perfect gift to give a loved one, consider a portrait session!  While printed photographs are great to give (and receive!), it’s just as common for my clients to gift a certificate for a portrait session — especially if the recipient is supposed to be in the family photograph!  Contact the studio today or call 734-424-0472 to learn more about scheduling a session or purchasing a gift certificate for your loved ones.

Portrait of Dexter Community Orchestra

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The Dexter Community Orchestra recently asked me to create an updated orchestral portrait for them. I did one some years back during a concert (or maybe it was before). This time, we didn’t have much time at all to do the portrait of the orchestra. I created these photos in about five minutes, during their intermission.  When we did this photo, I was many rows back into the auditorium with my camera.  Many thanks to those onstage who told the orchestra members what to do for me so I didn’t have to be rude and yell!

I think these photos turned out very nicely, and you’d never know we had such limited time to capture the photos.

music performance dexter community orchestra onstage conductor anthony elliott
Here’s the portrait of the Dexter Community Orchestra with their conductor, Anthony Elliott.
Dexter Community Orchestra onstage for performance at dexter high school in michigan
And I took a second photo of the Dexter Community Orchestra, this time without conductor.  If you’re wondering why, I did this just in case the previous photo didn’t clearly show the orchestra members in the back row.  With such limited time for the photo session, I knew there would be no chance to review the photos and make sure everyone was visible in the first photo (but if you compare, I think we did a great job!).

I took this last image of the Dexter Community Orchestra while I waited for the intermission. I was able to hear this very talented soloist perform.  Don’t you love this wide angle view of the auditorium with the orchestra on stage?  So many visually interesting lines!

Dexter Community orchestra onstage with soloist after performing a piece during their concert at dexter high school in dexter michigan
And here’s a full auditorium view of the Dexter Community Orchestra during their performance this November. Including their soloist (who played amazingly!!).

Here’s a bit of information about the Dexter Community Orchestra:

The Dexter Community Orchestra is a musical group located in Dexter, Michigan. The DCO is dedicated to cultural enrichment through live symphonic music. The DCO seeks to provide the many benefits that can be achieved only through live musical performance. We are proud to offer a place for volunteer musicians to play and an opportunity for individuals and families to experience the magic of live classical music. We are looking for musicians and volunteers to help make our season a resounding success.

For more information about the Dexter Community Orchestra, visit their website.  The concerts that I have attended are always very well done!  And I’ve even spotted some very well behaved younger children in the audience.  Kudos to those parents — it’s tough to decide when your kids are old enough to start experiencing things like this.  🙂 🙂

 

Senior Portrait Outdoors at the Studio :: Ian

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Ian came to the studio last week for his senior portrait session.  We did some portraits inside the studio, including the obligatory high school yearbook photos.  In case you’re not up to speed with senior yearbook requirements, it really varies across the board.  Some high schools will take anything, or allow any background as long as no hands or props are showing.  Other high schools, including Saline High School, require the senior portrait for the yearbook have a professional backdrop.  So, for that reason, we started in the studio.

After the studio portion of Ian’s session was finished, we headed outside (here at the studio) for some really cool fall portraits.  I love how easy it is to create portraits both indoors and out here.  Make sure to scroll down so you an enjoy some of Ian’s senior portraits that include the natural wooded area with the fall leaves strewn all over the ground!

senior portrait boy, formal studio portrait dexter mi photographer
Ian’s senior portrait session started out in the studio. When a formal senior portrait is requested or required, I always do this part of the session first. It gives people a chance to relax a bit in front of the camera, and get used to working with me 🙂 ….we did a series of senior photos for the yearbook, and then moved on to something more casual.
senior boy, serious look, studio portrait headshot, saline high school senior photos
After we got those formal portraits taken care of, Ian changed into his second outfit and we did a few more portraits in studio. Here’s a close up portrait that I really liked. I always take a variety of poses in studio, often with some more serious rather than only smiling. Because variety is the spice of life!
high school senior boy resting head on hang, smiling for camera. senior photographer saline high school michigan
And here’s another from the studio portion of Ian’s session, with a smile this time. Love it!
senior boy in woods nature portrait, dexter michigan photographer
Next stop? Outside! While some of my clients have a particular destination in mind for their location portrait session, others are just looking for some nice senior portraits in a natural setting. When that’s the case, we’ll often use my property. We have this gorgeous wooded area that shows off the fall colors really well.
senior portrait in woods with leaves and trees, senior portrait photographer saline high school
I love this setting. Yes, I’m biased. But there’s something about the trees, the sky peeking through, and the leaves on the ground. Gorgeous spot for any type of portrait!
senior portrait, natural setting michigan senior portrait photographer, saline high school
It was hard for me to decide which of this series of senior portraits was my favorite. Ian did a great job during his session, don’t you think?
senior portrait with natural background. high school senior boy in dexter michigan
I seriously love this close up senior portrait. The background is really unique! Even though I photograph clients here a lot, the seasons change, the time of day is different, and I use my lights to create something unique for every portrait session.
senior portrait of boy in forest during fall, senior boy saline high school, dexter mi photographer
And this has been my favorite type of senior portrait lately. To be honest, I really like them all, but there’s something to be said for these fish eye portraits. The resulting senior portrait is really creative and looks awesome!
senior portrait, boy in woods, smiling, senior photo high school photographer
Another close up portrait. It’s nice to have a little variety when choosing your senior portraits, especially if you think about having me design a coffeetable album for you!
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 🙂
senior portrait of boy outside, serious pose, senior photos in ann arbor michigan
Another more serious portrait of Ian. Love how this turned out!
senior portrait of boy next to tree, close up smiling photo, senior photos in ann arbor michigan
I know that some people consider the “tree” pose to be a little cliche for senior portraits, but this next set of senior photos turned out really nicely and I just had to share. I love the texture of the tree bark (this tree trunk probably has a 3-4 feet diameter, and is easily 100 feet tall).
senior portrait next to tree, senior boy michigan senior photographer
A mid-length senior portrait with the same tree. Still love that tree trunk’s texture!
senior portrait boy sitting next to tree with leaves all around, dexter michigan photographer
And one final senior portrait from Ian’s session here at the studio. Yes, I had to wrap this post up with a wide angle portrait. I love how the leaves are surrounding Ian, don’t you?

Well, that wraps up this sneak peek.  I know Ian’s family is really excited to see all the portraits we created when they come back to the studio for their ordering appointment.  It’s easy to compare favorites when you can view images on a studio projection system 🙂 — and I’m here to help along the way with any tough decisions.

If you are needing to schedule a portrait session this fall, please contact the studio or call 734-424-0472.  The leaves are falling, but not as quickly as I would typically expect.  Or, if you want to keep things simple and plan a studio portrait session, I’m always happy to help you with that too!

Macro Photos of Monarch Butterfly Emerging from its Chrysalis

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It seems like forever and a day since I last shared photos of the Monarch caterpillars.  So thank you for your patience!  I am really excited to share these macro photos of the Monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.  That week of my life was crazy — we spent hours watching for signs that the butterflies would be emerging soon (also called “eclosing”).  I learned that the top part of the chrysalis gets very bumpy and “slinky like” — rather than being smooth.  Yes, indeed it does.  But that’s still not really an accurate measure of how long you have, because the whole process takes time.

I was blessed to be able to witness four of the Monarch butterflies as they eclosed.  We “missed” another one, and the last one was a sneaky little guy.  Fortunately I’d turned on the video camera before putting my attention elsewhere, so it was caught on film. All together, I photographed three different butterflies eclosing.  The others I watched.  And let me tell you, this miracle didn’t get old or become more mundane.  It’s amazing how the butterfly climbs out, and interesting how small its wings are, and how swollen its abdomen is.  The wings took a lot longer to dry and “grow” to full size than I expected.  And the butterflies didn’t fly away immediately.  We put them outside within hours, but they stayed nearby for hours or even days longer.

My boys are set on doing this again next year.  I think the self-started milkweed plants in my garden bed may have to stay.  We’ll see what spring brings, of course.

Make sure you don’t miss the end of this post, where you can watch a time lapse video of one of the Monarch butterflies emerging from its chrysalis!

monarch caterpillar chrysalises with one monarch butterfly ready to emerge eclose
These Monarch chrysalises are in various stages of development. As they become ready to eclose (emerge), the chrysalis becomes more and more translucent. The middle chrysalis was hours from being uninhabited. The one on the left still had days. And the one on the right was a little further along.
monarch butterfly about to eclose, emerge from chrysalis, macro photography, michigan nature photographer
This is the first in a series of photographs I took while the Monarch butterfly eclosed (emerged) from its chrysalis. You can see right through the chrysalis, even such details as the wing pattern and the butterfly’s eye (at bottom left).
monarch butterfly eclosing from chrysalis, macro nature photography dexter mi photographer
And the process of eclosing begins! It was so exciting to look over and realize the Monarch butterfly had split its chrysalis open! Do you see the slight vertical crack along the left side? So cool!!
monarch butterfly working its way out of chrysalis, macro nature photography, entomology photos
Over the next minute, the Monarch butterfly worked her way out of the chrysalis. This first part seemed the most laborious.
monarch butterfly eclosing from chrysalis, legs almost out of chrysalis. macro butterfly photographer
And just like that, the Monarch’s legs were almost free!
monarch butterfly emerging from chrysalis, macro nature butterfly photo, michigan photographer
She wriggled her way to freedom a bit at a time. …getting free from the chrysalis that allowed her transformation to take place.
monarch butterfly almost eclosed from chrysalis, monarch butterfly emerging photo, michigan photographer
The Monarch seemed to hesitate here for a bit, I’m sure there was unseen work going on so she could finish the process of emerging.
monarch butterfly just after eclosing, swollen abdomen and shriveled wings, macro nature photography, butterfly photos
And just like that, she was free from her chrysalis. The chrysalis was empty, the Monarch hanging onto it, though looking very different from what you’d recognize, no? When Monarch butterflies first emerge, their wings are shriveled and their abdomens are swollen. The fluid drains from the abdomen and the wings fill out, and eventually dry.
monarch butterfly hanging from chrysalis just after it emerged. macro butterfly photo michigan
From Toby’s butterfly book, I learned that it’s important for butterflies to stay out of direct sunlight while their wings are filing out and drying so that they can “grow” to full size. If the wings dry too soon, the Monarch would have crippled wings and be unable to fly or survive in nature.
monarch butterfly with swollen abdomen after just eclosing from chrysalis, nature photography macro photographer michigan
Here’s another view of the Monarch butterfly’s swollen abdomen.
Monarch butterfly wings drying after emerging from chrysalis, view of monarch eyes and proboscis
I took a few photos from a different angle, so you could see the butterfly’s eyes and proboscis (or, as my kids call it, the butterfly’s “straw tongue”).
monarch butterfly while wings drying after eclosing, macro photo of monarch eyes and head, nature photographer
I thought the symmetry on this photography was really neat. Love all the detail. And you can see how wavy the Monarch’s wings are too.
monarch butterfly hanging from empty chrysalis, waiting for wings to dry, macro butterfly photo
I took several photos of the Monarch while her wings dried and grew bigger. I like this one because you can see her proboscis is unfurled a bit.
monarch butterfly with wrinkled wings waiting for the wings to dry after eclosing, monarch macro photographs michigan
This photo shows the full length of the wings, and it is very apparent that the wings aren’t ready to be used yet (they’re way too wrinkled and wavy).

monarch butterfly hanging from chrysalis after eclosing, macro nature photography michigan
The Monarch butterfly hung from its chrysalis for at least half an hour until its wings filled out.
monarch butterfly hanging from chrysalis, wings not quite ready to fly, michigan photographer
Here’s a full length photo of the Monarch as it was waiting for its wings to finish doing their thing.
monarch butterfly macro close up of head, macro nature photography
Here’s a close up macro photo of the Monarch butterfly’s head. I am continually amazed by all the detail in such a small creature.
monarch butterfly eye, macro nature photographer
And here’s a really close up view of the Monarch butterfly’s eye. How incredible is that??
macro detail photograph of monarch butterfly wing, macro nature photographer
Another detail shot, this time of the Monarch’s wing. So incredible!
Monarch butterfly macro photograph of its head, macro nature photograph
And one last close up photograph of the Monarch butterfly.
Monarch butterfly with wings drying, hanging from chrysalis after eclosing, macro nature photographer
After some time had passed, the Monarch’s wings were finally getting to the point she could use them to fly. She didn’t fly away from several hours after we took her outside, but we wanted to make sure that when she did decide to fly, it wouldn’t be inside!
monarch butterfly with proboscis, hanging from chrysalis, macro nature photo
I love this photo because you can see the Monarch’s proboscis is partially extended. Those green chrysalises in the background weren’t ready on the day I took this photo, but they emerged successfully some days later.
monarch butterfly hanging near other monarch chrysalises, maccro nature photography michigan
And one final photograph of the Monarch butterfly. In this one, you can see all four chrysalises, including the butterfly’s empty one.

Now, you may recall me saying that I borrowed a video camera from my dad in order to film one of the butterflies eclosing.  That’s true.  I managed to film two butterflies eclosing from their chrysalises.  Here’s the video I created.  Portions of the film are time lapsed so that you can experience the entire transformation:

 

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