Family Portraits at Home :: The O. Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senior Portraits at Cobblestone Farm :: Marissa

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

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

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

Location ….check!

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

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

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

Getting Kids to Relax and Smile for Pictures

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

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

My solution is always to start thinking creatively.

I ask myself…

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

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

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

Some of my solutions?

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

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

So, trust me, ok?

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

Case Study: Sarah’s Kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 ;).
child portrait photographer, girl showing shell, black and white photo, location kid portrait
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!

Group Portrait of the Ann Arbor Grail Singers

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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.

One More Moment – Local Charity Spotlight

posted in: Local | 2

This week my husband and I attended a happy hour event for One More Moment, a local Ann Arbor charity that helps create “one more moment” for late stage cancer warriors.

(We’ve gone to several events in the past, and all of them have been fabulous)

Maybe you’re wondering:

What is One More Moment?

It’s a nonprofit charity based in Ann Arbor that works with local donors and supporters to give late stage cancer warriors their “one more moment” together:

One More Moment …[was]… created to help give local late stage cancer warriors and their families … one more special moment together. … They needn’t be extreme or “typical”. The key is for something special and unique for every individual & family; simply “their” moment to enjoy.

You can like their Facebook page and visit their website, onemoremoment.org, for more info.

So, back to the Happy Hour event.  It was nice relaxing end to a busy day for us.  There were a lot of people there (One More Moment sold tickets in advance, and ended up announcing that tickets were sold out earlier in the week!).

Everyone left with a goody bag, but there were a number of winners that took home raffle items too!  Like my grandmother, I have a knack for winning things.  So, we left with a really cool Shock-Top logo-ed patio/beach umbrella, and a wooden crate full of other Shock-Top swag.  I think the wooden crate may make an appearance in future kid photo sessions, as it is just the right size for babies and toddlers to sit in!  Thank you!

If you were there, we hope you had as much fun as we did.  My kids “helped” me dig through the bags today, and I was reminded how MANY wonderful local Ann Arbor businesses have contributed goodies to help these One More Moment fundraisers fabulous. So, when you look through your swag, please consider supporting all the local businesses who made the even possible!

Here are some photos that I took of the event.  Feel free to share them with friends and family, upload to Facebook or whatever social media. I just ask that you leave the discrete watermark intact.

Remember to like One More Moment on Facebook and visit their website, onemoremoment.org, for more info!

10 Places to Have Your Senior Portraits

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One of the tough things for any high school senior to decide is where to have their senior portraits taken.  It’s a big part of expressing individuality, or conveying personality.  So, with that in mind, here are 10 places you should consider having your senior portraits done.

1. Indoors at the studio.

Studio portraits are timeless and classic. It’s a great choice if you want to do something simple, or want to avoid the unpredictable weather.  We can do a lot indoors, trust me. Here are some senior pictures taken indoors at the studio.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

2. In your own backyard.

While you may not think of your yard as picturesque, it likely has potential.  My job, as a photographer, is to make the most of what you’ve got.  So, if you want your senior portraits to be someplace that has lots of memories — your own yard is a great choice!  Here are some portraits taken in my clients’ yards (and outdoors here at the studio too). Click on any image to enter gallery view.

3. In your car.

Ok, so this isn’t a “place” …persay.  But work with me on this one.  If you have a car you’re proud of, I’d love it include it in your senior portrait session.  Cars can be part of a portrait session pretty much anywhere — your home, the studio, a park… you name it.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

4. Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor.

This is a great park in Ann Arbor, with many acres. There are the peony gardens, the Huron River, wooded paths, open grassy expanses… you name it. This is also a great location if you’d like to bring your dog along for some of the pictures. Click on any image to enter gallery view.

4. Mill Creek Park in Dexter.

I love this park; my son and I visit all the time.  I’ve done all kinds of portraits here.  The greenery is fantastic, and the river is great too.  Since the addition of a boardwalk and walking path, you can even get to Hudson Mills Metropark from this spot.  Though, I wouldn’t recommend that jaunt during a portrait session.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

5. Downtown Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor’s downtown covers a lot of area.  Some places are easier to get to than others, but there is a lot of neat architecture and urban imagery that can be incorporated into pictures.  One word of advice?  Don’t plan a downtown Ann Arbor portrait session the week of the Art Fair unless you really, really, love the crowds.  That was an experience!  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

6. Graffiti Alley in Ann Arbor.

If you’re going for a contemporary, urban look, then Graffiti Alley is a perfect spot for senior portraits.  The fun thing about this spot?  The graffiti is never the same.  So from year to year, or week to week, the senior portraits could look completely different.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

6. Downtown Dexter.

Dexter’s downtown is a little more… quaint, perhaps?  But it is a lot of fun for senior portrait sessions.  An added bonus?  Parking is a lot easier than if you’d chosen to venture downtown Ann Arbor.  I love all the different looks we can get within a one block radius.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

7. At your school.

Maybe you’re a sports fan, or you really love playing sports.  If that’s the case, then pictures at your school would be a great choice.  Pioneer High School has the added bonus of being kiddy corner to UM football stadium, so it’s a two-for-one sports deal!  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

8. Curtiss Park in Saline.

This is a great part for senior portraits, there is a river, grassy open areas, wooded spots, and even a playground. I have done a number of sessions here for high school seniors and it is so much fun.  Click on any image to enter gallery view.

9. Train tracks (near, but not on).

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s dangerous to do pictures on train tracks. But, I’m happy to do senior portraits near them, as in these photos of the young man. The young woman in the photos below actually had her portraits done at the caboose in Depot Town in Ypsilanti — it’s a “permanent fixture” and doesn’t pose any danger to get near (or on). Click on any image to enter gallery view.

10. Go on location indoors.

There are many neat places to go– indoors — for your senior portraits.  Your own home is one great place, or perhaps the local coffee shop where you go all the time.  Or, maybe you love your job and want your senior pictures taken there.  The nice thing about indoor locations?  No need to worry about the weather. Click on any image to enter gallery view.

So, there you have it. This list is by no means all inclusive, I had to leave off some fun places! What’s your favorite spot?

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3 Tips for a Successful Outdoor Portrait Session

posted in: Photography | 3

When planning a portrait session for someplace outside, you have to do a little more planning.  There are more variables to consider, more possibilities, more potential problems.  A little later on, I’ll share 3 tips to make sure you have a successful outdoor portrait session.  But first, let me share some images from one of the portrait sessions I’ve done this summer since my son’s birth.

Debbie and Holly are both flutists in the Ann Arbor area; they came to me looking for an updated Flute Fusion group portrait.  This time around, they wanted something more casual, contemporary, and natural.

Something outdoors.

So, planning for the portrait session to take place outdoors was a natural choice.  They knew they wanted something green, maybe with some trees — something kind of “edgy” but not too much so.

Here is one of my favorite photographs from their session.  Sometimes it’s ok to not be looking at the camera 🙂

bphotoart-portrait-flute-outdoors-20315-096

Now, let’s get to those tips for a successful outdoor portrait session.  When planning for an outdoors portrait session,

1. Make Backup Plans

We all know how often the weatherman is wrong, no?  While checking the forecast is a good idea, it’s a better idea to have a backup plan.  Maybe an alternate (indoor) location in case of rain, or plans to reschedule for another day.

Debbie and Holly wanted their photos outdoors in nature, so we had scheduled their session with wiggle room — enough time to do the portraits another day if the weather failed to cooperate.

2. Wear The Right Shoes

If you’re going outdoors, chances are good that you’ll be traipsing through mud, dirt, loose gravel — you name it.  Sometimes I’ll recommend my clients wear a pair of walking shoes and then change into their dress shoes once we have walked to our location.  Stiletto heels, in particular, can be difficult to wear while walking through a field or grassy area.  Those heels poke right into the ground.

For the portraits in the field of Queen Anne’s lace, Holly wore her dress shoes, as they had a low heel and kept the hem of her pants from dusting the ground.  Debbie changed out of her heels into walking sandals, as her other shoes would’ve been difficult for walking in the field.

3. Coordinate Your Attire Based on the Location

You don’t have to go with boring clothing, but when you’re outdoors, there is already a lot going on.  Simpler clothing can help draw the focus to the main subject when the setting is more complex.

Imagine if Debbie and Holly had worn patterned blouses.  For the images with the railing, where they are separated from the background by a good distance, it probably would have worked.  But in the field with the Queen Anne’s lace?  It would have made my eyes hurt!

That’s All…For Now!

So, there you have them.  My 3 tips to help make sure your next outdoor portrait session will be a success.  I’m sure that, given time, I could add to this list (my mind is already brainstorming things like: bring a brush, include your puppy). But that’s something to be tackled another day.  Hopefully seeing how these three tips applied to Debbie and Holly’s portrait session was helpful for you!

Do you have any ideas for ensuring a success next time you have your photographs taken outdoors?

Some more images from Debbie and Holly’s session are below.  Enjoy!  Click on any image to open in gallery view mode.

Peony Garden Family Portraits

posted in: Photography | 2

Nichols Arboretum, or the Arb, as it is affectionately known by Ann Arborites, is a wonderful park to visit. It’s one of my favorite places to do family portraits (or any kind of portrait photos, for that matter). And if you’re so lucky as to visit when the peonies are in bloom? Well, then you’re in for a treat.

This family portrait session was planned not only in the Arb, but in the peony garden. And if you know anything about plants, some are limited in how long the blooms are vibrant and fresh. So we planned this family portrait session carefully, based on advice from the peony garden’s website. The peak bloom time is usually late May to early June — but depends on the weather.

Fortunately, the peak bloom time coincided with this family portrait session, and we even had a wonderfully sunny day. During the summer months, I try to plan portraits like this during the earlier morning hours so it hasn’t had a chance to get muggy or sticky out. And the weather on this particular day was great. I love how everything turned out, and that the entire family coordinated to wear University of Michigan attire.  Since, as you know, Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan.

All of these images were also compiled into a custom-designed coffeetable photo album. I think albums are a great way to tell a story, to include more images than you could feasibly display on your wall. And, it’s a great place to include those silly outtakes that I always think have such personality.

 

7 Ways to Personalize Your Family Pictures

posted in: Photography | 26

While I love photographing all kinds of families, the sessions that really stand out are the ones like these family pictures. Not only were the family pictures taken at a meaningful location, but we were able to incorporate some unique elements to personalize their family portraits. And that’s what makes this so much fun. No matter how many times I photograph at a given location, the people, their personalities, and their interests are always so unique.

A little further on, I’ll share some tips on how to personalize your family pictures, but first, let me share these family portraits! The family portraits were taken at Barton Hills Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. We originally planned to use the lovely greenery at Barton Hills as a setting for the family pictures — the grounds of the country club are truly lovely when in bloom; even throughout the summer months you know it will always be gorgeously green at a top notch golf course like Barton Hills.

Family Portrait at Barton Hills Country Club - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com

On this particular day, I’d been watching the weather like a hawk (I tend to reschedule if there’s bad weather). Fortunately, the rain let up, and we had a wonderfully sunny afternoon and evening — just a little damp.

As we walked to one of the spots for taking pictures, I had a sudden inspiration. A golf cart was sitting, empty, almost asking to be photographed. Since I knew this family was fond of golf, I suggested we add another series of family pictures with the golf cart, and the idea was received enthusiastically. The series of family pictures with the golf cart turned out to be my favorite, and the family ended up liking one of the portraits so much it will be on display as a wall portrait in their home!

Family Portrait at Barton Hills Country Club - BPhotoArt.com

Click on any image below to enter gallery view mode.

How to Personalize Your Family Pictures

Now, I promised tips on how to personalize your family pictures, so let me get started with some suggestions for the next time you plan a family portrait session. You could probably adapt these for spur of the moment family snapshots too.

1. Include your family in the planning process

Sometimes I work with families who are totally nonchalant about their portraits, aside from wanting “something nice” as an end result. But, usually, families have an idea in mind for their family pictures. I like to hear from everyone — including the kids, because the more involved the whole family is with the family pictures, the better the portrait experience will be for everyone.

Kids like to have a voice. So, even if their opinion is less influential than, say, mom or dad’s… I like to hear everyone’s thoughts. Often we can work in some elements that will make everyone happy.

2. Your family pictures should reflect your style and show your personalities

Plain and simple — generic family pictures aren’t as memorable ones. You want your family pictures to be a window into your family’s dynamics and show you as you really are.

For families who are more laid-back and casual, I’ll usually recommend relaxed clothing and a more impromptu portrait style. It’s better, though, to plan a formal and elegant session for a family who is more conventional and “proper.”

extended family portrait - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
Clothing and location can really affect how formal or casual a family portrait ends up being.

3. Choose a location that is meaningful

Even if you don’t have a specific park, country club, or spot that your family finds meaningful, there are still ways to personalize your family pictures through your choice of location. If your family likes to do a lot of things outdoors, I’ll typically suggest a park with lots of natural scenery.

There’s always the option of having your family pictures taken at your home, or on your property. I love this choice, honestly, because it’s fun for me to include the house as a background element, or pets that may not have ventured off the premises for a different location session.

Family Picture with dogs - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
Bringing multiple dogs and a baby on location would have been tough, but worked beautifully at my client’s home.

4. Incorporate your family’s interests and hobbies

This tip works whether you’re outdoors on location or inside at the studio. Find something your family enjoys, and include it! As with the family pictures above, a shared love of golf can really enhance the creativity of a family picture. Other ideas on how to personalize your family pictures can focus on the pets you have, the sports team you love, the city where you live, or the horses you ride.

family portrait with horses - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
When you enjoy something, it’s always great to capture that memory in a family portrait.

5. There is no right or wrong

When planning your family portraits, remember — there is no right or wrong. What works best for your family will not work well for another. You can be inspired by what you find online, or what you pin on Pinterest, but ultimately, you need to think about how to personalize your family pictures in a way that makes sense for your family.

formal generations portrait - BPhotoArt.com
Formal portraits do work best for some portraits, but there is no one size fits all solution.

6. Flexibility is important

It’s important to be flexible on the day of a family portrait session. I often find the parents are very stressed out about getting good pictures, or making sure their kids behave, so I will do my best to put everyone at ease. The more relaxed everyone is, the better the family pictures will be.

And, speaking of going with the flow, remember that sometimes things just don’t go according to plan. But, that’s ok. Honestly, some of my favorite photographs and portraits have been the result of the need to make a spur of the moment adjustment or change.

family portrait outdoors winter - BPhotoArt.com
Children can be unpredictable, but sometimes their personalities really come through even if they’re not smiling for the camera.

7. Have a little fun and be silly!

I am a big proponent of being silly and having fun during any portrait session. Whether the funny faces end up as outtakes, or you ultimately choose to include the silliness in an album or wall portrait, pictures that let you (and your kids) have fun will really bring out your personalities.

Making Funny Faces for the Camera - How To Personalize Your Family Pictures - BPhotoArt.com
This family picture of the kids was potentially an outtake, but helped them relax!

Have Ideas on How to Personalize Your Family Pictures?

This list of tips on how to personalize your family pictures is by no means all-inclusive. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what works — or doesn’t — for your family. Or, if you have any memories of past family picture experiences to share, I’d love to read them!

Sports Car Senior Pictures

posted in: Photography | 0

It’s hard to believe Paul is finally a senior… maybe that’s why I’ve put off posting his portraits? At any rate, I’ve had the privilege to do senior pictures for his older siblings, and the neat thing about all three of their sessions (see Kathleen’s senior pictures here; Doug’s aren’t even on this blog!) is that they have a common theme — We did a canvas wall portrait for each session featuring each of the kids with the car. Here are all three siblings with their respective car senior pictures. I love how these look together, don’t you?

We started off in the studio, then went to two parks for the outdoors portion of Paul’s pictures.

Senior Portraits at Pioneer (and UM) Stadium

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Brad is a senior at Pioneer High School, and since he plays football, we made certain to incorporate that into his senior portraits. So, off we went to Pioneer High School’s football stadium for the outdoors portion of Brad’s session. Unfortunately, the gate was locked, so we had no access to the field. Despite that, we still ended up with a wonderful senior picture that included a view of the scoreboard and such — through the gate. I actually really love how it turned out!

We also included the humongous Block M sign from the University of Michigan Stadium in Brad’s senior photos… (in case you’re wondering, UM has long since limited access to the interior of the stadium, probably for security reasons).

And a search for fall colors proved difficult, but we managed to locate a stand of trees over by Vet’s Park. I think it turned out pretty nicely, especially considering we ended up driving around looking for “fall colors” as the planned spots weren’t particularly colorful.

Finally, we also did some more traditional portraits back at the studio…. for the yearbook.

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