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.
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.
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?
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Baby Ridge has already grown so much since his newborn session in the studio… it’s amazing how quickly these little adorable babies change! I love helping to document these first weeks of life, especially since babies leave the newborn stage so quickly.
We had some bugs spend the night at our house the other day. Well, in the garage, to be exact. Grandpa sent these home with us, so we could watch them a little while longer before setting them free the next morning. The katydid took up residence on our deertick flower, and the praying mantis liked the Jerusalem artichoke we set her on. In case you can’t tell from these pictures (see more below), someone was REALLY excited to have these bugs around. He’s been talking about praying mantises all week. katydids, not as much…but then again, we didn’t have the interesting backstory for that little lady. The praying mantis had just eaten a humongous bumble bee before entering captivity. Read More
I recently was able to create a combination family and executive business portrait for Finn’s Insurance. We created a business portrait with four of the five Finn brothers and their father, and then by adding in the fifth brother we were also able to create a great gift for their mom. Here is the business portrait for Finn’s Insurance:
Doing dual-purposed portraits is actually a common request for me. Frequently my business professional clients love their headshot portraits so much that they ask about ordering a few prints to give as gifts. I love it!
I am excited to share with you that some of my fine art photography is on display (and available for sale) at the downtown Ann Arbor Sweetwaters Cafe. While I had been over there to help install the exhibit, tonight was my first return trip since then. We ventured to Ann Arbor’s downtown for a nice weekday dinner with family — and while we were there, a quick stop at Sweetwaters was in order.
Right in the entryway, we stopped to take a picture of my artist statement and one of my photographs. Since there were some willing hands, I happily stepped in front of the camera to prove I was there.
The Ann Arbor Mu Phi chapter had a wonderful concert tonight! It celebrated 100 Years of the Ann Arbor Alumni Chapter. Many Alumni and friends of Mu Phi participated, and I thought it was lovely. Here are a few highlights from the event (see below). Several of my mother’s poems were set to music; it was really great to see the poems evolve and take on new meaning as they were performed. Read More
This fall Elizabeth had her senior portraits done. We kept things pretty simple, and decided to forgo any studio portraits. So, we did location senior pictures at the Arb — which I think turned out fabulously. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’m partial to the ones on the stairs that have both Elizabeth and her dog, Eve.
While I love going to new places for location senior portrait sessions, it is also nice to revisit old favorites. And for C’s session, we went to two places I have enjoyed doing portraits — the Arb and Graffiti Alley. I am happy with how all C’s portraits turned out, she looks amazing in this senior portraits ;). Can’t wait to hear about the big decisions for college once that decision becomes more imminent.
Big brother Nate and big sister Tessa helped me to create some adorable portraits of their new little sister, Mia! We had lots of fun, and the kids were really cooperative. After creating a few portraits of all the kids together, it was time for Mia to hog the spotlight so we did some portraits of just baby girl by herself. I love how these all turned out; it is always great to include family in newborn sessions.
Erin needed a portrait to display on her website. After a bit of discussion to see what style of image she was after, we settled on a clean gray background and a relaxed-yet-professional look. While there was a possibility she might want more than one image to use on the site, both she and I loved this particular portrait so much that it was the clear choice.
I’m excited to see how this looks when incorporated into her website; I bet it will be fantastic!