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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
Timber Town is a lovely park located in Chelsea, Michigan. I’ve always been fond of extensive play structures, particularly ones constructed from wood, like Timber Town. While some of the areas were a little old for my toddler, we had fun exploring the structure, which was essentially a maze.
As a parent, I really appreciated the fact there is a main “entrance” to Timber Town playground, and while it’s not fenced in, you do have a hard time getting out. That’s good for corralling toddlers! In addition to the main play structure at Timber Town, there is a pint-sized “Tot Lot” attached to Timber Town. This area is more tailored to younger children, and, as we discovered, was the perfect place to play when the “big kids” descended upon the park for a picnic playdate.
There are several sets of swings, both in the toddler and main play area. There are several picnic tables near the entrance to the Timber Town structure; a larger gazebo/pavilion picnic area sits just next to the playground. Parking is plentiful, and free, of course, as you’ll find with many playgrounds in the area.
Timber Town is open from dawn to dusk, if I remember correctly, and there is no admission fee. One thing to note — you cannot reserve the picnic areas for gatherings or parties, they are first-come-first-serve at Timber Town (and the other parks in Chelsea as well).
A Photo Documentary of Our Excursion to Timber Town
Now it’s finally time to share some pictures of Timber Town with you! I figured a photo documentary style gallery would be the most practical, as there is really a lot to see at Timber Town. You’ll have to visit in person to get the full experience — trust me, your kids will thank you later. (Click on any image below to enter gallery view)
Timber Town has a toddler area, the “Tot Lot.”
The rubber bridge was a hit
I love the wooden architectural details at Timber Town
Panoramic view of Timber Town (from near the “Tot Lot”).
Timber Town has a picnic area outside the playground
The entrance to Timber Town
Timber Town commemoration and information
Timber Town has lots to do and see
Running through Timber Town
Toddler-sized mazes abound at Timber Town
Musical chime set at Timber Town
This musical chime was a huge hit
I love all the tunnels and passageways
Looking down to the “big boy” tire swing
A view from the clock tower at Timber Town
Timber Town’s clock tower
Debating whether to cross the wooden bridge
Timber Town has many nooks and crannies
The clock tower at Timber Town
View from the clock tower
View of the swings, tires, etc from the clock tower
View from the clock tower
Mural of Jiffy Mix (located in Chelsea, MI)
Timber Town is built around several trees
Climbing cargo net bridge at Timber Town
View of one of the towers at Timber Town
Crossing the rope bridge at Timber Town
There is a lot to do and see at Timber Town
Hanging from the rings at Timber Town
A “train” in the toddler area at Timber Town
Hanging from the toddler monkey bars at Timber Town
Digging in the sand at Timber Town
Lots of greenery at Timber Town
Smiling for the camera (in the “Tot Lot” at Timber Town)
Happy to be at Timber Town
We found a caterpillar on one of the railings
Spending quality time with one of the uncles
Crossing the rope bridge
a “boat” structure at Timber Town
Slides, monkey bars, and more at Timber Town
Toddler-sized “Tot Lot” includes a police car, train station, and more…
Find Timber Town On the Map
Timber Town is off Sibley road, less than a mile from downtown Chelsea, MI. Just slightly to the east, at the corner of Sibley and Main, you’ll find the smaller Independence Park.
While we visit Mill Creek Park in Dexter more frequently (it has a nice trail), Timber Town really has a fabulous draw for little ones because of the massive play structure. There’s something about being able to “hide” in a playground that thrills kids, I think.
Do you have a go-to park that is your kids’ first choice? Any childhood favorites? I’d love to hear stories or thoughts from you in the comments below!
The W. family came to the studio recently to have their portrait done. After creating their main portrait, mom asked if we could add a little fun into the mix — she had brought along Chelsea Bulldogs shirts for the family to wear! Of course, I said yes! So, we ended up with another fun portrait for the W. family to enjoy.
This summer, Linda planned a four generation family portrait! We decided to create the family portrait at her mother’s farmhouse near Chelsea. And I think the results are absolutely priceless. We actually created two separate portraits — one with four generations of women (Linda, her mom, one of Linda’s daughters, and her granddaughter), and the other with three generations (Linda, her mom, and Linda’s other daughter).
Alexa goes to Chelsea High School, and is a senior this year! She is a really creative senior, interested in photography, painting, and the arts! So, for Alexa’s senior portrait session, we decided to incorporate some of her artwork into the portraits (see the last outdoor portrait, which showcases a lot of her favorite photographs!). Of course, I told Alexa to bring her cameras with her… so we incorporated those into her senior portraits since she is into photography.
I even had a wave of creative inspiration myself — and Alexa liked my idea too. The resulting portrait is my absolute favorite image from Alexa’s session — it’s the black and white studio portrait with all the photography gear.
Have a wonderful final year, Alexa, and I can’t wait to hear which art school you decide to go to! 🙂
Kathy Hay came by the studio the other day to have me create a business portrait for her. Kathy is a realtor with Reinhart, and so for her session she brought as a prop… a yard sign from one of her properties that had just closed (i.e., sold!). I love how this image turned out, it really captures Kathy’s vivacious personality!
Anyone who knows Kathy will tell you, she is a warm and giving person. In addition to promoting Reinhart’s annual coat drive each year, Kathy has been avidly involved in the Adopt-a-Highway program for a number of years. We also created this portrait of Kathy for her to share… I definitely think it captures the essence of Kathy’s personality, don’t you? Friendly, approachable, and always happy to help out.