Senior Photos With Pets? Yes! :: Madison

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While I love photographing seniors, or any of my clients, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for animals.  So, when Madison’s mom asked me if I ever do senior photos with pets, I enthusiastically said, “yes!!”

A lot of my clients are concerned that their dog might be too rambunctious or energetic to sit still for photos.  But, as I reassured this client of mine, I am happy to include dogs for a portion of any session!  My secret?  Well, besides just liking dogs and being patient with them, it’s a simple matter of getting your dog mostly tired out before the photos happen.  Whether that means a trip to the dog park, or a long walk, or numerous games of tug… it’s usually a pretty good bet that when your pup is pooped, he will be amenable to having his photo taken.

I have to admit, I think this is my favorite photo of the whole senior session. We had Madison stand in the water to coax the pup towards her. Even thought he generally doesn’t like water….it worked! Yes, he was back out of the water within a minute… But, I was able to capture this priceless moment. I initially wasn’t even sure we had captured him looking at the camera!  Now, you might notice this photo looks more like a painting. I used my traditional artistic training and recent training in painting digitally to create this digitally masterpiece. Don’t you love how it turned out???

senior portrait of a girl and her dog in Dexter, Michigan. senior photos with pets
Madison’s black lab doesn’t usually like water, but we coaxed him into the creek for this gorgeous portrait moment. I painted it digitally, because it was just crying “paint me!” I think this is one of my favorite senior photos with pets that I’ve done.

Now, let’s get on to the photos of Madison.  It was such an honor to photograph Madison, she is a great person and I love her cheerfulness!  While I love all of my clients, it’s always fantastic when a session goes smooth as silk. And Madison’s senior portraits just flowed so nicely. Despite the heat, we managed to stay out of the direct sun. …and we created some gorgeous senior portraits in the shady spots of downtown Dexter. Side note — when doing senior photos with pets, make sure to also bring a water bowl and enough water. On a hot day, it’s really essential.  (I’m so glad Madison and her mom planned ahead!).

Madison, class of 2018 senior in Whitmore Lake, posing for a photo op during her senior portrait session in downtown Dexter, Michigan.
Madison, class of 2018 senior in Whitmore Lake, posing for a photo op during her senior portrait session in downtown Dexter, Michigan.
I love this photo of Madison laughing during our senior portrait session in Dexter, Michigan.
I love this photo of Madison laughing during our senior portrait session in Dexter, Michigan.
Madison is a class of 2018 senior in Whitmore Lake, Michigan. She came to Dexter for her studio and location portrait session. This brick wall was a great spot for photos.
Madison is a class of 2018 senior in Whitmore Lake, Michigan. She came to Dexter for her studio and location portrait session. This brick wall was a great spot for photos.
Portrait of Madison, a class of 2018 senior, in downtown Dexter.
Portrait of Madison, a class of 2018 senior, in downtown Dexter.
Portrait of Madison, a class of 2018 senior, in downtown Dexter.
Portrait of Madison, a class of 2018 senior, in downtown Dexter.
senior photos with pets? yes! Girl with dog in Dexter, MI
Madison brought along her black lab for some portraits during her senior photo session in Dexter, Michigan. (senior photos
Since it was a hot day, this spot under the bridge in Dexter's Mill Creek Park was a fantastic place to stop and take some senior photos.
Since it was a hot day, this spot under the bridge in Dexter’s Mill Creek Park was a fantastic place to stop and take some senior photos.
Class of 2018 senior Madison posing under the bridge in downtown Dexter for her senior photos.
Class of 2018 senior Madison posing under the bridge in downtown Dexter for her senior photos.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of Madison’s senior portraits. As I mentioned earlier, these were taken in downtown Dexter.  What I didn’t mention is that her entire session took about an hour. Yes, including a quick stop at my studio for the obligatory studio senior portrait.  Easy peasy!

As the senior portrait season ramps up, we’ll be sharing more sneak peeks. I hope you will find these senior photos inspirational as you plan your next portrait session. If you’re interested in learning more about how the portrait planning process works, just contact Betsy via internet or call 734-424-0472.

 

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?

Plein Air Paintings – Paint Dexter 2014

posted in: Fine Art | 6

This past week was pretty busy!  I enjoyed participating in the second annual Paint Dexter Plein Air festival (see my paintings from last year).  This time I didn’t paint solo though — I had a entourage with me (both boys, and grandma).  My newborn slept, my toddler painted for a bit with grandma, then both enjoyed the outdoors while I kept working.  Due to the weather, we didn’t go out to paint the first two days (while I wouldn’t have minded painting in the rain, I didn’t want to bring the kiddos along to get soaked).

So, I had two days to complete my two plein air paintings for the festival.  Plus a third painting that was part of the “Quick Draw” event — but, honestly, they all felt like quick draws to me!  I enjoyed painting so spontaneously, not really worrying about minute details, and rather going for an artistic representation.  Although, I will say, these pieces were a little more realistic than the abstract style I’d briefly entertained using.

Day One – Painting a Caterpillar En Plein Air

We went to one of the Dexter metroparks and while I was deciding what scenery to paint, I found a curious little caterpillar.  He had crawled onto my painting supply bag.  I gently helped him onto a branch, and proceeded to paint him as the subject for the first day.  I really had fun with this piece.  The green background did start out as abstract circles, but then I melded the colors together.  I felt like a kid for a bit while I was flicking drops of paint onto the paper — so freeing to make a mess outdoors (no cleanup!).  And finally, the fuzzy white hairs of the caterpillar — sticking out every which way — were enjoyable to create too.  Can you tell I had fun on this day?

"Caterpillar" - 9"x12" watercolor - $350
“Caterpillar” – 9″x12″ watercolor – $350

Day Two – Plein Air Painting at Night

The evening after painting the caterpillar, I saw a most fantastic view out my son’s bedroom window.  The moon was gorgeous, surrounded by ever changing clouds.  I decided it would be fun to paint a night scene — and so I did!  It was fun to use so much black in a painting (as an aside, my son would agree – his favorite color to paint with is currently black).  The dark colors were a bit challenging too, as watercolors aren’t usually so low-key in nature.  I ended up adding in our grass in the foreground, taking a low vantage point rather than including the lake and the trees on the horizon, which were all but silhouettes against the city glow of Ann Arbor in the distance.  I enjoyed seeing my painted clouds shape themselves and change as I added layers of paint, ever shifting just as the real clouds do.

"Moon at Night" - 9"x12" watercolor - $350
“Moon at Night” – 9″x12″ watercolor – $350

Day Three – Quick Draw Painting

The final day of painting was the actual Quick Draw event.  I had three hours to complete this final piece — not too stressful, as the other two pieces were completed in that timeframe.  Such is the life of an artist who happens to be a mother.  Especially to little ones — time is precious, and all too fleeting!  After going downtown Dexter to register, I returned home to set up shop.  Grandma played with my toddler in our yard so he could be near mommy (someone likes to watch me paint).  I sat out on our deck, accompanied by a sleeping baby, painting the lovely view of our trees.

I have to admit, working under a three hour time constraint turned out to be a little stressful.  Some of my experimentation while painting did NOT turn out as planned, and I had to backtrack a couple times.  I think it turned out for the better, in the end, of course.  But I definitely could have worked longer on this piece, as I was originally envisioning much more detail in the final painting.

"Trees" - 9"x12" watercolor - $500
“Trees” – 9″x12″ watercolor – $350

So, there you have it.  My three plein air paintings from this year’s Paint Dexter event.  I enjoyed participating.  It will be interesting to see the other paintings that were created this week — all are on display in Monument Park until Saturday afternoon — for sale by silent auction (or “buy it now” price).

Thoughts on Painting and Creativity

I wish I painted more often.  Every time I paint, I tell myself that.  But then life happens.

This time, I am going to try and make sure I get my hands on a paintbrush again soon.  Painting is so soothing, relaxing, inspiring.  Especially when I allow myself the freedom to experiment and play, rather than trying to adhere to “what should be.”

Because, let’s face it, part of art is breaking the rules.

Of course, you have to learn and master the rules before you break them.  Or so they say.

 

Visiting Mill Creek Park in Dexter

posted in: Local | 16

One of the perks about our nice weather? Being able to spend time outdoors without bundling up! I love being able to get outdoors, but especially if the sun is shining and it’s not too warm or too cold.  We did a combination walk/bike excursion at the park, which worked …except my son is pretty quick on his balance bike.  Next time, I may consider bringing along my bike so I can do a better job of keeping up!

Mill Creek Park Boardwalk - Dexter Outdoors 5565

All the photographs in this post were taken at the Mill Creek Park in Dexter, Michigan.  It’s been fun to see the improvements and changes that have taken place over the past several years.  The park has also undergone a name change — it used to be Warrior Creek Park. The dam was removed to allow for a return to more natural creek conditions, and a pedestrian bridge was created to connect the park, via about 5 miles of trail, to Hudson Mills park.  A stairway (with bike ramp!) now allows visitors to get from the park up to Alpine street (where the Library and Farmer’s Market are located).  There are also boat launches for kayaks/canoes.

Mill Creek Park - Dexter Outdoors 5579

We haven’t gone the full length of the trail yet, maybe halfway — but it really has been nice to use the wide trails and boardwalks for getting outdoors.  Here are some photographs of our park excursion.  On this particular day, we also ventured to “downtown” Dexter as my toddler wanted to go up the ramp/pathway when we were on our way up to the library for storytime.

Mill Creek Park - Dexter Outdoors

Fortunately I had allotted enough time for the scenic detour (usually we use the stairs right next to the libary).  In the images below, you’ll also find we stopped at the playground — long enough to go down the slide, have mama give an “underdog” or two on the swing, and find a prize pine cone that later accompanied us home.

Pine cone at Mill Creek Park - Dexter Outdoors

In case I haven’t made it obvious, I really love being outdoors.  It was so fun to identify birds, their songs, look for fish and frogs, and read some of the new informational signs that were placed in the park when it was updated.  So, anyways, make sure to check out the images a little further on (click on any image to open in gallery mode).

Portraits at Mill Creek Park in Dexter

Dexter’s Mill Creek Park is also great for portraits!  I have enjoyed creating family photos, high school senior pictures, and portraits of toddlers all in various areas of this park.  Here are some favorites from a few sessions to give you an idea of what we’ve done in the past.  Make sure to check out one senior portrait in particular; it will show you what the park looked like prior to the construction of the pedestrian bridge!

Mill Creek Park Scenes and Snapshots

And back to our park excursion photographs… here are more images of Mill Creek Park, the boardwalk, and our fun in the sun on a wonderful spring day!

By the way, my son loves his fireman balance bike (afflink). The balance bike is adjustable in height and has allowed him to really get the hang of balancing, gliding, and steering — all while zooming. It’s amazing to see the difference when we bring out a tricycle or other “vehicle” with pedals. Those pedals have been a source of frustration, whereas the balance bike is natural and freeing. Based on what success my friends have had with their kids and balance bikes, I anticipate an eventual smooth transition to a 2 wheel bike (with pedals) down the road, skipping training wheels completely!

Articles About Mill Creek Park

Here are some articles about Mill Creek Park — detailing the different stages of contruction, and the official Dexter Parks page. Links will open in a new window for your convenience.

What About You?

Do you have any favorite activities when you go to the park? It seems like we always visit the playground, and we usually have at least the balance bike with us. On one trip to Mill Creek Park, we were blessed with an unexpected friendship when we met another mama! What’s your favorite part of being outdoors? Is it the wildlife? The scenery? The people you’re with? Do you have a favorite memory at a particular park?

Snowscapes

posted in: Fine Art | 1

I love snow.  Really.  And the fact that we were holed up in the house, sick, during the past couple big snows made me sad!  So, I resigned myself to capturing what I could from within the warmth of our house (no way I was going out in negative temperatures to risk an easily induced coughing fit).  Here is one of my favorites — it’s a little on the abstract side, but I have always loved looking at the wind ripples on snow drifts.  And, I was able to capture a section of our yard not tromped over by deer or turkeys!

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Sports Car Senior Pictures

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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.

Tommy’s Senior Portraits (Dexter HS)

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We did Tommy’s senior pictures at the start of school (can’t believe time flies so quickly! Even though it was fall, the leaves hadn’t started to turn yet, so Tommy’s portraits have lovely vivid greens for the outdoors portion of his senior session.

And as I wrap up writing this blog post for my nephew, I really can’t believe it’s been two years already since his brother, Ben (my oldest nephew), was getting his senior pictures done. Time really does fly.

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs!

posted in: Fine Art | 2

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

Family Portrait at Mill Creek

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Family portraits on location are always a lot of fun. Simply choosing the right spot will make all the difference in the world. While often we do plan family portraits at a client’s home, it is also nice to do portraits at the local park. So for this particular family portrait — that’s exactly where we went. And the results look great, don’t you think?

The river and boardwalk provided a great variety of portraits, all within walking distance. I am all for making things as simple as possible for my clients!

Discovering England and Switzerland

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If you enjoyed Betsy’s previous programs at the library (Portraits of Italy and Israel), then you will be thrilled to hear that she will be giving two additional travelogues this winter at the Dexter District Library! In December, Betsy will share images from Switzerland, and in February, she will share images from the UK. More program details are available below; make sure to mark your calendars now so you remember to attend.

Discovering Switzerland – A Photo Travelogue
December 11th, 2012 — 7pm at the Dexter District Library

Join Master Photographer Betsy Finn for a journey through the Swiss Alps to the picturesque village of Murren. Betsy will share portraits and stories of traveling by funicular in the Alps, by cable car to the Matterhorn, by train around Lake Luzern, and more.

Discovering Cambridge, Visiting England – A Photo Travelogue
February 5th, 2012 — 7pm at the Dexter District Library

Join Master Photographer Betsy Finn in exploring England through photographs. Betsy will share portraits and anecdotes of her month-long stay in the college town of Cambridge, as well as images of many England’s landmarks — from ancient to modern.

Gordon Hall Civil War Days

posted in: Local | 0

Last weekend we visited Gordon Hall for their Civil War Days event! In addition to capturing some photographs for the event, we had a family fun day :). We strolled through the civilian and military camps, watched the military firing demonstration, and enjoyed part of a Civil War era ball game. Our toddler enjoyed taking in most of the sights, but unlike last year (when the cannon didn’t even faze him), the rifles were a bit scary. Here’s a snapshot of the boys watching the ball game! 🙂

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Family Portrait on the Farm

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We planned this family portrait session towards the end of the summer in 2011, but for gift-giving purposes, I refrained from blogging about it until after the holidays had come and gone.

The whole family had a lot of fun …particularly at the end of the session, when everyone (aside from yours truly ;)) got to jump into the pool! It’s hard to pick one favorite portrait from this session.

 

Ben :: Dexter High School Senior Portraits

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Ben was all for the simple session, so we kept it to a casual portrait outdoors, and a formal portrait in the studio.

One outfit indoors, one outfit outdoors. No additional driving, and pretty hassle free, so far as the whole senior portrait experience is concerned! This type of session is great for seniors who want to keep things simple — and for parents who still want quality senior portraits for their graduates.

E :: Outdoor Portrait Session

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Here are a couple portraits of E! She came to the studio at the end of the summer to have a portrait created in the great outdoors. We planned for the portrait to be done at the studio, since we have a lovely plot of land with green grass and tall trees. Of course, this was before all the leaves started falling ;). Even so, I love how easy it has been to create such vibrant, natural, portraits — right at the studio!

Outdoor Location Portrait (1)

And we also did a more artistic portrait of E. playing her guitar. I love incorporating personal touches into portraits… and as E. will attest, it certainly makes the portraits more meaningful!!

Outdoor Location Portrait (2)

Dexter High School Senior Pictures :: Kathleen, 2012

posted in: Photography | 2

I can’t believe that Kathleen is a senior at Dexter High School already… time flies so quickly! Anyways, for Kathleen’s senior portrait session we started at the studio, and did some basic yearbook portraits. Then, once we got that out of the way, it was time for some fun!

Kathleen really wanted to have her portraits in a green, outdoorsy, natural setting. Since I love new and unique places (particularly my clients’ homes) — we decided to use her grandmother’s home as a setting. We also had to find an awesome place to use the GTO Judge, of course!!! I really love how everything turned out, from the waterfall portraits to the spectacular dance poses that Kathleen managed to pull off in mid-air.

And here’s a sneak peek at Kathleen’s senior portraits. From this gorgeous selection of pictures, I designed a set of coffeetable albums …and created a pair of wall portraits with the Judge (one canvas featuring Kathleen, and the other featuring her older brother, Doug’s senior portrait from several years ago).

I know Kathleen has been just dying to share these lovely senior portraits with all her friends and family… so, without further delay, here are her senior portraits — click on an image to view it in more detail.

Dexter Train Depot – Family Portrait

posted in: Photography | 0

Earlier this fall, the M. family and I planned an outdoors portrait session in the Dexter area. The family liked the idea of incorporating the old Dexter Train Depot — so off we went! Here are two images from their session, I think these look great in black and white… it kind of captures the old vintage feel that naturally accompanies the historic building.

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