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!

Outdoors pet portraits of Apollo with his human siblings

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Every so often, my kids look up at me with those adorable puppy dog eyes and ask, “Mommy, can I be your assistant when your next client comes?”  While I think that’s adorable, I have to say no, and promise they can help me another time (when my clients are not there).  It’s cute.  Just like when I loaned one of my old DSLR cameras to my oldest the other day for experimentation.  He took some pictures, came back to me, and asked, “Mommy, am I a professional photographer?”  Adorable, right?  I smiled and answered, “do you want to be?”

Anyways, today they helped me out with an equipment test photoshoot.  I took some portraits of our dog, Apollo, using some equipment I’m testing out (I write articles and reviews for an industry magazine).  The kids had fun, and the dog loved all his treats.  Here are some of the photos we took.  Make sure to scroll to the end so you can see when my assistants jumped in front of the camera for a cute outtake :).

lifestyle pet photo natural light dog portrait, pet photographer dexter mi ann arbor
Before I got started with the equipment test, I needed a few “no flash” photos. This was one of the natural light portraits of my pup. He was intently watching the treat 🙂
dog nose, lifestyle pet portrait, natural light photographer, pet portrait photographer, dog photographer dexter mi ann arbor
Love that nose!!
dog portrait, natural light, lifestyle pet portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor photographer
Tracking the treat. Lol. I love that you can see the treat just at the edge of the image in this one.
dog portrait, pet photographer, location pet portrait, dexter mi ann arbor photographer
As a word to the wise, if you keep your camera in an air-conditioned room… your camera lens WILL get foggy when you bring it out into this humid Michigan weather. …and yes, you’ll have to wipe off your lens more than once. I kind of like the ethereal feeling that the lens fog brings to this portrait though… 🙂 This is the start of my portraits with lighting, as you might notice by the different feel to the image.
pet portrait, dog photo, location pet portrait photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi photographer
He’s so treat-oriented… this works perfectly :).
pet portrait photographer ann arbor mi dexter portrait photographer pets dogs
It’s always fun for me to experiment with different looks. Yes, it was bright and sunny (wait, cloudy?) out… but my lighting and camera settings made this look super dark and dramatic. More treats for a good puppy!
chocolate Labrador retriever portrait, pet portrait, dog photo outside pet photographer ann arbor dexter mi
Apollo got the hang of this whole posing for the camera thing pretty easily. Bright flashy thing? Awesome… a treat comes next!!
chocolate Labrador retriever portrait, pet portrait, dog photo outside pet photographer ann arbor dexter mi
Aww I just love this puppy, he is too cute 🙂
chocolate Labrador retriever portrait, pet portrait, dog photo outside pet photographer ann arbor dexter mi stormy sky outdoor photo
The dark stormy looking sky in this one is awesome, don’t you think? Remember, it wasn’t really this dark out,… that’s just my in-camera magic :).
chocolate Labrador retriever portrait, pet portrait, dog photo outside pet photographer ann arbor dexter mi pet portrait at home outdoors
I figured a couple with our house in the background would be cool, since the yard is where Apollo loves to be. Outdoor dog all the way. And still happily contented with watching for treats…
chocolate Labrador retriever photographer pet pictures ann arbor mi dexter pet photographer
And for this one, I let the natural light impact the image a bit more. There’s still flash, but not quite so much moodiness. Isn’t that cool?
portrait photographer outtake, kids being silly, fun photographer in ann arbor mi, relaxed photo session dexter mi photographer
And here are those outtakes of my kids. At this point, the sky had gotten nice and blue, and my kids were more than happy to jump in for a few outtakes with their pup.
kid photo session outtake, kids being silly during session, photographer works well with kids, kid photographer ann arbor mi dexter child photographer
With all that energy, I had to work a little harder to get Apollo to focus on his treats (instead of the grass, which started to become very interesting).
photo session outtake, example of photo without professional lighting and equipment, see blog post for actual photos of session
Just for the sake of comparison, I figured I would throw in a snapshot of this same setting. Here’s my point and shoot camera, capturing the same scene. Crazy how different it looks, right?
child portrait photographer relaxed outdoors lifestyle portrait session dexter mi photographer ann arbor child photographer
And one last one…. of my three guys being adorable in front of the camera. It may not be a portrait with coordinated outfits and all that jazz, but it’s still pretty cute, especially for an “outtake” …right? Love that blue sky!

Do you want a nice portrait of your pet, or your kids with your pet… but don’t want the hassle of wrangling all those bodies?  Let Betsy help you plan a portrait session for your family, furbabies and all!  Contact the studio at 734-424-0472 to get in touch today.

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

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

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

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

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

I knew the perfect spot for that photo!

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

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

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

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

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

Making Time to Enjoy Baseball

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Don’t you love being outdoors? I’m so glad that the warm weather has finally showed up! Although, with spring and summer comes a flurry of activities. Baseball, swimming, golf, nature walks, you name it!

dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
This was Toby’s first time catching. He looked like a natural!

My oldest son, Toby, has moved up to machine pitch baseball with Dexter Little League this year, so we’ve been spending quite a bit of time at the ball diamond. My husband is coaching for the fourth season, so we constantly have baseball gear coming out of our ears. It might seem like a big time commitment, right? Yes… but it’s worth it.

I get to set my to-do list aside and simply watch Toby being a kid. And I get to chat with other parents who are doing the same thing! And the little siblings have fun too, in their own way (Zack, my younger son, loves to playing on the bleachers, or in the ball diamond dirt). I love the community that comes with baseball.

Most days, you’ll find me happily carrying a pocket camera. But, every so often, I’ll bring my DSLR camera and zoom lens to a ball game. For me, there’s just something about capturing a moment, a memory. It’s the process of creating and documenting life… and while I’m often busy doing this for my clients, it’s important to me that I do the same for my own family!!

So, with that in mind, here are a few photos from one of Toby’s recent games. Enjoy!

dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Zack was on the sidelines for part of the game, cheering for his big brother.  Plus…. popcorn, because baseball and snacks go together. {Side note: isn’t this chair awesome??} 🙂
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
…part of the game is learning to sit on the bench when most of your team is out on the field.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Toby and a teammate on the bench.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
My husband, carrying on the family tradition of coaching baseball .
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Toby transitioned to machine pitch from t-ball really well! it was really amazing to see how much the kids had all matured since last season 🙂  {Side note: you can see Steven coaching at first base in this photo. I love my zoom!}
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Toby did a good job of getting on base…
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
…rounding third base…
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
…and safe at home! Toby was so proud of himself 🙂
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Even though the balls are thrown by the machine, kids still get to take turns playing the position of pitcher.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Go speed racer! Toby had fun looking at the photos I took to see if he was running fast enough for both his feet to be off the ground at the same time.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
As the sun got lower in the sky, Toby got another run. He was so proud of himself.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
I love seeing good sportsmanship!!

Thanks for letting me share these family memories with you!  I hope that you’ve found fun ways to capture memories of things you enjoy doing as a family.  🙂

Engagement at the Troll in Dexter, MI!

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

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

And I had to be inconspicuous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And, as promised, here’s the slideshow:

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

Portrait of Dexter Community Orchestra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Nature Portraits by the River in Dexter :: Haylee’s Senior Portraits

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With this recent cold spell, fall really seems to be upon us.  But it wasn’t that long ago that we had warm sunny days like for Haylee’s senior portrait session.  We planned Haylee’s portrait session to take place at Mill Creek Park in Dexter.  As you might have guessed from some past blog posts, it’s a popular destination for portraits.  But even so, it’s not hard to make your portraits look unique and personalized to you.  Haylee was a great sport and smiled beautifully for the camera throughout her entire session…. and we ended up with a fantastic set of senior photos for her and her parents to enjoy.

Make sure to scroll all the way through this series of senior portraits, because I saved some of my favorites for the end.  We did do a few portraits standing in the water, which I have to say, was cold but felt refreshing given the heat.

high school senior, dexter class of 2018 senior photo dexter mi photographer
I’m not sure if there was a surefire favorite from Haylee’s senior portrait session at Mill Creek Park, but this one is definitely up there. She looks so beautiful!
high school senior girl portrait leaning up against rock wall. dexter mi photographer
I love photographing seniors at this rock wall. It’s timeless, and even on the hottest days, it feels nice and cool!
black and white photo of senior girl in nature, michigan photographer
Okay, so every once in a while, the photo just really needs to be in black and white. And I love how this one turned out.
senior portrait headshot, senior girl smiling, high school senior photographer dexter mi
This portrait of Haylee was used for her drama club headshot. So pretty!
smiling senior portrait, dexter high school senior portrait photography
And a close up of Haylee smiling. Love it.
senior girl sitting on rock by river, senior portrait in mill creek park, dexter mi photographer
We ventured out towards the water a bit, and Haylee smiled beautifully for the camera (even though her mom was making her laugh!).
senior portrait mill creek park dexter mi photographer girl near rocks
This one of Haylee is cute too! It was really hot out, but she did an awesome job of following my directions and smiling for the camera!
senior portrait, girl smiling, high school senior photo
Seriously, Haylee had so many great photos to choose from. What a gorgeous senior photo session!
senior portrait in nature, dexter mill creek park, portrait photographer
You’d never know it from these photos, but it was sweltering out the day we did Haylee’s senior photos . And, there were bugs too, of course. But Haylee did so well!!
senior portrait head and shoulders picture, dexter mi photographer
After a quick outfit change, Haylee was ready for the second part of her session. Here’s a head and shoulders photo of her…
senior portrait dexter mill creek park, border to border trail senior photos dexter mi
Haylee put up with my antics while I created a series of wide angle portraits like this one. It takes a little guesswork when you’re holding your camera two feet above your head! Love how this one turned out.
senior portrait at mill creek park in dexter near dexter library and railroad bridge.
Honeslty, this portrait might be my favorite from the session. It’s just so fun, and you get the awesome view of the border to border trail going under the railroad bridge…and the Dexter library too! Quintessential Dexter, right?
senior portrait, girl in dress smiling, senior photo dexter mi
Stunning. Really. I love this portrait series that we did on the pathway. Haylee looks so sophisticated, don’t you think?
full length senior portrait, high school senior girl, dexter high school
A full length photo from this series of senior portraits. So pretty!
senior portrait of girl leaning on railing, dexter mill creek park, michigan portrait photographer
And, of course, another one that turned out great. 🙂 🙂
wide angle senior portrait, girl by water and trees, nature portrait senior photographer dexter mi
We wrapped up Haylee’s senior portrait session with a few portraits by the water. This one is a super wide angle one that is kind of fun, don’t you think?
digital painting from portrait photograph, high school senior girl, senior portrait photographer dexter mi
And here’s the final frame. A digital painting that I created from one of the last portraits we did at Mill Creek Park in Dexter. You might notice a few scenic changes from the last portrait — that’s the beauty of painting. It’s an art and you can change the scene to fit the feel of your painting. Love those clouds.

 

If you’ve been putting off planning your senior portrait session because it seems like a lot of work, just get in touch!  We help you through the entire process, whether it’s choosing your location, giving advice on attire and outfits, or selecting the best portraits to hang on the walls of your family room.  Your senior portrait experience can be relaxing and maybe …even fun! 🙂

Senior Photos at Mill Creek Park in Dexter

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It’s always fun to do senior photos someplace local, someplace meaningful.  Or, in the very least, someplace that is amazingly gorgeous!  And that’s what Mill Creek Park is — gorgeous.  You might know it as the Library Park, because the Dexter District Library overlooks the park.  Or maybe you know the park as Warrior Creek Park….which it was formerly named in years past.  Whatever you call it, the park is gorgeous.

Let’s just say, if you’re thinking about doing senior photos at Mill Creek Park in Dexter, you won’t be disappointed.  I love the boat launch steps, the walking path under the bridge, the grassy natural areas, and even the playground.  Mill Creek Park offers a nice variety of settings for most types of portrait photography sessions — and, most importantly, there are some nice shady spots to keep you out of the heat of the midday sun!

Here’s a sibling portrait session I did at Mill Creek Park this summer.  N. is a senior at Dexter High School, while C. is a junior this year.  It was nice to get photos of both of them during this senior and not-quite-yet-senior photo shoot!

Since you might want to see what some other parts of Mill Creek Park look like, here’s another senior photo session that we did there.  Well, at least partly.  Madison’s senior portrait session took place in downtown Dexter, and included some senior photos at Mill Creek Park in Dexter too.  I love the one of her with her black lab.  So adorable!

I’ve done various other senior portrait sessions at Mill Creek Park over the years.. the water is almost always nice to wade in, and feels great during hot summer Michigan days. On rare occasion the water is too high, and the current too fast, but usually my older (i.e. teen or adult) clients are able to comfortably wade into the shallows of the water. Here’s a few photos from a teen photo session at Mill Creek Park….

And for those of you who remember what Mill Creek Park was like before the boardwalk and other improvements went in, I haven’t forgotten either.  Here are a few senior photos at Mill Creek Park when it was still known as Warrior Creek Park.  Amazing how quickly we grow accustomed to new improvements, huh?

As an aside, there’s another nice park in Dexter that’s similar, but a little different — Hudson Mills Metropark.  I’ve done senior portraits there too.    If you want to take a peek, you can view Luke’s senior portrait at Hudson Mills Metropark.  Here’s a teaser of his senior portrait blog post:

If you want to explore Mill Creek Park a little more, you might check out this blog post of mine about Mill Creek Park in Dexter.  I have a few more recent sessions on the schedule to share with you at Mill Creek Park, so if you’re dying to see more senior photos at Mill Creek Park in Dexter, definitely sign up for my email updates so you won’t miss those posts.

If you want to learn more about planning your senior portrait session at Mill Creek Park (or elsewhere), please contact the studio today.  We definitely are in a busy season right now, but should be able to fit you in before your yearbook deadline.

 

Senior Portraits at Hudson Mills Metropark :: Luke

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Luke’s senior portrait session started at the studio, but most of his photos were created on location at Hudson Mills Metropark.  When photographing clients at two locations, I always love to start in the studio because those portraits are a little more formal. By the time we get to the second location, everyone is relaxed and comfortable — perfect for more casual location portraits!

So, without further ado, enjoy these senior portraits taken at Hudson Mills Metropark!

formal portrait of dexter mi high school senior boy
We started out in the studio for Luke’s portrait session. I like to start in the studio because it gives us a chance to get used to working with each other. Besides, these traditional shots tend to be a little more formal anyways.
senior portrait boy at hudson mills metropark mi
After the studio part of his senior portrait session, we went to Hudson Mills Metropark. Hudson Mills, like most parks, has a lot of nice natural areas. I love that it’s easy to incorporate the river into sessions here too!
senior boy crossed arms in front of river, dexter mi senior portrait
I love this portrait of Luke with the river behind him. Whether you’re a natural in front of the camera, or need lots of directions from me, I will make sure that we get some fantastic portraits 🙂
senior photo relaxed expression high school boy dexter mi
Luke with a slight smile. I love how natural this expression is, and how relaxed he looks in this senior photo.
senior portrait, boy on bench by huge tree. dexter michigan hudson mills metropark
A lot of the time, I will tell my clients “go sit over there on that bench.” Because even if you might not see it, there’s an awesome photo waiting to be taken. And that was the case with this photo. I love the huge old tree in the background, and how Luke isn’t really looking at the camera (yes, sometimes I tell my clients to look at such and so …to deliberately stage a contemplative senior portrait like this one.
senior portrait boy standing on rock by river dexter michigan
After a series of photos on the bench, we walked down the path and stopped by the river bank near the base of that old tree. I had Luke stand on one of the larger rocks so that I could create this cool senior portrait. I love how the leaves are in the foreground…
senior portrait, boy sitting on rocks dexter michigan hudson mills park
While it had been a partially cloudy day, the sun suddenly peeked out from behind the clouds. We got some gorgeous light on the water, and it definitely added a lot of impact to this portrait. Love it!
senior portrait of boy on rocks at hudson mills metropark
Another one from the same series. I just love that light reflecting off the water. Throughout this whole session, Luke did a great job of following my directions so we could create great images like this one.
senior portrait of boy near a fence in dexter mi
A little further down the path, we found a wooden fence. I had Luke lean up against it. This one is the first in the series. Very serious, but I like it.
dexter high school senior boy leaning on fence.
Another senior portrait – I love this capture of Luke.
senior portrait boy near fence in nature park dexter mi
And the sun, again. I love it. The leading lines from the fence draw your eye down the path, and Luke is right in the center of it. Very cool senior portrait!
senior portrait of boy in nature dexter michigan
I had Luke stay where he was, and moved further up the path to create a totally different look from the same exact spot. Love this one too!
senior boy at river edge sitting on rocks dexter michigan portrait
We finished up our session by a boat launch. I had been eyeing this spot from the beginning of the session, but we did wait until after several kayakers got their boats into the water. Luke sat on the rocks, his mom steadied my light for me so I didn’t have to worry about it falling in the water (thanks mom!)…. and we got this great natural looking portrait of Luke!
senior boy sitting on rocks near water in dexter michigan
And, of course, a pull back of the same portrait. I couldn’t decide which was my favorite, so you get to see both! Either would be great for a senior portrait — but I’d use this one for a larger wall portrait 🙂
senior portrait boy sitting near tree roots dexter michigan photographer
As we were wrapping up the session, Luke’s mom asked about doing a few photos near these cool tree roots. I am so glad she mentioned it, because I had seen the same thing and loved it! We did a few photos of Luke here, and I love how the roots all wiggle their way towards the subject of the senior portrait.

Luke was a great sport during his entire senior portrait session. We managed to create all these senior portraits — and more — during his hour long session.

I’m always happy to work with clients who know exactly what they want… and with clients who want me to direct them completely. We will make your senior portraits uniquely you. If you’re interested in planning a laid-back senior portrait session and need someone who knows what they’re doing, call us at 734-424-0472 today!

A Field of Sunflowers :: Rachel’s Senior Portraits

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Rachel’s mom contacted me this summer about doing her senior portraits in a field of sunflowers.  Cool idea, right?  And we were in luck, because the weather was great on the day of Rachel’s session.  A bit hot for anyone’s liking,…but, hey, it’s Michigan.  We have to work with what we’re given.  You’d never know it from these photos, because Rachel looks absolutely gorgeous, but it was drippingly hot.  Seriously.

Enjoy this slideshow of our favorite images from Rachel’s senior portraits in the sunflower field.

And in case you’re a sucker for web photos instead of video slideshows, here they are!  Rachel was a great sport.  She put up with the hot sun, some windy gusts, and of course, my goofy requests that she pretend to laugh at her mom.  All in all, Rachel’s senior portrait session went very smoothly though.  We got some great portraits that I am sure her family will enjoy for years to come.  And once I’ve designed the memories panel that her mom ordered for their home, I will share that with you too!

senior portrait of a girl in a field of sunflowers.
This photo was one of Rachel’s mom’s favorite portraits in the sunflower field. Love it!
senior girl in sunflower field for senior portrait photo session, Michigan.
I love love love this view of the sunflower field. Rachel’s senior portraits all turned out awesome!
Senior girl with sunflowers behind her.
Love those sunflowers behind Rachel. <3
Senior girl in a sunflower field, Dexter, MI
Another one of Rachel… love that white dress, it looks great with the sunflowers!
senior girl portrait, closeup, with sunflowers. Dexter Michigan Photographer.
Look at those eyes! Gorgeous.
senior photos of high school senior girl in field of sunflowers, Dexter, MI
And it was windy now and then, so Rachel’s long hair looked fabulous (as long as we faced into the wind!).
senior girl in dress, surrounded by sunflowers. Dexter Michigan Senior portrait.
Another one of Rachel, looking great!
Sunflower field for a senior portrait photo session, Dexter Michigan.
Pulling back to get a few more sunflowers in the portrait. Love it!
senior portrait in sunflower field, Dexter, MI - dance.
This one looks a little more formal than the rest of Rachel’s senior portraits, thanks to the pose. I usually try to get a mix of relaxed and more posed portraits to keep the session flowing well.
Senior portrait, girl with hat, sunflower field, Dexter, MI
I love that Rachel brought along this hat!! Isn’t it great?
senior portrait, girl wearing hat in sunflower field, Dexter MI
Of course, with a hat, we had to do something a little more fun and peppy. Love how this portrait of Rachel turned out!
senior girl portrait, Dexter, MI, sunflowers behind her.
I love using one particular lens in my camera bag because you get such a neat perspective. <3
senior girl portrait in sunflower field, sitting on tree stump, dexter michigan photographer
Okay, I have to tell you, we didn’t bring a tree stump to our portrait session. I did a little of my artistry magic to give Rachel something a little nicer to sit on than my white stepstool. Presto chango…voila!
Senior girl with long hair, looking over shoulder, senior portraits in sunflower field, dexter mi photo
Love that hair!
Senior girl relaxed smile, long hair, dexter michigan senior photo
And I love this relaxed photo of Rachel. Great natural smile!
senior girl with hat and long hair, sunflower field dexter mi senior photo
Again, that hair…and that hat. Love it!
senior girl standing in field with sunflowers, wearing hat, dexter mi senior photo
I know, another hat portrait. But she’s rocking it.
senior girl wearing hat, smiling, in sunflower field. senior photo dexter mi
Hats off to you, Rachel, as you enter your senior year of high school. <3
senior portrait, artist painting, sunflower field
It must be the artist in me, but I can’t help myself. I loved painting this portrait of Rachel… it’s so fun to explore the world of digital painting. Seriously, I get to use a paintbrush with my stylus and tablet…. and there is no messy paint cleanup!

 

If you’re looking at doing senior pictures while the weather’s warm, get in touch with me ASAP to plan your session! Or, we can plan something for the fall… your call.  Call the studio at 734-424-0472 to learn more about having your senior portraits done by award-winning master photographer Betsy Finn today!

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

posted in: Photography | 3

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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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

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.

Tommy’s Senior Portraits (Dexter HS)

posted in: Photography | 0

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

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