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

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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

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)

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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

posted in: Photography | 0

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

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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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