Archive for July, 2011

Adventure to Crosswinds Marsh Wetlands Preserve

As you might have already figured out, I am on the hunt for some new photo shoot locations.  I was looking through the Michigan county parks, and stumbled across some information about Crosswinds Marsh Wetlands Preserve.  It was created when the Detroit Metro Airport utilized some open land and had to basically replace it by preserving land elsewhere.  So they flooded some woods and created this preserve.  It has all sorts of boardwalks and nature trails.  I read that there are bald eagles there, but we didn’t see any.  However, we did see blue herons, swans, geese, bunnies, frogs, dragonflies, butterflies, and lots of fish.

Normally I would schedule an outdoor shoot for the last 2 hours before sunset, so that would be around 7 pm this time of year.  We went at 5pm.  So, lighting was not optimal.  The boys really liked the trip though.  We got some pictures right before we left, but it was only 6:30 or so, and there was not a cloud in sight.

I really wanted to get some pictures of Levi for his 10-month portraits.  He’s almost walking, but not quite yet.  I love his beautiful, bright blue eyes.  I wonder if they’ll stay that way.  Seth’s were bright blue too, and they turned a bit green last year.

So the verdict on Crosswinds:  I think this place would be great about 1-1.5 hours before sunset.  I also think it could be AMAZING in the fall.  I wouldn’t walk through the forest again without bug spray.  I passed a couple of great barns on the way, including one that’s practically just across the street (next to an abandoned house.  Most likely, nobody would care if I shot there).  However, Andy thinks that I can find better barns closer by.

Baby Caleb

I love newborns!  No, seriously.  I really really love newborns.  This is baby Caleb.  He was only 6 days old when we took these pictures.  His mom, Jen, is a friend of mine.  I posted her maternity pictures a couple of weeks ago.  Jen teases me all the time about my addiction to newborns.  She said during this shoot, “Maybe if you can photograph one newborn a month you’ll get your tiny baby fix.”  I like this plan.  It’s looking less and less likely that I’ll be making any more newborns myself, so if I could just hold and play with another newborn once a month, maybe I can avoid withdrawal!

Caleb was super sleepy while we took these pictures.  Nothing could wake him.  I wish I could sleep that soundly.  I brought props and backgrounds and all of that.  However, whenever I start a shoot, I always try to scope out things around the house that will work.  It just lends a more personal touch.  During my last newborn shoot (Preston), we laid him down in a chair that was passed down from his grandma.  When I got to Jen’s house to photograph Caleb, I spotted a gorgeous blanket that I thought would make a great background (the brown one).  Jen had a great bucket, so we used that too.

Caleb’s dad, Fred, plays the guitar.  So of course, we had to figure out a way to integrate the guitar into Caleb’s shoot.  First we went with laying Caleb in the guitar case.  Then I thought we should pose him like he’s playing the guitar.  It was increasingly difficult to pose him on his own with the guitar, so we staged it as Dad “teaching” him how to play.  Well, as much as you can learn when you’re fast asleep.

I can’t wait to take more pictures of Caleb (and his 3 siblings!) as he grows up.

Baby Preston


As many of you know, I am currently running a special on  It’s running through Sunday.  Since I quit my full-time Marketing job in June, I thought this would be a fun way to kick-start my photo business.  So far, about 30 have sold, which will keep me busy for a while.

On Tuesday I got an email from Andrea asking if she could schedule a session that she’d bought on there to take pictures of her newborn son, Preston.  I asked how old he is, and she said 11 days.  Normally, I prefer to take pictures as early as possible, preferably in the first week or two.  So I said, “YES, and let’s do it this week!”  So we scheduled his session for Thursday.

The forecast for Thursday called for 100 degrees, and Andrea informed me that they don’t have air conditioning in their home (where we were doing the shoot).  We scheduled it for 9:30 in hopes of beating the heat.  It worked, more or less.  We didn’t start getting really sweaty until the very end.  Baby Preston didn’t seem to mind one bit.  One bonus of the heat was that he didn’t mind being naked at all.  I don’t even think he noticed.

Preston is little, around 7 lbs.  It’s hard to believe that my boys were around that size once themselves.   One of the best things about photographing newborns is that I get my baby fix.  I love the little tiny babies.  I swear, if my husband wasn’t constantly trying to talk me out of it, I’d keep having them just to have those sweet, cuddly few months.  Preston was a perfect little baby.  He was nice and sleepy when I got there.  He is just beautiful.  Gorgeous lips, perfect little nose and a sweet little swath of hair.  I love his name too.

I was able to use one of my new props, a Double-Cola crate box (found at Town Peddler, Livonia).  Then I spotted an amazing chair.  Andrea said that it was her mother’s chair from the early 80’s.  It has that awesome 70’s/80’s vibe.  I wish I had one just like it for the studio.  I need to stop thinking like that.  Well, either stop accumulating props or buy a bigger house (or one with a shed!).   My poor hubby is scared that we’re going to run out of room soon.

After the indoor pictures, we headed outside (thank goodness for shade!).  They have a barn and chicken coop on their property.  It was so cool.  I got such a great vibe from these parents.  Having had a baby less than a year ago myself, I remember those first couple of weeks.  You’re still getting the hang of it, still figuring out who this tiny person is.  Andrea and Alton seemed so calm and collected.  Andrea looked amazing too.  You would never look at her and guess she just had a baby less than 2 weeks ago.  I tried to capture the tenderness and love between the three of them.

I drove an hour each way to get to them.  It was worth it though.  I really hope that I have the opportunity to photograph this gorgeous little boy as he grows up.

Lauren – Fresh Face #2

Last Saturday I had a shoot with an adorable 2 year old named Lauren.  Lauren was a bit shy at first.  I let her wear a hat that I had and told her that when we were done playing she could have a sucker that I brought.  She liked that plan.  Her mom, Holly, had brought lots of clothes and accessories for me to choose from.  We settled on a sweet little summer dress for the very hot summer day.

The location that we chose was Cass Benton park in Northville.  Along the way, I spotted a few other great spots right off of Hines Drive.  I really like the look of the Haggerty Comfort Station at Haggerty and Hines Drive.  It wasn’t a very crowded area either, and there’s lots of park to walk around.  There was also another area that had a great building at Wilcox and Hines Drive (Northville, I think).   I was on my way to the shoot with Lauren, which is why I didn’t stop and take any pics, so I grabbed a few off of the street view on Google Maps.

I’m still on the lookout for new locations around Metro Detroit.  I started off as an on-location photographer only.  Then I built my studio in 2007 and found myself chained to it.  What I initially built just to give me options and a place to shoot in the winter quickly became the bulk of my business.  I’m moving away from that now.  Studio work can be fun.  In the winter, it can sometimes be necessary.   But on-location is what I love most.  So I’m making a move to do the vast majority of my work on-location.  Indoor or outdoor, urban or country, I’m open.  I just love to play with the variety that it offers.

If you know of anyone in the Metro Detroit area with a worn down barn or other similar building, or know of a great field off the beaten path, please share with me!  I’ve been trapped in my studio for too long.

Ok, back to the shoot.  Lauren wouldn’t go more than 3 feet from her mom and resisted looking in my direction.  I was worried that I’d only have pictures of the back of her!  Eventually though, she warmed up to me.  Lauren is the youngest with an older brother.  You can tell she has a brother because she was not a girly girl.  She wanted to look for frogs, play with dirt, and challenge her mom to a battle with sticks.  Being the mom of two boys, I loved it.  I think that if I were to do it over again, though, I might have quietly asked Holly to hang back and let me take off with Lauren.  Sometimes kids get so attached to their parents and they feel like they’re being expected to perform and all of that.  Maybe she would have liked to go off and play with me by ourselves.   In the end, I think we got some pretty fun images.  I hope you enjoy them!



Jen Maternity Part 2 – Just in time!

Yesterday Jen and I got together for a quick 15 minute shoot in the studio to take some bare belly pics.  Four pregnancies and no stretch marks?  That needs to be documented!  Jen kept assuring me that we had plenty of time, but I get nervous about these things, so I thought it might be a good idea to do it before her due date.  Good thing we did!  Jen gave birth this morning to little Caleb.  Mom and baby are doing well, and I can’t wait to meet him.

Since I like to do newborn pics in the first 2 weeks (preferably the first week), when they’re still all curled up and sleepy, you’ll probably get to see pics of him soon.  I think we’ll be stuck indoors, though.  It’s over 90 outside, and there’s no sign of relief for over a week.

Yay for babies!

Jen – Maternity, Baby #4

This Tuesday I had a great shoot with Jen to celebrate the upcoming arrival of her 4th child (3rd boy).  She’s due next week.  I’ve known Jen for 8 years now.  When I met her she was pregnant with her first child.  While I have taken pictures of her current 3, I have somehow never taken maternity pictures.  In fact, nobody has.  Out of four pregnancies, this is her first set of maternity portraits!

Jen and I live really close… ok, we live next door to each other.  I consider her a very close friend.  So it was great to be a part of this exciting time.  We wanted to see what Hines Drive and Nankin Mill had to offer.  One great thing about shooting near home is that as time passes, and Jen and family may move in the future, they’ll have this story in photos.  They’ll have these pictures that say, “At this time, when we were building our family, this is where we lived.”  It’s beautiful.  Some of the other portraits that I’ve taken of her children have been in her front yard.  Someday they will look back and remember that porch, those flowers, that tree.  It means so much to me to capture these moments for families.

Though we lost our beautiful sun to clouds, Jen and I were still able to get some great shots.  After we had what we were looking for, we even went and played on the playground for a little bit.

I can’t wait to take pictures of Baby Janke in just a week or two!

Julia – Fresh Faces of Summer – 1st Shoot

This Monday I had the pleasure of taking portraits of Julia Cunnien, the first Fresh Faces of Summer shoot.  Julia is 12 years old, is an actress and fan of America’s Next Top Model.  I love that show too.  I admit, it’s kind of a guilty pleasure.  I like to watch it to get inspiration for poses, lighting, settings… but ok… I like the stupid girl drama too.  I absolutely loved shooting Julia.  She was comfortable not smiling.  She gave me awesome poses (“Brokedown Model” as she called it) with very little direction, and she didn’t mind 3 wardrobe changes in her mom’s van.  She also thought it was cool that I had her come to an abandoned restaurant, rather than finding me strange.

We went around 7pm to get that beautiful late evening sun.  I asked them to bring lots of clothing and accessory options, and they did not disappoint!  We sifted through 3 pairs of jeans, a couple of skirts, a few dresses, several shirts, headbands and necklaces, and at least 5 pairs of shoes and boots to find the perfect three outfits.  I highly recommend this strategy.  If you bring lots of clothing options that you love, I will happily sift through it to find what will photograph the best.  Julia did not shy away from bringing some bright colors, patterns and textures.  This definitely gave me a lot to work with.

Back to the wardrobe changes in the van.  This really got me thinking… maybe I should consider a van.  We’ve been thinking about switching cars around and getting me a new vehicle in the next year or so.  Currently, we have no vehicle that can fit our family of four plus our 70 lb dog, Maggie.  In fact, we switched vets to one that we can walk to, just so we don’t have to figure out how to squeeze her in.  We’ve considered a wide array of vehicles, such as the Chevy Equinox, Mazda 5, (used) Ford Freestyle and Kia Sorento (although we’re more inclined to go with a domestic make).  My husband, Andy, really doesn’t want to drive a van.  Frankly, I’m used to a Mazda Protege and it would be quite an adjustment to drive something that big.  But when I think about it as far as my photo shoots go, it could be awesome to have.  I could easily carry props like chairs, lights, etc.  I would have a mobile changing station.  We could fit both kids, the dog, AND luggage for trips.  What are your thoughts?  Do you own a van or one of the other models I mentioned?  What would you recommend?

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Fresh Faces of Summer Announced

Thanks to everyone who entered for the Fresh Faces of Summer model call.  It was tough to decide with all of the adorable kids that entered.  I wanted a wide range of ages.  I selected three boys and three girls.  Models selected will receive a photo session with the session fee waived and an 11×14 print of your favorite image from the shoot.  If your child was selected, please email me to set up a session.  The models selected are: Shane, Jesse, Lauren, Julia, Blake and Bonnie! (pictures below are entry pictures, and not taken by me)


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