Madison- Class of 2018

Senior season is in full swing over here! For the past few weeks I have been meeting seniors for evening sessions at different parks and downtown areas around Metro Detroit.  It has been so much fun to see all of their personalities shine through during their sessions.  Madison is a part of my senior rep team so I was so excited to finally meet her in person.  We had to make a last minute change to her shoot location because of a concert in the park where we planned to shoot, but thankfully she just rolled with it.  And I have to say, I ended up loving our backup location even more than our original choice!  Madison was so easy going during the day as we texted back and forth, reworking our plan for the evening, and that relaxed personality flowed right into our shoot. 

We started our session in downtown Northville.  Madison told me about her plans to pursue a degree in teaching following high school, and how she is spending her summer working in a shop in downtown Milford.  Madison's mom came along for the session and it was fun to see the two interact.  I remember my own senior pictures, and picking out my outfits and going to the shoot with my mom. It is such a special experience to share.  We headed to Maybury State Park for the second part of Madiosn's session.  The sun was just setting over the trees and it created the prettiest light over the whole park.  

My favorite moment of the shoot came when we got to Maybury and Madison's mom got really quiet behind me.  Madison kindly asked her mom if she was alright.  While Madison and I had been joking around and getting Madison posed, her mom was tearing up behind me.  She shared that she was just taking in that Madison was actually graduating and that she looked all grown up.  I came home and shared the story with Ted and we started talking about how your senior pictures are really the first big event that kicks off your senior year.  How fun is it that, I get to share that moment with seniors and their parents? I don't take one moment of being a part of this experience for granted, because I know how special these memories are.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your senior year, Madison!

Pagel Family

Each Sunday morning I see these three little cuties walk in and out of church.  And you know, I do the typical adult thing- a little smile, whisper to my husband, "isn't that just the most adorable little family ever", and then I go on my way.  I have worked with their momma on a few projects at church, but mostly we just e-mail back and forth without chatting much.  So when she e-mailed me a few months back and said she would like to get some family photos done I was so excited.  I couldn't wait to get to know their family better and to photograph those 3 sweet little faces that I see parading into church together each Sunday. 

Our session did not disappoint!  These girls each have their own personalities and it was so much fun to see each of their unique characters play out during our time together.  One super girly chatting about bows and sparkles, one ready to take the lead and run down the path and get a little dirty, and the youngest with a big personality and believing with every part of her that she makes all the decisions :) I feel ya on that one sister, I sure know how that youngest personality thing goes! 

I have to say that my very favorite part of the shoot was watching how Hannah and Eric parent together.  I know it sounds kind of deep, right?! But so often photoshoots can be a stressful event for families, and that is not what I want!  I want them to be a time when your family can play and laugh and just enjoy time together.  I want you to get into the car and think well that was easy, now let's go get donuts to celebrate!  So it is so encouraging when both parents want to be at the shoot.  And they take care of each other's needs and the needs of their little ones without even thinking about it.  And that is exactly what Eric and Hannah did.  So thank you for making the shoot so enjoyable for me! I hope you had as much fun as I did, Pagel family!

Riley- Class of 2018

If we haven't had a shoot together, let me explain to you how each session starts.  We meet one another, typically for the first time actually meeting in person, and then we spend a few minutes getting to know each other.  From there I let clients know what they can expect from the session.  I let them know that it may take a few minutes for them to get comfortable in front of the camera, but that is okay, it happens to everyone.  From there we start shooting and within 10-15 minutes clients have loosened up and are ready to take the photos they will really love.  The ones that are comfortable and natural.  

Well, that is not how it went with Riley!  I let her know that it was okay to feel a little unsure at first, but that feeling would go away.  And right there, first shot, I was like dang girl, we don't have to worry about those 10-15 minutes we usually take to get comfortable!  She was instantly comfortable in front of the camera and naturally posed, smiled and giggled her way right through her session.  I later learned that she is on the cheer team and does theater at her high school, so that might explain how comfortable she was!

We spent our evening together in Detroit, doing parts of her session at both Belle Isle and the Z Parking Garage.  Both are such incredible locations and I loved all of the unique spots we were able to find to help showcase Riley's personality.  Can we talk about those skyline views at sunset with her sassy attitude- absolutely my favorite photographs from her session! Thanks so much for letting me be a part of celebrating your senior year, Riley! 

Weekend Edition: Part 3

If you have been following along here or on my Instagram you already know I love lighthouses. Ted and I kind of stumbled into our love for lighthouses a few summers ago.  We had a free weekend and got in the car and started driving north.  Along the way we made an impromptu lighthouse visit.  During that visit the volunteer working in the gift shop convinced us that we should try to see every lighthouse in Michigan, and the rest is history. We have spent many summer days driving down dirt roads, taking boat rides, and hiking on beaches in search of all of Michigan's lighthouses.  

This summer we took our lighthouse adventures to a new level and were able to serve as volunteer lighthouse keepers at Crisp Point Lighthouse in the Upper Peninsula.   People have asked me, so I feel like I should clarify, we actually did nothing to keep the light on in the lighthouse.  The light is completely automated.  Rather, we ran the gift shop, opened the lighthouse to visitors and kept everything clean and ready for guests to enjoy.  Because Crisp Point is so remote we were able to camp right at the base of the lighthouse for the three days we were keepers.  And of course, we made a week long vacation out of the whole thing! 

We started our week in Frankfort.  My sister and her family met up with us two times during our trip, which was so fun.  I have spent a lot of time traveling with her family since they have had kids, and it is always so special to make these memories with my nieces and nephew.  During this part of the trip we saw two lighthouses, lounged on the beach, climbed the sand dunes and spent an afternoon tubing down the Platte River.  And thanks to my brother-in-law for being our personal paparazzi, he is insanely talented.  You can follow along with his work here.

Once we left Frankfort we headed to the Upper Peninsula and to our campsite at the Crisp Point Lighthouse.  We setup camp right along the beach and had the best time greeting guests during the day, grilling out in the evenings, watching the sun melt away into Lake Superior, and waiting for the Milky Way to make its appearance as the sky darkened.  Ted's parents joined us to help take care of the lighthouse and it was fun to have them along for the experience.  While working in the gift shop I loved listening to visitors chat about their favorite places to visit in Michigan.  I learned about a few spots that are off the beaten path that I cannot wait to explore.  

When our time as lighthouse keepers was done Ted and I spent a night camping at Wilderness State Park outside of Mackinaw.  We were able to take a lighthouse cruise to see a few of the lighthouses that are not visible from land.  This is the second lighthouse cruise we have done with Shepler's and we really enjoyed it, especially since it was 75 and sunny.  Perfect for being out on the water! 

On our drive home Ted and I chatted about our favorite part of the experience.  We both remember the same moment as our favorite.  After dinner one night we all went down to the beach to look for rocks.  We scoured the beach for the prettiest ones, and there was something so peaceful and sweet about being with a whole bunch of our family doing something so simple.  It is a memory I will cherish for years and it left me feeling so thankful for the experience. Oh that and you know, having this whole stretch of beach to ourselves each night, that wasn't too shabby either! 

Dan + Amanda

When I moved to Albion College to say I was terrified would be an understatement.  I loved being at home.  I wasn't one of those high school seniors that was counting down the days till I obtained my freedom and moved out forever.  No, my parents pretty much took me against my will to college. I am the youngest of seven kids and they had done this a few times.  They knew I would be just fine once I got there.  And to be honest I cried for approximately the first 10 minutes after they left, and then to my surprise, I loved it.  

My hall was filled with other young ladies that just wanted to hang out all of the time- from studying, eating all of our meals together, and going out- we were pretty much inseparable. I loved everything about being at Albion, especially the girls I met on my hall freshman year.  And guess what, Amanda was probably the very first person I met. The doors to our rooms were always open and we spent that year like our hall was one big house, with people moving from one room to the next to catch up, study, and hanging out. 

I could share so many incredible stories with you about Amanda. I could tell you about the time I found out she was my big in our sorority, or how she was waiting up in my room to chat with me after the first time I hung out with Ted, or how she was always at my volleyball games.  She is a true friend, and Dan is so lucky to have her.  The picture below tells the story, they met on Tinder! They swiped right and now the rest is history.  

Watching Dan and Amanda together made me so happy.  You always want to see your friends end up with someone who deeply loves and cares for them and that is exactly how Dan treats Amanda.  He made her laugh, held her hand, and told her how beautiful she looked during their shoot. Amanda's sister and niece were with us during the shoot and I have to say one of the sweetest things had to be watching Dan interact with his soon-to-be niece.  When Amanda called to tell me she and Dan were engaged she shared Dan had asked her in front her whole family at her niece's baptism.  That seemed fitting because that little lady certainly loved her soon-to-be uncle.  It seems like he is already part of the family!  I cannot wait to celebrate with these two and their family and friends next summer! 

Eldridge Family

I had a chance to meet these two little guys last summer when they were in town visiting, and we did a big cousin picture for their grandparents.  In all of the chaos that comes along with cousin pictures, I didn't really get to spend much one on one time with these two little guys.  I was so happy when their sweet momma contacted me and asked if I was available for some family pictures.  Their family has recently moved back to Michigan, so it was fun getting to chat with them about the adjustment and be able to capture a few image of this new chapter of life for them. 

We met at Booth Park in Birmingham on a very rainy Thursday morning. Luckily, the rain cleared about an hour before our session and the clouds provided the perfect blanket from the summer heat.  As long as we avoided all of the puddles, we were able to explore the park and had the whole place completely to ourselves!  These little guys didn't seem to mind having me tag along for their family adventure.  They were both so outgoing, willing to sit in front of the camera all by themselves, and each little guy displaying his own personality for the pictures.  This family truly loves being together and it was such an honor to capture the love they share.  Welcome to Michigan, Eldridge Family!

Paul + Susan's Downtown Detroit Wedding

I am so excited to share Susan and Paul's wedding photographs with you!  This couple's lives have been intertwined since they were kids.  They went to high school together, and started dating a few years later.  From listening to Susan's sister's speech it sounds like once they reconnected they were inseparable!  The two moved to Detroit and during that time Paul proposed to Susan on the steps of the Detroit Institute of Art.  One of the most beautiful buildings in the city!  They have since moved to Washington, D.C., but celebrated their wedding back in the city where their love story began. 

When Susan contacted me about photographing her and Paul's wedding I was so honored.  Susan and I attended Albion College together, so it was particularly fun to reconnect and get to spend the day with her and her family and friends. Spending the morning in the bridal suite while the girls got ready was a particular highlight.  Most of the ladies had grown up together, so their jokes flowed back and forth as they leisurely enjoyed the morning together.  I was pleasantly surprised when I went down a few floors to hang with the guys. They were equally as welcoming and fun! They welcomed me into their group, and we had a blast wondering the city for their guy photos.  I love that Paul wanted to stop into Lafayette Coney Island for a few photos.  If you are from Detroit you know it is Lafayette vs. National and we are a Lafayette family, so I was very happy with his choice!

The ladies also looked completely stunning against the backdrop of the city.  They stopped traffic and got more than a few whistles from people passing by ;) The wedding ceremony took place at Ste. Anne's Catholic Church and it was incredible.  These old churches always amaze me, and I was left standing in awe that this was the space where Paul and Susan chose to commit their lives to each other.  Such a memorable moment.  The rain started at just about the same time as the ceremony. Luckily, Susan and Paul were just happy to enjoy the day together.  So rain or shine, we still snuck over to the DIA for a few photographs of the couple following their ceremony.

They ended the evening at the Westin Book Cadillac with one awesome party!  Thoughtful speeches that praised the way the couple compliments each other, a first dance song sung by the bride's mother, and a dance floor that was packed the entire evening were just a few of the highlights. Susan and Paul are clearly so loved and respected by their family and friends and I think that says a lot about who they are individually and as a couple.  They treat those around them with so much love and they truly honor their relationships, so of course everyone wanted to be there to celebrate their big day! Congratulations, Susan and Paul! And thank you for letting me be a part of something so beautiful!  

Kelly + Loren Maternity

This session was such a dream.  I took a chance on a new location (Maybury Park) and asked Kelly and Loren to come as early as they could so we could catch the morning light.  The sun was just perfect, there was no one else at the park, and when Kelly got out of the car wearing that dress I knew we were in for an incredible shoot.  These two are expecting twins, a little boy and a little girl due this fall!  I know right, you would never know by how glamorous Kelly makes pregnancy look.  

We spent our hour together wondering through the park and catching up on life and what soon to be parenthood looks like for these two.  Kelly and Loren are so incredibly comfortable around each other, and that made my job so fun.  They laughed with each other, talked about how excited they were for their growing family, and luckily Loren was able to watch out for the poison ivy that I continued to put us next to.  I will need to learn what the looks like for my next shoot! 

I am already looking forward to meeting these two babes when they arrive this fall.  But for now, enjoy this exciting season of life, Kelly and Loren! 

Jack + Tara

As you might guess, as a photographer I am constantly checking the weather.  I check it weeks out from a shoot and each day leading up to a session.  Once the hourly radar becomes available I start checking that.  It might be an unhealthy habit, but it helps me feel slightly more prepared for the part of my job that I cannot prepare for.  We had Tara and Jack's engagement session on the calendar for months, and I was really looking forward to it.  After spending 2 weekends away as a guest at weddings I was excited to get back behind the camera.  Also, I had met Tara and Jack for coffee back in December and was excited to get to know them better during their engagement session.  

As I drove to Kensington it most certainly looked like it was raining somewhere ahead of me.  As I parked the car and we strolled through the park the prettiest, dark blue clouds started to roll in.  I love photographing in the soft light and was excited to wander the park with Tara and Jack without having to worry about harsh sun or shadows.  We finished up at one location and I had a spot in mind I wanted to try on the other side of the park.  We hopped in the car and moved locations, and as soon as we started shooting at the new location the clouds opened up and the rain came!  Jack and Tara laughed at the situation and just carried on with their pictures.  They walked, hugged and twirled in the rain and I have to say the change in the elements just made for a little bit more romance in their already amazing session.

After their engagement session I was certainly convinced that these two are my kind of bride and groom!  Jack could have Tara laughing in about 3 seconds, and it was a genuine, make your cheeks sore smile.  Another trait I loved about this couple is even as I would say "I know this might not feel totally natural" they were ready to go, willing to try something new and laugh their way through it.  As we chatted I also started to notice they have a mutual respect for one another. Niether one of them dominated the conversation, rather they played off of each other filling in any gaps or questions as they came. It was refreshing and made our time together so enjoyable. Tara and Jack, I cannot wait to photograph your fall wedding.  Happy planning!

Weekend Edition: Part 2

This past weekend Ted surprised me with a little weekend getaway Up North.  He planned out the packing list, and I just threw everything into a bag and hopped into the car.  Not having to plan or make any reservations was so amazing.  We headed north, spent a night in Boyne City and the next morning we were on the ferry to Beaver Island.  I had hinted multiple times in the past that I thought it would be fun to explore the island, and I was so glad that is where he picked for us to spend the weekend.  It was the perfect getaway!

We brought over our bikes and our beach chairs and both got lots of use!  The beaches are absolutely gorgeous and we had them entirely to ourselves the entire weekend.  We spent lazy afternoons reading in the sun, swimming and napping on the beach.  We spent all day Saturday biking the length of the island, all the way to the lighthouse on the far south end.  If you know us, you know that we love lighthouses. We have made it a goal to see every lighthouse in Michigan, which can be somewhat challenging since a whole bunch of them are out in the middle of lakes or on islands.  We were able to cross two lighthouses off of our list on this trip!  

We stayed at the Beaver Island Lodge and really loved it.  It was a perfect location, right on the beach and close to town.  This meant we could sip coffee and read on our balcony in the morning, enjoy the beach in front of our hotel during the day, and still make it into town for ice cream each evening.  If you haven't been to Beaver Island I highly recommend it.  We loved the slow pace, do what you choose island attitude.  And those views are making we want to plan another visit very soon!