Chicken Soup for the Teenager Soul

My first child’s high school years were screeching to an end in the proverbial ‘blink of an eye’ that all the more seasoned parents always warn us about.

Really, how did he grow from this——————————————-—to this overnight?

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In a panic I realized that Home Economics is not something that is offered in his high school curriculum among all the triple crazy trig-something-something and the AP Physics sciency-thing classes and since I wasn’t invited to go along to college with him it was time to take things into my own hands. I may not be able to teach him how to change a tire or fix a plumbing leak or repair his car, but I can teach him how to feed himself. Off to the market we went and this is the story of Chicken Soup for the Teenager Soul.


 Santa Barbara food photographer Dena Robles
 California based food and restaurant storyteller
 Downtown Market Grand Rapids, food narratives by Dena Robles
 Teaching our teens to shop for food and cook
 Curated by Dena, farmer’s market shopping trip
 Learning to cook with kids
 Veggie Portraits by Dena Robles
 Roast vegetable and chicken soup prep
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 Roast Vegetable and Chicken Soup, curated by dena
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 Roast Vegetable and Chicken soup, food styling and photography, CA
 Food Styling and Photography by Dena Robles, California
 Getting Teens in the kitchen

I’m less of a recipe-developer and more of a styler, photographer and storyteller. I’ll include the recipe here to complete the narrative, but here is the link also where I found the recipe a few years ago and continue to find inspiration. https://againstallgrain.com/2013/01/30/leftover-roast-chicken-soup-with-roasted-vegetables/ AND the recipe for our favorite cornbread (we sub in gluten-free flour) yummm. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/76594/grandmothers-buttermilk-cornbread/

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My Favorite November Person

My favorite part of November is celebrating this girl of mine. India is turning 17 later this week and is off on a solo trip to Michigan to spend the week with dearly missed friends! I love her so. I don’t want to let her go. anywhere. ever. But let’s be honest…we’d probably strangle each other at some point. So there will always be those steps of ‘letting her go.’ Having a daughter is one of the greatest gifts in life. Happy Birthday India! No, you still can’t get a cat.

 Santa Barbara portrait photographer
 Santa Barbara Fiesta Days photography
 California film portrait photographer
 Santa Barbara High School photos
 Santa Barbara Teen portraits


Food for Fall

I believe that the autumn season is synonymous with certain comfort foods and possibly that this is the season most strongly tied to dishes. I know we have holidays which contribute to that and the ridiculous marketing of pumpkin-spiced-everything and the colder weather turning us indoors to wrap ourselves in our favorite foods. But what happens when you suddenly live in a country without those holidays? Or a place without pumpkin patches or pumpkin-spiced-everything-imaginable-under-the-sun, or gasp! no changing leaves, no smell of wood smoke, not woolen hats and it is still 80 degrees outside? Well, perhaps we are creatures of habit, or perhaps there is something truly intrinsic, ancient and innate about our bodies wanting these autumn dishes, because here I am, in green California wearing tank tops and flip flops and craving rich soups, apples, winter squash and pumpkin pie. Now if only I could bear to turn the oven on…

Don’t be fooled by these beautiful changing leaves, this is a collection of photographs I created LAST autumn, in crisp chilly Michigan. My Food Story of Autumn.

 Food Stories by Dena Robles, food stylist and photographer, Santa Barbara California



Love Letter to Michigan

Dear Michigan,

Thank you for the many blueberry fields and the vast apple orchards.  Thank you for treating us to glorious perfect summers and the crisp brilliant autumns and the winter wonderland.  Thank you for the summer rain and the fireflies that follow. Thank you Michigan for the unsalted sea and the sand dunes and the long hot afternoons resting on your banks.  Thank you for the beautiful sunsets shared with family and friends. Thank you Michigan for your beer enthusiasm, your growing food culture and for the coffee shops where many a rant was shared.  Thank you for the street fairs and the artist community. Thank you for the makers, the bakers and the markets.

Thank you dear Michigan portrait clients for appearing in front of my cameras over the years and for trusting me enough with your memories to return for more and more and more again. Dear Michigan, thank you especially for growing up with my children and parenting beside me. Thank you for the lifelong friendships and the smiling faces. You are all missed.

Love always, me.

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Hello to Santa Barbara, CA! We’ve been in town for about 5 months now and are happy to make our new home here in California. We are already in love with the palm trees, the salt water, the mountains, the food and the people. We can’t wait to explore and discover what is in store for us in this next chapter. I look forward to making memories with new west coast friends, and welcoming visitors from our Michigan years. I hope to see many of you in front of my cameras both here in Santa Barbara and again in Michigan dear friends. For the lovely East Grand Rapids class of 2020, I will be back in Grand Rapids for a week in June 2019 to conduct your senior portraits just like we planned way back in 4th grade! Can’t wait to see you again. xoxo.

Class of 2019 Senior Portraits

Hello High School Juniors!  Guess what? It's time to book your senior portraits.  As if you aren't already busy enough, summer sessions book up very very quickly.  My calendar is now open and I have an early bird special for Class of 2019 Portrait Sessions who book this spring.  Contact me at denarobles@gmail.com to get all the details and to secure your session spot.

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Celebrate Motherhood Mini Sessions

I am excited to collaborate with fellow photographer and friend Amber Brooks to offer a few dates of mini sessions this April to honor mothers and all the selfless things you do.  We know it is hard as parents to get in the picture with our children, especially as we are usually the ones wielding the camera!  Do this for yourself, for your children, for your own mom, capture your relationships together because our children need to remember that "we were here too." 

 Mother's Day photo sessions, grand rapids, michigan

All the Details:

Mini session dates are April 21st and April 29th.  The $200 session includes a 25 minute session window, beautiful edits to keep everyone looking their best, 5 digital files for your own printing, sharing and archiving.  Additional digital files or printed products are always available to purchase. Sessions are designed to showcase mothers and children of all ages in immediate family groups.  Inquire with Amber or myself for a generational session. 

Sign up here: https://calendly.com/mothersday

Amber:

www.87orange.com

(e) amber@87orange.com

Dena:

www.dena-robles.com

(e) denarobles@gmail.com


Coffee and Cameras-Everyday Storytelling

The next Coffee and Cameras class series is March 13th, 20th, and 27th!  This is a Tuesday morning class for adults 9:30-11am, held at 1345 Breton Rd, EGR.

 Photography classes for adults in Grand Rapids MIchigan

This class is designed to help you curate the little details in your everyday life and turn them into art for the walls.  The added benefit is learning to operate your camera along the way and to refine your composition and perspective skills. This series is appropriate for all skill levels and will cover the camera basics to shoot in manual mode and learn to perfect your exposure. We will choose a personal project to work on and then finish with critique, basic editing, storing, sharing and printing options.  Class fee is $150 and due to the personal attention given to students is open for up to 6 participants only.  (e) denarobles@gmail.com to register

Motherhood Project Models Needed

I have an upcoming photography project which requires a few fresh faces and test session models.  The theme is Celebrating Motherhood and my desire is to get the moms out there in front of the camera and to celebrate your relationships with your child(ren).

 Moms and children in front of the camera, motherhood portraits

Here are the details:

  • Available dates are February 24th and 25th or March 3rd
  • This will be a black and white film session in your home
  • This is open to any age mother and child(ren)
  • There is no cost to the participants
  • A fine art gift print will be provided to each mother
  • A signed model release will be required for use in promotion and class discussion

Please inquire by email to denarobles@gmail.com if you have any questions or would like to be involved on the dates listed above.

Snow Sessions

I am still going strong and my camera is still clicking away, even in December and even in the snow.  For the past (too many to count) years I've always closed my portrait season in early November for a few months to throw myself into the holidays and to wait for the nicer weather.  We have made the decision to pare down our holiday spending and celebrations to minimalistic proportions, and also now have a college student returning home for the holidays...and so do many of you.  And waiting for the nicer weather??  It is Michigan, we could be waiting for 6 months or more!  Enter winter portraits, enter snow sessions.  Enter you and the people you love gathering-no matter the weather. 

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Fall and Winter Portraits

No warm sun? No problem!  It seems like it is winter for 6 months out of the year here in Grand Rapids Michigan, right?  So why not embrace the winter landscape, the chill, the snow(!) the wooly sweaters, scarves, knit caps & blankets and maybe even a bonfire. Come get cozy with your family in Michigan's 'other' season with a winter photo session.  Upcoming available dates are December 2nd and 3rd, December 9th, 16th and the 23rd!  For the first time ever, I may even have a few limited sessions available for you and your gathering family on December 24th.  You bring your winter style and I'll bring the hot cocoa! (e)denarobles@gmail.com to get the details and to book your session.

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Fall Family Mini Sessions 2017

We were so lucky to have extended summer weather this year and beautiful summer color and late evening light to go with it!  This adorable family session definitely took advantage of that golden evening summer light, photographed on film in East Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 Michigan Family mini sessions by Dena Robles
 East Grand Rapids family photo sessions
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Family mini sessions are booking on Saturdays and select Sundays through November.  Bring on the cozy sweaters, the woolen hats and knitted blankets and the thermos of cocoa, I love working with you outdoors in every season!  (e) denarobles@gmail.com to select a session date.

You Look Lovely

I do love working with fellow artists, and collaborating with Eva to create her senior portraits was no exception.  She is a very gifted artist, on her way to a very bright future career in design.  Eva's mom is a successful textile artist and we centered this session in the Grand Rapids neighborhood surrounding her studio.  http://www.studioztextiles.com/

 Class of 2018 EGRHS
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 EGRHS senior portraits by Dena Robles
 Michigan film portrait photographer

Eva was photographed on Fuji Pro 400H with a Contax 645 and Canon 1v in Grand Rapids, Michigan, film processed and scanned by my partner IndiefilmLab

East Grand Rapids Senior Portraits

The more time I spend photographing and chatting with the graduating class of 2018 the more assured I am of a really strong, productive and professional  future for our country.  Thank you parents, teachers and community for instilling so much faith and respect in our youth.  Here is Ben, from East Grand Rapids High School with a really bright life awaiting him.  Best wishes in everything you pursue!

 East Grand Rapids Michigan Senior portraits
 EGRHS Class of 2018 Senior Portrait Photographer
 Egrhs Class of 2018 senior pictures Ben Sagritello
 East Grand Rapids portrait photographer

Fall Mini Sessions on Demand

Whew, we made it through labor day and the first day of school!  Now hold on, we are about to propel full force forward into fall and holiday season.  NOW is the time to book your family photo sessions for holiday cards and gift giving.  The good news...this year I am doing mini sessions on demand, which means you no longer have to try to fit into a weekend mini session limited event.  I get it, your schedule.  My schedule. This year, let ME try to fit into your week.  Bookings start today.  Drop me a line at denarobles@gmail.com to get on the calendar.  New this year, if you and a friend book for the same date I have a gorgeous gift for both of you!

 Grand Rapids family mini sessions

East Grand Rapids Family Photography

As my family grows, grows up,  and moves forward in life I am ever more grateful for all the years and years of photographs I have created.  We have our own quirky traditions that have been carried on in specific annual photographs which mark their growing bodies and different stages in their lives and as a family.  I cannot stress enough the importance of not only recording your children, but also as parents, getting in the photographs yourselves!   The time really does pass quickly and every day is precious. This East Grand Rapids family is entering several big milestones with one son prepping for college and the other two finishing their last year of elementary school. This is going to be a momentous year for them and I was so happy to be there to document this time.

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Forest Hills Central Class 0f 2018

It is that busy time of year for all of us.  We are winding down the summer bliss and gearing up for the new school year and the upcoming holiday frenzy.  I do about 90% of my portrait shooting in 2 months of the year...which is right now!  Here is a small showcase of one of my early planners (love those) for high school senior portraits.  This is Ryan, Forest Hills Central rising senior.

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 forest hills high school senior photos
 Grand Rapids senior portrait photography Class of 2018

If you haven't booked your Senior Photo session yet, don't panic, there is still time!  I will always do whatever I can to fit you guys in.  As a parent of a recent graduate, I know what a tremendous milestone this is for families.  I also know how many times over the course of senior year a professional head shot is requested for different publications and high school graduation activities.  Parents, think about this for a second...your child's next professional photo opportunity could be at their wedding.  gasp!  Do this now.  You'll thank me later.  Then the wedding photo can wait for years and years.  :)   drop me a note, denarobles@gmail.com

Learn to Shoot Portraits

Parents! Grandparents! Nannies!  This fall learn to photograph your favorite kids, in all their glorious silliness.

portrait classes grand rapids

This fall's session of Coffee & Cameras is learning to shoot portraits of your kids and create artwork like this.  The 3 part class will start at learning to work that fancy-camera-with-all-the buttons-and-the-lens-that-changes, aka DSLR, with the optimal settings for portraits. Next we learn how to set up a simple shooting space and how to engage your subject.  This session is what I call the 15 Minutes of Fame!  We finish the class off with learning to cull and edit your photographs and assemble and print a storyboard collage for your home.  No experience necessary, camera and cute kids are.

DATES:  

Wednesday mornings, 10:00-11:30 -- October 11, 18, 25

or

Sunday afternoons, 3:30-5:00 --October 15, 22, 29.

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All the Info:

  • Classes are limited to 4 adults, your kids will model for you at home
  • Classes are 1.5 hours long for 3 weekly meetings
  • Your choice of Weekday mornings or Sunday afternoons beginning October, times & dates as follows: Wednesday mornings, 10:00-11:30 October 11, 18, 25 or  Sunday afternoons, 3:30-5:00 October 15, 22, 29.
  • Tuition is $150 + printing
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FAQ

What kind of camera will I need?  A DSLR is best suited for this class and for the designed instruction.  There are some great hybrid cameras on the market now which are small and easy like a 'point and shoot' but still allow you to change all your exposure settings for optimal portrait performance.  I am happy to advise you on your camera choice.

I have a good camera and am interested in learning to use it for portraits, but have no idea what all these buttons and dials are foris this class right for me?  In a word, yes!  In more words, this is a project based class specific to shooting fun portraits of your child in a simple set up and in controlled lighting (don't worry, these examples are all window light!)  Since we are focusing on one outcome here, all the skills needed for this will be learned along the way. Later Coffee & Cameras classes could cover the camera skills needed for sports photography, storytelling lifestyle photos, creating artwork for the home, etc.

Are there any hidden expenses?  Well.  Sometimes I have to bribe my kids to allow me to photograph them.  If you learn this and have fun with it you might find yourself wanting to spend meeeellions of dollars on new cameras and lenses, but I don't recommend it!  For the class, I will make recommendations on where to print your final artwork, and the cost incurred will depend on the size you choose to print (around $3-$30)  The set up here is super simple, if you don't have a blank wall in your home next to a window, you may want to hang a sheet, or purchase a large piece of foam core (about $5.)

Am I limited to this black and white look? Nope.  This is what I will be teaching for this class, but you can make adjustments to suit your style.  Here are some examples from previous 15 Minutes of Fame sessions.

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Interested? Have questions?  send me an email, denarobles@gmail.com

 

Summer Wildflower Sessions in East Grand Rapids

Hello West Michigan (and I am looking at you right now Grand Rapids and EGR!!)  One of my favorite outdoor locations for shooting summer wildflower sessions is peaking right now, a month early.  If you haven't grabbed your High School Senior appointment or annual Family Photograph, let's do it now before the flowers die and the city mows it all down.  Send me an email at denarobles@gmail.com to get on the schedule.

Welcome Class of 2018

Hello Class of 2018 and parents of Rising Seniors!  The best time to schedule your student's high school senior portraits is July and August!  Most school yearbook deadlines are the first week of October and we all know how incredibly busy the first month of school can be especially if you have an after school job or are in sports.  I am now booking the rest of July and the first week of August.  I will open up the rest of the August calendar as needed. Sessions are all created on-location.  I have several favorite spots and am open to your suggestions as well.

EGRHS senior photos
class of 2018 senior photos

I have a few different session options to suit a variety of needs and budgets:

Signature Senior---$475 ($425 for sessions booked by August 8th)---this is a full length session with varied locations and wardrobe changes and includes yearbook photo and 10 digital files for personal printing

Short & Sweet Senior---$150---this is a mini session for those who would like to be sure to get the professional yearbook photo without any fuss.  Sessions are created at one location with one layered outfit and last about 30 minutes and includes yearbook photo and 2 digital files for personal printing

Additional files and printed products are always available for purchase with either session option.

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grand rapids high school seniors

Do you want to be photographed with your group of friends or your twin? I offer referral discounts and sibling specials.  Send me an email to find out more, ask your questions and get on the schedule!  denarobles@gmail.com

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Senior Portrait Sessions Michigan
Class of 2018 senior portraits

I hope to hear from you soon!  denarobles@gmail.com