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.

high school senior portraits
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

egrhs senior portriats
Senior Portrait Sessions Michigan
Class of 2018 senior portraits

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

EGRHS Class of 2017

This is a big year in my home and a big year for us in our community.  When my son is a senior and graduates, it feels like half the town is graduating...I've watched these kids grow up together since we moved here in 6th grade!  I've watched you in band concerts, football games, school trips, service projects, team dinners, regattas, school plays, driver's ed, Winter Whirl and Prom, in the hallways and hanging out in the village.  Congratulations to all the families in our graduating Class of 2017!  

Here is Kaja, whose parents wanted to commemorate this milestone in their family with cap & gown photographs.  I am booking more sessions this weekend if you want to do the same.  Quick and simple, promise.   (e) denarobles@gmail.com

Kaja 2017.png

Color Hunt Black

My recently completed Teen Photography Class had 10 students this time!  That means we had TEN gorgeous Color Hunt Collages.  After doing this for the last year I feel like I have run out of colors to hunt.  This time, the class challenged me to Black.  Not a problem at all to find black here given that my wardrobe is 97% black , I love all my vintage black cameras and I am slightly obsessed with Batman...

colorcolourBLACK.jpg

Student Work from Grace

Grace was also in my Fall 2016 Teen Photography Club.  If I recall, she was sent to class so she could "become her family's personal photographer."  No pressure, Grace, no pressure at all.  :) 

I think you are going to do juuuuuust fine!

Teen Photography class Grand Rapids MI
Teen Photography Class taught by Dena Robles in West Michigan
Natural light portrait class for teens

In other news, there is now a dedicated page on my website for the photography classes, check here: http://www.dena-robles.com/classes/   The next series of Teen Photography club beginning this Saturday is full, I will schedule another one in the spring.  The next Kids and Cameras class for 4th/5th/6th grade students begins on Sunday and there is one spot left at the table--  (e) denarobles@gmail.com 

Color Collage--Grey

Everybody's favorite assignment in the Kids and Cameras series so far is the Color Collage. I think it is also one of my favorite ways to push myself to photograph every day, especially in the slower winter months.  Last December I did the project right along with my class participants.  Before I venture into fuschia, vermillion, or cobalt variants of classic colors, (I won't ever really run out of colors will I?)  I thought I should cover the 16 crayola box with grey, black and brown.  Here is Color Challenge GREY!

Color Collage project-- Grey, by Dena Robles

KIDS and CAMERAS--Teen Photography Club

I have loved teaching the Teen Photography Club classes and watching novice photographers start to view their world through different perspectives and through their own 'lenses.'  Following is a sample of work from Ainsley in the autumn class.  First up is her HERO Image, in just the first assignment she shows a good understanding of exposure and composition. Next is her Color Collage using different camera perspectives. Third is her portraiture assignment for "15 Minutes of Fame" and I am impressed with how well she handled a very tricky back-lighting situation.  Well done Ainsley!

Teen Photography Club taught by Dena Robles
Grand Rapids Michigan teen photography class
Teen Photography Class in Grand Rapids Michigan

Teen Photography Class in Grand Rapids Michigan

Teen Photography Spotlight

I've had several emails regarding the next series of Teen Photography Club starting up January 28th.  What do we learn?  All teen and adult students learn to obtain proper exposure on a DSLR on manual mode from Day 1.  Throughout the class we are learning the ins and outs of our cameras while working on creative projects.  We cover the Exposure Triangle (ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed), we learn how to photograph in different qualities of light, how to use creative composition, and changing perspectives as well as framing our shots.  Additionally, we learn the top tips for portraiture and practice photographing faces in the "15 Minutes of Fame" segment.   I can talk and talk and talk about it, but wouldn't you rather see some results from the student photographers?  Yes, I thought so.  
Here is the first showcase from middle schooler Kira in the November/December Teen Photography Club, can you even believe she was a beginner??  So proud.

Day One.  Learning manual exposure and choosing appropriate aperture.  These are frame-worthy!

Day One.  Learning manual exposure and choosing appropriate aperture.  These are frame-worthy!

Hero Image Project--learning to use different qualities of light.

Hero Image Project--learning to use different qualities of light.

Color Collage-everybody's favorite assignment!

Color Collage-everybody's favorite assignment!

15 Minutes of Fame-Kira chose a wiggly subject but captured his cute personality perfectly and made great choices in light and environment.

15 Minutes of Fame-Kira chose a wiggly subject but captured his cute personality perfectly and made great choices in light and environment.


You can get more information regarding all 3 series of photography classes here, http://www.dena-robles.com/blog/kids-cameras-series-2017-dates

Teen Photography Club begins January 28th and runs for 5 weeks on Saturday late mornings--almost full. 

An overflow Kids and Cameras class begins January 29th and runs for 4 Sunday afternoons 1:00-2:30, there are TWO spots left for that class, 4th and 5th graders only.

More details for adult classes will be coming in the next few weeks, there are a few underway already!

Faces I -- Simple Black and White Portraits

The December series of Teen Photography Club finished up with portrait practice and Cameron modeled for us for his 15 Minutes of Fame.  Everyone had a chance to set up and engage with our 'model'.  Here are the results from my camera...

Black and White portraits with the Teen Photography Club Grand Rapids Mi

Do you want to know how simple this set up can be?  Take a look.

a) It was a grey snowy day so I knew we needed to be rather close to the light source, which in this case was my large dining room windows.  

b) A simple background was going to be preferable to let the Face and Expressions  be the star. I was decorating for the holidays at the time so the room was a bit cluttered--I propped a framed Doctor Who poster (backwards) up on the piano bench and leaned it against the piano, it was something we had set in the hallway waiting for Freecycle.  I often have a large piece of white and black foam core handy for food styling shoots, but one of my kids had recently cut out a chunk of the black one for a school project so I improvised.

c) Since this was an exercise in metering, focusing AND engaging with a human I wanted the model AND the photographer to be stationary.  The subject got a wooden kitchen stool to sit on, photographers used a dining room chair.

d) 15 Minutes of Fame, the fun part.  We put music on, adjusted our exposure settings and focus and then-staying put-asked our subject questions, got him engaged in conversation, asked him to demonstrate different emotions until after a minute he was free to give us the best of his personality and expressions on his own.  Wham bam, done.  A few seconds in photoshop with a VSCO b/w preset and my own collage template and I suddenly had a christmas present sorted out and sent to the printers.

The behind-the-scenes simple set up:

KIDS & Cameras Series 2017 Dates

The 2017 dates for my Kids and Cameras series are now available for booking.  These are project-based photography classes designed for all ages and levels of abilities. We learn about camera operation and using advanced modes, focusing, composition, perspective, lighting, and expanding our creativity all while doing hands on photography projects. Learn how to take stellar photographs, get them OFF your camera, printed, and IN your hands.  There are three series of classes ready for booking.  


Kids And Cameras is open for 4th and 5th grade students, and runs for 4 Saturday dates, classes are an hour and a half. Assignments are given each week. $100. Budding photographers will need a digital camera, either a Dslr with lens or a 'point and shoot' model is acceptable for this class.

Photography classes for kids in grand rapids mi

Teen Photography Club is for students aged 13-17, and class is held for 5 Saturday dates for an hour and a half each meeting.  $125  There will be homework, but no quizzes, I promise.  Photographers will obviously need to bring a camera to each class.  It is highly recommended to use an SLR for this class (digital) as opposed to a 'point and shoot' model. ** 

Photo classes for teenagers in grand rapids michigan

Coffee and Cameras is the often-requested class from parents.  Some of the questions we will master are "what are all these buttons and menus for and which ones really matter?" "how do I take better pictures of my kids?" "why are my photos dark or blurry?" "why can't I get good sports photos?"  "how do I get these photos off my camera and actually use them?"  You get the idea...  There will be 5 classes to begin with and you have the flexibility to sign up for 1 class or all 5 depending on what aspect you need to learn.  There is also an opportunity for individualized continued education to expand on creativity and project completion. Dates and times are flexible.  Let's chat about your needs in person.  Camera required! **

Photography 101 for adults in grand rapids mi, camera classes

**We will be learning to shoot on manual mode from the first 5 minutes , all the way to the last 5 minutes.  While digital is a more effective learning tool for immediate feedback, I am a film shooter and will be open to the use of a film SLR too.  Chat with me when you sign up.  I have one Dslr available to loan for the class duration, on a first come first served basis.  I do have resources for renting cameras and lenses, but honestly find it cost prohibitive for a 5 week duration. I also have some reputable resources for purchasing used camera gear.

SO, what now?!

To sign up for a class or get more information, send an email to denarobles@gmail.com with the name of your desired class series in the subject line.  Payment will be accepted at time of registration via paypal or check payable to Dena Robles.  

Christmas holiday gift vouchers are available for the perfect 'give an experience' gift or to go along with that fancy new camera under the tree!

Family Photos in Gas Light Village

When your family has a strong presence in just about everything in the community, what better place to capture the exuberant personalities than in your "own front yard" of Gas Light Village in East Grand Rapids, MI?!  We may have stopped traffic a few times but we also found a few hidden corners amongst all the familiar landscapes. Here are a few favorites!   

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Kowalewskis were photographed at Gas Light Village in East Grand Rapids using a Contax 645 and Kodak Portra 400 film by Dena Robles

Then, Later and Now

One of my favorite parts of being a family photographer is getting to watch all those little babies grow up over the years.  I've been a working photographer here in Grand Rapids Michigan for just over 6 years now which means I have several families that I have photographed again and again and witnessed new family members join and little ones get bigger!  This is Harrison, Then, Later and Now, along with his two little brothers.

Family photography on black and white film
Little brothers in portraits
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On Location in home family photographer
fun casual lifestyle family photos
Lifestyle baby portraits
baby's first year in photos
cute baby photos in the bath

These sweet boys were photographed last month in their home.  The photographs were created using Kodak Portra 400 and Tri-x400 films on a Contax 645 and Canon Eos-1v and were processed and scanned by my partner lab ProPhotoIrvine.

That Michigan Moment in August

It's that Michigan Moment in August when you have spent a sun drunk morning at the beach in Lake Michigan for the hundredth time this year and you long for a hundred more days before summer closes.  With sand dusting your feet and salt lingering on your lips from your lunch of potato crisps you shake out your beach blanket and venture to the car for a drive in the countryside.  After a short respite from the late summer sun and a chorus from the back seat of the car you pull over at DeGrandchamps Blueberry farm to pick a sweet treat for dessert tonight. Gathering white buckets, you watch as they dash down the rows of blueberry bushes bursting with fat ripe clusters of berries searching for the just-right bounty.  They reach their young tanned hands out and with an initial tiny plop and ping the blueberries start to fill the buckets.  The little one dives between rows to discover all the hidden places. We all exclaim "Look at this one!"  "This is the perfect blueberry!"  "I found the biggest one yet!"  Your fingertips become stained blue as you continue harvesting nature's perfect jewel.  Your lips are sweet with the taste of blueberries as you test every third berry you pick.  Fresh blueberries warmed by the sun are delicious like nothing else in the world and you treasure the goodness almost as much as you treasure the moment witnessing your children relishing in nature and food.  With your blueberry buckets brimming to the edge you start the trip home with the perfect summer anthem playlist in the car, the taste of blueberries on your tongues, the anticipation of blueberry cobbler after dinner.  After a hundred days of summer the sun is getting lower earlier every evening and you know the days at the lake are nearing their end as summer begins to close.  Blueberry picking is the last sweet gift of the summer.  And lucky you with the eager pickers you can preserve today's blueberries for the taste of summer all winter long, giving you the glimpse of another hundred grand days at the beach next year.  And more blueberries to come.

That Michigan Moment by Dena Robles
blueberry picking in michigan
blueberry farms South Haven Michigan
DeGrandchamps Blueberry Farm South Haven MI
That Michigan Moment in August
kids picking blueberries in the summer
Harvesting Blueberries
Making blueberry cobbler
blueberry cobbler photography
kids in the kitchen
that michigan moment in august with instant film and blueberries

The nature of shooting film means that sometimes your stories aren't shared until a month, sometimes two later.  The beauty of shooting film is getting to stare out your kitchen window at a scene of brilliant autumn foliage on November 1st and pull a bag of handpicked blueberries from the freezer to make blueberry cobbler and getting to relive the summer days all over again, in your kitchen AND in photographs and in your memories. Long live summer.  And film.  

Kids and Cameras -- Teen Photography Club


kids and cameras, teen photography classes

who: creative teenagers ages 13-17

what: 5 weekly project-based photography classes

why: because you have a fancy camera and you want to make it sing

when: Saturdays 10 am to 11:30 am, Nov. 5th, 12th, 19th & Dec. 3rd, 10th

where: instruction begins at Dena's house, 1345 Breton SE with local walking field trips

how and how much?: email dena at denarobles@gmail.com to sign up, tuition of $100 due at time of registration



What to bring to classes ...  This is a digital photography class so a digital camera will be needed! Be sure to also bring a charged camera battery and a memory card each week.  First choice camera is a DSLR with a lens, preferably somewhere in a range of 24-70mm focal length.  If you aren't able to bring a DSLR, then a point and shoot digital camera may be used as long as we are able to adjust the creative controls and modes.  If you have a question about your camera or lens, email me before the first class and we can discuss it.  This is not an iPhone-ography class, even though the latest mobiles have amazing cameras they will be limited for our learning purposes.  As weather permits we will be taking photo walks outside for portions of the class each week, so please dress for the elements.

Questions? Ready to sign up?  email Dena at denarobles@gmail.com

Grand Rapids Senior Photography

Kaja and I were lucky to hit downtown Grand Rapids *juuuussst* before ArtPrize 8 turned our city into an art feeding frenzy.  She requested her senior portraits around downtown art murals and at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, so that's what we did, discovering some new spots along the way.  Isn't she lovely?!

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Kaja was photographed by Dena Robles downtown Grand Rapids Michigan on Kodak Portra 400 with a Contax 645, processed and scanned by ProPhotoIrvine.

EGRHS Class of 2017

It certainly IS that time of year isn't it?  High school senior portraits, back-to-school photos, and fall family mini sessions are keeping this little photographer happily busy!  The film scans from Zach's recent downtown Grand Rapids session were filtering in to my inbox this morning and I quickly grabbed a few favorites and then a few more and then a few more to share.  I can't express enough my love of shooting film for ... well, everything.  

East Grand Rapids Class of 2017 portraits
EGRHS Class of 2017 senior pictures
Class of 2017 senior portraits Michigan
Downtown Grand Rapids senior photos by dena robles
East Grand Rapids High School senior portrait photographer
Rooftop portraits for Grand Rapids high school seniors 
Zach was photographed downtown Grand Rapids on Kodak Portra 400 film using a Contax 645 and Canon Eos-1v, processed by my lovely partners at ProPhotoIrvine.

A quick call out to all West Michigan High School Seniors, if your yearbook deadline is early October, it still isn't too late to book your session with me.  Even though I shoot film, I have some options to meet your deadline.  Also, if you would like to do a quick yearbook-only session now send me an email ASAP to get on my calendar, I'd love to work with you.  (e) denarobles @ gmail.com

Michigan High School Senior Portraits

We have so much diverse landscape here in Grand Rapids, which is perfect for portrait photography.  I love that our city is small enough that we can quickly go from one location to another to seek out the colors, textures and light needed to enhance our sessions.  Here is a quick sneak peek of Rebecca's recent high school senior portrait session.

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Rebecca was photographed on Fuji 400H film with a Contax 645 in Grand Rapids, MI.

East Grand Rapids High School Senior Portraits

It is hard to believe that summer is threatening to wind down with the start of the new school year just around the corner.  As I watch  my own son and his friends enter senior year at East Grand Rapids High School my heart beats an extra step to see how much these kids have grown and matured.  We have a deadline of October 7th to have senior portraits completed and turned in, which give us a deadline of September 18th to conduct your full Signature Session.  Head Shot Only and Mini Sessions have an extra week, ending September 30th.  If you haven't booked in with me yet, quickly send an email to denarobles@gmail.com to reserve a spot.

This is a sneak peek for Emma of our recent full Signature Session together here at Reed's Lake.  I can't wait to get her full gallery to her.  Don't ever let her tell you she isn't photogenic!  

EGRHS West Michigan Senior portraits
East Grand Rapids High School Senior photos
Emma Stafford's senior photographer
East Grand Rapids High School Class of 2017 portraits, senior photos
East Grand Rapids Michigan high school senior photographer