Kids and Cameras

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.


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


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

15 minutes.jpg

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


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.


Interested? Have questions?  send me an email,


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...


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:   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) 

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,

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 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!

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 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