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) 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 if you have any questions or would like to be involved on the dates listed above.

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...


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

Color Purple and Relay For Life

This month I revisited the ColorColour Lovers Project with my own take on Purple.  As I wandered the sidewalks and the market aisles in search of purple, I was mindful of all those who have touched my life in so many ways who were also touched and often times defeated by cancer.  Tomorrow I join thousands of people in my small city to walk in The Relay For Life to commemorate those who have battled with cancer and to help fight for a cure.

ColorColour Lovers Purple and Relay for Life

Holy Guacamole

I solemnly swear that knowing how to make a good fresh guacamole is the secret to a long happy life.  My kids will go off to college with at least this skill in their back pockets.  Those ingredients down there?  Chop them and mix them and mash them and taste them until they are perfect.  Bonus points for extra salt and lime juice.

Making fresh guacamole, Kitchen Table series by Dena Robles

Michigan Moment in February

That Michigan Moment in February when the relentless cold has you boxed in like a sleepy bear in a cave.  You remain lazy and unproductive, buried under a heated blanket in front of a fireplace waiting out the storm.  The snow is icy and crunchy and brown, not worthy of a snowman or a sled.  You long for the smell of the earth again, a break in the clouds, a tiny sprout of green to poke through the snow pack.  You press your face against the window searching for a sign of life only to pull back quickly from the frostbitten glass.  It doesn't matter what the groundhog sees because living in Michigan, you know you are enduring winter for the long haul.  It's time to warm yourself from the inside out.  

On a quiet Sunday morning the smells from the kitchen are of vanilla, cinnamon, cream, eggs, maple syrup and french bread sizzling in a pan of real butter, melding all the aromas into a comforting and satisfying plate of thick french toast.  You wrap yourself tighter in your blanket, curl up your feet enrobed in warm wool socks, pour hot fresh coffee from the french press and then spoon homemade blueberry syrup from last August's blueberry harvest over the sweet french toast and tuck in to one of the amazing delights of being snowed in. Everything is right with this moment...and winter will pass soon.  Maybe next week is when the first early crocus will sprout through the snow, upholding the promise of the groundhog.

Pure Michigan winter photos, editorial photographer dena robles
Food styling and photography by Michigan photographer Dena Robles
Winter in Michigan, French toast by food photographer Dena Robles
Editorial and commercial food photographer Dena Robles and The Kitchen Table
Michigan blueberries on french toast by food photographer Dena Robles
Food photography and styling by  Dena Robles Grand Rapids Michigan
Food narratives, Michigan Moment in February by Dena Robles

10 on 10 February 2016

Last month I posted a series of ten sun drenched film photographs from our holiday trip to Puerto Rico.  We experienced more than a bit of climate shock to return to the frozen north and we seemed to develop this 'look' between us.  The silent look that whined "I want to go baaaaack." 

Back to reality.  This month's series of ten film photographs were shot on January 10th.  Winter in Michigan, the direct contrast of winter in the Caribbean.  Winter in Michigan, where I cower indoors under multiple wooly layers, feeling like a bear hermit-ing  away deep in a cave, always looking out the windows. And since I have no choice but to go outside many times a day, always yearning to be back on the warm side of the glass.

winter in michigan, editorial photography by dena robles
editorial film photography by dena robles, grand rapids michigan
grand rapids michigan film photographer dena robles
Pure Michigan, winter photos in grand rapids michigan by dena robles
home interior editorial and lifestyle photographs, dena robles grand rapids michigan photographer

Today the ground is bare, the snow has melted and the sun shone for a day, but it is frigid cold and the snow will likely return.  I take my dog for her daily walk and as I dream about hot days at the lake and tending my vegetable garden in bare feet, I notice the tiniest green crocus and daffodil sprouts braving their way through the earth.  And I know the worst is behind me.

Fellow photographers Bethany and Charlene also shared 10 film photos this month.  Please go view Bethany Petrik's blog from Woodland, CA which will then lead to Charlene Hardy's.  


Color Colour Lovers and Pink

Last week on the Instagram Color Colour Lovers challenge my task was all things PINK. There is very very little pink to be found in my house.  As I captioned on one of my pink photographs "I only work in black, and sometimes very very dark grey."  (I AM Batman.)  The funny thing is, color pops up everywhere when you have your eyes open to it.  Every time I spotted something pink my heart did a little somersault.  Pink in all this dreary grey sky and slushy brown snow...I'll take it.

Color Colour Lovers Pink, by Dena Robles, Grand Rapids lifestyle and editorial Photographer

Color Colour Lovers and Yellow

When I teach photography classes I always do a project-based lesson.  It is one thing to sit in a hard chair and have formulas and light ratios and camera manuals and beautiful examples thrown at you just to go home and pick up your camera and say "wha?"  

Each of my classes is based on a start to finish project involving story, composition, perspective, exposure, editing, saving, archiving, artwork creation, printing and displaying.  Along the way, you actually master your camera and the art form and have something to show for it.  Win win. One of my first project-based lesson results in a lovely color collage on a photo field trip, similar to this one.

Project based photography lessons with a Color Collage, by Dena Robles

If you are interested in joining one of my photography classes, please contact me at  I currently have a middle school group forming, a high school group, and an adult group.

Color Colour Lovers

After returning from a technicolor tropical paradise I am living in a cold, cold world covered in snow, everything around me is wet, white, mostly grey and sometimes icky brown and slick.  I am craving warmth and color!  I stumbled across this tumblr from Xanthe Berkeley and took her challenge to inject some color into my winter.

Here is one week of my hunt for RED RED RED.  All iphone captures, keeping it simple and quick!  I did take waaaaay more than 9 photographs, but this project (for me) was meant for a great little Instagram grid.  :)  

Color Colour Lovers photo challenge, Dena Robles Grand Rapids Michigan photographer, fun photography projects   

10 on 10 January 2016

Winter and I are not the best of friends.  Too much cold, grey, lack of sunshine, and outdoor activities I enjoy.  However, I am thankful for the forced hibernation for a month or so and for the chance to slow down, reflect and hunker down into my craft a bit.  I do imagine if I were living in a milder climate I would still find a way to  do all this though, so snow and frigid temps are not necessary!  

As always, I have a few photography projects brewing in the background of my commercial photo jobs.  This year I am focusing on a weekly project I will unveil soon and also this monthly project: 10 on 10.  On the 10th of the month I will release 10 film photographs on a theme.  Simple as that really.  The following photographs were actually created on Christmas day during our Puerto Rico vacation while my daughter and I shared a walk up the shore of Playa Flamenco.  Enjoy!  

Beautiful Playa Flamenco Culebra Puerto Rico shot on Fujifilm by Dena Robles
Editorial and Lifestyle Photographer Dena Robles in Culebra Puerto Rico
Playa Flamenco Culebra Puerto Rico Fashion and Lifestyle Photographs
Travel and Lifestyle Photographer Dena Robles at Playa Flamenco Puerto Rico
Fisherman at the tank on Playa Flamenco Puerto Rico
Photographs on the beach from Culebra Puerto Rico   

Mushrooms on Film

This lovely veggie portrait is from my on-going Kitchen Table project.  It is my hope to work all winter long on the kitchen series and be ready to publish Kitchen Table late 2016.  It is going to be delicious.  So very delicious.

Food Photographer Dena Robles  B/W mushrooms on film