film photography

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
In home family photography grand rapids michigan
Michigan child photographer
Children's portraits west michigan
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.  

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.

Downtown urban senior portraits, grand rapids michigan
grand rapids michigan high school senior pictures
beautiful senior portraits in grand rapids michigan
Film portraits of high school seniors in michigan
High school senior portraits in nature in michigan
Film portraits of high school seniors in east grand rapids michigan
Reeds Lake film portraits for high school seniors photography
Rebecca was photographed on Fuji 400H film with a Contax 645 in Grand Rapids, MI.

Grand Rapids Family Photos--Downtown

Here is a gorgeous family with three energetic young men, all with distinct and individual personalities roaming the streets of Downtown Grand Rapids for photographs...the possibilities are endless with this combo!  It is very hard to pick favorite photos to share here, these boys were pros.  

Fall mini sessions are starting to book.  This is the only time of the year for family mini sessions. Check your calendars for October 8th and 9th (and a reserve rain date of October 15th.) Watch the blog and facebook for more details or email me at to get on the schedule.

Grand Rapids Family photographer 
Family photos downtown grand rapids
Film photo session and head shots for kids
Get better school photos!
West Michigan family photos
Downtown Grand Rapids Michigan family photography
Grand Rapids family photo session on film
ReThink the school photo, modern school photos
Downtown photos of brothers, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Family photos at The Blue Bridge Grand Rapids, Michigan
Urban family and couple portraits by Dena Robles, Michigan
The Mitchells were photographed downtown grand Rapids, Michigan on Kodak Portra 400 with a Contax 645 and Canon Eos-1v, processed and scanned by the lovely pros at ProPhotoIrvine

Downtown Grand Rapids and the 3 Girls

These lovely ladies have been friends since 3rd grade.  In just over a month two of them will be starting high school together in Grand Rapids while the other moves across Michigan.  Sad face. These are the times that we feel so fortunate to have our relationships continue so easily with social media.  It doesn't hurt to have a few special outings and a fun photo session to help remember the best times!  This is downtown Grand Rapids on a chilly and windy early summer day, captured on Kodak Portra 400 film.  

grand rapids michigan high school portraits
downtown grand rapids teen photo sessions
West Michigan teen portrait photographer
Michigan high school portrait sessions
Urban downtown teen and tween photo sessions
Best Friends Teenager photo sessions in grand rapids michigan
EGRHS senior portraits with Dena Robles
Downtown Grand Rapids Michigan teen portraits
Grand Rapids high school portraits at the Blue Bridge
East Grand Rapids High School photographer

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.  


Two Postcards

Two Postcards Project on The Kindred Art by Dena Robles and Alpana Aras

Earlier this year I started a collaboration between photo artists around the world called The Kindred Art.  One project is titled "Two Postcards."  The postcard on the left is submitted by one photographer and then picked up by a second photographer in order to gain inspiration and create a 2nd postcard.  The idea is that our artwork has more than one audience.  As a creator of the photograph a) we have a relationship with what we see in front of us, b)many times with a living subject, and c) always with a viewer.  We cannot always control how our capture is perceived by our audience. This is an exercise in learning how our photograph is viewed and used as an inspiration to our viewer.

On the left is "Rickshaw in Delhi" from Alpana Aras, on the right is "Red  Bicycle in Michigan" by me.