grand rapids photography

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

School Photos

I am trying really really hard to ignore all the 'Back-to-School' ads, catalogs, chatter, supply lists, and sales. I'm a devout lover of summer and want it to last forever.   Unfortunately if we wait until school starts to shop for class supplies the shelves are empty and the shops are pushing halloween costumes. So, with the inevitable first day of school looming in just a few weeks I also start to think about school photos. That inevitable packet of one-pose awkward mugshot pictures.  The ones that my mom still has hanging in the hallway of her home...highlighting the history of 70s and 80s hairstyles for your enjoyment.  I was sorting through one of my storage boxes last week labeled 'kids' school stuff' and found TWENTY-EIGHT unopened envelopes of school photos spanning the formative years to date of my own children's schooling.  Unopened, untouched.  Why?  Our school supply lists no longer have pee-chees or trapper keepers on them. They have Mac Books, wireless mouse, headphones, internet accounts, coding books.  With all the advances in photography and the surge in availability and creativity of visual arts isn't it time to rethink the school photo too?  I mean, why not? Wouldn't it make grandma's heart sing to have one of these personality-filled photographs instead of the awkward mugshot?  Wouldn't it make our kids much happier to see themselves 20 years from now as they truly were during the school years?

ReThink the school photo!

ReThink the School Photo  micro sessions -- $45 per child -- park location -- August 30th, September 8th or September 17th only.  Email me at to reserve a spot.

Work Date with Cam

This little guy of mine turned 9 years old this week. I don't know if NINE feels much different than EIGHT for him, but for me it suddenly feels like a leap from being my baby.  TEN just feels so much closer than it did a week ago.  He is a deep thinker, an adventure lover, a sensitive friend, a complex student, and a constant companion.  He spends a lot of his mental energy being conflicted while trying to figure out his exact place in the real world, and also being immersed in an imaginary world suited to whatever his latest obsession is.  Right now, it is everything Dr. Who. A month ago he was Jeff Gordon and an absolute expert on every and any race car.  Next month?  I can only guess, I'm just along for the ride.  I am happy we can have our coffee dates in the back corner of The Sparrows here in Grand Rapids.  I learn a lot in the process about the nature of being Cameron. He uses his sketchbooks to simultaneously tell the stories in his imagination while also contemplating his heart.  "I've been feeling the depressive coming"   "I wonder when my maturity will come?"  "I think my humor is coming back."  So Cameron, I don't know of the places you will go at TEN, or NINETEEN or FORTY-SEVEN, but I call ShotGun along the way.

black and white film at The Sparrows in Grand Rapids
Acros film portrait Grand Rapids Michigan
black and white film lifestyle sessions grand rapids
Dena Robles, Grand Rapids Michigan film photographer
coffeeshop photography sessions Grand Rapids Michigan
Kids on film, West Michigan photographer Dena Robles
simple classic bw film portraits, Acros, The Sparrows coffee and newsstand
coffee dates with cameron Pentax K1000, Acros, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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.