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Occasionally my job takes me to some amazing places, this week I spent my time shooting events and activites in and around Laguna Beach, CA and tonight I was able to sneak away to capture some scenic shots at Crystal Cove which is an amazing little enclave of artists huts and tiny beach houses clustered at the base of a cliff below the pacific coast HWY. If you ever get to visit I’d highly recommend Rubys Shake Shack for lunch or dinner, the burgers are awesome and the view simply can’t be beat!

Crystal Cove California
Sunset at Crystal Cove in California.
Sunset at Crystal Cove in California.
Sunset at Crystal Cove in California.
Sunset at Crystal Cove in California.

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Summer storms were building over Lake Michigan on this starry night so I went out with a friend to shoot the lightning. We were mostly focused on a much larger storm to the north when I happened to notice this isolated thunder head building to the west surrounded by a starry sky. This is the only photo where I managed to capture both the lighting and the stars in one image.

Lighting, moon, starts

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Engagement Photos, Sunset, Lighthouse, Michigan

Saint Joseph offers so many fun locations for wedding and engagement photos it’s sometimes hard to decide where to start and end a shoot. Of course when the sunset is this spectacular it almost doesn’t matter! All of these photos were taken within 5 minutes of one another and I think that highlights the diversity of our area and one of the reasons so many couples choose Southwest Michigan for their destination weddings.
Lake Michigan, Engagement Photos
Sunset beach engagement photos

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Sparkler photos in Grand Rapids Michigan.

Beautiful wedding photos that incorporate sparklers are always fun to capture but there are some tricks to keep in mind if you want to end your wedding day with one of these amazing photos. First and foremost check with your venue to make sure they allow sparklers. Second timing is everything you can’t shoot sparkler photos when it’s too bright out and at the same time you don’t want to wait till it’s pitch dark either.
Wedding Sparkler Photos at Hidden Vineyard

Sparklers, Beach wedding, portraits

For the best shots you want to time it so that you catch the beautiful deep blue glow in the sky which means planning ahead with your wedding photographer to make sure you have some time set aside in your schedule after dusk. While some shots are quick and easy sparkler photos involve long exposures which require you to hold perfectly still while someone dances around you with burning sparklers, it isn’t rocket science but at the same time we’re making art so it will likely take more than just one or two attempts to get it “right” so plan accordingly! =)
Sparkler wedding photos by the beach.

Sparkler wedding exit.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you will need to find a spot away from light pollution, street lamps and other light sources may not seem like much at a glance but when you’re doing a long exposure they can really affect the look and feel of your wedding pictures. Finally my last tip for brides who want a great sparkler photos is to get the long lasting smoke free sparklers and make sure you have a good lighter on hand to start them! There’s nothing worse than trying to shoot a 15second exposure with a sparkler that only lasts 10 seconds or one that gives up lots of smoke. Ok so that it, hopefully some of these tips will help you plan for and capture the perfect sparkler shot on your wedding day!!

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Watermark Country Club Wedding Photos
Just a quick picture from a winter wedding at the beautiful Watermark Country Club. This wedding venue was completely re-done recently and if you havent seen it since it was updated it is definitely worth a look. Of course it doesn’t matter how beautiful it is inside, when it’s snowing outside thats where you want to take your pictures and we managed to convince Betsy and Alex to go outside for a quick photo inspite of the sub-zero temps and blowing snow! I think it was well worth it for this beautiful wedding portrait at the end of the night! =)

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One of the things I love about my job is that it takes me all over the country and some times even out of the country! One of the many places I’ve been blessed to travel to this year is Costa Rica. After a long day of shooting we were headed into town for dinner when we passed this tree. I made the driver pull the van over so I could jump out and go back to get this shot! There’s just something magical about a lonely tree on a lonely road to nowhere!

Random Tree_FB

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Millcreek Barn is one of several beautiful wedding barns in Southwest Michigan and as a photographer it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite, each barn has it’s own unique charm. One of the things I love about shooting at Millcreek is the road, the tree’s soften the sunlight and provide the perfect backdrop for beautiful pictures of the bride, groom, and bridal party! Of course the great photos don’t stop there, when you’re
Wedding pictures from Michigan wedding barn Millcreek.
Millcreek Barn wedding photos.Millcreek Barn wedding photos.Millcreek Barn wedding photos.
First look wedding photos at Millcreek Barn.
First look wedding photos at Millcreek Barn.
Millcreek Barn is a beautiful venue for a wedding.
Barn wedding photo ideas
Millcreek Barn wedding party pictures
twilight photos at milcreek barnbeautiful barn wedding photosfire pit at a wedding
getting married at Millcreek the possibilities are almost limitless! Here are just a few of our favorites from Dan & Taylors wedding at Millcreek, what an incredibly wonderful couple and a beautiful day for photos! Congratulations to Dan & Taylor!

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Every now and then I’ll make it out to shoot something other than a portrait, wedding, or other event and it’s always fun to challenge myself to work on timing and composition with things I don’t have as much control over! Take these birds for instance, they don’t listen when you say  “hey stand over there and look this way” which makes it all the more rewarding when you get lucky with a few shots! Most of these were shore birds running in and out of the edge of the surf, I’m not sure exactly what they are but they’re certainly beautiful little creatures!

Sand Pipers and Seagulls at Tiscornia Beach in Saint Joseph Michigan.
Sand Pipers and Seagulls at Tiscornia Beach in Saint Joseph Michigan.
Sand Pipers and Seagulls at Tiscornia Beach in Saint Joseph Michigan.
Sand Pipers and Seagulls at Tiscornia Beach in Saint Joseph Michigan.
Michigan Birds, Beach, Sand Piper, Saint Joseph Michigan
Sand Pipers and Seagulls at Tiscornia Beach in Saint Joseph Michigan.

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Ringo and Jillian’s wedding at Windmill Island in Holland Michigan could not have been more fun, mostly because the two of them are simply wonderful people who know how to have a good… no make that a GREAT time! What a celebration! Ringo and Jillian traveled all the way from the Phillipeans to tie the knot on Windmill Island in Holland Michigan and these are just a few of my favorite wedding photos from their day!

Windmill Island wedding portraits
Windmill Island Wedding venue in Holland Mi
Windmill Island Wedding Ceremony
Windmill Island windmill wedding photo
Sparklers at a Windmill Island wedding in Holland Mi

Ringo and Jillian also rented the photo booth for their reception and their guests took full advantage of it all night long… It was hard to tell who had more fun, the kids or the adults! Between the dancing, the sparklers, and the photo booth it was one unforgettable night! Congratulations to the happy couple! We had a great time and are so glad we could be a part of your wonderful celebration!
Photo Booth at windmill Island in Holland Mi

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Just a few of my favorites from an incredibly beautiful wedding we shot last fall in Chicago. Bridal party photos were done at North Avenue Beach and Union Station prior to the wedding ceremony at Saint Alphonsus Catholic Church. There’s so much I love from this wedding and I


hope to post more some time soon! Many thanks to my friend and second photographer that day, Dan Terpstra for the good company and great pictures! And of course congrats to beautiful bride and her groom Beth & Arnie, thanks for including us in your day!

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Work should’t be this much fun… but it is! I had a chance to hang out with the Luther family last fall and we took some pictures pictures in the studio and then out in grand mere were the fall colors were still beautiful. We kept the pictures short and sweet in each location partly because it was cold out but also because lets face it kids don’t have much attention span and we we try to work WITH that as opposed to combatting it. All in all I think we got some great shots and Emily couldn’t possibly be any cuter!




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Just found these awesome silhouette engagement photos we did last year while digging through my computer for something else… I loved this engagement shoot! We were way out in the dunes in Grand Mere Michigan with all this camping gear and ended up shooting all sorts of stuff in the dark! We actually hiked out there just before the sun began to set and set up a whole bunch of different pictures but these are a few of my favorites! There’s just something fun about a beautiful silhouette! I wish I could take credit for the cool props but that was the brides idea… she’s another photographer (an awesome one) and she’s just really creative like that! It’s always great when a couple brings their own ideas to

Engagement Photos in the Dunes in Michigan
Engagement Photos Camping in Michigan

a shoot and we can go to a location that other people have been to and still find a way to make the shot personal! It doesn’t always take a whole lot of thought or creativity either, just tie the locations to places that mean something to you, or incorporate an activity that you love, or come up with your own twist on a shot or location you love! The more fun you have with it the better the pictures will be! Oh but a word to the wise… if you’re going to bring a ton of camping gear out into the middle of the dunes and build a camp fire, and then hike back in total darkness… bring extra help, preferably someone really strong who doesn’t mind climbing giant sand hills blind while carrying rope, sleeping bags, lanterns, firewood, an axe, coffee mugs, and… I can’t remember all the other stuff we brought!! Thank goodness for Uncle Danny!

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One of the wedding trends we saw a lot more of this past year were Paper Lanterns being lit and set off after wedding receptions. While it’s obviously a breath taking thing to behold, especially if you’ve never witnessed dozens of paper lanterns drifting up the into the night there are a couple of very important things to keep in mind. First, these things are weather dependent!! They just won’t fill with hot air if there’s much more than a gentle breeze so be prepared to scratch the idea if the weather isn’t

Sky Lantern Wedding Photos
Paper Lantern Wedding Reception
Wedding Lantern
Paper Sky lanterns

co-operating. Second they are a FIRE HAZARD!!! Check which way the wind is blowing and be considerate, no one wants a flaming lantern to land on a building or get caught in a tree like they did at this wedding reception! =) Also, be sure to check with the venue where you’re getting married if you want to set these things off, some venue’s will allow it while others do not or simply cannot due to certain town/county restrictions. Finally, remember these things end up in other peoples back yards, in farm fields, and in lakes, there are sky lanterns that are completely biodegradable and then there are those that aren’t if at all possible, try to find sky lanterns that won’t cause a problem down the road for someone else! Obviously if everything works out like it did at this Willow Harbor Wedding you’re going to have a great time and we’re going to capture some incredible pictures but you might want to come prepared with a back up plan like sparklers… Just in Case!! =)

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  • January 6, 2018 - 7:05 pm

    Vy Doan - Hello!

    Great photos! I was wondering where these photos took place at. I’m trying to find venues that would allow for sky lanterns.

    Thank you!


  • January 6, 2018 - 7:31 pm

    Ben - Hi Vy, I’m glad you like them! These photos were taken at Willow Harbor Vineyard. As far as finding venues that allow sky lanterns go I think it’s a mostly case by case basis in the area. Some will let you do “one” sky lantern for photos, some will let everyone participate, and some have no say because they’re in a town or area that has banned them and so the venue really doesn’t have a choice in the matter. While I’ve shot sky lantern releases at quite a few wedding venues throughout the area I know the rules are always changing and I couldn’t tell you which venues gave the coupes permission vs which couples just went for it with the idea that they’d ask for forgiveness later if they got in trouble. My guess is you’ll have more luck with the venues that are further from town and have access to wide open areas because there’s less of a chance of something bad happening. Best of luck with your search, let us know if we can help in any other way!

This is one of my favorite shots from Brent & Amanda’s winter engagement shoot which we shot in an apple orchard of all places! Talk about a beautiful location for some winter photos, we certainly got lucky having some of the apples and leaves still on the trees! I can’t wait to post more from this fun portrait session on the farm! A couple quick tips for those of you considering a winter engagement session: look for colorful locations, prioritize your favorite spots first, warm up frequently, and a cute coat goes a long way in making any winter session a success!


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  • March 18, 2014 - 4:15 am

    Winter Engagement Photos | Chicago IL - […] Winter engagement sessions can be a lot of fun, but when you have a winter as cold and brutal as the one we’ve had in Chicago this year it makes it a bit of a challenge to find that “perfect time” to take your engagement photos. Some times you just have to GO FOR IT, and thats exactly what Bryan & Stephani did, we braved the frigid temperatures and brutal lakefront wind chill, and ended up with some beautiful pictures… and ok maybe a little frost bite? But hey it was for a great cause and in the end it just makes it all that much more memorable! […]

Winter engagement sessions can be a lot of fun, but when you have a winter as cold and brutal as the one we’ve had in Chicago this year it makes it a bit of a challenge to find that “perfect time” to take your engagement photos. Some times you just have to GO FOR IT, and thats exactly what Bryan & Stephani did, we braved the frigid temperatures and brutal lakefront wind chill, and ended up with some beautiful pictures… and ok maybe a little frost bite? But hey it was for a great cause and in the end it just makes it all that much more memorable!

Winter Engagement photos in Millenium Park, Chicago IL
Winter Engagment Pictures in Chicago
Winter engagement Photos at the Art Institute of Chicago
Union Station engagement Photos
Engagement Photos on the River Walk.
The chicago Skyline in winter makes for cold engagement photos.

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  • March 18, 2014 - 4:14 am

    Winter Engagement Photos in an Apple Orchard - […] more from this fun portrait session on the farm! A couple quick tips for those of you considering a winter engagement session: look for colorful locations, prioritize your favorite spots first, warm up frequently, and a cute […]

A couple quick tips for getting great shots of little kids at the studio. First, timing is everything, it’s best to schedule your pictures for a time when your kids aren’t normally hungry or tired. You know your kids best and we’re flexible so we will rely on you for what time you think will work best. Once here it helps to HAVE HELP!! An extra set of hands goes a long way when you’re trying to photograph more than one child,

Portrait Photography in Saint Joseph Michigan
Saint Joseph Michigan, Portrait Photography
Saint Joseph Michigan Childrens Portraits

especially if the kids are mobil and love to explore new places. Finally we’re not above bribery, bring snacks, a favorite toy, or some sort of noise maker you think might help grab your childs attention at a key moment for a picture. Of course the best laid plans rarely go as planned so be prepared for that possibility as well and rest assured, if we need to reschedule we certainly can! =)

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  • March 20, 2014 - 5:12 am

    Stella 3mo Baby Pictures in the Studio - […] a couple of our favorites from Stella’s 3mo photo session in the studio. What a beautiful little girl! The trick to catching great shots like these is timing. It’s […]

This past fall we had the opportunity to photograph one of the newest venues in the area, Hidden Vineyards Wedding Barn. This rustic barn is set out in the countryside overlooking a small lake and the vineyards. The beautiful setting is just the beginning though, this newly renovated barn features a huge bridal suite, an area for the groomsmen to get ready, a large deck for guests to mingle and plenty of space for guests to have a great time! We’re definitely looking forward to shooting out here for years to come! 

Hidden Vineyard Wedding Barn
The barn at Hidden Vineyards wedding venue
Wedding Barn at Hidden Vineyard in Berrien Springs
barn reception venue near chicago
wedding reception at hidden vineyards barn
Wedding Reception at Hidden Vineyards Barn

Styling & Floral by: Stella Event Design

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Another wonderful barn wedding at the Blue Dress Barn in Southwest Michigan. Trish and Adam had the perfect summer day for a wedding at the Blue Dress Barn, the weather co-operated, and every detail was picture perfect thanks to Element Event Design. We love shooting here because no two barn weddings are ever the same, whether it’s the layout or the decorations, or the way the grounds have changed over time this is truly a great place to get married if you’re looking for something rustic and unique!
A wedding reception at the Blue Dress Barn

Wedding Ceremony at the Blue Dress Barn

Blue Dress Barn wedding party on the deck
The Blue Dress Barn wedding Pictures
Blue Dress Barn Wedding Michigan

The Blue Dress Barn is a Michigan Wedding Barn
Michigan Wedding Barn

The Blue Dress Barn is a Michigan Wedding Barn

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One question I’m asked all the time is “where should we take our pictures?” People know they want to do pictures outdoors but aren’t sure WHERE to do them. The beach is an obvious choice but what if you want to mix things up? My suggestion for picking a great location for family pictures is to look for places that are flexible! What makes a location flexible you ask… Room to roam

Kids portraiture, Saint Joseph Michigan, Outdoor portraits
Family photos, Saint Joseph michigan.
Family portraits in the fall, Saint Joseph Mi

so we can take advantage of whatever the light is doing, different structures like bridges or boardwalks can be great for photos as well! I love fields with tall grasses, forests, old buildings, big barns… the more you have to work with the better! Ultimately you want to look for diversity so we have options, this is especially important when shooting little kids who have short attention spans. Some of our favorite pictures happen in between locations as kids burn off energy, have fun, and just explore!

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  • June 3, 2015 - 6:39 pm

    Corrine Clausel - We will be in Benton Harbor in July and I was wondering if your have any availability to do family portraits we will be there July 30th thru August 2nd. Thank you!

What a great barn for a wedding reception, the Blueberry Dune Farm has a great barn and tent set up for wedding receptions and we were lucky enough to be there to celebrate with Mike & Leah! At the end of the night we snuck out for a few minutes and got some really beautiful photos around the farm in the moon light as the mist rolled in! What an awesome way to end a great day!

Blueberry Dune Wedding Barn Reception Venue
Blueberry Dune wedding farm venue by Chicago
Farm wedding in Laporte In at Blueberry Dune Farm
Blueberry Dune Barn Wedding venue

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  • July 4, 2015 - 9:58 pm

    Barbara Hirschfeld - fabulous photos. I would love to use a couple of them on our website. How could I do that. Please contact me and let me know.


    Barbara Hirschfeld

  • July 2, 2016 - 2:05 am

    Barbara Hirschfeld - I would love to use some of these on our website.

A wedding at willow harbor vineyard, I have so much to post from Brooke & Joels wedding out at Willow Harbor but I can’t get to it right now so I’m going to have to settle for this amazing picture set against a brilliant blue sky! Would you believe it was pouring rain that morning? The sun

A wedding at Willow Harbor Vineyard

popped out just a few minutes before Brooke walked down the aisle, what a perfect wedding day! LOTS more to post from this day so be sure to check back!

Also check out some of the beautiful pictures of their first look in the rain here!

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  • August 27, 2013 - 6:27 am

    a Wedding at Willow Harbor Vineyards - […] off for weko beach in Bridgman Mi for wedding photos with the wedding party. Then it was back to Willow Harbor where the bride rode up to the ceremony in a horse drawn carriage. The ceremony was beautiful and […]

Senior portraits on the beach in Saint Joseph Michigan are always beautiful, no two sunsets are the same and you just never know what you’re going to come up with. Here are just a few of our favorites from last weeks senior photo session with Sydnee in Saint Joe! We had a blast working with her at the Beach and in our Studio at the Box Factory. If you’re interested in doing senior pictures on the beach with a

Senior Photos in Saint Joseph Michigan

Senior Pictures at Tiscornia Beach

Senior Portrait in Saint Joseph Michigan

Saint Joseph Senior Portrait Photography

Senior Pictures at the Box Factory

Senior Pictures at Tiscornia Beach in Saint Joseph Michigan

senior portrait photographer make sure you plan a head, try and schedule a time later in the evening and be sure you have a back up plan in place in case the weather isn’t co-operating!

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The Felt Mansion in Saugatuck, Michigan is a photographers dream! With Ted and Sarah, we found endless creative opportunities for great shots throughout the historic mansion and elegant gardens. Bridal prep was in the impressive master suite, dinner was upstairs and many of our best bridal party photos were done in the surrounding gardens or utilizing the beautiful architecture.

The combination of a fantastic venue and wonderful people made for a truly memorable event. Congratulation to the bride and groom!

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We had our photo booth out at Millcreek Barns tonight to help celebrate Ashley and Jakes wedding! What a beautiful night for a wedding reception out at the barn! We were able to tie in the brides lace & burlap theme with our bunting and use the outside of the barn as a backdrop.

I know we all probably have the same reaction when we see this for the first time but don’t worry the chair was OK!!! =)

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  • June 24, 2013 - 9:53 pm

    Leann Langbehn - Hey Ben! Just wanted to thank you so so much for your fantastic photobooth! I sat on the couch last night looking at all the pictures and I was laughing so hard I was crying! Even the little kids were having a blast! I just wish I had had more time to do some more pictures myself! It was so great to meet you and your work is beyond excellent! Wish we could do it over again.
    Thank you so much!
    Leann Langbehn

  • June 28, 2013 - 3:44 pm

    Alyssa Smith - The first photo with the little girl and the sunglasses is a great shot, it really looks like this crowd new how to have a good time!

The groom waits alone in the rain on Michiana Shores Beach while his bride makes her way towards him for the Reveal on their wedding day. This popular wedding day tradition is sometimes called a “Reveal” or “First Look” and it’s a great way to capture some truly special moments between a bride and groom. Congratulations to Brooke & Joel! Thanks for braving the weather and allowing me to capture this moment for you!

Rainy wedding at Michiana Shores Beach

Michiana Shores Beach wedding pictures

Michiana Shores Beach
Wedding pictures at Michiana Shores Beach

Rainy beach wedding Michiana Shores
Rainy Michiana Beach Wedding.

While tradition might scare some couples away from a wedding day reveal there are several reasons it’s worth considering. Doing a first look allows you get more pictures done before the ceremony, which frees up time after the ceremony for you to enjoy the cocktail hour or simply get the party started. A wedding day reveal also lets you take pictures at a location like the beach which might not be feasible after the wedding due to your schedule and ceremony or reception locations. Finally for most couples, having seen each other before the ceremony doesn’t make walking down the aisle any less breath taking, there’s nothing quite like walking down an aisle with a 100+ family and friends watching you as you’re about to take your vows! Of course every day is unique so if you’re unsure simply ask your wedding photographer if a wedding day reveal or fist look is something you should consider.

Be sure to check back for more pictures from Brooke & Joel’s Vineyard wedding… you won’t believe the weather!

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  • June 21, 2013 - 8:41 pm

    Alyssa Smith - I love the picture of the Groom’s face when he first sees his bride, it is priceless! First Looks can be so special and exciting!

  • March 19, 2014 - 9:54 pm

    Willow Harbor Vineyard Wedding - […] check out some of the beautiful pictures of their first look in the rain […]