Best Northern Michigan Vacation Destinations / Published Photograph

If you are anything like me, there's probably a healthy dose of denial wrapped up into realizing we are in mid-late August with September around the corner.  This summer with its mild temps flew by much too fast.  It pains me to admit that I haven't even dipped into Lake Michigan above the knees.  Yet.

I am banking on an Indian Summer and some beach days still to come.  If you are hoping to soak up some last bits of summer, here's 11 Northern Michigan getaways that will make you want to grab your flip flops and hop in the car!

My photograph below was published in the July issue of Traverse Magazine as the full spread feature opener of the article - proud Michigan girl, right here.

How to Photograph People while Traveling (meaningfully)

Travel portraits allow us to connect and tell stories about the places we visit.  In our fast-paced, digital age, it is so easy to take a snapshot and upload it to our favorite social media outlets, all while briskly walking by.  If we can make an interesting photograph without actually looking up, what happens when we stop to share a few words, look closer, and make a true connection?

Bali_2011_737-2_web.jpg

If you have a trip in the books or simply have a love for travel, there's a really good chance you'll snap a shot or two of a stranger now and then.  How does it feel?  I know, it can be a vulnerable experience for both photographer and subject, but it doesn't have to be.  

I hope the following tips might help you not only take more meaningful travel portraits, but also connect and honor the people you meet along the way.  

Photographs tell stories, but the act of making them, whether on an iPhone or Canon 5d Mark III, can add depth to our experience.

 

1)  Make a Genuine Connection  (Learn the local language and smile.)  :)

While preparing for your trip, take a few extra minutes every day and study the local language.  Learn a few key phrases and local slang.  This delights locals and shows respect.

I will never forget our very first day in Bali when our driver, Gustaaf, was a wee bit late (an hour or two).  When he finally arrived full of apology, I quickly responded with “Sampunang sangsaya!”  (Essentially, “no worries” in the local Baliness dialect.)  He was delightfully surprised and this allowed our first exchange to be one of laughter, smiles, and mutual respect, despite the late start.

Whenever possible, it was my goal to communicate with locals in Indonesian or Baliness.  Their delight and warm smiles in return never grew stale and this connection allowed me to create beautiful portraits, beyond typical travel snapshots.

 Portraits taken in Bali, Indonesia

Portraits taken in Bali, Indonesia

 Photograph taken in Bali, Indonesia 

Photograph taken in Bali, Indonesia 

 Portraits taken in Bali, Indonesia

Portraits taken in Bali, Indonesia

To keep it real:  

It’s not always so easy.  In the small fishing town of Hopkins, Belize, even though there was no language barrier, I found making portraits of the locals much more challenging than in Bali. 

However, the same lessons were revealed.  Approach someone with a smile, compliment them, show respect, and ask politely to take their photograph. Many people in Belize, mostly men, declined.  As a photographer who is visualizing a killer shot, it is hard to walk away, but it is more important to show the upmost respect. 

                              

2)  Zoom with your Feet (Change your vantage point and work quickly!)

Once you’ve made a genuine connection and you have your subject’s permission, “zoom” by moving your feet, rather than just the focal length of your lens.  Think about how it feels when someone points a camera at you – perhaps you are a closet supermodel, but I assume most us get a little sweaty palm action as the self-consciousness creeps in.   

Therefore, for the following series of images, I began by kindly approaching this lovely woman as she washed her dishes.  Realizing I was stepping into a stranger’s personal space, with immense respect, I complimented her on the color of her beautiful home, her adorable kids, and how the light was just perfect. 

When she obliged to my request to take a few photographs, I started by stepping back to document the entire scene with a wide vantage point.  Then, I moved in closer for a full-length photo of her daughter, as I sensed she was open to my camera.  Finally, as I interacted and sensed her comfort, I took a close-up portrait, which fit my original vision.  As a token of gratitude, I showered her with compliments as I showed her the images I had captured.

Know your camera, be quick, and continue to connect with a smile as you shoot.  This intentional approach not only allows your subject to ease into having their portrait taken, but it also gives you a diverse collection of images from a variety of vantage points. 

 Photograph taken in Hopkins, Belize

Photograph taken in Hopkins, Belize

 Portraits taken in Hopkins, Belize

Portraits taken in Hopkins, Belize

3)  Look Close and Move beyond Portraits (Capture details to tell a story.)

Environmental portraits tell a story about a person by incorporating their surroundings.  When I took these photographs of Caitlin, a local to Hopkins, Belize who is originally from Ohio, I dug deeper by documenting her quaint bakery off the beaten path and the subtle details within.

Caitlin is full of life, inspiration, and spirituality and shares it openly.  She works tirelessly to support her family with her bakery and her devotion to both is apparent through the spark in her eyes and the tiniest details of her environment.  I was intrigued by her story and found the more I photographed, the more I learned, simply by slowing down and looking closely.

 Caitlin's Bakery in Hopkins, Belize

Caitlin's Bakery in Hopkins, Belize

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(Caitlin also makes a mean chocolate zucchini muffin that I absolutely think you should go out of your way for if you find yourself in Hopkins, Belize.) 

Remember, to travel is to explore what is unfamiliar, and to photograph with openness is to connect unconditionally.  Always show respect, understanding, and gratitude and I promise you’ll make some pretty amazing photographs (and connect with some fascinating people) along the way. 

Travel Photography Tips for the Minimalist Traveler | Bali Photographs

Whenever I travel to a new place, the desire to soak up every last detail with my camera is apparent. If you’re a photography enthusiast and planning an exciting trip near or far, I hope these few simple photo tips for traveling will help you prepare for an easy-going and memorable experience.

 Goa Gajah Elephant Cave; Bali

Goa Gajah Elephant Cave; Bali

 Kehen Temple; Bangli Regency, Bali

Kehen Temple; Bangli Regency, Bali

 Gunung Kawi Temple, Bali

Gunung Kawi Temple, Bali

Basic Travel Photo Tips:  What to Pack & How to Prepare for your Trip

1) Pack Light & Keep it Simple

As a minimalist, I naturally travel light. My disclaimer is that I often pack too light. When in Bali, I underestimated the heat and… maybe wished to have had some fresh clothing options magically appear. My simple travel photo kit, however, was perfectly compact and lightweight - no regrets there!

I traveled to Bali with one full frame dSLR body and one prime lens (28mm 1.8). When traveling, I tend to shoot wide, and while this lens is not ideal for absolutely every situation; it was my best choice for a sharp, yet lightweight walk around lens. Simply put, I was going for comfort + quality and I didn't overthink the decision. I’m positive that my neck was much happier after a long day than it would have been with my much heavier 24-70mm L zoom lens.

Think about your shooting style, travel itinerary, and goals for your photos. Then, choose the best 1-2 lenses to compromise and maximize your priorities. Personally, I find that the least amount of lens choices I give myself, the easier it is to simply let go and enjoy my trip. With just one lens, the photos happen without any fret.

 Bali Countryside & Rice Fields

Bali Countryside & Rice Fields

2) Be Prepared – Think “Extra”

Extra batteries are a no brainer and, of course, you’ll need your battery charger. Make a habit to charge your batteries every night. Extra memory cards are also a must. Refrain from the temptation to take one giant memory card. What happens if it gets lost or becomes corrupt? Split your travel photos between several smaller memory cards. Better to be safe… it is technology, after all.

You might even pack an extra camera - in the tiny point and shoot realm. There may be nights when you want to lock up your fancier gear and just take snapshots of dinner, nightlife, and friends with a point and shoot. Or, there may be long hikes on the agenda and you want to lighten your load and just take in your surroundings worry-free. It's also wise to have an alternative to handing someone your dSLR when you want a quick tourist photo taken.

A second camera is also a must for your clumsy counterparts to use worry-free. In our case, I watched in slow motion as my hubby slipped on a rock and our trusty little point and shoot camera took a dip in -of all things- Holy Water. Thankfully, we were able to retrieve our photos from the memory card, so we quickly moved on and devoted the rest of the trip to my dSLR. Lesson learned.. we'll always travel with a sacrificial point and shoot.

 Bali Countryside and Rice Fields

3) Travel Smart & Choose the Right Camera Bag

Always bring your camera bag on the plane as a carry-on / personal item. I own a variety of Crumpler bags that I choose based on the smallest size I need for the trip. In my opinion, a camera bag is ideal if…

a) It doesn’t look like a camera bag, so you’ll be less of a target to theft. My Crumpler bag goes over my shoulder (across my body), closes with buckles, and falls to my hip, so I can keep my eyes (and a hand) on it. Avoid backpacks for this reason, as you’re making a pick-pocket’s job a lot easier. Trust me, I was pick-pocketed when I lived in Chicago while waiting for my turkey sandwich at Jimmy John’s (evidently their service is not always quite fast enough!) My purse was zipped and swung slightly to my back. The man did a shockingly fantastic job, as I didn’t feel a thing. Stay aware in all situations, especially in crowded places.

b) It doesn’t lean too far to the girly or manly spectrums, so my super nice husband can take it off my hands when I need a break - without cringing.

c) The designs are very simple and smart with adjustable inserts and inner zipped pouches to keep my camera gear + a few non-photography essentials secure in one place.

 Bali Rice Fields

Bali Rice Fields

 Bali Countryside & Rice Fields

Bali Countryside & Rice Fields

4) Back up your Digital Images

You might decide to bring a laptop or a portable external hard drive to back up your images throughout your trip, especially if you are embarking on a once in a lifetime experience. In Bali, I used a portable external hard drive to back up my images each night while I charged my batteries.

This gave me tremendous peace of mind during our busy days, knowing my important photographs were almost always in 2 different places. This way, in the worst case scenario of having your entire camera bag lost or stolen, AT LEAST your images are backed up in your hotel room or packed away in a separate bag, safe and sound. It’s definitely worth the little bit of extra effort.

(side note: As a minimalist, I opt for the portable external hard drive as it's a very small and inexpensive option compared to a laptop. The least amount of valuables to keep track of, the better.)

 Bali Travel Photography
 Tjampuhan Temple; Ubud, Bali

Tjampuhan Temple; Ubud, Bali

Travel Photography Checklist: • One dSLR camera w/ 1-2 lenses • One Point and Shoot • A Camera Bag like this Crumpler Bag (avoid backpacks and obvious camera bags) • 2+ Batteries • Battery Charger • Several Memory Cards (more than you think you need) • Water Resistant Memory Card Case • A Lens Cloth

Other suggestions: • A Small Tripod, like this Gorillapod • Rain Sleeves • A Laptop or portable External Hard Drive • A small Travel Journal (love moleskin journals) and a pen to record notes, thoughts, observations, and details along your journey

 Alam Asmara Candi Dasa, Bali

Alam Asmara Candi Dasa, Bali

 Alam Asmara Candi Dasa, Bali

Alam Asmara Candi Dasa, Bali

 Candi Dasa East Bali

Candi Dasa East Bali

All Photographs Copyright Teri Genovese Photography

Above photographs of Balinese temples and landscapes were taken in Bali, Indonesia May 2011 Check out Bali Institute for an amazing cultural experience.

flashback to Bali..

It's hard to believe it's been a year since this amazing trip. In my continual efforts to print and archive my photographs in a meaningful way, I recently decided that the 500+ 4x6 prints filed in a box would not be enough. So, I'm gearing up to make a Fine Art Photo Book to commemorate our trip.

Pinhole Press is now my go-to place for turning my personal photos into simple, classy, and archival photo books. I highly recommend them and will post photos once my Bali book is finished..

In the meantime, I hope you'll join me here as I dive back into my Bali imagery - I'll be posting travel photography tips along with many more Bali photos that have yet to see the internet. If you have a question about travel photography - ask in the comments or post on my Facebook Page!

(for the sake of full disclosure, I am a professionally affiliated with Pinhole Press, but only because I 100% love their products and use them for my personal photos.)

Ubud, Bali Travel Photograph
Ubud, Bali Travel Photograph

where the platte river meets lake michigan..

As I sit here basking in the first warm breezes of the season, I am daydreaming of the long summer days to come. Last year was our first summer in west Michigan after living in Los Angeles for nearly 5 years. To say that my first long winter back tested my patience is an understatement. Of course, I could have refrained from checking LA’s daily weather report (as if it was still relevant) and imagining how I would have spent all of those warm, sunny January days… a hike at Runyon Canyon, gelato with friends on Sunset Blvd, a nap by the pool. Ahh.. my memories of California are sweet, but life soon became sweeter.

My daydreams were interrupted at once when summer arrived and I was swept off my feet! I have to say, it was the best summer of our lives. Nearly every weekend was spent on Lake Michigan, from lazy rivers at Ludington State Park to care-free drives around the Leelanau Peninsula to afternoon hikes and beach days at Saugatuck Dunes State Park. I can assure you, we did not allow one second of summer to slip away.

On a particularly beautiful September day, as we drove back to Grand Rapids from Sleeping Bear Dunes, we spontaneously took a turn and followed signs to the Platte River. With my camera in hand, my jaw dropped at this incredible view of blue upon blue. Are we really in Michigan? I gazed along the pristine coastal dunes and dreamed upon the delicate sliver of sand where the Platte River meets Lake Michigan. I imagined that next time we’ll be much more prepared, like this family, with stand up paddleboards and a picnic for the quiet sandy shores.

And then it hit me. I was in love with the state I grew up in. This place I left behind 10 years ago is speckled with hidden gems to explore. And now I know for sure that the summertime is oh, so much sweeter when you have those few chilly winter days to endure.

 Platte River Lake Michigan Photography
 Platte River Lake Michigan Photography
 Platte River Lake Michigan Photography
 Platte River Lake Michigan Photography

by the way, if you'd like to schedule a fine art family photography session at this beautiful beach this summer, where the Platte River meets Lake Michigan, the travel fee is waived! picture your family having an incredibly relaxing beach day.. i'll just happen to be there documenting the moments!

the pictured rocks + a friendly reminder to print your digital photos :)

If you’ve ever wondered what the northern coast of Michigan’s UP (Upper Peninsula) looks like, these images are for you! We celebrated our 6 year anniversary last August with a road trip to the Pictured Rocks overlooking Lake Superior. The water really is that vibrantly turquoise, crystal clear, and incredibly cold. You can ask my husband who had to make sure. His purple lips and uncontrollable convulsions shivering for a good hour was proof enough for me to stay on the shore. . . .

Why the untimely post from... LAST SUMMER? Last year, when I wrote THIS POST, I vowed I would take my own advice and keep up with printing my personal digital photos on a monthly basis. Whoops! Cobbler’s son syndrome, I guess. So, it became my winter goal once again to finally catch up with printing and sharing last year’s personal snapshots. I'm up to 317 prints and counting and it feels SO good to catch up :)

To be honest, I miss the simpler days of shooting film, but I am determined to keep printing and archiving my personal digital photos. When we’re 80, this hard drive and my plethora of digital files and DVD back-ups (like the floppy discs of yesteryear, remember those?) will mean nothing. It’s the prints that will matter. It’s the tangible prints that I file in boxes and design into photo books & albums that will last through the years and bring back memories.

Have you backed up your digital photos and made prints lately? If you need a little help (or a kick in the pants!) to get started, I've compiled some simple tips here.

 Pictured Rocks Boat Tour - Black and White Photograph by Teri Genovese

Pictured Rocks Boat Tour - Black and White Photograph by Teri Genovese

 Pictured Rocks Photographs by Teri Genovese

Pictured Rocks Photographs by Teri Genovese

 Pictured Rocks Photograph by Teri Genovese

Pictured Rocks Photograph by Teri Genovese

 Pictured Rocks Photos by Teri Genovese

Pictured Rocks Photos by Teri Genovese

 Pictured Rocks Photos by Teri Genovese

Pictured Rocks Photos by Teri Genovese

 Pictured Rocks Photographs by Teri Genovese

Pictured Rocks Photographs by Teri Genovese

 Pictured Rocks Photographs by Teri Genovese

Pictured Rocks Photographs by Teri Genovese

 iPhone-Pictured-Rocks-Photos

iPhone-Pictured-Rocks-Photos

and some iPhone photo goodness from our 10 mile hike, thanks to the always handy Hipstamatic!