If you live in the Midwest, you know how unpredictable the weather and seasons can be! As a portrait and wedding photographer, it is extremely important to take full advantage of outdoor locations when they are at their absolute prime. While I love shooting indoors, there is nothing quite like using nature as your personal backdrop. Below I have highlighted five of my go to locations for shooting wedding, family, and engagement photos! If you are in the Clarkston, MI area – look no further than those outlined below.

Independence Oaks County Park – 9501 Sashabaw Rd, Clarkston, MI 48348

I have never taken a photoshoot at Independence Oaks that I did not instantly love! This park is massive and allows so many unique photo opportunities for any lovebirds or extended family gatherings. Spring and the fall are my favorite seasons to shoot here because the 12+ miles of trails give way to stunning fall foliage and blooming flowers. However, you also can’t go wrong with winter shoots, as the bare trees filled with snow create a majestic winter wonderland. 

Would you believe me if I told you the photo above was taken 30 minutes after it snowed like crazy!? Although it was cold, we were able to capture some stunning photos for this amazing family.

Bay Court Park – 6970 Andersonville Road, Independence Charter Township, MI 48346

What isn’t there to love about this family friendly park? Whether you are looking to play disc golf or capture some lifelong photos, Bay Court Park is a one stop shop. The brown brick arches at The Brady Lodge make for a moody background for portrait photos and the open, grassy areas are great for the little ones to walk around. This park is perfect for family photos, especially with small children, as there are so many surroundings to choose from. Take some photos in the even light of trees, pose in the gazebo, or make a splash in the water. This park offers a relaxing opportunity to get some really fun photos!

Rochester Municipal Park –  400 6th St, Rochester Hills, MI 48307

If you happen to be in Rochester, MI then you absolutely need to snag some photos at the Rochester Municipal Park! In the fall time, you can capture beautiful photos with yellows, oranges, and reds enveloping each shot. I love capturing memories here because there are so many spots you can find that are less congested and farther away from the playground. The lake makes a gorgeous background with the fountain constantly running. Plus, there are plenty of benches to sit on and shoot some great family shots. By far my favorite is the wooden bridge overlooking the creeks! Make sure to take some stunning photos before the snow blocks the view!

Pine Knob Mansion and Carriage House – 5580 Waldon Rd, Village of Clarkston, MI 48348

No matter how many times I view the photos from this wedding, I tear up. Pine Knob Mansion is such a lovely place to photograph. If you are lucky enough to attend a wedding here or even visit the space, make sure to take advantage of all the Instagrammable spots (like a wooden walking bridge, ponds, and so many flowers)! The carriage house is surrounded by greenery which helps make a white wedding dress or colorful bridesmaids dresses stand out perfectly. The woodsy vibes make a flawless backdrop and the floor to ceiling windows capture the streams of light shining in the venue space beautifully. 

Friendship Park – 3380 W. Clarkston Rd. Lake Orion, MI 48362

Perhaps one of the prettiest parks in Lake Orion is Friendship Park! I could fill up an entire memory card snapping photos here! You truly can never have too many photos standing inside the white gazebo or near the wooden barns. If you’re planning to take family photos in 2021, I would opt in for the springtime at this park. The trees come to life and sprout stunning pink and red flowers which compliment the greenest grass perfectly. Plus the sunsets near the soccer fields cannot be beat! 

There you have it, a handful of my favorite locations to take photos at! I sincerely believe shooting outdoors gives off a specific energy. While downtown cityscapes make your photos feel more classy, shooting in fields, parks and forests give a more natural feel. Photographing families definitely makes me feel warm and cozy, so perhaps that is why I always lean toward shooting outdoors with them!

Photographer Tip: It’s always a good idea to check out your shoot location a few days before your session to lock down certain areas you definitely want to take photos at. I recommend you visit at the same time of day you will take the photos, so that you can face any challenges that may come your way beforehand. 

For my Michigan locals, where are your favorite places to take photos?