Reagan’s mom contacted us last November to reserve her senior portraits in Ontonagon, Michigan. They planned to come up from downstate and make a weekend of it, including visiting Lake of the Clouds to see the fall colors. Getting to photograph special destination senior sessions like this are some of my favorites. It’s a little extra effort with travel, but the commitment to get great images always pays off!
Senior Portraits at Lake of the Clouds
Reagan says, “I have the fondest memories in the UP and wanted a little bit of what I love included in my senior pictures.”
Her family lives downstate, but they love visiting the Upper Peninsula each year. You don’t have to be a full-time Yooper to appreciate this incredible place the locals call “God’s country.” They’re all avid hikers and explorers and love discovering new places just like Rob and me. In fact, they just did Utah’s “Mighty 5” National Parks earlier this year. We’ve only done 2 of the 5, so we loved hearing their stories and trying to decide which one we need to hit next time we go west.
I immediately clicked with Reagan and we started chatting about All The Things right from the get go. She’s totally down to earth and looks at everything with such a positive outlook. Even though we had never met other than a few emails ahead of time, it felt like I had known her family for much longer!
Before their session, I send each senior a questionnaire. This helps me get to know them better and have things to talk about during their session, covering everything from hobbies and interests to college plans.
In her questionnaire, Reagan commented, “I am very fun but can be awkward when it comes to photos and I’m hoping that doesn’t happen.
If this is what awkward looks like, I’ll photograph awkward all day, every day – please and thank you!
High School Senior Session in Ontonagon MI
Reagan sent me pictures of her planned outfits ahead of time, mentioning she was aiming for a boho style. I have a client closet of different garments and accessories that seniors are welcome to borrow from – and this Free People hat was the perfect completer piece. Hats not only tie an outfit together, but they also help to block extra light. The Lake of the Clouds Overlook is wide open which is great for sightseeing, but the bright sunlight can make it challenging to get a variety of angles for senior photos without funny splotches of light.
(I know, I know – you came here for pretty pictures, not my ramblings about my love-hate relationship with harsh light. 😉 )
It was a busy Friday afternoon at this Ontonagon MI tourism hotspot, but you could never tell from these portraits!
Porcupine Mountains Fun Facts
Did you know?
At 60,000 acres, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is the largest state park in Michigan.
Enjoy Lake of the Clouds Overlook from summer, fall, and early winter – but the seasonal roads are closed from December 1 through late spring each year. If you want to visit in the colder months, you can still do this by snowmobile!
Want some truly spectacular views? Enjoy the season change from above with the Porcupine Mountains Fall Color Chairlift! The best way to know when the fall color chairlift is operating is by visiting their Facebook page here.
Hiking is one of the main activities people enjoy at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. There are more than 90 miles of trails, ranging from a simple half-day hike to more challenging routes like the Lake Superior Trail. Additionally, 23 miles of the North Country Trail also pass through the park. That’s one for the bucket list!
Ontonagon MI Senior Portraits with Dino the Dog
Reagan loves animals and plans to train as a vet after graduation. She loves reptiles and hopes to eventually specialize. She has a turtle, but he doesn’t travel so well, so she just brought her miniature daschund Dino. 😉 This little guy was just the sweetest! He was a little nervous at first, but as long as he stuck close to Reagan he was happy. Look at those floppy lil’ ears when he runs!! 😍
Senior Portraits at Ontonagon’s Lake Superior Beach
Reagan’s family used to live in Hawaii, but a job change brought them back to Michigan. Having sandy beach portraits as part of her senior experience was really important to Reagan. We couldn’t turn the pines into palms, but for being the end of September it was a warm, sunny day and that was “tropical” enough for us Michiganders! 😉
I loved Reagan’s choice of beach dress, and her flower crown was the perfect final touch. As the sun started to fall, heavy clouds rolled in and we were losing light quickly. You can see in the background how the colors change as the evening went on. Thankfully I pulled out my off-camera flash and we kept shooting even as it got dark.
There was one pose we were really hoping to get during Reagan’s Ontonagon MI senior session, but it required calm, still water and Lake Superior had Things To Say that Friday evening. I honestly didn’t even expect Reagan to get in the water because there was a cool wind blowing in, but she was game to try and we worked with what we had.
A Plot Twist
Remember how I mentioned that Reagan’s family planned this trip nearly a year in advance? Traditionally her school’s homecoming weekend is the second weekend in October. However, when the 2023 school year because, they discovered that this year homecoming weekend was planned for October 1 – the day after Reagan’s portraits were scheduled and an 8+ hour drive from Ontonagon.
In the words of Storks – “Well – what a twist.” Instead of being a full-family vacation, her family changed plans and left Reagan’s younger siblings home with grandma. They drove part of the way Thursday after work and school, then drove the rest of the way to Ontonagon Friday. After we finished her senior portraits, Reagan changed out of her dress and they started heading back east to make it back in time for her senior homecoming dance the next day.
🤯 If that isn’t commitment to “get the shot,” I don’t know what is.
In closing –
Reagan and family – thank you for planning this special destination senior experience, and for letting Rob and I be a part of your high school memories. We had SO much fun spending the evening getting to know you all – swapping stories and belly laughing the whole time.