After five years of living and breathing bikes, children, and youth development programming, I have taken an exciting detour into the world of developing a full-time photography business in Kalamazoo and greater Southwest Michigan. My job as the Executive Director of Open Roads Bike Program was incredibly rewarding and filled with all kinds of ways to grow. I am forever grateful for the time I spent there and will continue to cheer them on from the sidelines!
One of my favorite parts about that role was working closely with teenagers and finding opportunities for them to advance their skillsets, contribute to their community, and elevate themselves in a variety of ways. I loved seeing their relationships with each other, their community, and themselves grow. I had the honor of photographing four of these young friends as their senior year arrived and they quickly helped me realize senior pictures are clearly one of my best and favorite type of portraits! Full of energy and excitement for their next move, Seniors just have a glow about them that makes them so fun to photograph.
I started with Brooklyn, as she was a year ahead of everyone else. She and I set ourselves up on the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail and Riverview Launch for some summer sunset portraits!
The following year I had even more friends ready for Senior portraits and Tanner was up first! I had met Tanner when he was in just 8th grade and have loved to see him grow and thrive as he plans for his post-high school dreams of becoming a K9 Officer. We started at Riverview Launch and made our way downtown to Bates Alley. I’m a sucker for twinkly lights and Tanner rocked the look! He had a few outfits, one of which lovingly featured his late grandfather’s tie.
J’Viohn was up next. As usual, we started at Riverview Launch because I can’t get enough of the backdrop that the sunset and landscape creates. Just look at these- he glows! We ventured downtown to explore the Kalamazoo Mall for more of a cityscape senior portrait session and found lots of scenic spots with fountains and alleyways. J’Viohn was a natural in front of the camera- used to performing and showing off his authentic self. It was a joy and honor to capture him in action!
Finally as a busy summer started to wrap-up, I got a message from Mijiikwis that he was ready for his senior portraits in Portage. We hit up West Lake Nature Preserve and captured a variety of looks as we made our way from the open meadow to the forested area and the lake. I hadn’t seen Mijiikwis in awhile and was so excited to learn he is pursuing culinary arts at KVCC this coming year!
I’m invested in young people like Brooklyn, Tanner, J’Viohn, and Mijiikwis pursuing their career and educational goals (as we all should be) ! As a celebration of opening Erin Susanne Photography as a full time photography business in Kalamazoo this year, I'm hosting a $350 scholarship. Local high school Juniors and Seniors pursuing higher education are welcome to apply by April 1, 2020. Learn more below!
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Erin Decker (formerly Erin Denay), Photographer based in Kalamazoo, MI