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Dreamy Outdoor Locations for your Next Photo Session

woman leans down to smell light pink peony at gardens in nichols arboretum in ann arbor michigan

I have spent a lot of time exploring some new-to-me, and some familiar-to-me outdoor spots in the Ann Arbor area so I am better able to help my clients find the perfect location for their next family photos! There are so many unique and beautiful places within 20 miles of the city, here are some of my favorites!

Saginaw Forest

Located just west of town and tucked away in a completely unsuspecting location, Saginaw Forest is an absolute GEM of a spot for family photos! The trailhead entrance is in the parking lot of the 242 church off of Wagner Road and it starts off with a bang. The trail wanders through a lovely field of grasses before turning to a forest of tall pines. There is a boardwalk that takes you over some wetlands filled with tall grasses, and a trail that circles an entire beautiful lake! This location has everything for the outdoor explorers and though I’ve only been there in the fall, I’m 1,000% sure it would be an amazing photo location all year round (yes, even in winter)!

Sharon Mills County Park

This one is a bit of a hike, but totally worth it! Sharon Mills County Park is just outside of Manchester, Michigan, but looks like it could be just outside of Manchester, England. There’s a river, bridges, manicured gardens, pavilions, waterfalls, and the most amazing light at the end of the day. I would love to do more photo shoots out here, it’s beautiful, quiet and such a great spot for engagement or senior photos!

Parker Mill County Park

This is a park I had always wanted to visit, but every time I drove by I was on my way somewhere and couldn’t stop. Parker Mill is located just north of Ann Arbor near the Geddes exit on 23 and is unassuming from the road. You won’t be disappointed if you stop here, there are a ton of beautiful trails, a boardwalk through the woods, an old mill and a log cabin, bridges and a picturesque river running alongside the trails. I love this spot for its diversity and easy access!

Gallup Park

Gallup Park is one of those parks I have visited many many times, but still surprises me each time I go! The diversity of backdrops for your photos is amazing with bridges, trails, water, epic trees, benches and sculptures all within walking distance of the many parking lots available. I love doing hour-long photo shoots here so we have time to meander along the many trails and find those picture perfect nooks and crannies. I think this is one of the best locations for any type of session!

Mill Pond Park

If you live in Saline you likely know about Mill Pond Park. It has one of the best old wooden play structures around, but also has spectacular spots for photos! As the name suggests this park boasts a big pond, but also has a small creek that feeds into it with wading areas that lots of families spend time in during the summer heat! Large trees, wooden bridges and tucked away trails also make this location a-ok for family and senior photos!

Mill Creek Park

We’ve got a theme of parks made from old mills… I love it though! This cute park in Dexter has an amazing boardwalk that runs along the river, under bridges, past a little troll under the bridge, by lots of wildflowers and beautiful trees! It’s a part of the B2B trail so there is a lot of traffic, but not so much that we can’t get some amazing photos. To get some great shots we do need to hike around a bit, so a longer session does best at Mill Creek Park!

The Peony Garden at the Arb

woman leans down to smell light pink peony at gardens in nichols arboretum in ann arbor michigan

This is definitely a spot that is busy, only in bloom for a few weeks out of the year and somewhat difficult to access (hello, parking!), but 100% worth the effort! The beautiful fluffy peonies make for a unique and colorful background for your photos. I LOVE photos of babies sitting among the flowers, so this would be perfect for a family photo session! But also senior, engagement and maternity photos… basically everything.

There are MANY more outdoor locations around, I know, but these are just some of my recent favorites. What park/outdoor spot should I try next? Do you want to book a session at any of these places? You can book it here!

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Hi I'm Emily! The Ann Arbor, Michigan based photographer behind Emmy & Ollie Photography, mama to two littles Oliver & Violet, and lifelong partner to my husband Ryan. I'm here to share about my life, my photo journey, beautiful moments, and tips to help you have the best photo session!

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I'm your Ann Arbor native, family lifestyle photographer ready to make your photo dreams come true! If you're wondering what I'm all about, how to book a session, or anything else really (I'm an open book) click the link below!

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