8 sensational locations in and around Kalamazoo MI that will give your maternity pictures a magical background

Kalamazoo Michigan is full of gorgeous scenery. When you’re looking for that perfect spot to have your maternity pictures taken, it can be hard to narrow all the possibilities down. I’ve been doing pregnancy photos for many years in the area in every season, and I’m going to give you an insider’s help to find your perfect spot. Complete with examples and seasonal tips, here are my 8 top choices for pretty locations in and near Kalamazoo for a maternity photo session.

Asylum Preserve

maternity photography locations kalamazoo

Of all the pretty locations in Kalamazoo MI for a maternity photo session, this is the one I use most often. It’s close to everything, but feels out of the way the minute you step on to the trails. It has lots of variety in backgrounds and is picturesque at any time of year. In the spring there are areas of beautiful delicate wildflowers. In late May/early June there are pockets of purple phlox that are stunning. Fun fact: the patches can be in different areas of the preserve from year to year, and differ in the amount of bloom, too, depending on the weather conditions that year.

wildflower background for maternity photos kalamazoo

Fall brings colorful leaves and golden grasses. In late fall, the grasses are still tall and make a lovely organic backdrop.

The light is beautiful morning and evening, but at sunset on a sunny day it is magical.

pregnancy photos Asylum Preserve Kalamazoo

Asylum Preserve information and map

Al Sabo

Maternity pictures in Al Sabo Preserve, Portage MI

Al Sabo is another nature preserve, located in Portage. It has two areas that provide very different backgrounds for maternity pictures. One is above- a grove of very tall, very upright pine trees in rows. It’s unique and very striking in pictures. These work pretty much year round.

The other areas are open fields with mature trees behind them- great for those pretty backlit sunset images. There is also a bit of color in some spots in the fall.

sunset maternity pictures at Al Sabo Preserve in Portage MI

Al Sabo is also a beautiful spot in winter time. If the snow is on the trees, there are plenty of pine trees in open areas that are glorious when snow covered.

Snowy maternity picture at Al Sabo Preserve

There are miles of trails throughout Al Sabo, but you can walk to these areas in about a quarter of a mile on very easy trails. There is a good sized parking lot, but keep an eye out as you’re approaching it on Texas Drive- it’s not well marked and comes up quickly.

Al Sabo information and map

Milham Park

Milham Park in Kalamazoo has a picturesque creek, bridges (both wooden and stone), and lush trees for most of the year. I have two favorite times here. The first one is the hour just after sunrise. The sun gives you gorgeous backlight on the banks of the creek- perfect for highlighting your baby bump.

Milham Park location for maternity pictures

The other time that Milham Park really shines is in the fall. There are auburn, red and yellow trees scattered throughout the park, and so many beautiful spots with colorful backgrounds. When a mom-to-be wears a fall colored dress, it’s a beautiful combination.

Maternity photosessions Milham Park

If you’d like to include your dog in your maternity pictures, Milham Park is a good choice for a location. The parking lot is close to most of the scenic areas, so it’s easy to include them in some of the pictures and then have them go relax in the car if it’s temperate enough that day. One note- the park is home to many geese, so if they’re reactive to birds, it may not be the best choice for them!

Milham Park information and map

Oshtemo Park

At first glance, this seems to be an unlikely park for a photo session. In certain spots at the right times of year, though, there are gorgeous backgrounds. If you take the path east of the parking area and go through to the back of the Oshtemo library on the west side of Kalamazoo, there’s a big field that has been planted with wildflowers. In late May-July, there are many types and colors of wildflowers. The sun sets right behind the trees on the west of the field, and the light is just lovely. Bring bug spray, though!

maternity photo in wildflower field Oshtemo Park
wildflower field location for maternity pictures Kalamazoo

Oshtemo Park information and map

Those are my favorite pretty locations in Kalamazoo MI for a maternity photo session. If you’re up for a short drive, you can get to the following locations in under an hour.

Beautiful maternity photo session locations a short drive from Kalamazoo

Leila Arboretum

Battle Creek’s Leila Arboretum is a park-like setting with many mature trees. It’s lovely any time of year, but it is at its very best in spring when the trees are flowering and the hillside of daffodils is blooming.

Pregnancy photo location with spring flowering trees- Leila Arboretum
Maternity photos in spring flowering trees at Leila Arboretum
Spring location for maternity photos with flowering trees- Leila Arboretum

There’s plenty of parking and the flowering trees are very close to the parking area, so you don’t have to do much walking to get a beautiful background. The only downside is that peak flowering time is short and a bit hard to predict- you need to be ready when the trees are!

Leila Arboretum information and map

Grand Mere

Grand Mere is a beachside park along Lake Michigan in Stevensville. This is a challenging spot to reach, but if you are up for it, it’s a gorgeous stretch of beach and a bit wilder looking than others. The dunes between the parking area and the beach are large- good for backgrounds and a climb!

grand mere couple maternity photography

Grand Mere information and map

Tiscornia Beach

maternity photo location in SW Michigan- dunes at Tiscornia Beach

Tiscornia is a beach and park located along Lake Michigan in St. Joseph. Since I discovered it, this has been my favorite beach. It has it all- big sandy beach, dunes with grasses, a few trees and a lighthouse for background. Even with all this, it has never been crowded when I’ve been there. There is an admission fee, but it’s well worth it. This is a beautiful beach with smaller dunes, a boardwalk and abundant parking. There’s also a bathroom with changing rooms. There is a huge amount of lakefront, and it never seems to be crowded. It has nice areas of dune grass and a lighthouse as bonus backgrounds.

maternity picture location in SW Michigan- Tiscornia Beach

The following pictures were taken on the beach in December, proving that sand and sea work even in the winter (if you’re willing to brave it)!

Winter location for maternity pictures- Tiscornia Beach

Tiscornia often has spectacular sunsets, too, which make a gorgeous background for those final images of the evening.

Tiscornia Beach at sunset for beautiful maternity pictures

Tiscornia Beach information and map

Jean Klock Park

This is a beautiful Lake Michigan beach in St. Joseph MI with smaller dunes, a boardwalk and abundant parking. There is a huge amount of lakefront, and it never seems to be crowded. It has nice areas of dune grass, too.

Jean Klock Park maternity photos

Jean Klock Park information and map

There you have it- choice locations for every season, all within a short drive of Kalamazoo.

I recommend doing maternity pictures at 32-34 weeks. As you can see, there are locations available for every time of year. If you’re pregnant and interested in a maternity photo session, contact me with any questions or to schedule. Email at ellendykstraphotography@gmail.com; call me at 269-267-7083. I’d love to talk with you!

simple newborn photo props

Simple newborn photo props are some of my favorite things to add to a baby’s photo session. Organic baskets, beds and bowls are timeless. They’re a great way to accent the baby’s small size. They also snuggle a baby in and make them feel comfortable while they’re being photographed. Add in a cozy fur or fluff, wrap the baby up snugly in a pretty fabric, and they’re happy as well as beautiful.

Here are a few of my most-requested simple newborn photo props:

the driftwood basket

organic and interesting, just the right size for a new baby:

simple newborn photo props: driftwood basket

I also like to tuck flowers around the basket for girls-

newborn in driftwood basket with flowers

the round basket

holds a swaddled newborn perfectly:

simple newborn photo props: round basket

it’s also great for showing off a cute outfit:

new baby boy in overalls in round basket

perfect for adding seasonal decorations, too-

newborn boy in round basket- christmas theme

the heart basket

newborn in heart basket

the bucket

newborn in bucket prop

simple newborn photo props: beds

one of the tiny beds is white, and is so versatile that I use it at almost every session now:

simple newborn photo prop: tiny bed

the other little bed is a twig bed, which looks really beautiful with added flowers:

newborn in tiny twig bed

the round bowl

so versatile and perfect for showing off baby in a pretty wrap-

baby in lavender wrap in round bowl

flowers and seasonal items can really add to the bowl prop, too-

simple newborn photo props: round bowl

simple newborn photo props: lovies

another type of simple newborn photo prop that I love using is tiny stuffed animals, otherwise known as ‘lovies’. I use them in just about every session. I have a variety, so there’s always one that’s just right for a baby and family. They can be tucked in next to a baby or put in the baby’s hands. When I use them, I usually hear a chorus of ‘awwws’ behind me- they add so much cuteness!

Two of my favorites are bunnies:

simple newborn photo prop- bunny
simple newborn photo prop: tiny bunny

sheep lovie-

newborn with sheep lovie

bear lovie-

newborn with bear lovie

to take it up another notch, the tiny bears can be paired with a matching outfit (complete with bear ears on the hat)-

newborn in bear outfits with bear lovies

I love a simple style of newborn photography, with the focus on the baby and not too much ‘stuff’ in the picture that distracts from the baby. I think if you stick with simple newborn photo props, though, it’s a case of ‘just enough’. As long as the prop has an organic look and a timeless style, it adds variety and interest to a newborn session.

If you’re expecting a baby and are interested in a newborn photo session, take a look through the pictures on the blog and in the newborn photography gallery on the website. If my style is a match for yours, contact me for further details. I’d love to help you to get newborn pictures that you love!

Six month old Naomi

Six month old Naomi is such a happy, adorable baby. She has grown so much since her newborn photo session. She’s sitting up now, standing with help and has the best wide open grins!

six month old girl photo session Portage MI
six month old girl sitting and standing with help

She loved showing off all the new skills she has now. Hard to believe she was tiny enough to lay in that bed just months ago!

six month old girl sitting on tiny bed

Six month is a favorite age of mine to photograph. They’re so communicative, have the best expressions and are so proud of the new things they can do. It all makes for adorable photos!

If you’d like more information on photo sessions for six month olds, contact me here. I come to your home to photograph your baby, and I travel throughout southwest Michigan as well as in the Kalamazoo and Portage MI area. I’d love to talk more with you about your ideas for photographing your baby!

Go-to newborn and sibling poses

go-to newborn and sibling poses

The dream: a sweet, loving picture of your child/children with their new baby sibling. The reality is that you’re dealing with toddlers with unpredictable moods, preschoolers who are stressed by the changes in their lives, and older kids who have other things they’d rather be doing. So, having a few go-to newborn and sibling poses can make life much easier. Here are my favorites, along with a few tips that can make getting that perfect sibling image possible so you can fulfill the dream!

preparing the sibling

When I first meet the family, I pay much more attention to the siblings than the baby. I consider my first job to get them on my side! I play up their big brother or big sister status and work on building a rapport with them. Once I’m set up, I photograph one of their toys, and if they are comfortable with me by then, I let them push a camera button and I photograph a toy they choose for me. That usually does the trick to get them ready to be in front of the camera.

I’m careful not to move too quickly with slow-to-warm-up kids. Make haste slowly, as they say!

go-to newborn and sibling pose #1: basket

big sister pose with newborn

Once kids are comfortable, I put the baby in a basket. I then let the parent pose the sibling somewhere near the basket. This works well for kids who aren’t totally happy with the baby, and kids who aren’t ready to hold the baby yet. ( I did have one toddler who didn’t want to be anywhere near his sister..as in, not even in the same room : ). I first took her picture in the basket, then replaced her with an IPad. The resulting merged picture showed brother looking happily down at a movie, uh, sister!)

tried and true newborn and older sibling pose: criss cross applesauce

tried and true newborn and sibling pose- criss cross applesauce

This is great with older preschoolers and up. Have the child sit criss cross applesauce, and their lap becomes a secure spot for the baby. If there’s another sibling, tuck them in close and have them help hold the baby’s head. This helps to keep the sibling in place and helps the older child! You can photograph the siblings looking at the baby and looking at the camera for variety.

newborn pose with 5 siblings

As you can see, you can keep adding siblings around the basic pose to make room for everyone!

go-to newborn and sibling pose #3: grounded

go-to newborn and sibling pose- on the ground
school aged sibling with newborn pose

Everyone’s on the ground for this one, and it’s a parent favorite. Lay the older child on his or her back with a small pillow under the backdrop to support their head. Tilt them slightly onto the shoulder that’s closest to the light. Then put the baby on the shoulder and arm that are close to the light. They are then the baby’s pillow. If there’s another sibling, the baby can lay right in between them, on both their shoulders. Stand above the kids looking down (always have your camera strap around your neck for this), and get one with them looking up at you and one with them kissing the baby or snuggling in, looking at the baby. It’s so cute to see all their heads close together!

pose for multiple siblings and newborn

The beauty of this pose is that you can expand it to include even more siblings- here it is with two sisters and a new baby and 3 brothers with their new sister.

sibling and new baby pose #4: on the beanbag

new baby and sibling poses on a beanbag

These poses are great for kids on a bean bag or an ottoman. Here, the baby is lying on its tummy and the older child is standing or lying behind him. Have the sibling put a hand on the baby’s head and body, and that will keep a connection between them and help to keep the older child in place. You can also have the older child lying on his or her back, and then place the baby on their chest. It works best with non-wiggly preschoolers, since toddlers don’t always like the weight of the baby on them and you don’t want them to suddenly get up. Use a parent as a spotter, even if you think they won’t go anywhere.

These are just four basic go-to poses for newborns and siblings, but you can get many variations with these as your starting point. May they help you to get the sibling picture of your dreams!


Ezra is such a handsome little guy! We started with pictures of all the adorable newborn details, from his lips to his toes:

newborn detail picture of toes and lips

I love these backlit pictures of Ezra with his parents. They requested pictures where they were not looking at the camera. I prefer those, too- you can see how he’s the center of their world now and feel the love they have for him already:

black and white backlit photo of newborn with parents

He was wide awake for much of his photo session. It seemed he didn’t want to miss a thing!

awake kalamazoo newborn in hat

And a few more from his session:

photos of newborn boy in kalamazoo

Awake or sleeping, he is adorable!

Serving Kalamazoo & Portage Mi
will travel throughout southwest Michigan
1920 Brentwood Ave, Kalamazoo MI 49008
Phone: (269) 267 - 7083Email: ellendykstraphotography@gmail.com

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