By far my favorite summer photography session I offer is the lavender field sessions in July. I just completed my 3rd year offering this mini session and each year I grow more and more in love with the flowers and the enchanting photos they create! The beautiful flowers bloom each year and create a lovely backdrop for you to pose with your family, creating relaxing and cherished memories.
Here in Kalamazoo, we have one field within 10 miles of my studio and that is Shades of Lavender in Mattawan, Michigan. Open to the public in July 2018, Shades of Lavender has been committed to preserving the lavender fields while enhancing the farm with butterfly gardens, dried botanicals, sunflowers, and more. In May of 2021, the current owner, Anthony Tran, purchased the property to carry on its legacy with his daughters. While open year-round, by far my favorite time is late June through early August when the fragrant blooms dominate your sight and smell. As you walk through their shop that offers dried lavender, oils, soaps, candles, teas and so much more, all created on-site, you begin to relax and realize that you just stepped into a wonderland. Grab a basket and sheers before beginning your journey through the shaded tunnel of white pines that lead to the open lavender fields where you can pick your very own blooms.
For those not familiar with lavender, is a fragrant and versatile flowering plant loved for its beauty, aroma, and therapeutic properties. The purple-hued flower is native to the Mediterranean region but is now cultivated in various parts of the world, including Michigan. There are over a dozen farms and festivals throughout the state, each offering the many benefits of lavender.
One of the most known benefits of lavender is its calming and relaxing properties. The sweet, floral scent of lavender has been widely used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and induce better sleep. I can tell you without a doubt that after an evening in the fields running around after children and families, I am still relaxed and sleep like a newborn baby! Lavender is also highly regarded for its skin-nourishing qualities. The flowers essential oil is often used in skincare products due to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It can help soothe and heal various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and minor burns. Additionally, lavender’s gentle scent makes it a popular addition to soaps, lotions, and bath products. In my family, we love purchasing bath bombs, oils, and candles from Shades of Lavender that we use in the evening to help us relax.
Humans aren’t the only ones who love the smell of lavender. Bee’s often go hand in hand with the flower. At many farms, including Shades of Lavender, you cannot step foot in the field without seeing the active honeybees. I am amazed that they do not care about you at all (unless provoked). They are there to do a job and that’s to pollinate. We are friends and partners in the lavender field not enemies. If you are concern though about the bees, here are a few tips to encourage them to continue on with their work and not be distracted by you:
Most bees, specifically honeybees, today are pretty calm, not aggressive, and prefer to enjoy life with you, not against you! So if you ignore them, they will ignore you.
DO NOT SWAT AT THE BEES! They are happy and will not bother you. If you swat at them then they will sting you.
Move as fast as the bees do and allow them to move to the next plant. Don’t do anything to provoke them or prevent them from moving from flower to flower.
Do not wear perfume, cologne, or bug spray. Bee much prefers your sweat!
Did you know that lavender is a natural insect repellent? The flower’s natural insect-repellent properties make it an eco-friendly alternative to chemical-based repellents, so no need to worry about bugs and mosquitos as you walk down each path.
What you might be worrying about is what to wear! No matter where your session takes place, a good rule is to build everyone’s outfits with no more than 3-4 colors. If everyone’s outfit complements each other and creates a beautiful, cohesive appearance, you’ll look wonderful as a whole! In a lavender field, soft muted pastels and neutrals allow for the purple lavender backdrop to look dreamy. A soft yellow will contrast wonderfully against purple as yellow is purple’s complementary color on the color wheel! Colors and items I would stay away from are bright neon colors and anything with a big slogan or logo.
Adding texture into your clothing allows movement in an otherwise still photograph. Movement from skirts or dresses blowing in the breeze, or a scare catching the wind create mesmerizing photographs. Textures can be added through knit blankets or linen clothes. It helps the eye to move around the photograph and creates depth and interest to your image.
Most importantly though is to be comfortable for your session. If your one-year-old child, who just learned to walk, never wears shoes, don’t let your session be the first time. It distracts the child and often upsets them. You’ll spend more time fighting them to keep the shoes on! Let those little toes wiggle in the dirt and grass! Remember it’s hot in July so consider the temperature too when choosing your clothing. Obviously long sleeves and pants may cause discomfort and sweat leading to grumpy kids; young and old. If you want long sleeves, consider bringing them along for quick additions to your wardrobe!
The aroma of lavender has mood enhancing effects so know that as you gather your partner and children into the field, the fragrance will reduce your stress and anxiety, uplifting your mood and provide a sense of comfort and peace. It will probably be the most relaxing session you’ll ever experience!
So, when July comes around look for a photographer, preferably me, for your lavender session and as we co-exist with the bees, let me capture your beautiful family and help create memories in the lavender fields.