Senior Photos on Lake Superior

Nate’s Senior Photos on Lake Superior

Today, I’m going to share some of Nate’s senior photos on Lake Superior. Actually, I’ve got a whole lot more to share from both of Nate’s senior portrait sessions. Yes, I did say two sessions! I’ve done two of them for Nate so far, and we’ve got yet another cool one planned, a light painting with a pretty hot car, for some time in the future.

Senior photos on Lake Superior in Duluth, MN by the Aerial Lift Bridge.

Nate, with the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge in the background.

Not only did I travel “up north” to photograph Nate, a senior at Totino-Grace High School in Fridley, Minnesota. While I was at it, I also created a couple of his family’s portraits while we were on Lake Superior too.

His second senior photo session was actually back at home on the football field at Totino-Grace High School. More on that in a bit.

North Shore Weekend Warm-Up Act

Nate’s senior portraits on Lake Superior were actually created a couple of days before our annual North Shore Weekend. This year, we had other high school seniors joining us up north on that weekend.

When I was communicating with Nate’s mom, Jane, she indicated that they wanted to come up north for our North Shore Weekend. Unfortunately, they could not make the trip because they were moving Aaron, Nate’s older brother, into his college that weekend.

Nice senior photos on Lake Superior at Lester River near Duluth, MN.

Nate, with the Lester River as his backdrop.

I had a trip planned to Duluth for Bill’s 2007 Kenworth T600 light painting for the Thursday night before. So I tossed out the idea of creating Nate’s senior pictures during the day. Since I was going to be up north for Bill that evening, why not do something fun during the day too?

Jane checked out her family’s schedule, and it worked! So we scheduled it and then hoped that Mother Nature would cooperate. And the weather did cooperate, for Nate, at least. Non-forecasted rain ended up arriving prior to Bill’s light painting, and it had to be rescheduled.

Senior Photos in Duluth

During the afternoon, it was really nice out, weather-wise, with an overcast sky and comfortable temperatures. Our first senior photo stop was by the famous Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge. We strolled around the area, selecting locations that looked great, including some photos of Nate on the bridge itself. Once we finished up there, we all headed up the shoreline to Lester Park.

At Lester Park, I was able to create a nice variety of images of Nate in several locations in the park. While we were there, I also had my first opportunity to create a family portrait for them. The Lester River provided a beautiful backdrop for the family portraits. Then, we were off to our next location.

A nice family portrait at Lester Park in Duluth, MN.

Nate’s family by the Lester River in Lester Park, Duluth.

Senior Pictures in Two Harbors

Our final photo stop was in Two Harbors, Minnesota, where the 3M Company got its start more than a century ago.

The overcast skies allowed me to take Nate down by the water where they load iron ore onto the huge freighters. It’s a cool location with great backdrops of the ore docks and the harbor. I concluded the session with another family photo with the Two Harbors Lighthouse off in the distance.

A nice senior photo by the ore docks in Two Harbors, MN.

Nate, near the ore docks in Two Harbors.

All-in-all, a great finish to a fantastic day on the North Shore! At the conclusion of Nate’s senior portrait session, we talked in the parking lot about scheduling another senior photo session back home with Nate’s awesome drum set.

I tossed out the idea of using the football field at the high school. I also suggested doing a light painting of him with his drums there, an idea that Nate thought would be pretty cool! Next up, getting permission from the school to do so.

Here’s a fun little video that I made from some of my favorites from Nate’s North Shore senior portrait session. It also has a few images from the light painting session at Totino-Grace too!

Light Painting at Totino-Grace High School

A few weeks after Nate’s senior photos on Lake Superior, we received permission to use the football field at Totino-Grace for Nate’s even more unique senior photos. A light painting on the 50-yard line! I knew this was going to be pretty darn cool!

Nate, his dad, Ted, and I all arrived at Totino-Grace and talked about where we should set up everything. We had discussed earlier, up north, about using the field, but now that we were there, we had to decide if it that was really the best location. The soccer team was using the field, so we had some time to make the final decision. Nate really wanted to be on the field, and quite honestly, so did I. So we went for it!

The setup image of a boy and his drum set for a light painting at his high school football field.

Nate’s dad, Ted, helps me capture Nate with his drums as I hold a hair light over Nate.

Now, the tough part. Hauling all of our stuff onto the field and getting set up! Between us, we had three vehicles full of drums and camera equipment! There is fencing all around the field and most of the gates were locked, so that meant a lot of walking!

We got everything all set up shortly before dark. I took some test shots to confirm the placement of the camera, the cropping of the image, and Nate’s drums. Nate loved the setup, so we went at it!

My only concern was that I had no idea when we talked about creating this photograph up north, just how large the school logo was on the football field. It’s nearly 20 yards wide! That would mean that Nate and his drums would not take up a large portion of the final photograph.

I still thought the image would be really cool, but I thought we need a much closer photo to really highlight Nate and his drums even more. So that meant doing a second light painting! So we did!

And this is what we created for the first one!

A really cool light painted senior photo of a boy, with his drums, on the 50-yard line at Totino Grace High School in Fridley, MN.

The image that Nate and I visualized while we were up on Lake Superior.

Once we completed that light painting, I needed to move my camera gear out of the bleachers and onto the field (in the dark). Once I was re-setup, we got to create this cool light painted senior photo of Nate and his drums.

A cool light painted senior photo of a boy and his drum set at Totino Grace High School in Fridley, MN.

One of Nate’s cool light painted senior portraits was created on the 50-yard line at Totino-Grace High School.

Earlier in the evening, Nate mentioned that he had lit up drumsticks. We attempted a couple of photos with them, but they didn’t show up with all of the flash power I was using. Now, in total darkness well after sunset, I thought it might be a good time to experiment. After several attempts, combining flash with long exposures, we got this awesome image!

A cool light painted senior photo of a boy and his drum set, holding lighted drum sticks, on the football field at Totino Grace High School in Fridley, MN.

A really cool light painting of Nate with his light-up drumsticks!

I’ve put together a short video of both light paintings. They include the images I used and the final build of both light paintings in Photoshop.


Thank you, Nate, for the privilege of creating your senior portraits for you! I’m excited for you and your family as you experience your senior year at Totino. I’m also looking forward to creating the light painting of you and the car as well! – Michael

“Senior Photos on Lake Superior” © 2022 Michael Anderson Photography.

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