Graffiti Alley

Just off Liberty Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is the graffiti alley. Since 1999 is has been painted by many new artists giving it a unique always changing background that is perfect for photography.

Chelsea High School Senior Kimberley Quinn poses by “Artist” painted in the alley

A popular location for locals and visitors to the area for senior photos, portraits, and even the occasional wedding, the graffiti alley can be found busy all year.

To make an average photo great there are a few key elements: Lighting, Background, and Posing. The graffiti alley in downtown Ann Arbor is prime combine all 3 of these elements.

Lighting – Depending on the sun the graffiti alley is very dark or overly bright. Using off-camera flash and high-speed sync I am able to have full control over the image. This allows me to create dynamic shadows and highlight the subject while still capturing the overall feel of the alley.

Background – With control over the lighting, I am able to create a soft blurred background or a high contrast look. I tend to prefer a blurred background due to the fact that artists sometimes do not put the most appropriate symbols in their painting.

Posing – When shooting in the graffiti alley you have two basic choices for poses; against the wall or away from it. When posing against the wall you get a very nice depth of field effect with the foreground and background blurred and the subject sharp in the frame. When standing away from the wall, it blurs the entire background and gives the subject more ability to move

I first photographed Brooklynn back in 2013 when she was Miss Oakland County’s Outstanding Teen. Her photo has been one of the most popular on my website for many years. When the opportunity to photograph Brooklynn again in 2017 came up, we headed back to Ann Arbor.

Brooklynn in 2013 posing in the graffiti alley
Brooklynn in 2017, as Miss Oakland County. 3 years after being Miss Oakland County’s Outstanding Teen