Explore Lake Michigan with Tony Reynes and Chris Smith

 In Events, Travel: Way Out of Chicago

We’ve never attempted anything like this before but it’s going to be epic! Join Tony Reynes and me for a four day tour of some of Michigan’s most photogenic lighthouses, Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

Sometimes we don’t realize how good we have it here in Chicago. We’re only a few hours from one of the greatest stretches of water in the world! In the past few months I’ve been to Boston, Acadia and the Pacific Northwest, and I may take the west coast of Michigan over any of these.

Tony Reynes is a huge lighthouse buff. I think he may have photographed every lighthouse in Michigan. If you’ve ever been on one of Tony’s Out of Chicago photowalks you know that he is amazing to work with one-on-one. We’ll both be with you throughout the trip.

Depending on the weather and clear skies, we’ll spend at least one night out photographing the stars. This trip happens right around the new moon meaning we’ll have ideal conditions to photograph the stars. We’ll photograph the milky way and maybe attempt to shoot some star trails. Tony and I will help you along the way if you’ve never shot the night sky before.

I know that we’re not giving you much advanced warning here. Let us know right away if you can make it. Space is limited to 10 people. You’re welcome to bring your non-photographer spouse or friend on the trip. There will be down time during the day for exploring the seaside towns, eating, shopping, or napping!Grand Haven Lighthouse at Sunset

Grand Haven Lighthouse at Sunset


Wednesday, August 24th

Pre-workshop online meeting. We’ll meet at 8:30pm in an online video chat to get to know each other, go over last-minute logistics, and help you pack the right equipment.


Tuesday, August 30th

Meet in Grand Haven, MI for the first evening of shooting. Grand Haven is less than three hours from Chicago. We may hit the St. Joe lighthouse on our way for a warmup.

Photograph the pier and lighthouse from the beach and walk the pier. I’ve seen more amazing sunsets in Grand Haven than anywhere else on this Earth. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Dinner together in Grand Haven before heading out to shoot sunset. Maybe we’ll grab ice cream after.

Stay in Whitehall, MI

Wednesday, August 31st

Wake up early to photograph the White River Light.

Breakfast and explore Whitehall.

Drive to Silver Lake State Park to photograph Little Sable Lighthouse. We’ll get here before sunset to scout locations and shoot through sunset.

Stay in Ludington, MI

Thursday, September 1st

Wake up early to shoot Big Sable Lighthouse at sunrise.

Drive up the coast. Along the way, we may shoot Manistee Lighthouse and have lunch at the magnificent Arcadia Bluffs.

Shoot sunset at Frankfort Light.

Stay near Frankfort, MI

Friday, September 2nd

Photograph sunrise at Point Betsie Lighthouse.

Point Betsie Lighthouse is our final destination. After this, you’re free to head back home. But we’ve left you in the middle of amazing summer destinations if you want to extend your trip. You’re less than an hour from Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Leland (fish town), and the area’s finest wineries.

Sign me up!

For $499, you receive instruction from Tony and Chris during all shooting sessions. We’ll take you to the best spots at the right times and help you get amazing images along the way.

The price does not include lodging, travel, or food. We have been researching hotels and getting a block of rooms. We will share information with you when you sign up. Hotels are reasonably priced.

We will carpool from location to location.

We will eat out together for most meals. Everyone is on their own paying for meals.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Pat Coddington.

    Hey Chris. Sounds interesting. What is the price?

    • Bryan Esler

      It’s $499, which includes instruction from Tony and Chris.

  • Margaret Pearson

    Hey, Chris:
    I would dearly love to do this trip with you as I used to camp and kayak along Lake Superior when I lived in Michigan. Would love to visit once again and, this time, with my camera. However, it’s difficult with the short notice. Will you do this again…..maybe in the Fall?????

    Marge Pearson

    • Chris Smith

      Hi Margaret! Yes. We may do it again in the fall. And we’ll give more notice. 🙂


    Hi Chris, I second the request for another lighthouse tour, since I’ll be in Georgia photographing Gibbs Gardens at exactly that time. Since the tour starts at Grand Haven, you might want to consider appending it to the end of SWMCCC weekend next summer in Holland, Michigan. Many of us photograph our way back from Holland along the Michigan coast (South Haven Light, St. Joe, etc.), but we don’t go North. The fall foliage would also be breathtaking, although I know from experience (in Traverse City) that the hotels are all full of leaf peepers which were booked by bus tours well in advance.

    • Chris Smith

      Great idea about SWMCCC. We may try to do something in the fall if we can get a block of rooms.

  • Hollis Hines

    Dear Chris,

    This sounds wonderful however I’m going to be out of town until the middle of September. I would love to hear of any other trips you plan on in the future. Hollis Hines.

    • Chris Smith

      I’ll be announcing more in the next week or so!

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