Tulip Time
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How to Capture Gorgeous Photos at Tulip Time

Since our move back to Michigan four years ago, we have made visiting Holland during Tulip Time, a tradition within our family. Holland is one of our favorite Lake Michigan towns to visit, and the beauty that unfolds during its Tulip Time Festival is just unmatched.

Because my children are still younger, I often try to make our visit the week before the festival since our main goal is to enjoy the blooms, play at the lake, find some great food, and of course, play. 

Tulip Time
ISO 100 35mm f 1.4 1/1000 sec photo by @exploremichiganmore

Experience a Tulip Time Photo Walk

I have always brought my camera with me for all of our visits, but when you are juggling two young children, you are not often left with much time to spend focusing your camera on the flowers.

This led me to really look into taking a trip during the festival just for some dedicated time to photograph one of my favorite blossoms. When I stumbled upon the Tulip Time Photo Walk, I jumped at the opportunity to spend a morning at Windmill Island Gardens during full blossom.

The photo walk was led by two photographers who were able to lead us around the property before the gardens opened so we could take some gorgeous pictures before the tulip time crowds arrived. It truly was an incredible experience to be at the gardens during the festival week and have the place practically to ourselves.

They offer this Tulip Time Photo Walk in the morning and also for a sunset walk at forty dollars per ticket, and that includes your admission to the gardens themselves, so you can stay and enjoy everything the park has to offer even after your photo walk time has ended. 

Tulip Time
Photo settings ISO 100 135mm f 2.0 1/2500 sec by @exploremichiganmore

Photo-Worthy Places To Visit During The Festival

After our morning at Windmill Island Gardens, which has countless opportunities for a variety of photos, we continued to some of my other favorite frame-worthy places to capture images in Holland during the festival. 

Tulip Time
Centennial Park photo by @exploremichiganmore

Centennial Park

Centennial Park is one of our favorite free places to visit in Holland, especially when tulips are in full bloom. You can use the brick paths as leading lines for your photo, sit at a tulip-framed wooden bench in the park, or use any of the flowerbeds for a perfect photo backdrop.

Whether it is at the gazebo or fountain, you’ll have lots of options for different backgrounds if you are looking to take portraits of some of your favorite people.

Tulip Time
Window on the Waterfront photo by @exploremichiganmore

Window on the Waterfront

Window on the Waterfront is a public park that is free to visit. With over 100,000 tulips planted at this park, the opportunities for taking stunning photos are endless.

Here I would use the winding paths to add depth and character to your photos. The door frame with open window panels makes for a wonderful opportunity to frame the tulips for a perfect picture.

Veldheer Tulip Gardens
Veldheer Tulip Gardens photo by @exploremichigan

Veldheer Tulip Gardens

Veldheer Tulip Gardens is Holland’s only tulip farm, and with over 500 million (yes, million) bulbs planted, this is one of my and my children’s favorite places to explore.

Because of the vast variety, this is one of the most sought-after gardens to visit, but it lands at one of my favorite places to take photos not only because of the gorgeous blooms but because of the incredible amount of blooms and the variety you will find here.

You will definitely not be alone, but I have found it easy to find places to take gorgeous photos without a ton of people in my background.

Tulip Time
Downtown Holland by @exploremichiganmore

Downtown Holland

Downtown Holland during the festival is one of my favorite places to take photos. Tulips line the streets of downtown Holland, and you can easily find opportunities to take close-ups of your favorite blooms.

But one of the reasons it lands on my list for locations is that the energy is absolutely bustling, and if you want to truly capture the magic of tulip time, this is where you’ll do it.

Whether it’s street photography, your children with a giant elephant ear in front of the food trucks, or a parade, you are sure to capture magic if you bring your camera to the streets of downtown Holland. 

Tulip Time
Restored 1924 Herschell-Spillman carousel photo by @exploremichiganmore

Nelis’ Dutch Village

While Nelis’ Dutch Village is not filled to the brim with tulips, it is packed with picture possibilities. Whether it is a candid photo on the carousel, snapping photos of the Dutch heritage presentations, or sitting in the giant wooden shoe, you’ll be sure to fill your camera with photos from stepping back in time in this Dutch Village.

This theme park is not just for the young kids but the young at heart as well. With a wooden shoe factory, cheese-making, a petting zoo, rides, and more, capturing a full day of fun and family memories will be easy to do at this park. 

Tulip Time
ISO 100 135mm f 2.0 1/800 sec photo by @exploremichiganmore

Photo Tips To Make The Most Out Of Your Trip

Whether you are bringing your DSLR, mirrorless, or phone, read along for a few tips that have helped me as I have dived more into nature photography.

Charged and Clean

First things first, make sure your batteries are charged and lenses are cleaned. It seems simple, but with the busyness of getting ready for the festival, sometimes those things can get missed. If you are using your phone, make sure to give it a wipe with a microfiber cloth before heading out to capture some images. 

Eliminate Distractions 

Whether it’s a trash bin in the background or a fence, be mindful of what appears in the back of your image. Because the festival can bring crowds, I would consider bringing a piece of foam board if you are looking to get an up-close image of the blooms without too much distraction in the backgrounds.

Just taking an extra step to look at the frame as a whole can really take your photo up a notch. Oftentimes it’s just a matter of a slight angle adjustment, and the distractions are gone!

Portrait Mode or Wide Open Aperture

This tip is a matter of opinion, but for my style, I prefer my images to have an isolated subject, and the rest of the photo has a soft feel. Use this as an opportunity to play around with your settings and find out which style suits you best. 

Photograph in Open Shade 

Is the weather forecast looking cloudy? Don’t despair! My favorite time to photograph tulips is on an overcast day. Sunny skies all day long? Try to find open shade to recreate and mimic that diffused lighting for your photographs. 

Tulip Time
Making memories at Nelis’ Dutch Village photo by @exploremichiganmore

Create Memories

Whether you are a seasoned photographer or a parent looking to capture more family photos, I hope that this helps you get started in documenting your visit to the Tulip Time Festival. Remember to have fun and consider trying something new. I am glad I did!

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