My first experience working with Chiquita and Pedro was during the global pandemic that hit us all like a ton of bricks in 2020. Despite the challenges, life had to go on, and they invited me to their home in Bowie for a front porch photo session, a trend that had gained an inexplicable kind popularity at the time. This session was marked by maintaining a distance of no less than 8 feet the entire time, reflecting the peculiarities of that period. Their first child, then about a year old, was a highlight of the shoot, and I felt grateful for the opportunity to work amidst the general standstill of regular activities. The images we captured were distinct, yet even now I can feel the literal and metaphorical distance in them.
Then, earlier this year, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from Chiquita again through Petruzzo Photography’s Facebook Messenger account. In the time since our first session, they had welcomed twin boys, now around the same age as their older daughter was then. They wanted to recreate some of those pandemic session images before moving away from Bowie, an idea that resonated with my love for authentic sentimentality.
We planned a new session, taking into account the lessons from our first — mid-morning just wasn’t a great time for a session based on the orientation of the sun and their house. We chose a much earlier morning session around 8:00 am this time, which suited both the light conditions and the twins’ nap schedules. We replicated some specific shots from the original session, such as their daughter in the garden, showcasing her growth. We then expanded our scope, taking pictures of Pedro with his sons on the porch, and Chiquita with her daughter in a garden area near their garage. The session included individual family portraits and a playful, sassy shot of Chiquita and her daughter by their door. A challenging but rewarding task was photographing all three children together on a blanket in the front lawn, with the help of some well tuned photoshop skills, they worked out beautifully.
For the remainder of our session, we decided to spend our time inside their home. I hadn’t seen the interior during our previous session due to the pandemic restrictions. Their home was impressively designed, clearly following a consistent aesthetic, yet it retained a cozy, lived-in quality that felt comfortable. I was honored to see an array of images from our first session together strung together in frames on the walls. The abundance of natural window light and the light, neutral-colors on the walls made setting up indoor scenes a breeze. Capturing the kids in their personal spaces seemed like a fitting tribute, as this was the first home they knew. We started in the boys’ room, where we captured bright smiles in their cribs. Then, in their daughter’s room, we took adorable shots of her and her most cherished toys.
The session wrapped up in the downstairs family room, a space that, from my perspective, held some special significance. This room showcased Chiquita and Pedro’s journey: wedding photos on the walls and some of the last pieces of furniture from their pre-children days. It was a striking juxtaposition, showcasing the different phases of their lives – from the furniture they brought as two single people into their marriage, to the home where they grew into a family, to the children who redefined that family.
As I was packing up, Chiquita shared a piece of cake she had made and which I had been eyeballing for the last hour as an enthusiastic baker myself. She’s considering starting a home baking business as she transitions away from her full-time job in the DC area. The cake was excellent; a promising sign for her future endeavors. While they haven’t moved all that far away, it felt like this might be our last session together. There’s always a hint of sadness in such moments, but I’m truly excited for this family as they embark on their next chapter.