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Nick’s Portraits Outside the Botanical Gardens in Washington, DC

(Names have been changed for privacy reasons)

Felipe has been photographing Nick since he was barely able to walk. Their first session, held just down the street from their home in Silver Spring at the time, was a surprisingly accurate preview of the kind of person Nick would start to grow into. At the time, Nick was precocious and adventurous, equally interested in engaging with the photographer as he was demonstrating his prowess with the monkey bars. Not a lot has changed, though perhaps fewer monkey bars.

With Nick now almost 14 years old, his mother was ready for some updated portraits of him, so she reached out to the first, and maybe only, photographer he has ever known. With Nick growing into a young man, they traded the playground backdrop for the more mature setting of Botanical Gardens and the adjacent Bartholdi Fountain & Gardens in Washington, DC.

Nick’s eager interest in basically everything around him hadn’t changed one bit. From the start, Felipe handed Nick the camera and the two of them spent the first part of the session chasing a group of butterflies trying to get a photo at just the right moment. Nick plays along great in front of the camera, but one gets the sense he would be just as happy behind it, too. Maybe even more so. We get it, kid.

After a while, Felipe took the camera back and the two of them wandered the grounds of Bartholdi looking for interesting backdrops. Nick (and his mother) let his long hair do whatever it wanted, which reflected a kind of authenticity in his personality and perhaps foreshadows the future of his values where deeds and identity are what matter most.

Felipe leaned heavily on the rich bokeh of a wide open aperture on his 85mm lens to create deep separation between his subject and the background, and to highlight Nick in the often geometrically busy setting. They did some poses standing, some poses sitting, and explored the foliage and stonework around perimeter of the garden. The Botanical Gardens does not allow photography inside, but they did use the proximity of Bartholdi to feature the Garden’s iconic glass roof in a number of images.

As the session wound down, Felipe convinced Nick’s mom and dad to step in for one shot of the three of them together. It’s always such a privilege as photographers to see our subjects move through such drastically different phases of life.