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Jacqui & Matt’s Autumn Family Portraits at Kentlands Manor

A family of four, including two adults and two teens, sitting together on grass and smiling at the camera in a black and white Family Portrait.

Felipe has been Jacqui and Matt’s family photographer since 2016. Their first session was held at McCrillis Gardens in Bethesda when the girls were still just barely out of toddlerhood. They worked together again in 2019 at the Glenview Mansion.

A lot has changed in the five years since their last session; namely, the girls are a solid foot and a half taller. Funny how children keep growing up even when you’re not looking at them. Last fall, when the time came for this most recent picture day, the family decided to stay close to home and shoot at the Kentlands Manor.

The weather was mild, and the trees were undergoing their seasonal changes. It really looked beautiful out there. It was sunny, arguably a little too sunny for their mid-morning session, but luckily the nearby trees offered some shade that made the location workable at that time of day.

They started the session in front of the entryway, the mansion towering over behind them, with some photos of the whole family together. Felipe likes to start with the biggest groups and narrow things down. It’s an effective way to see where the energy in the session is flowing—whenever possible we want to try and go with the natural flow to keep things light and playful.

The teenage girls were getting along great and having fun, so moving into some photos of the two of them together felt natural. They chose a spot in the grass with an unassuming background. One of my favorite shots from the whole session was taken here. It’s a black-and-white of the sisters talking, the younger of the two bursting out into uninhibited laughter. Felipe really caught the moment perfectly.

Giving the girls a break, Felipe spent the next few minutes focused on some shots of Jacqui and Matt together. He experimented with using a strobe off-camera to help pop the couple off the background and add some drama to the sun’s directional light. They got some nice shots with the strobe but eventually abandoned it for the sake of a more fluid experience. We’re not “natural light photographers”, but we’re also not not natural light photographers.

While working with Matt and Jacqui, the girls timed a delightfully goofy photobomb that brought out some very realistic expressions on their parents’ faces. They wrapped up this round of photos with a classic silly jumping photo at the girls’ behest. I can’t say we’re the sort of photographers who will tell their subjects to jump, but we love when our subjects bring their own fun ideas to the table, and playing along is frankly just a lot more fun than being some stuffy auteur.

After finishing up with the first set of group shots, Felipe moved into some individual shots with the girls. One very striking photo of the older of the two sisters stands out. She’s leaning against a brick wall with her hands on one knee, and long red hair draped naturally, pleasingly haphazardly, across her shoulders.

While shooting the individual photos, Felipe brought the strobe back in with a big softbox to help smooth out some of the harsher shadows. They wandered around the grounds a bit, spending a good bit of time on one of the patios that flank the mansion. He got some really nice shots of both girls, and Matt since he needed a new headshot anyway.

They started wrapping up their session with a seated photo of the whole family on the lawn out front. By this time, the sun was high, but it offered a really nice washy flare. Before they were done, they recreated one of the shots from their very first session, the girls in the foreground and Jacqui and Matt in the background. It’s a classic, and a set up Felipe loves to try when he can.

The session ended with a sense of nostalgia and growth, reminding us that while time passes and children grow, the moments we get to capture of people with their loved ones is a privilege worth treasuring.