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Katie & David’s Family Portraits at Quiet Waters Park

In Quiet Waters Park, a young child sits in a field of yellow flowers, holding a baby sibling on their lap. Both children are surrounded by lush green foliage, creating the perfect setting for timeless family portraits.

I first got to work with Kati and David and their young son last year when they booked a quick express session at the Bel Air Mansion. At the time, they weren’t sure their son would tolerate a full 90 minutes of having his picture taken by a stranger, and frankly, I didn’t blame them. During our first shoot together, I developed a great rapport with the two of them and their son, who promptly suggested that I should come to live with them. I was forced to decline but had to pause because these are some incredibly sweet people.

This year, Kati reached out to me with the good news that their tribe had grown by one person after the birth of their first daughter. This was exciting news, obviously, and they wanted to commemorate it with some portraits, like the good, doting parents that they are. This time around, Kati was pretty sure that with the larger group and her son now a little older and with fewer ants in his pants, they’d want to go full tilt with their session. We scheduled a traditional family portrait session.

Since our last session took place close to home at the more formal-looking Mansion in Bowie, Kati and David wanted to try something that felt a little more rustic, with a bigger emphasis on nature. We talked about options such as Watkins Park, Beverly Triton Beach Park, and Patuxent Wildlife Refuge, among others, but decided against them because we’d be sharing the best spots with some mean little insect critters. The bug problem is easier to mitigate with adults who can tell you something is crawling up their leg, but a potentially bigger issue with a 4-month-old baby that’s still practicing their large motor skills. As an alternative, I suggested Quiet Waters’ butterfly garden which, especially this time of year, can be framed as a much more rustic and natural location. Kati agreed, and that’s where we went.

When we met a few minutes early in the parking lot, their son immediately ran up to me with a lot of important news—mostly about jellyfish and sharks, if I recall correctly. This was important information, and I should have been taking notes, but nobody is perfect, right?

As planned, we started in the Butterfly Garden and the more rustic angles were working in my favor perfectly with the low, early evening sun. We started with some shots of the whole family together since both kids were still in a reasonably good and cooperative mood. Soon we broke out into some smaller groups with David and his son and new daughter. We got some silly facial expressions. David is clearly this kid’s father.

As we moved around the garden, I got some great shots of their son by himself sitting on one of the big flat rocks as he moved through a series of very expressive motions—one of my favorite shots is a softer, almost inquisitive expression as he rolls some of the tall grass around between his fingers. At one point, he suddenly leapt from a bench and I frantically attempted to catch the moment, and technically, I did. Pretty soon, we found a little patch of blooming yellow flowers and the perfect spot for a photo of their son holding his new little sister on his lap.

I will digress for a moment here. Four months old can be a somewhat awkward age to photograph a new human being. After about a month, babies are starting to really notice their surroundings, but until around 6 months, they don’t usually have the manual control to respond all that predictably to anything specific. Smiles can be a challenge to say the least, and they definitely were here. But it’s also a snapshot in time and well worth having anyway. The most ideal time for portraits with a new baby is before about a month old or after about 6 months old. Nevertheless, we got some great shots and she did give us some cute smiles a little later.

We took some time with Kati and her daughter, and Kati with her son. Then, as we were getting ready to head out of the Butterfly Garden, we got a really striking black-and-white photo of my pint-sized companion holding a dandelion. We spent some time capturing some obligatory photos with the bridge that leads to the gazebo. On the bridge, David horsed around with his son for some very cute inverted photos. Then we took advantage of the lawn opposite the Butterfly Garden for some cute photos of the baby, where she finally gave up a few smiles.

At this point, the family, especially the little ones, were starting to feel some fatigue, so we began to head back to the parking lot. Along the way, we stopped for a photo with a different angle on the bridge, a photo with David and Kati and their new baby, and finally a quick round of photos of the two of them with their son. Once the kids were strapped into the car and ready to go, we walked a stone’s throw away for a quick round of photos with just Kati and David.

Just as I got home, I noticed an email from Kati saying that her son couldn’t stop talking about how much fun he had having his picture taken, but much more importantly, that I should please include the photo of him jumping off a bench, even if it wasn’t very good. I laughed because it wasn’t very good, but of course, I was going to include it because this portrait session wasn’t just about the pictures; it was about the experience of being together making them, and that silly photo of their son jumping off that bench was basically the epitome of one of those moments.