I’ve been working with Isahi and her family for years, capturing their family portraits almost every fall. Our relationship started when a dear friend and fellow photographer had to step back from taking clients and recommended me to Isahi. So when I received a text from her saying, “William, I need you!” I knew something special was in the works. They had chosen Great Frogs Winery in Annapolis, Maryland, for their venue—a place full of rustic charm and a relaxed vibe. It was the perfect setting for a joint Quinceañera and birthday celebration for Maddie and Isahi, who share an extraordinary bond.
The guest list was a delightful mix of Isahi’s adult friends and Maddie’s younger crowd. As soon as I arrived, I went straight to Isahi and gave her a big hug. We usually only see each other in the fall, so meeting in April was a rare treat. Before diving into the event, I sent my drone up for some low-altitude shots of the venue and its picturesque surroundings.
The focus of this event was mostly candid photography, but we did carve out a few minutes for some quick portraits with family and friends. Normally, I’d prefer a more extended session for carefully composed shots, but today was different. The sun was setting fast, and the portraits took on a somewhat muddier appearance due to the ambient outdoor lighting. But they were what they needed to be—snapshots of a family in a moment of celebration.
We managed to capture some images that will probably become family keepsakes. The Quinceañera is a Latin American tradition that marks a girl’s 15th birthday and her transition from childhood to womanhood. Similarly, birthdays are universal celebrations of another year lived and lessons learned. These portraits were a nod to these traditions, albeit in a more casual setting.
Mingling with Friends
As the evening progressed, the food trucks outside were a constant hit. Breaking the Burger, specializing in burgers but offering Latin food for this event, had people going back for seconds and even thirds. Inside, guests were mostly seated family-style in the rustic tasting room of Great Frogs, its walls covered in exposed wood and large unrefined stonework elements. Quinn’s Ice, an event-focused ice cream truck, was also on site and stayed busy all night, serving up frozen delights.
Maddie and her friends brought the youthful energy, buzzing from one end of the venue to the other. They engaged in off-the-cuff games and so, so many selfies.
The atmosphere inside was just as lively. Guests mingled around the bar, enjoying the winery’s offerings. A stunning cake from Delicias Boricua En MD, covered in floral decorations and butterflies, was the centerpiece near the entrance. Custom-made cookies monogrammed with Maddie’s initial and “15” were also on display. Near the back, a small area was set up for selfies, featuring large photo displays of Maddie and Isahi—many of which I had taken in our previous sessions.
Although dancing wasn’t initially planned, someone got the brilliant idea to clear some tables and create an impromptu dance floor. It was kind of unexpected but turned out to be a lot of fun. The DJ kept the tunes flowing, and before long, everyone was letting loose.
As the night drew to a close, Maddie and Isahi cut their shared cake together. It was a simple yet meaningful act that encapsulated the love and joy of the entire day. I left as the party was winding down, grabbing some tacos from Breaking the Burger to take home. As I drove away, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to work with such wonderful people year after year.