Offbeat Photographer
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Observations & Ramblings

Extended Family Portraits at Allen Pond Park

Bowie, Maryland -

We may be the most photographed generation, but that doesn’t mean it’s always enough.

In July I was scheduled to take pictures of the extended family of my sister-in-law, Kinley, who had purchased the session as a gift for her family back at Christmastime.

The idea was, with an aging grandmother and other health concerns in the family, to get everyone together to have formal portraits made as keepsakes, something they had not done before.

The morning of our session at Allen Pond Park in Bowie, Kinley texted me to say that her grandmother was not feeling well and would be unable to attend the session. This was a complete bummer given that she was to play a very central role in a vast majority of the pictures. But, after talking about it with Kinley and suggesting a reshoot, we decided that I would come back in a week or two with Kinley to photograph grandma on her own and use Photoshop magic to insert those images into the group photos.

Sadly, we never had the opportunity as Kinley's grandma, Millie, passed away at the age of 85.

Now to be sure, there are plenty of pictures of Millie in the family photo albums to sustain the family’s need for photographic memories of their beloved mother and grandmother. But how nice would it have been to have formal portraits of her with her kids, grandkids and great grandkids before she passed? How nice would it be for the family if they had that one last printed memory they could carry with them and cherish the rest of their days? To have had a photo with Millie and her great grandson, Logan, who, at three years old will not likely remember his great grandmother: Priceless.

It truly makes me sad to think about it. Even though I know the images we did create during our session are amazing and timeless, it still doesn’t make up for the missing presence of this family’s matriarch, and I already feel a sense of guilt that I wasn’t able to make it happen for what has become, through my connection to Kinley, like an extended family.

So I write this blog not to throw myself a pity party, but to encourage those who are reading it to consider your own extended family portrait session – sooner rather than later too because who knows what life has in store. 

That said, I really enjoyed my experience with Kinley's family and we created some fun images together. We were at a great location on a beautiful day and the family's silliness shone through in all its goofy glory.