'We actually look like we belong...'

Family Portraits at Federal Hill Park



'We actually look like we belong...'

Cassie, I couldn't have said it any better myself.

Every year at around this time, I strap on my Nikon and embark upon another chapter of documenting my favorite family, Ben, Cassie, Wyatt and Henry. 

This year's session took us to Federal Hill Park in Baltimore, which is probably one of my favorite places to go in the city. 

From one view you have the Domino Sugar Factory, which has become a living legend of sorts in Charm City. On another side, the view of the Inner Harbor, which is probably the first thing people think about when they think about Baltimore. And a third view is of M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. 

That doesn't even include the general gorgeousness of the park itself which contains a playground, historical monuments, and plenty of green grass and decorative trees and shrubbery.

Anytime I photograph the Carr family I always go a little bit overboard. Full of personality and willing to do just about any crazy idea I have they are a dream in front of the camera. With them I always pack about 2 1/2 sessions into one, which is probably less than ideal for the two boys especially, but I just can't help myself.

We began the session by utilizing an empty area of the park - which was very hard to come by thanks to other visitors, portraits sessions, and a wedding nearby - and took advantage of the fall foliage in the background. 

New toys

It was when I showed Cassie the results of these images that she remarked, "we actually look like we belong," in reference to the upper-scale nature of the Federal Hill Park surrounding community in relation to the family's own blue-collar roots. 

What's funny is, I felt the same way as Cassie, only not about belonging in Federal Hill Park, but in terms of belonging to the professional photography community as a whole.

For this session I decided to rent a Nikon D810 and a Nikkor 70-200, f2.8 lens - two highly regarded beasts within the professional community. Though I am proud of the work I've done using a crop-sensor camera and lens for so many years, this professional upgrade on equipment blew everything I had done up to this point out of the water. An amazingly fast autofocus, dreamy bokeh, and so much resolution it almost reminded me of the quality of film cameras, which to me, has always been superior to digital. 

I had so much fun using the equipment that when I returned it to my local camera store I decided to buy myself a Nikon D600 full frame camera and an 80-200 f/2.8 lens and I cannot be more pleased with my decision. 

Scenic Backgrounds

In addition to fall foliage shots of the whole family, we also took advantage of the iconic scenes which surrounded us. First we took some panoramic style photos in front of the Inner Harbor, and had a lot of fun doing it.

Next up was M&T Bank Stadium, which wasn't as well-lit as I was hoping, but still provided for a nice background for a family full of Ravens fans.


At the end of the session, when the kids were good and cranky and the parents were ready for a drink, I decided it was a good idea to make them sit around for a half hour while I set up another shot. I was attempting to capture a vision Ben had utilizing the Domino Sugar Factory sign in black and white. It took some time to get the lighting right, and I'm sure the family was rather annoyed at the photographer by the end of it, but when you see the final images I think you'll agree, as they did, the time spent was worth its weight in gold.

Oh yes, my dear, sweet Cassie. We most certainly belong.