Although it lies just beyond the borders of Central Virginia, we are fortunate that our nation’s capital is just a brief drive away. Here, the possibilities for striking photos abound, whether you seek the dynamic urban landscapes or the serene beauty of nature, as the city boasts an array of captivating settings for your photographic endeavors.
The National Park Service affectionately dubs the National Mall and Memorial Parks as “America’s Front Yard.” Here, you’ll find more than just historical significance; these monuments, memorials, and timeless buildings encapsulate the very essence of America, honoring the narratives and individuals who have indelibly shaped our nation’s history. As an added bonus, their striking beauty transforms them into exquisite canvases, rendering them ideal backdrops to infuse your engagement photos with a sense of grandeur and patriotism.
To capture the beauty of the National Mall and Memorial Parks through still photography, it’s essential to secure a photo permit.
The Smithsonian stands as an unparalleled marvel, boasting the world’s most extensive museum complex, comprising an impressive lineup of 21 museums along with the National Zoo. Beyond their role as repositories of precious artifacts, these museums are dedicated to both preserving and enlightening, enriching our understanding of the world’s cultural and scientific heritage. What’s more, the very structures housing these invaluable collections are architectural masterpieces, further enhancing the visitor’s experience. Among the Smithsonian’s treasures, a few of our favorites include:
Note: Within the Smithsonian museums, still and video photography is permitted (for noncommercial use). However, tripods are prohibited.
In 1936, the United States received a remarkable gift from Andrew W. Mellon, a former Secretary of the Treasury, in the form of the National Gallery of Art. This cultural gem welcomes visitors 363 days a year, offering a captivating blend of artistic treasures both within its walls and gracing its exterior. For those seeking photo opportunities, a visit to the museum would be incomplete without exploring the enchanting sculpture garden outside, where art harmoniously interacts with the natural surroundings.
Photography for personal use is warmly welcomed within the National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Gardens, creating an ideal environment for capturing cherished moments. While most areas are accessible, it’s important to note a few restricted locations within the building. Additionally, tripods are not allowed indoors, but small tripods can be used to enhance your photography experience in the gardens.
The concept of the National Cathedral originated from Pierre L’Enfant’s original vision for Washington, DC, but it wasn’t until 1907 that the monumental construction efforts commenced. It was only in 1990, during the tenure of President George H.W. Bush, that the final stone was solemnly laid, marking the culmination of this remarkable project. Crafted in the enduring and intricate Gothic style, the National Cathedral stands as a testament to the ages. As expressed on the Cathedral’s official website, it beckons visitors to marvel at the artistry of a bygone era and immerse themselves in the profound tranquility of God’s presence.
Although the DC Tidal Basin captivates year-round, its most enchanting moment arrives during the Cherry Blossom Festival in spring. Spanning four weeks, this festival is a celebration of art, culture, and the breathtaking Japanese Cherry Blossoms, casting a spellbinding allure over the basin and its surroundings.
The National Park photography rules apply at the Tidal Basin.
The United States Botanic Garden is a sanctuary for thousands of plants, artfully showcased in its conservatory, outdoor gardens, and the charming Bartholdi Fountain and Gardens. While this verdant paradise provides an evergreen backdrop for photographs throughout the year, it’s essential to note that only candid and personal photos are allowed, as posed photography sessions are not permitted within these exquisite grounds.
Dating back to its construction in 1908, this architectural gem earned its rightful place on the historic landmark list in 1964. Iconic images of Washington, D.C. often feature the grandeur of Union Station’s terminals. Fortunately, Union Station generously welcomes visitors to capture its magnificence through photography. However, if you plan to use professional equipment like tripods, you’ll need to complete their photo/film authorization form to secure a permit, ensuring a seamless and respectful photography experience.
Another chance to immerse yourself in nature amid an urban landscape awaits at the United States National Arboretum. Founded in 1927, its mission is twofold: to enhance the splendor of the district’s plant life and to serve as a hub for pioneering botanical research. Much like the U.S. Botanical Garden, the Arboretum warmly welcomes photography enthusiasts to explore and capture its beauty. However, for organized photoshoots, it’s essential to secure a permit through the Arboretum’s official website, ensuring a seamless and respectful experience for all.
Georgetown, often hailed as the place where history seamlessly intertwines with the contemporary, proudly stands as the original neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Within this charming district, an abundance of captivating locations beckon photographers to capture their essence. Among our personal favorites are:
Nestled within the vibrant Columbia Heights neighborhood, this park is a testament to the early 20th century. Its noteworthy features include a cascading waterfall that enchants visitors, a regal statue of Joan of Arc, and the serene presence of the statue of Serenity, each contributing to the park’s timeless allure.
Rock Creek Park serves as a serene oasis amidst the bustling urban landscape, offering respite since its establishment in 1890 as the third federally managed park. It holds a special place in history, as it’s the very spot where blogger Katie’s father chose to propose to her mother during the 1980s, making it not only a natural treasure but also a place steeped in cherished memories.
The streets of Washington, D.C. unfold a rich tapestry of options, catering to every photographic desire. Be it the allure of history, the charm of quirkiness, or the ambiance of romance you seek, the nation’s capital promises a diverse array of settings. Among our top picks within the city’s bustling streets (and beneath them) are: