5 Tips for Photographing in DC! | Friday Chatter

Happy Friday, y’all! I hope you had a GREAT short week! I am about to head into not one, but TWO real weekends! After a steady two months of working every Saturday (and most Sunday’s!!), this girl is PUMPED for some downtime with friends!

I looked at my calendar this week and realized that, as of this Saturday, I have officially called Washington, DC home for TWO years now! WOW time flies! Last year, I shared a letter to myself. I shared the words that I would have told the girl getting off the plane, fresh out of college with a dream and not a whole lot of plans. I reread this post this week, and I cried like a baby. It was a bit embarrassing… thankfully, I was alone in my apartment. Goodness… how so many things have changed and how so many things have stayed exactly the same. I still call the same little apartment home. I’ve done very little DC exploring and still have no idea where to take people for brunch or dinner. My view still takes my breath away. People have come and gone in my life, the world has broken my heart again and again, and I still do buy plants like it is my part time job. But, the biggest thing that has not stayed the same? My happiness. As I look back on the time that followed this blog post, I see a blur of a lot of work. A lot hustle. A lot of really tough growth. I see a lot of loneliness. I spent a lot of the past year being extremely unhappy… until I decided to make some big personal changes. These changes have lead to such a beautiful chapter in my life… one filled with a lot more happiness. A lot more gratitude. A lot more community. There’s still a bit of loneliness in there… what can I say? It’s tough to be self employed & so far away from home, but my heart is so much more content than it was before.

Now… enough with the sappy stuff. Today’s post is a little different than last year’s! Instead of sharing the feels with you, I wanted to share a little something to help you!! During my time in DC, I’ve learned a lot about hosting sessions in the city! DC is a very interesting place to photograph… there are weird rules, lots of people, and a TON of absolutely gorgeous places to photograph! Like I said, I’ve learned a lot since moving here and am excited to learn even MORE in the coming years! Let’s get started with my 5 top tips for photographing at some of our nation’s most iconic locations!

Morning is Key

Life in DC is amazing!! But, if you’ve spent any amount of time in the city, you know that there are tourists almost everywhere. Luckily, I’ve learned that the tourists & crowds don’t really hit the scene until about 9AM or so… which means that it is best to complete sessions BEFORE they’re awake. Yup, this does entail an early morning wakeup call, but I promise it will be worth it for beautiful, glowy images at some of the most iconic locations in the entire COUNTRY!! Fun Fact: I will only photograph at most locations in DC early in the morning! (I’m looking at you, National Mall & Memorials!) While there are a select few locations within DC’s city limits that I will visit in the evening, my list is very short & I always schedule these for weekdays! Weekend evenings in the city are crazy.

Get off the beaten trail

If you do find yourself in a location with a lot of tourists or large crowds, get creative! Stray from the beaten trail and explore beyond the obvious. This definitely goes for most cities and locations, but it is especially true in DC! While the front of the memorials may be such an iconic shot, when there are a lot of people around, this gets a little distracting from your sweet subjects! Get creative with your positioning & explore the not so obvious nooks of your locations! I’ve found that in places like Georgetown & Old Town Alexandria, some of the best locations with the best light are well off the main drag!

Get your permits

Most, if not all, locations in DC require a permit! It’s absolutely crazy and is something most people don’t know or think about in advance. Did you know that it costs about $140 for a permit at one location on the National Mall? It may be a frustration in the moment & a bit of an investment, but it is so worth it to have peace of mind as you are out shooting! Taking the time to secure a permit will save you SO much time and headache down the road. I wrote a blog post on the topic of permits a few months back! Find it here. I typically consult Kat Forder’s incredible list of permit details when scheduling sessions. Her posts have been SUCH a huge help!!

Pad your timeline

This may just be a “me thing” but I get SO stressed out when I am running late. The DMV is known for its absolutely joyous traffic conditions. I typically look at the GPS time estimation a few days in advance, and when I do, I multiply the travel time by about 1.5 the amount of time it will take me to get there. This ensures that I am able to get to a session on time, can find parking when I am there and can get a feel for lighting and crowd conditions once I am there. I feel so much better when I am EARLY rather than running late or just on time! There are also plenty of locations where I opt for Uber instead of my own car. I’m an anxious parker, so this helps me arrive to sessions with a level head.

Insure Your Gear

This isn’t necessarily a tip for photographing in DC but is more of a safety tip!! Fortunately, I have not run into this issue yet, and I pray that I never will! BUT, when I first moved to the city, I had yet to insure my equipment collection. While I had liability insurance, I didn’t have insurance on my equipment. I lived in constant fear of the worst… a break in or being mugged while walking in from my car! I know, I know… I sound like a total loon, but let’s face it! I live in the city & you always have to be aware (especially when you are lugging thousands of dollars of equipment a few street blocks at 1AM after a late wedding!!) This isn’t meant to scare you… I’m just being honest (and if you know me well, you know that I tend to err on the overly cautious side of things!). Once I realized how affordable insurance for my equipment actually was, so much of this fear went away! I’m insured through The Hartford, and they’re actually the best! It has given me so much peace of mind to know that, should the absolute worst of the worse happen, my business and my tools are covered.

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