Over the summer, I worked with Events DC to create a 6-part video series of all my favorite places in DC and how to photograph them. The series is called “Capture the Capital” and there will be two episodes released every Tuesday. I’m so excited for you to watch them!
The first two videos are about the Lincoln Memorial and the US Capitol. If you follow my work or visit my blog, you know that these two places feel like home to me. I go to these places so often that I feel like I can walk them with my eyes closed (I’m giggling to myself thinking about what that could look like. LOL). They are some of my favorite places to capture the sunrise and sunset, and I give all my favorite tips and angles on how to capture them.
Instead of just showing you the videos, I thought it would be fun to give you a little behind the scenes of what it was like to film each of these videos as they come out. So check this post each week for a little more insight behind the vids.
Photographers are special people. We can have all the camera gear and equipment in the world, but it’s still not enough. Which can make it easy AND hard to shop for us for the holidays. Depending on the type of photographer you are shopping for, there can be an endless supply of gadgets and accessories that will make anyone smile.
So to make life a little easier, here are my top suggestions for holiday gifts for your favorite photographer:
One camera bag is not enough. I feel as though I need a variety of camera bags for a variety of situations. A leisurely stroll around the neighborhood will not require as much camera equipment as an epic day of travel or even studio work. To accommodate all my gear and equipment, diversity in camera bag size and storage is ideal.
Hex Ranger Black Camera Mini Sling
For a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood or going out to dinner with friends, this is my go-to bag. It’s small enough to fit just my camera and 1 lens so it makes it super easy and convenient to be on the go. What makes this bag different than other sling bags is that it’s specifically made for cameras so there’s padding inside and my camera is well protected.
On the totally opposite end, if you just want something even more portable, check out this Ape Case Cubeze. It inserts seamlessly into your backpack, purse, or whatever. I carried this around for years before purchasing a real photo backpack and never had any issues with my camera equipment.
You know I like these when I have 2 or 3 of my own. I love that if I want to pack my camera or lens into my purse, I can just wrap these Tenba protective wraps around them and I feel very confident that my gear will be protected. They are great for quick on the go situations.
On October 17th, Washington DC held the 2020 Women’s March. I’m grateful to have been able to attend since my first one in 2017. A lot has changed since then. First of all, the women’s march in 2017 was in January and I remember it being pretty cold. People were walking on an icy reflecting pool and I even witnessed some people falling through the cracks. I remember crowds of people standing by the Lincoln Memorial but no one had any concern of social distancing or face masks. This was my first time attending anything like it before and I did not know much about protest/march/event photography.
For the 2020 March, I felt a lot more comfortable approaching people with my camera and I realize how my images speak louder than words. I tried my best to get unique angles while focusing on the crowd but concentrated on details that could be easily overlooked.
In general, it felt like this group of people wanted their voices heard and they were not going to back down from anything. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed a month prior to the march and soon after there was already a supreme court justice nominated as a replacement. These women were vocal about reproductive rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, and more.
The March started at Freedom Plaza with a kickoff rally and starting point for everyone to meet. Most everyone I saw there was wearing a face mask.
Before I knew it, everyone around me started forming into a line and somehow I ended up being at the very front of it. It was so cool how everyone just came together so quickly.
To be honest, I never had New Hampshire on my bucket list of places to travel. I’m not much of a winter sports girl and I honestly didn’t know what more the state had to offer. So when my wanderlust started kicking into high gear in the middle of August, I started researching places to go for the Autumn time. I know New England has some of the best foliage to offer in the country, so that is where I began my research.
The more I looked into it, the more it seemed like New Hampshire was the best place to go. About a 10-hour car ride (one way) can easily be divided into two relaxing days of travel. Plus, I know there would be some fun stops along the way. In general, we were looking to relax on this trip. We wanted to have some great views that were easily accessible from the road but also have fit in a hike or two throughout the day. Nothing too strenuous, but something that was good enough to build an appetite for after the hike. After getting some great advice from fellow photographer, Patrick Koetzle, I was ready to hit the road.
Our entire trip revolved around spending 3 whole days in the White Mountains National Forest area the first week of October. At that time it seemed like we were right in the middle or towards the end of peak autumn color which was exactly what I was looking for. For the most part, the weather was beautiful. In the mid-50s with no humidity. But in the middle of our trip, it rained really hard and it got really cold and windy bringing the temps down to the 30s.
Based on all my research about the White Mountain area, an overwhelming amount of people suggest staying in a town called, Lincoln. I did my best to find a suitable place to stay but even booking our trip 2 months in advance, our options were limited. We ended up finding a cottage in Twin Mountains. We brought our dog, Frankie so it was great to have our own little cottage with a fenced-in backyard. The location was right in between Franconia Notch and Crawford Notch, two of the places where we wanted to spend most of the time so the cottage was perfect for us.
So if you’re looking to stay somewhere centrally located with your own private kitchen and hot tub, I’d highly recommend staying with Sherry and Ron. They were amazingly welcoming and thoughtful hosts.
We did visit Lincoln one day around lunchtime. Since we were visiting during the Covid pandemic, a lot of the restaurants and stores seemed like they were closed. That just reinforced the idea that our decision to stay in Twin Mountains was the best option for us.
Driving around this area is so exciting. I remember telling Andrew on more than one occasion that he had to drive just so I could stare out the window. But I think my favorite was the Franconia Notch side. Maybe because it seemed like there was more color on that side but more than anything, I just really enjoyed the views.
Our first official hike was Artist’s Bluff for sunrise. Although it is only 1.5 miles long, the hike was strenuous being that it was just straight up the mountain then down the mountain. There were a few flat areas but not much. If I think about it, a majority of the hikes around the White Mountains area was like this. A great glute workout for sure! But it was absolutely worth the sweat.
On June 9th in Houston, Texas, Rev Al Sharpton delivered a eulogy at George Floyd’s funeral. At that time he also announced that he would plan a demonstration in Washington to rally for criminal justice revisions. Ever since that day, I kept my eyes and ears open for the information as it developed. I knew this was going to be a huge event that I wanted to attend.
The Black Lives Matter movement in Washington has been an eye-opening experience for me. In all my years living in the area, I’ve never attended any protests or rallies like this. So when I went to my first one, I knew immediately that I wanted to keep going back with my camera. I couldn’t help but be in awe of all the passion and emotions I felt while attending these protests.
But the day before Rev Sharpton’s Commitment March on Washington, President Trump accepted his Republican nomination for US President and had a fireworks display at the Washington Monument. Since I missed photographing on the 4th of July this past year, I figured I would go to the Reflecting Pool and practice some of my night photography. Although there were only 3 other photographers at the Reflecting Pool, there was also a news crew right next to me who was listening to President Trump’s speech. I listened to every word and as soon as he finished, the fireworks went off.
I’m glad I went because they were very different from the previous 4th of July firework displays. You could tell that they were shot off with the White House as the main spectators so all of my images were a little skewed to the right. I should have thought of that before picking my firework location. Oh well. I also noticed how the Washington Monument was the centerpiece of the show. I had never seen rings of fireworks go around it before. It was pretty cool and I had fun photographing the show from a vantage point that was only seen by a few others.
But watching the fireworks from the Reflecting Pool also allowed me to see the set up of the rally the night before. It was interesting to see how the sides of the Reflecting Pool were gated off, the chairs for people with special needs were socially distanced, and there were so many lights set up all over the memorial grounds.
A little sneak peek of the rally set up from the night before
On August 28, 2020, the 57th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Rev Sharpton and the National Action Network held its rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a march ending at the Martin Luther King Jr memorial.
I’m grateful to know this part of the city like the back of my hand so I was able to park my car as close as I could to the White House and walked over to the National Mall with ease. It was a hot, humid summer day and a little harder to breathe with a facemask on. With a water bottle in my backpack and my camera in hand, I was ready to go.
My game plan was to start close to the WWII memorial and walk down the Reflecting Pool to try to get as close to the Lincoln Memorial as I could. Other than that, I had no real intentions of what kind of images I wanted to photograph. I was just going to go with the flow and stay mindful of everything that was happening around me. That means I zipped my phone into my backpack and watched the people around me.