tips and tricks

Photographing DC

Washington DC is one of the most photogenic cities in the United States. Beyond viewing beautiful monuments and stunning landscapes, you can take some outstanding images if you make sure to plan your photo shoots in advance with these tips from a native DC photographer.

Here are a few monuments I suggest starting off with to shoot, all within walking distance of each other:

Washington Monument

The most iconic and tallest monument in DC, the Washington Monument can be seen from various points across the city.

The Tidal Basin: Offers a gorgeous view of the monument, and if you catch the right light, you can get a pretty cool reflection on the water. During Cherry Blossom season (usually in April) the Tidal Basin is a very busy spot for local & tourist photographers all trying to capture the monument with the Japanese flowers in frame.

While you’re there, you might as well as get some shots of the Jefferson Memorial, too.

Lincoln Memorial: One of my favorite photogenic spots in DC because of all the beautiful views that can be seen around the memorial. For a beautiful sunrise, hang out on the steps of the memorial. On a beautiful, clear day, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Washington Monument: Of course you can go to the monument itself, but try looking for unique angles.
Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most popular tourist attractions in DC, so you may want to plan your day around the ideal time you’d like to visit this memorial.

In order to get an image of Abe without worrying about any people getting into your shot, try visiting the memorial as early in the morning as possible. The memorial is open 24 hours every day of the year.

To get a beautiful sky with the memorial in the image, try taking pictures at sunset on the NE side of the mall (closer to the Korean War Memorial).

Note: Tripods aren’t allowed inside the memorial itself. Consider bringing your flash.
US Capitol

It’s obvious why the US Capitol is on this list. The building is beautiful inside and out.

Make sure to sign up for the free tour inside the US Capitol. You will be amazed by the art; but again remember: tripods are not allowed anywhere on the Capitol grounds.

Bring your zoom lens. The capitol exterior has gorgeous details that you won’t want to miss.

The Capitol is great to shoot for sunrise and sunset, because the grounds are so large. If shooting at sunrise, try setting up your camera on the West side of the building (closest to the mall). If you’re looking for a great sunset, perhaps try the North or West side of the building.
With these tips and a solid amount of planning, you will surely come out with some beautiful images of DC.

Angela B. Pan is a DC native and has had a passion for photography for over 10 years. For more information on Angela or to view more of her images, please visit or follow her on Twitter @abpanphoto.

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