The DC monuments are always a classic choice for your portrait session! Here is a list of the most popular spots.
Note: all of my DC monument sessions are scheduled for sunrise. This is the best time to photos and the only time to avoid the crowds! I promise it will be worth it. If you are considering two locations, I recommend adding additional time to your session.
Having a session here means you also get photos at the Tidal Basin, and views of the Washington Monument. It's also known for its marble steps and columns. There is a nearby paid parking lot with available spaces. It's only a 5-10 minute walk to the monument from the parking lot. Here are some examples:
The Lincoln is the other most popular spot! It includes photos of the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument. I recommend street parking nearby. (I'll give you the best spots!)
Here are some examples of past sessions:
EMILY & TIM
MADELINE & JON
ALLIE & SAE
DC WAR MEMORIAL
The DC War Memorial gives you a classic backdrop without the crowds. Tucked away on the National Mall, it's much quieter than the Lincoln or Jefferson. Some couples and families opt to add this onto their Lincoln Memorial session for more variety.
JENNIFER & CLIFF
This is another quiet location steps away from the Lincoln Memorial. The gardens are often empty at sunrise, giving us beautiful views all to ourselves. It's often added to Lincoln Memorial sessions.
CHARLOTTE & ROB
Here are common location combinations and the amount of time you'll need for your portrait session with me.
Add one additional hour of photography time (driving needed):
Lincoln + Jefferson
Add 30 minutes of photography time (walkable):
Lincoln + Constitution Gardens
Lincoln + DC War Memorial
You can also add additional time if you want an outfit change, or more photos at your chosen location.
Please email me at email@example.com for pricing details on adding this to your session.
The National Parks Service requires a permit for all professional still photography at the National Mall. I've been stopped several times by NPS to verify the permit, so I require all couples to file and pay for one prior to their session. You don't want to wake up at 4am for your session only to be kicked out by NPS!
On their website they recommend filing at least 3 weeks in advance since all permits have to go through their process. You can view their policy here, along with their FAQ policy here.
$140 total: $50 permit + a $90 filing fee
The fees listed above may also change after I created this page, so you'll need to refer to NPS for official pricing. Last updated Oct. 2022.
If you would like me to file the permit for you, I can do so for an additional fee. Please let me know if you're interested in this option when booking.
As you can imagine, the season affects your photos. Both the backdrop and your personal weather and style preference. I offer a limited number of sessions from April through early November. All of my sessions take place on weekdays at sunrise to avoid crowds and give you the best experience. View the average start times by season below.
SPRING START TIMES
April | 6:10 AM - 6:50 AM
May | 5:45 - 6:10 AM
Expect cooler temperatures throughout April and early May. If you want leaves on trees, I recommend mid-April at the earliest when the trees have filled in.
SUMMER START TIMES
June | 5:45 AM
July | 5:45 - 6:05 AM
August| 6:05 - 6:35 AM
Summer temperatures are usually ideal. Comfortably warm, but usually not too hot since it's so early.
FALL START TIMES
September | 6:35 - 7 AM
October | 7 - 7:30 AM
November | 6:45 - 7:30 AM
Temperature changes greatly during this season. If you want to wear a dress and be comfortable, I recommend a September date. I also recommend September for little kids when possible. October starts to get cooler in the mornings. By November, it's very cold. Many people opt to wear a jacket, or take their jacket off for photos.
If you want fall foliage, I recommend a mid to late October date.
NOTE ON START TIMES:
We can start the session a little later, but I have to let you know the sunrise is what makes this location so special. Starting even 30 minutes after the recommended start time may affect the light in your photos. All morning sessions must take place within 2 hours of sunrise at this location.
If we end up with an overcast forecast, we may move your session start time a little later.
My personal favorite month is September. The start times aren't as early as the summer, but it's still comfortable outside. These dates always go quickly!
Each season I take a limited number of commissions for sunrise portraits at the monuments. If you're interested in booking one, please inquire below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Signature portrait sessions begin at 1250
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I offer these special portrait sessions between April and mid-November. To give each of my clients my full attention, I take a limited number each season. I encourage you to inquire early to book your preferred season!
We typically reschedule if we have inclement weather (rain, storms, hail, etc.) for no extra charge on my end. In the past, the National Park Service has accommodated moving the permit for us. If you are unable to reschedule, the monuments have a good amount of coverage and we can sometimes move forward with the session if it's just light rain.
It's the only time to get those magical, unique photos you've seen on this page. Later in the day, these locations are filled with tourists, locals, and other photographers. As an artist, I'm dedicated to giving you the very best. Sunrise is how I can accomplish that.
Yes, you absolutely can! I have several hair and makeup professionals on my list who do on-location services that early, or they invite you into their studio. It's very common for photographers to shoot this early in DC, so it's not too hard to find a hair/makeup artist who also offers those services. Send me an email for a list!
Here are a few of my favorites: Georgetown, Meridian Hill Park, Library of Congress, Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, National Portrait Gallery (great for mid-day sessions), local Neighborhoods & Dupont Circle.
If you haven't inquired yet, send me an email at email@example.com or fill out the form above! If we've already been speaking about a session, please request a proposal to book. You'll receive it via email. To reserve your date and time, you'll sign the contract and pay the session fee directly online. From there, we'll begin planning your session. I can't wait to work together!