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engagement session on the national mall by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason

 

The U.S. National Park Service says that over 25 million people visit the National Mall in Washington D.C. each year. That’s more than Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon National Parks combined! That said, it makes for one of Washington D.C.’s best places to have your engagement session if you’re close to the district or just visiting. There are a few challenges and things to consider along the way so I wrote this post to help engaged couples make the most out of their session.
If you’d like to book an engagement session with me, feel free to email me here!

 

Do you need a permit?

 

The first question most couples ask when planning their engagement session on the National Mall is about having the proper permitting. Even though I’d always recommend being prepared and having the correct permit, in my experience I’ve never once been asked for it (whether I’ve had it or not). There are hundreds of photographers and tourists with DSLR cameras around almost 24 hours so regulating the photography is a low priority for the NPS officers.

 

I’d say if your photographer plans on using a tripod, big lighting equipment, or attempting to control tourists from enjoying the monument and memorials, then you should get the proper permit.

 

The key is to blend in and not be noticed. If you’re just taking photos of your friends (or clients) casually waiting for visitors to move rather than asking them to do anything, should be fine. Also, don’t jump any fences or go into any of the restricted areas. That will draw TOO MUCH attention!
Get your permit for your engagement session at the National Mall here

 

When is the best time for an engagement session? 

 

Like most things in D.C., timing is EVERYTHING. Planning the right time for your engagement session on the mall is the difference between it looking like an enchanting, intimate date or a zombie apocalypse.
When deciding on timing, there are two major factors to consider: lighting and amount of people. When I shoot my engagement sessions, I always suggest either starting about half an hour after sunrise, or two hours before sunset. This way, no matter what season it is, we’re beginning the session  when the sun is at it’s most flattering angle which helps my couples look their best. This time is also when it’s easiest for me to achieve my colorful, intimate style.
Secondly, the amount of people can vary depending on the time of day you decide to have your engagement session on the National Mall. Whenever I photograph couples during the Cherry Blossom Festival, it is mandatory that we begin at sunrise. Even during that time, there are lots of photographers, visitors, and joggers around the memorials and can end up in your photos if you’re not careful.

 

Be aware of events and traffic

 

Also, it’s worth noting to make sure you’re aware of all of the events that happen on the National Mall almost weekly. There are road closures, marathons, concerts, museum openings and all kinds of events to consider. I once went to photograph an engagement session at the Jefferson Memorial during the week of the Cherry Blossom Festival and there was a marathon happening. We got SO LUCKY with parking and Amy & Justin’s photos turned out awesome!

 

Speaking of parking, if you feel comfortable, I would highly suggest taking an Uber or a cab. It’s the easiest way to get dropped off to minimize how far you have to walk, and you don’t have to worry about parking.

 

Pick three, cover 2

 

Another thing that couples ask is if we can do photos of them at all of the memorials and monuments and sometimes even museums. People LOVE DC and they want it to show in their engagement photos. Most of the time, my engagement sessions are between 90 minutes and two hours, and considering the extra time needed to get around people and walk to the right spaces, visiting every memorial and the Washington monument during that time would be crazy! Sometimes my couples book extra time, but not everyone has that luxury.

 

My usual solution is telling couples to pick three spots they’d love to include and be photographed nearby, and then we aim for that but promise we can at least get two! In between those two, there are lots of little spots full of good light and backgrounds that we can get along the way.

 

There are a lot of things to think about when having your engagement session on the National Mall, but I would say it’s completely WORTH IT. Documenting your pre-wedding time at one of the most beautiful and historical places in the world (especially if you’re a DC resident) is a must! Take a look at photos from some of my engagement sessions in DC below and feel free to hit me up on Instagram with any specific questions!

 

Engagement Photos at the Lincoln Memorial 
national-mall-engagement-3engagement session at the lincoln memorial by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason
Engagement Photos at the Washington Monument
engagement session at the washington monument by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason
Engagement Photos at the Cherry Blossoms
engagement session on the national mall cherry blossoms by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason engagement session at the tidal basin cherry blossoms engagement session by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason early morning cherry blossoms engagement session by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason early morning cherry blossoms engagement session by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason
Engagement Photos at the Capitol
engagement-session-at-capitol engagement-session-on-the-national-mall
Engagement Photos at the Jefferson Memorial
engagement-session-at-jefferson-memorial-2 engagement-session-at-jefferson-memorial
Want to see more engagement sessions from memorials and the Washington Monument on the National Mall? Here is a list of my favorite engagement sessions on the National Mall:
If you’d like to book an engagement session with me, feel free to email me here!
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