Oh, man. I’m not sure why it took me this long to put this post together, but it’s a question I’ve been asked a million times.
Even though I started my blog as a college student in Richmond, I moved back to my hometown of D.C. back in 2013. I shot in and around the D.C. area for four solid years before my year in Philly, and now I’m temporarily back in D.C. for the next few weeks, and I’m falling back in love with all the best places to take photos in D.C.
As I take a trip down memory lane, here are some of the best places to take photos in D.C. — from a local. I do occasionally like to shoot in touristy spots. However, I also want to show you some fantastic places to take photos that aren’t the National Mall.
Top 10 Best Places to Take Photos in D.C.
The Lincoln Memorial
Okay, well duh: I’ve gotta share the most touristy spot in D.C. to start. If you’re going to shoot anywhere on the National Mall, The Lincoln Memorial is my personal favorite. Either get here super early to get that perfect shot, or try the side of the building during peak hours. There are fewer tourists, and you’ll get a gorgeous view of the Washington Monument in the background.
Most of you know this, but I usually shoot 4-5 looks at a time when I work with a photographer. When I do this, I need to find shoot locations where I can walk to different backdrops in a short period to make the most out of my session. My go-to place to shoot in all of D.C. is Georgetown. There are so many colorful houses, a few murals tucked away in alleyways, and there’s also the waterfront. A few of my favorite spots are:
- Bank Alley Northwest: Home to the pink/white wall seen above.
- The Great Wave Mural: On the side of the house at 3510 O Street, NW.
- Georgetown Waterfront: I’ve shot a few beachy/nautical looks here in the past — usually isn’t crowded on weekdays or before 10 AM on weekends!
CityCenter changes up their installations seasonally, but in particular, I love their Cherry Blossom display in the spring and their holiday display. Just a disclaimer: their photography policy has been a little confusing in the past. Sometimes, the photographers I’ve worked with needed permits to shoot, other times we haven’t been stopped security. iPhone photography is perfectly okay at any time, however! Do a shoot, and grab a drink at Fig and Olive once you’ve wrapped up.
First off, Union Market is one of my favorite spots in the District anyway, so I’d highly recommend stopping in and eating all the amazing food inside — don’t just go for the ‘gram! On the outside of the building, they have murals that are swapped out quite frequently. These murals pictured above are no longer up, but there’s a new bright, colorful piece up in its place! Make sure to look for these murals on the right side of the building.
The District Wharf
I have mixed feelings about the Wharf’s new redevelopment (and I’m still a little sad that Cantina Marina is closed as a result), but man — it does make for an excellent shoot location. I love shooting at the old school Fish Market on the property. However, there are a few murals tucked into the new Phase One buildings, and incredible views of the water.
The Tidal Basin
Ugh. I have a love/hate relationship with the Cherry Blossoms as a local. I think they’re stunning, but most of the time I can’t deal with the tourists. However, if you get up at the crack of dawn and head down to the Tidal Basin, you can get the shot minus the crowds. You should arrive by 8 AM at the absolute latest to avoid the tourists, and get the best morning light.
H Street is by far one of my favorite neighborhoods to both shoot and hang out in the District. It’s a vibrant neighborhood full of murals — this one pictured above is right on H Street near the Apollo building, but I would explore the neighborhood, peek in little alleyways and roam the side streets — I’ve found some of my favorite secret murals here, hint hint!
North End Shaw
Not only is North End Shaw home to great shopping and incredible restaurants, but it’s also home to some of the most ‘grammable spots in town. Here’s a breakdown of some of my favorite spots:
- Atlantic Plumbing Mural: Head over to Atlantic Plumbing’s parking garage, and shoot at their chic, colorful mural.
- Tasty Burger: The food isn’t bad here — not my #1 favorite burger in D.C., but the ambiance and the retro feel of the restaurant elevate my dining experience. Sit outside and take some cute, diner-style photos.
- Espita Mezcaleria: This Mexican restaurant has one of the coolest walls I’ve seen (and pretty delicious cocktails, as well!)
Washington National Cathedral
The National Cathedral is easily one of my favorite shoot locations: it’s a stunning property, and it has so many gorgeous little nooks and crannies to shoot in. Head to the left side of the building to shoot in the staircase, shoot in the front of the Cathedral to capture the Gothic style of architecture, or shoot in the garden off to the right side of the building. Your options are endless!
Meridian Hill Park
Okay — LOL, these photos are from 2014 — my, how things have changed since then! However, Meridian Hill Park is one of my favorite places in the city. It never fails to amaze me, and I still can’t believe that it’s park that’s smack dab in the middle of the District. I’ve purposely gone the long route just to take a stroll in this park while running errands in the past. Grab your camera, shoot some photos here, and enjoy a little picnic by the water when you’re done!