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Lisa’s Extended Family Portraits for Her Birthday at the Jefferson Memorial

A family of seven walking hand in hand in front of the Jefferson Memorial, smiling and casually dressed.

Zach had reached out to me about a family portrait session because there would be a short window of time when his family was in from out of town. This sort of thing is not unusual for us; given the area we serve, a lot of our clients are not from around here. However, what was less usual, and I think is a really great reason to take family photos, is that Zach’s mother, Lisa, had been asking for a family photo with all of her adult children for a long time, and the stars had aligned for them to finally make it happen.

We spent some time going back and forth about where to hold the portraits. They originally wanted to do them on the DC Mall but weren’t attached to that location specifically. Since Zach’s brother and sister-in-law would be flying out that same day, and the rest of the family the following day, our timeframe when we could shoot was short. I suggested we use the Jefferson Memorial instead. It has less foot traffic and much more convenient parking.

It was only a few days after Christmas when we finally got together on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. It was chilly but still unseasonably warm. The weather on the day of our shoot was the sort that under different circumstances I might have suggested we look into rescheduling for—quite cloudy and almost dreary—but rescheduling was not an option, so we would be making the best of it. It turned out better than okay with the bright skybox giving us very even light.

We started our session with photos of the whole group with the Washington Monument, and the Tidal Basin in the background. Zach’s sister-in-law was pregnant with Lisa’s first grandchild, so we took a moment to capture a more maternity-style pose before moving on. We turned around from the water and made our way to the steps of the monument and captured a stylish photo of the whole family sitting, arranged along the stonework. The spot and the angle were great, but it did require some Photoshop to remove the leftovers of some construction in the background. Worth it.

To avoid drawing the ire of a park ranger who otherwise really couldn’t care less that we were there, we stayed strictly on the outside of the monument, which was fine anyway because a very big group of tourists was consuming much of the interior. I took a moment to organize a photo of the whole family walking casually away from the monument, which really turned out nicely. After one more prestige-drama style group photo in one of the stony alcoves to the side of the building, we split off and started doing some photos of individuals and couples on their own. In the process, we caught one lucky shot overlooking the Tidal Basin of Zach and his wife with Marine Force One flying overhead.

We wrapped up at the memorial and started to make our way back to the cars. Along the way, we stopped for a quick photo of Lisa and her boys with the pillars of the memorial in the background, made another stop at the George Mason Memorial. At George Mason, the light was just starting to turn a little bit in our favor, and we got a great shot of the whole family juxtaposed with their reflections in the water of the fountain. Before wrapping up, we captured a group photo of Lisa and her adopted daughters and a photo of the original family.

The Jefferson Memorial is one of my favorite spots to shoot in DC, and everything about this session really highlights why. It looks good, even when the conditions aren’t perfect. It feels quintessentially DC but without a lot of the typical challenges related to parking and foot traffic. And, the hotspots that are great for photos are closer together than in the more popular Lincoln Memorial at the DC Mall.

I really appreciated being brought in to help do something nice for Zach and his siblings’ mom and making something special and memorable out of one of their rare trips to Washington, DC. It’s really what makes me feel great about the kind of work I get to do day in and day out.