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Cherry Blossom Tips from a DC Wedding Photographer

Cherry blossom season is approaching, with the beautiful pink trees blooming in just a few short weeks. The cherry blossoms in Washington, DC are one of the most popular attractions each spring, with tourists and photographers flocking to the Tidal Basin each spring to visit them. They're popular for good reason. The blossoms are such a romantic backdrop for engagement photos, and the "chaos" is well worth it.

If you're a photographer or you've booked a cherry blossom portrait session, here are a few key things to keep in mind to make your experience go smoothly!

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC with cherry blossoms blooming around it.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial during peak bloom in 2022. Photo by Gabrielle Rose Photography.

Photographers: Get your permits!

If you're a photographer in the DC area, you know that the National Park Service requires "still photography permits" to take photos at many monuments, and the Tidal Basin is included. Photographers need permits when photographing clients on NPS property, and getting caught without one can lead to heavy fines. You can find the permit application here. There is a $90 application fee, plus a $50 fee for photographing 1-10 people. This means you're paying $140 for your permit. I highly recommend working this into your session fees. Keep in mind that you have to fax in your application (no email)!

You need to avoid golden hour.

Speaking from personal experience, go at sunrise. I've done golden hour sessions during peak bloom, and I could barely move without running into someone. The Tidal Basin was extremely crowded, and people were constantly ducking in and out of my shots.

To avoid this, go as early in the morning as possible. There will still be other people around (mainly other photographers), but you'll avoid the bulk of the crowds. I personally prefer the quiet of sunrise, and the light is soft and romantic.

Uber, Metro, or walk.

Many streets around the Tidal Basin will be shut down for the Cherry Blossom Festival, so parking is scarce nearby. I highly recommend having an Uber drop you off, or walk from a Metro stop.

I typically use SpotHero to find a spot in a nearby garage, then walk to the Tidal Basin. Trust me, the last thing you want is to be frantically searching for parking before your portrait session, so plan ahead!

Wear neutrals or pastels.

To shine among the blossoms, stick to white or neutral outfits, or pastels like pink, blue, and lavender. For light and airy photos, wear light colors and avoid black. When in doubt, ask your photographer for advice!

Cherry blossom season is so fleeting, so this is a perfect opportunity to wear something show-stopping!

When your session is over, explore the cherry blossoms together.

I always encourage my couples to go on dates after their sessions. They're already dressed up and have been loving on each other for the last hour in front of my camera, so a date is the perfect continuation of their sessions!

After your session, walk around the Tidal Basin together and really drink it all in. Take some iPhone photos, stroll along the trail, and take a break from the stress of wedding planning by enjoying each other's company!

I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming season! I can't wait to meet my couples for their engagement sessions in the next few weeks!

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