If you want a location for your engagement photos that is both versatile and quintessentially “DC,” then look no further than the National Portrait Gallery. The combination of those two qualities make it one of the most sought-after spots for engagement photos in the entire Washington DC metro area. And given how many great locations for your engagement sessions there are in the Nation’s Capital, that is saying a lot! It even manages to stand out from the rest of the Smithsonian museums. Just those Washington DC icons, the NPG charges nothing for entry and allows photography. However, it offers you some things those other venues do not. And that means that National Portrait Gallery engagement photos are something you cannot get anywhere else!
There are a lot of wedding venues and engagement photoshoot locations in the Nation’s Capital that can give you a distinctive Washington vibe. The Lincoln Memorial? Yup, that pretty much screams, “DC!” The Tidal Basin during the Cherry Blossom Festival? Unmistakably Washington DC. The National Cathedral? An instantly recognizable part of the fabric of the city.
The National Portrait Gallery? As the repository for portraiture of some of our most famous national icons, the museum is as DC as it gets! In just about every corner of the NPG, you will find a painting of a famous figure in American history. So matter where you go, you will see reminders of what it is that makes Washington special. And the best part for your engagement photos? Chances are good that you can find a portrait of someone with personal significance to you and your future spouse. Maybe you will find him or her in one of the museum’s charming little rooms off the main corridors. Then you can cuddle on a bench while your engagement photographer captures images of that significant person looking down on you.
But let’s say you want something more than what Washington’s most iconic locations can offer you. As great and undeniably “DC” as they are, they do not always give you a lot of variety. Yes, every fantastic spot for engagement photos in the Nation’s Capital will give you more than one look and more than one shot. But the portraits you get at most of them tend to have a similar vibe. A photo of you and your future spouse on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial will not feel much different from a picture of you between two of its columns.
The National Portrait Gallery, by contrast, gives your engagement pictures more than just one feel. Its facilities are so versatile, in fact, that you can get portraits that look like you have gone to ten different locations. How is that possible? It starts with the unique structure of the building which houses it.
The museum sits in the old US Patent Office. The building’s exterior architecture (Greek Revival) makes it a beautiful and stately part of the DC cityscape. Even if you are not having a session inside, it can be worth posing for a few shots on the old Patent Office’s steep front steps. The latter is well-known among DC insiders as a great place to sit and watch the world go by on a warm summer day.
More importantly, though, edifice is essentially a rectangle, with a sizable courtyard in the center. The National Portrait Gallery occupies one half of the interior space. The other half houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum. And the Kogod Courtyard sits in between the two sides. This essentially means that the National Portrait Gallery is not a single engagement photoshoot location. It is actually three! And each one has its own distinct character.
We sort of already covered this above, but the National Portrait Gallery is the more serious and staid part of the museum complex. It is the place to go if you want more traditional engagement portraits of you and your future spouse. The NPG’s grand corridors are reminiscent of those in some of the other famous institutions in the Smithsonian network. It is also the spot for you if you want more romantic and intimate engagement photos. Its aforementioned side rooms offer cozier settings for your portraits.
Crossing over to the other side of the building feels like you are stepping into a different world. The American Art Museum is a celebration of the diversity of our artists and their work. As such, it offers a dazzling range of installations notable for their creativity. If your tastes run to the eclectic and you want your engagement portraits to reflect this, then the American Art Museum is a must during your photoshoot. Like the couple in this image, you are going to get some really visually interesting and striking pictures!
In between the two museums is the aforementioned Kogod Courtyard. That part of the building offers you something truly unique in downtown DC: a location with an outdoor feel. Though a uniquely patterned glass ceiling encloses the space, you feel like you are standing outside. Numerous plants and an interesting water element on the floor add to that vibe. So if you want outdoor engagement photos without having to brave Washington’s legendarily unpleasant heat and humidity, this is the spot for you.
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