When we are not taking wedding and engagement pictures of couples in love in the Washington, DC area, we lead a second life as nature photographers. It is a passion of ours — what we did when we first picked up our cameras, in fact — and we love finding new ways to weave the beauty of nature into the images we create of fiancés and newlyweds. We are always on the lookout for the best locations in the DC metro area in which to pose wedding and engagement clients amid the wonders of nature.
Capturing photos of sunrises and sunsets is of particular interest to us, and we have spent many mornings and evenings — in the cold of winter and the heat of summer — scouring the area around Washington for the best spot to see clouds light up with color as the sun rises above or sinks below the horizon. As yet, we have never found a better vantage point than the area around the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and the Netherlands Carillon.
Situated on the bluffs that rise up from the Potomac River into Arlington, Virginia, these two Washington icons have a largely unobstructed view of the eastern sky, meaning you can take glorious photographs of the sun coming up over the city of Washington. What makes the spot even more special is that the resulting images usually have the DC skyline in the foreground. So in addition to a beautifully colored sky, you also get on film the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol lined up in a row.
The only catch is that the sun moves around the sky during the course of the year, so getting it, the monuments, and of course, the couple arranged in a visually pleasing composition can sometimes be a little challenging. We had a lot of good fortune when we brought these lovely fiancés to the Netherlands Carillon for their engagement shoot. Not only were there just enough clouds in the sky to catch the colors of the rising sun, there was a nice separation between the sun and the monuments. That allowed us to pose the future bride and groom in front of the sun while giving a space for the famous Washington landmarks in the side of the frame. We loves the extra dimension this gives the photo. The eye lands first on the main subject — a couple in love — and is then drawn to the iconic shapes of the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol in the background. An engagement photograph does not get much more Washingtonian than that!
To keep the light from the rising sun from completely obscuring the future spouses, we used a photography technique that silhouetted the pair and turned the sun from a blazing fireball to a starburst shooting rays from behind the soon-to-be-husband and wife. What we (and they) particularly like about this effect is that it provided the illumination necessary to define the contours of their faces while still preserving the silhouetting we were aiming for. The rays of light also help draw attention to the couple.