As we have mentioned many times on this website, Washington, DC, is a great city for history. It is home to the national government and, as such, is the repository for our common stories. The Nation’s Capital is home to our founding documents, and is the resting place of our first president. It contains memorials to our greatest leaders and museums that chronicle our darkest hours. The Washington metro area tells us just about everything regarding who we are as Americans and how we got there.
It is a privilege for DC wedding photographers like us to ply our trade in a city like Washington. It frankly makes our jobs much easier! In our experience, place often plays a significant role in the story of a couple coming to the altar. Brides and grooms will never forget the cities where they meet, fall in love and get engaged. The restaurants where they have their first dates, the places where they celebrated milestones and the spot where the question was popped will always live in their memories. Because wedding photographers tell each couple’s love story in pictures, including a sense of place is a must. And because DC’s landscape and buildings are so distinctive, it is pretty easy to give images a Washingtonian feel.
That Washington is a city filled with history is known to more than just the average Washington, DC, wedding photographer. Millions of tourists flock to the metro area every year to visit its museums and monuments. What is perhaps less well known, however, is that the Nation’s Capital is also a great place for the arts. Obviously, it is home to the world-famous John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Approximately two million people come to there annually to see the 3500 theater, dance, music and multimedia performances it hosts. But beyond that internationally famous institution, Washington has dozens of other great theaters, galleries and institutions that promote the arts. Our nation’s capital has something for everyone who enjoys creative pursuits. As longtime Washington residents, we have visited many of these art centers and enjoyed what they have to offer. As DC wedding photographers, we have also photographed many fiancés and newlyweds in or near them.
Not surprisingly, most of Washington’s artsier locales also have significant historical components. Many have even played vital roles in our country’s history. One of the best examples of this is Ford’s Theatre. That particular institution is famous to schoolchildren throughout the country as the place where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln there before fleeing to rural Maryland and Virginia. Current residents of the Nation’s Capital know it as a nice place to catch a play. A few years ago, we saw a lovely staging of “The Glass Menagerie” there. Wedding and engagement photographers see it as a great location for couples portraits. It has exactly what makes DC a great place for photography -- that special mix of history and artistry.
We brought these particular future spouses to Ford’s Theatre after starting their engagement shoot at the National Portrait Gallery. Following portraits there and at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, we took the couple for a walk through DC’s Chinatown neighborhood. A block and a half plus a left turn took us to Ford’s Theatre. The bride-to-be in particular liked the idea of portraiture in front of this Washington icon. As a DC native and supporter of the local art scene, she liked the venue’s mix of history and creativity. And any good Washington, DC, wedding photographer knows that it is a good idea to keep brides happy!
We got some fantastic images of the engaged couple outside the historic theater. The best outdoor shot the day, however, was actually captured across the street by the entrance to Petersen House. Though less famous than Ford’s Theatre, this neighboring building did play a significant role in the Lincoln assassination. It was where the president was taken after being shot and where he died the following morning. On a happier note, the stairway up to Petersen House’s front door turned out to be a nice spot for pictures. The top part of the railing draws the eye to the couple. The bottom, curved portion wraps around them protectively. It also creates a bit of separation between them and the rest of the scene.
What really makes the image work, however, is the posing. The way that the groom-to-be is gently holding his bride’s head while simultaneously pressing his forehead to hers shows the tenderness he feels for her. The look on her face communicates how safe and contented she feels to be with him. These emotions do a better job than words ever could of telling the viewer how these two feel about one another.