Location, Location, Location! It doesn't just apply to real estate. Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. is full of historical locations, monuments, and scenic roads. Choosing a photo shoot location might seem like a big deal (for some overwhelming) but it really doesn't have to be difficult. A location usually drives some of the other decisions you will need to make about your shoot so it’s important to choose the right place. We're in the Washington D.C. metro area so there are several possible locations such as a beach, historical sites, monuments, flowers, etc. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you decide on a location:
1. What kind of theme do I want? If a particular building or natural backdrop would work well with your theme, look around your area for spots that meet your requirements. If you don't know what kind of backdrop you want, take an afternoon drive for inspiration. It's easy to overlook beautiful spots that are practically in your backyard. Ask family, friends or of course us, your photographer for ideas too. For example, the image below is from a neighborhood in Northern Virginia.
2. Are you allowed to take pictures there? Make sure that you can legally take pictures at the location that you have in mind. If it's not public property or available to the public you will need to get permission first. Did you know many of the Washington D.C. Monuments require a permit? Many people are surprised to find this out. Failing to submit the required permit paperwork could result in a hefty fine! If you're looking for the white marble, but don't want to pay the Contact us for more details.
To be safe, it's best to consider any location in Washington D.C. will need a permit. There are very few locations that do not require a photographic permit to shoot (Union Station, some metro stations, Eastern Market, and the National Building Museum). Any District of Columbia location not covered under the National Park Service, Federal government (i.e. embassies) or private land holder may be manged under the DC government’s Office of Motion Picture and Television. The fee is $150 and a minimum of four days required for processing your application. “The mission of the Office of Motion Picture and Television Development is to create a sustainable entertainment industry in the District. Our goal is to initiate, implement and manage the operations and logistics of programs aimed at generating revenue and stimulating employment and business opportunities in the District through the production of film, television, video, photography and other multimedia projects.”
The National Mall is one of the most popular spots to have portraits taken by many families and visitors. All monuments and land managed by the National Park Service is subject to a fee for professional photographers to take pictures of clients there and there are some movement restrictions as well (follow this link). There is a $90 non refundable application fee and a $50-$250 permit fee for still photography (more for video). Application processing may take a few days or up to a few weeks. We’ve been advised that the penalty for not having a permit is $500 fine and 24 hours in jail.
Fees for Photography
$50 for 1-10 people
$150 for 11-30 people
$250 for more than 30
3. Is it accessible? Consider that not all outdoor locations may be available all year round or you might not be able to get to them at all (i.e. snow storm). Your safety is also an important aspect to think about before you decide on a location. Taking pictures on a mountain ledge may look neat but it’s best not to put yourself in harm’s way.
4. How do you get to your location? Will it be easy to walk to the session location and if not, are you able to change your clothing and touch up your hair and makeup before the shoot? You should also find out whether there is a restroom that’s close enough in case you need it.
5. Will the photo session be in a public place? If the location you have chosen has a lot of foot traffic, you need to ask yourself whether you are comfortable being photographed in front of others (i.e. amusement park). If not, you might want to rethink your choice in location.
Make sure that your location doesn’t become a distraction and that there is shelter nearby if you need it. Your location tells a story so it’s worthwhile to choose a meaningful spot. To schedule your portrait session, click here.
Please Note: All permit fees are the responsibility of the client.
Tamieka Smith Photography is a Northern Virginia Family Photographer serving Woodbridge, VA and the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area.
Hello, I'm Tamieka, the owner of and photographer behind Tamieka Smith Photography a Los Angeles family photographer and Northern Virginia/National Archives Promotion Ceremony photographer in Torrance, CA. I am happy you came to visit the blog! I hope you find inspiration and helpful tips. In addition, to a peek into my life as a family photographer.