Ben Pancoast Photography » Wedding and Portrait photography by Ben Pancoast Photography

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Washington DC: Engagement Pictures | Sunrise over the National Mall

This past weekend I met up with Ken & Katy to do engagement pictures at sunrise in Washington DC. We met up at the Lincoln Memorial overlooking the Reflecting Pool, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol building before the sun came up.
Washington DC, engagement pictures by the tidal basin at the National Mall.
The National Mall is incredibly peaceful before sunrise and we had the view almost completely to ourselves. As the sun started to rise over Washington DC we took a few engagement pictures looking down the length of the Mall from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial is a fantastic location for several reasons but I think the view of the Mall and the fact that the sun rises behind the Capitol building are the 2 that make this the ideal starting location for any DC engagement shoot!
Sunrise engagement photo, Washington DC, Washington Monument and the capitol building.Lincoln Memorial, engagement photos, sunrise over Washington DC.Engagement photo at sunrise overlooking the reflecting pool in Washington DC.
Once we were done at the Lincoln memorial we took a few pictures by the reflecting pool. I love how these shots give you a feel for the enormous size of the National Mall, it’s really hard to tell just how large these monuments are until you see people within the landscape which gives things a sense of scale! Of course the beautiful sunrise reflecting on the pool doesn’t hurt things either!
Washington DC reflecting pool, sunrise, engagement photo.
After shooting a few landscapes by the Reflecting Pool we walked over to the Tidal Basin where we had a beautiful view of the Jefferson Memorial. The walk along the tidal basin is gorgeous and while we had missed the Cherry blossoms by a couple of weeks we certainly didn’t need them to make the engagement pictures look great! We wrapped up the sunrise engagement pictures with a few shots on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial before being kicked out by a security guard who must not have gotten enough sleep! While we would have loved to have stayed a while longer we didn’t want to get arrested and I didn’t want my gear confiscated so we called it a morning and took off for a couple of other fun locations around capitol hill!
Washington DC tidal basin looking towards the Jefterson Memorial, engagement photos.
If you’re reading this thinking you’d like to do your engagement pictures at one of the Memorials around the National Mall check out this link to the National Park Service website regarding photography permits. From what I can tell you really shouldn’t need but that doesn’t mean you won’t run into some guard on a power trip so having one might not be a bad idea! If nothing else print this page out and bring it with you so you know what your talking about when they tell you to leave! =)
Engagement photos at the Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC.
I have more pictures to share from the morning but I think this post is long enough as it is so you’ll have to check back to see the rest! Many thanks to Ken & Katy for willingly subjecting themselves to engagement pictures at sunrise, I really enjoyed hanging out and hope you love the pictures as much as I do!
Washington DC engagement photo on the tidal basin.

UPDATE:
They’re MARRIED!! Check out a few of their amazing wedding pictures from the Basilica at Notre Dame here!

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  • May 6, 2009 - 1:44 am

    Eileen - Ben, your photos are so beautiful! What an eye … and, of course, I know from previous experience how much fun you are to work with!!!

  • May 31, 2009 - 12:14 am

    catholicgauzette - The Park Service Link you have is for Fire Island National Seashore. The National Mall portion of the NPS website lists information on permits (http://www.nps.gov/nama/planyourvisit/permits.htm) but does not state specifically for which reason(s) you need to obtain one. The site does state: “The permit system is intended to help assure, to the extent possible, that the multitude of activities that may be taking place on any given day will not conflict with each other or with general visitor activities.” As you were not conflicting with other general visitor activities, I don’t see why you would need a permit, in my humble opinion.

    Love the photos! They are gorgeous.

  • June 3, 2009 - 5:58 am

    Joseph Kang - These are great Ben – what a perfect sunrise and a great idea to beat all the crowds – fantastic! It was great seeing this past weekend!

  • August 31, 2009 - 1:04 am

    Peter - Permits are essential, expensive and have a somewhat lengthy application process. Sadly, many photographers and couples without them have been run off these sites by gun-toting Park Service police. For better or worse, NPS and everybody else wants a fee whenever someone gets married.

  • August 31, 2009 - 1:54 am

    Ben - Unfortunately I think you’re right, if you are a bride or groom and you are going down to the National Mall for pictures of any kind you don’t want to leave it up to chance, try and get the permit so you KNOW you can get the shots you want!

  • November 17, 2009 - 4:58 pm

    Jenn - So you had to get a permit to take this pictures? No one was even around? OR just during the day?

  • November 17, 2009 - 5:16 pm

    Ben - You need a permit regardless of when you shoot at the national mall. We showed up without a permit and inspite of the early hour there were guards everywhere. The ones at the Lincoln Memorial asked if what we were doing was a “commercial” photo shoot and we told them we were not. They were fine with us shooting as long as there were no tripods involved and we weren’t reselling the images. The guard at the Jefferson Memorial was not understanding at all and threatened multiple times to take my cameras and arrest us. Whether he could have or would I do not know and was not willing to try and find out. Ultimately what it boils down to is chance… you COULD end up shooting at one of the monuments in DC with no problem and then be unable to shoot at another one. Or maybe you could shoot at all of them without a problem, I think during the day when it’s really crowded you’re probably a lot less likely to draw attention because of the crowds but if you’re counting on getting the shots then the only way to ensure this is by getting a permit.

  • November 15, 2010 - 11:02 pm

    Astami T - Absolutely amazing shots. Really just spectacular!

  • January 22, 2011 - 6:44 pm

    Daniel Robertson - Interested in someone taking our engagement photos. Please let me know if you’re available anytime soon. 202-423-0368

  • March 10, 2011 - 5:41 am

    Ben - Not sure why this is just showing up now but I just saw your comment, I’ll be in DC around the weekend of April 9 doing engagement session, let me know if you’re still interested.

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