Washington, DC is a very photogenic city. Between the monuments and iconic sites, there are plenty of great DC photos. We asked local photographer Nicole Glass to share some of her best photo tips so you can come to Washington, DC prepared.

Photograph a DC sunset

The best time to capture a sunset is 30 minutes before and after the scheduled time for sunset. That’s when you are really going to get the most beautiful light and the most beautiful shots. You can use a DSLR camera but smartphones are excellent as well. Sunsets are really one of the easiest DC photos you can capture.

Most photographers focus on the sunset itself. However, they forget to look behind them. During a sunset the whole area is illuminated by beautiful light. Sometimes, all you have to do is turn around and see the city from a different perspective. Sunset varies considerably throughout the year. During summer sunset isn’t until after 8pm. In the winter, sunset is before 5pm. The easiest way to know

Capture a silhouette

When you’re taking a photo of a silhouette you’re capturing a person or an object but you can’t identify them because you’re seeing the outline of that person or object. These are really great to do during a sunset because there is such a contrast between the foreground and the background.

Make sure the person in the photo is doing a pose other otherwise looks interesting. Then, lower yourself toward the ground. This helps make sure there is more sky behind your subject. Getting down low also helps make your photos unique since almost everyone takes photos from the same eye-level.

Don’t be afraid of the rain!

When you come to DC, chances are the weather is not going to be perfect. In the summer, it’s hot and humid. In the winter, it is cold and gray. However, it is often very wet. That said, you can definitely get fantastic photos even on a rainy day. Stormy weather is great because you might get black storm clouds behind a monument which makes it look so much more intense. 

When it comes specifically to rain, you can use it as an opportunity to look for reflections. Sometimes, if you’re standing in a particular location, you can actually see the monuments reflecting through the puddles. Washington, DC has several famous reflecting pools that photographers love. Think of puddles like temporary reflecting pools.

Take a photo of a photo

This maybe a little harder to pull off if you’re traveling solo. However, if you have a traveling partner or someone who’s with you it’s a little bit easier. Taking a photo of a photo can give you a different perspective of a place that has been photographed millions of times already. It creates a really cool perspective and it will make your photos look way more unique and interesting.

Buy yourself a crystal ball

This one will require you to go out and buy a prop. However, it’s a cheap one and it can really add some cool effects to your DC photos. Crystal balls are available for ten to twenty dollars on Amazon. They are very affordable and you can photograph popular landmarks or attractions through the ball. So, place the ball on the ground or have somebody else hold the ball or hold it yourself. Then take a photo of a landmark through the ball.

Now, the key thing to know is that the ball actually flips your photo upside down. Since you want the photo to be right-side up when you share it you need to flip it with an app. Just rotate 180 degrees and then your photo will look right.

Get on the DC rooftops

Try to capture your DC photos from a higher perspective. This means taking advantage of the rooftops here in Washington DC. Two rooftops where you can go and have a drink with a view are at W Hotel and the Watergate Hotel. The Hay Adams is a very well-known hotel it’s right near the White House as well. As a guest of the hotel, you will have access to the rooftop.

However, if you don’t have the budget to book a hotel with the view, then you can actually go to the Old Post Office Tower. The views up from the clock tower are spectacular and great for DC photos. Check out the Trip Hacks DC Podcast episode about Pennsylvania Avenue to learn about the history and follow our instructions for getting to the top.

Coming to Washington DC and want us to show you around?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.