Day to night– wow, what luck! We hit *peek bloom* of cherry blossoms *on the nose*, had the sweetest pup to work with AND were able to fit in the Washington, Lincoln & Capitol building all in one shoot! You won’t want to miss Ellen & Matt’s engagement…
Ellen shared, “We were immediately drawn to your photography and knew we wanted to choose you for our wedding right from the start, as you had everything we were both looking for in a photographer! I personally liked the variety you offer– everything from architectural and scenic to candid and posed photography.”
Matt added, “I’m a big fan of architecture and saw you capture that time and again. I really appreciated how you were able to capture the beauty of the location.”
Ellen explained, “We also have a large bridal party and family (so lots of different combinations of people to get in pictures the day of) so we knew we needed someone who was organized, can move on a schedule, and is professional. After looking at your website, we loved how you spend so much time working with all of your couples and the blog posts! Can’t wait to see ours!”
The opening shot captures the capitol building at night and the city lights in downtown Washington DC, this next one shows cherry blossoms along the tidal basin, both capturing beautiful locations, so those two go out to you, Matthew ;).
When we arrived at the tidal basin it was so crowded, the sidewalks were literally shoulder to shoulder with people from all over the world, over *1.5 million* people come to see Washington‘s Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin!
My first challenge was working with the crowd, to find a way to allow Matthew and Ellen to stand out, yet to still capture the blossoms and monuments. I ended up climbing up a bridge for this shot. I could tell Ellen and Matthew were a little confused by me walking away from them up towards the traffic, but just hung out along the wall and enjoyed the view.
The sun was bright and intense with a vibrant blue sky, it really made the Washington Monument pop and it was such a treat to capture it all!
While I love capturing scenic locations, and candid moments, as Ellen shared, I also make sure to capture a few more formal photos, too! Here is a new family portrait for these three…
I said that I could believe how lucky we were, planning so far in advance and hitting peak blossom season on the day. Ellen shared that she and Matt are both incredibly lucky and unlucky all at once, and at this point they just roll with it.
I was confused, so she explained, “We got a few curve balls today, we were supposed to get off around noon, but Matt’s meeting went until 1:30, then he missed the bus and literally chased it down at the next stop, I went out to my car and saw that I had a flat tire (my second one in 3 months!) and that was just the beginning!”
She laughed, “While anyone that knows us well would say this is just a typical day in the life with Matt & Ellen, it truly shows how life with us has been a hell of an adventure and if we can get through changing all of our plans on the fly and not want to eat each other alive, we can get through anything.”
Ellen smiled, “Matt and I met on the street. Literally right around the corner from the church we are getting married in and the neighborhood we chose to have our reception at as well. It was one of those moments that you see in a movie where two people literally bump into each other, exchange numbers, and meet up for a date later. Our first date lasted hours. We shared stories with each other about our families, our life goals, religion, politics (all the things you don’t talk about on the first date) and what brought us to DC and realized we had many weird similarities.”
The sparkle of the water and the vibrant blue reflecting from the sky, the wind blowing Ellen’s hair and her sweet smile and glance over her shoulder, there is something really special about this moment…
Matt laughed, “Right from the start Ellen and I noticed so many coincidences between the two of us! I was always very close to my grandmother, Ellen, who was battling Cancer when I first met Ellen. Ellen’s birthday is also the same days as my mother’s. My mother and Ellen’s mother share the same middle name, Ellen! I know, so many Ellen’s!”
Ellen shared, “Matt and I realized that two hours was just not going to be enough time since we couldn’t decide on just one location for our photos. The mall is the obvious location to go to get cherry blossom pictures. We didn’t feel as though we needed to go into the heart of the crowd by the Jefferson since we already have pictures there. At the bottom of the steps is where Matt asked me to be his girlfriend (during a walk at the cherry blossom festival and where he later proposed to me.) Naturally that area is really special to us. Capitol Hill is a close second.”
The wind posed another challenge throughout the day, it was very intense, 16 mph, and I think even higher along the tidal basin!
I’m like Matthew and Ellen in that I do my best to plan ahead and then just go with the flow and work with whatever, I found myself positioning them where the wind blew her hair best (think runway model) and where the trees wouldn’t hit them but were close enough to show up in the background.
I did all of this while also avoiding pedestrians in the background and trying to get the intense sunlight to hit them evenly and trying to get the most comfortable smiles from them. Photography requires juggling a lot, backgrounds, people, camera settings, but I love it all the more because of it!
Ellen shared, “We love taking Finn to the Eastern Market on the weekends and eating at all of the restaurants on 8th street. I mean, ALL of the restaurants. We go out to eat far too often, and if it is nice outside, we are sure to bring Finn along.”
She laughed, “Navigating the crowds with Finn is always fun since we constantly get stopped. He loves all the attention. I had no worries about how he was going to behave in front of the camera though. He loves to pose for pictures. You can see more on his VIRAL instagram (@finntheferociousbeast).”
By the time the sun went down the crowds literally emptied the National Matt, they must have been in ALL the restaurants ;).
We moved to the Lincoln, which in keeping with their luck both was closed (literally barricaded off with orange tape and large white particle board sheets, haha) *and* witnessed an incredible sunset.
I asked them what they fell for in each other. Ellen smiled, “I fell for Matt’s drive and determination to do whatever he sets his mind to.”
Similarly, Matthew shared, “I fell for her witty sense of humor and drive to succeed no matter what the circumstances.”
That golden glow of the sun hitting the monument and capitol, the blue sky fading to pink and the reflecting pool… stunning…
Ellen shared, “We knew it was going to be crazy busy that week, so to prepare, we did a walk through with our pup Finn the Friday before when it started to get crowded. The walk made us realize how far way everything was from each other. I don’t think people realize how far apart all of the monuments are until they actually walk it!”
One more soft, cherry blossom peek before heading into the night…
Matthew shared, “We both have done a lot of things together – job searches, career changes, family deaths and so many other life circumstances where most people alone would struggle. We learned we could be a great team. ”
Ellen added, “Whenever one of us needs a crutch to stand on or a pep talk to get us through a challenge, we bring each other up to say “everything is going to be okay, because we have each other to get through it.”
I joked that I was risking my life for this shot. Ellen liked the idea of getting light trails near the capitol, we found a bike lane with views of the capitol and I “got down,” literally, to capture the lights reflecting off the pavement, the passing traffic, streetlights and the United States Capitol in the background!
One more super funky night shot!!!
The blossoming trees were just as vibrant at night, here I played with my radio-triggered flash… I felt like the shoot came full circle, starting and ending with cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital!