6 Photography Tips for the Most Instagrammable Places in D.C.

Consider the beautiful open sky of Washington, D.C., when following these six pro tips for the best places for Instagram photography

We asked local professional photographer Avery Peechatka to share his favorite locations for capturing the unique beauty of Washington, D.C., as seen in this image of the National Archives Building on Pennsylvania Avenue.


The nation’s capital makes for one of the most diverse places to visit and take pictures, says Washington, D.C., resident and photographer Avery Peechatka. But even American historians may not know one of the most Instagrammable places in D.C.: the long stretch of open sky over the National Mall at the break of day.

“I've lived in a number of places, and [D.C.] really has, I think, exceptionally nice sunrises and sunsets,” says Peechatka.

Whether it’s expansive parks like the National Arboretum, with its stately National Capitol Columns, or the 272 painted dragons of Friendship Archway in Chinatown, there’s no shortage of great photo shoot locations in Washington, D.C., and many of the top attractions are free to experience! Below, Peechatka shares his tips on how to get some of the best scroll-stopping Instagram photos while you’re visiting the nation’s capital.

1. Focus on the sky at the National Mall

With numerous monuments and war memorials, such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial, the National Mall is easily one of the best places to take photos in D.C. But one of its most stunning features isn’t found on the ground, Peechatka says—it’s that big, beautiful sky above. It’s hard to find a shot of that open sky anywhere else along the east coast or I-95 corridor, he says. On the National Mall, however, you’ll be able to capture a mix of iconic locations with long sight lines, all on a stunning backdrop of big-sky sunsets and sunrises.

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2. Set up behind the cherry blossoms

It doesn't take much to get creative and make an overly photographed location unique by looking for something interesting in the foreground.

For example, Peechatka recommends using flowers, people, benches or tree branches to spice up a photo shoot. He even suggests getting down on the ground to use it as a foreground. “That's always one of my favorite ways to approach an overly photographed location,” he says, “to try and make it your own.”

And, if you come to Washington, D.C., in the early spring, the pink petals of the National Cherry Blossom Festival will make for a great frame or subject in your photos, too.

For even more floral photo spots in D.C., check out the United States Botanical Garden, one of the oldest operating botanic gardens in the U.S.

3. Take photos in some of D.C.’s oldest neighborhoods

Many tourists come to Washington, D.C., to stay downtown, where they can catch iconic views of the United States Capitol building. Originally built in 1800, its iconic white dome was added as part of a renovation completed in 1866.

When they just stick to that one area, though, Peechatka says they're missing out on other examples of the city’s historical architecture and culture. Some of the most Instagrammable places in D.C. can be found in its older neighborhoods, which Peechatka recommends exploring:

  • Georgetown—The historic neighborhood of Georgetown was first established as a tobacco port in 1751, nearly 40 years before Congress created Washington, D.C. Georgetown University was founded in 1789, and it’s now made up of four campuses over a sprawling 104 acres.
  • Dupont Circle—This traffic circle, built in 1892 and located just a short drive north of the White House, marks its own historic neighborhood featuring several great D.C. coffeehouses, restaurants and bars.
  • Logan Circle—This traffic circle also signifies its own historic neighborhood, showcasing Victorian and Romanesque architecture from the late 19th century as well as the former homes of notable historical figures.

“These beautiful locations are filled with old colonial homes that are smartly decorated and classily lit,” says Peechatka. “They offer an incredible opportunity to both explore and take photographs.”

Check out our Washington, D.C., travel guide for even more Instagrammable places to visit while staying in the capital city.

4. Use the differing weather conditions to your advantage

The weather in Washington, D.C., can be fairly reliable, with high temperatures in the summer and snowy days in the winter. But, even if the weather isn’t what you expect, that scenario can still open up opportunities for interesting photos, says Peechatka. Try using a rain storm or a dewy morning to capture a photo others might not think to. Stand out by taking an image of a foggy, dreary day on the National Mall—something that’s not commonly seen on social media.

5. Shoot in the dark

If you're using a smartphone to capture the most Instagrammable places in D.C., the newer phones still do an incredible job of gathering light to shoot at night, Peechatka says. Think about using harsh light sources to potentially add flare to a photo, such as city lights and streetlights. The glow can draw a viewer's eye into a dark image, making it super unique.

Peechatka recommends that photographers with a digital camera and tripod try using long exposures. It can add character and movement to an otherwise ordinary image.

6. Plan your day around your photos—and put a filter on it

Use your photo plans as an opportunity to explore the best Instagram spots in D.C., Peechatka says. It can be your excuse to get up before sunrise, go out at sunset or just explore a new location. Embrace photography as a reason to do a little more than you would otherwise, and make your traveling buddies come along—they’ll thank you for it!

Finally, one of a professional photographer's best secrets is their editing process, Peechatka says. As a bonus, you also don't necessarily need special skills or an expensive computer program to edit your Instagram photos. Instead, just swipe left or right after taking a photo to apply a provided Instagram filter. It's easy, fun and there's no right or wrong way to do it, but it can really make all the difference. If you’re in need of some visual inspiration, check out the National Gallery of Art.

Ready to plan your photo-taking adventure? We can help by showing you the best hotel deals in Washington, D.C.

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