The Sun Never Sets on Family Memories | Washington D.C. Family Photographer

In a few months, the Ottenbreit’s time in the Nation’s Capital will end when they move west to Minnesota. But the sun never sets on fond family memories. To underscore that fact, the Ottenbreits decided to close their chapter in DC with a sunrise family portrait session at the Lincoln memorial.

Folks are always dedicated to producing a quality family photograph, but the Ottenbreits were particularly committed—waking up at 4:30 a.m. to take advantage of that all-too-fleeting pre-dawn light. The results were well worth the effort.

The rays of light and bursts of sunbeams are dramatic enough, but what I really love about taking advantage of these early morning hours is the quiet calm that permeates the National Mall. There’s not a tourist in sight, as if the reflecting pool and Lincoln Memorial’s marble columns were the Ottenbreits’s own private studio. The symbolism the backdrops provide is also special—the final photos seem to suggest that the Ottenbreit children are inheriting the country at the dawn of their journey into the world, their future bright and sunny.

I love on-location family photography shoots in DC because I can truly capture my clients in places that mean something to them. And when clients have a connection to their surroundings, the family photos always convey a naturalness that no studio can duplicate.

The Ottenbreits clearly shine in their favorite place. What’s yours? I’d love to hear from you.


Of Family Roots and Cherry Blossom Blooms | Bethesda Family Photographer

In 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda—the wife of the then-Japanese ambassador—planted two tiny Cherry Blossom trees along the edge of the Tidal Basin. Just over 100 years (and more than 100 trees) later, Laura and Charlie Novotny will be returning the favor—moving to Okinawa, Japan, to let their two little seedlings, Elias (age 6) and Keane (age 4), bloom in the Land of the Rising Sun.

More than flowers, family photographs are a cultural currency that holds tremendous value no matter the destination. Ask anyone who has traveled to a foreign land to be a guest in someone’s country, and they’ll tell you that in addition to your passport, two items are mandatory: a gift and a few family portraits.

Social customs and culinary traditions may vary to the point of sometimes being even a little bit scary, but the family bond is something that is globally understood—a universal experience that binds us to all 7 billion people on the planet regardless of race, creed, income, or language. And as a DC family photographer, knowing that these photos from my annual Cherry Blossom mini shoots will help ease the Novotnys' transition into their new community and give their new lodging a sense of ‘home’ is truly why I love what I do.

I’m genuinely excited for the Novotnys—and by the ecstatic looks on their faces, I think they are, too. And I know they’ll fit into their new country perfectly. In fact, unless, you were told otherwise, the Bishop's Garden at the National Cathedral might as well be the Japanese garden they’ve lived in all along.