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.