Ahhhh, cherry blossom season in Washington, DC. Our beautiful gift from Tokyo that gave us 3,000 cherry trees in 1912. Honestly, my favorite time of year and what I look forward to year after year as a photographer. Unless you’ve experienced it firsthand, you can’t imagine how amazingly beautiful it is in person. Trust me when I say it’s shockingly beautiful. It’s the utmost unique experience to have amazing blossoms framing some of the most iconic memorials and monuments in our nation’s capital.
As a lifelong DC metro area resident, I can attest that it’s an intense photographic experience. And I mean everything about it is intense. People come from all over the world to view the cherry blossoms; from professional photographers that line up along the tidal basin with their tripods, to the cherry blossom lover that is perfectly happy to capture the blooms with their iPhone or iPad. The crowds can be a challenge, even before the sun comes up. Some visit with their picnic baskets in hand just ready to enjoy the sunrise; others come to document an important time in their lives such as an engagement or birth of a newborn baby. You’ll see artists, photographers, and bloom watchers lining the tidal basin. The most crowded during peak bloom and if it happens on a weekend – it’s standing room only.
The challenges only make me more determined to visit often and take advantage of the small window of opportunity that exists each season. The blooming period begins when 20 percent of the blossoms are open and can last as long as 14 days. Peak bloom is defined when 70 percent of the blossoms of the Yoshino cherry trees that surround the tidal basin are open, however it is very difficult to give an accurate peak bloom forecast more than 10 days out. The early springtime unpredictability including frost, rain and especially wind can shrink peak bloom considerably if those types of typical weather occur after the blooms open. I have witnessed this year after year. If you truly want to photograph the blossoms, urgency during peak bloom should be your utmost priority.
There truly isn’t a more positive memory for me as a child than visiting the tidal basin with my grandparents. My grandfather was a photographer and taught me to appreciate something so magnificent in my own back yard. As an adult, it’s a bond I will cherish forever and one I will never take for granted. The anticipation of an amazing sunrise never gets old for that tiny window of opportunity that exists each year and I can’t help but to try to outdo myself each time the opportunity comes around.
This year proved to be no different. Exciting, enchanting, exhilarating, energizing and exhausting ;)…each sunrise and morning brought a unique combination of circumstances to photographing the incredible treasure we so lovingly cherish in DC.