This past spring I had the pleasure of being commissioned by Destination DC to shoot a series for their ongoing DC Cool campaign. DC is more than staffers on the Hill and the artists, writers, creative entrepreneurs, people passionate about changing the world that I've met here have made me love the city. DC's rich social fabric wooed me when I moved here three years ago and I've been smitten ever since, so this was a fun assignment.
I was tasked with casting and photographing a set of subjects that encompassed a wide range of gender, orientation, and racial profiles. As always, it was important for me to find real subjects who have the big personalities necessary to make the photos that much more accessible and interesting.
The client wanted to shoot on the National Mall during peak cherry blossom, with mild DC spring weather and a range of outdoor backdrops. The tricky part was that no one really knows when the cherry blossoms will bloom until a day or two before they start to go. That makes scheduling with talent, crew, and permits more complicated, since it's impossible to set a date for the shoot. We blocked off a full week and asked everyone to be on call; I'd confirm the shoot dates the day before and we'd be ready to go as soon as the trees were.
It worked well and the subject mix was great. We photographed two young, hip families (lead by stylish moms Brooke Bronner and Jessica Boulanger), a writer (Dan Dzombak, who - full disclosure - is my cousin), an actor (Andreu Honeycutt), a filmmaker and UX designer (Victor Zapanta), a rockstar culinary couple (Sheila Fain and Sarah Gordon of Gordy's Pickle Jar), a graphic designer (Emil Caillaux) and an international policy wiz (Ruth Kidane). Several of the shoots demanded pre-sunrise call times, and everyone joyously stepped up to the lens (albeit coffee in hand and promises of post-shoot brunch luring) and brought their DC-loving all.
None of the images were staged - for each shot I gave the subjects and prompt and then encouraged them to be spontaneous.
FUN FACT: I didn't arrange to have the spotted Great Danes in the shoot; they were at our location and their handler was glad to have them star in a few shots. They were perfectly trained and sat, off leash, in front of a large audience while I photographed them. What a happy surprise!
Out in the Wild
The photos will be used for digital campaigns for the next two years, and I know some have already been on display in Dubai and other international destinations as Destination DC uses them to attract people from all over the world to come visit our city.
Many thanks to the Destination DC team, my crew, and of course, my game-for-anything fun subjects. These photos set the tone for these dog days of summer - enjoy my favorites below and find the whole set on my website HERE.