A monthly series by E. David Luria, Founder & Director of the Washington Photo Safari
Called by many “the residence of presidents” since nearly every president since Franklin Pierce has either stayed there or attended an event there, the Willard Hotel on 14th Street and Constitution Pennsylvania Ave NW is one of Washington’s most stately and historically rich hotels.
A staging ground for peace and freedom, the Willard was the site of the Peace Congress in 1861, a last ditch effort to avert the Civil War; a mere 100 years later, in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his I Have a Dream speech at the hotel before delivering it on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Moreover, it is said that the term “lobbyist” was coined here because of solicitors seeking favors from President Grant while he enjoyed his brandy and cigar in the hotel lobby.
If history is not your thing, visit the Willard for its stunning interiors, restored to 19th century elegance, and remarkable Beaux-Arts architecture. It is best photographed in the morning sun from nearby Freedom Plaza, using a wide angle lens to keep your vertical lines perfectly straight and capturing the both the southern and eastern elevations of the building. Wander inside and photograph the beautiful lobby. No tripods allowed in here, and you must be considerate of hotel guest privacy.
Albert Einstein Memorial
Just across Constitution Avenue from the Vietnam Memorial, which you will no doubt visit during your trip to DC, sits a tribute to science and knowledge at the National Academy of Sciences building. The Albert Einstein Memorial was erected in 1979 to commemorate the 100th birthday of the father of modern physics. He is depicted holding a manuscript upon which are written his three major scientific contributions: the photoelectric effect, the theory of general relativity, and the equivalence of energy and matter.
Not a very DC Like a Local suggestion since most people who live in DC don’t even know the statute is there! They drive by it every day but never have stopped to look at it. So consider this a bit of privileged information. This is a great memorial to visit with kids because you can impart a little scientific wisdom while they climb all over the statue. After all, sitting on Albert's lap is guaranteed to make your kids smarter! And, if you look at the base on which the statue sits, you will see a map of the universe, a depiction of the night sky on the day the statue was finished. Try and find Polaris and the North Star. Better yet, go stand on it, look up at Einstein and in a loud voice say :" HELLO!" He will answer back with a loud echo: "HELLO!"
For best photo results, visit the memorial at night when it is evenly lit by floodlights and you can pose your entire family or school group on the statue. A telephoto lens will get you right into Albert's face, a wide angle lens will give you the whole statue at different angles. A cute shot is to have your kid sitting on Albert’s lap, looking at the formula E= MC2. Another cute shot is to have your spouse stand in front of Albert and appear to argue with him over the Theory of Relativity! The Albert Einstein statue is one of the important stops on our twice-weekly Monuments and Memorials safari, and on our weekly Monuments at Night safari.
DC is much more than neoclassical, alabaster-white memorials and concrete Beaux-Arts government offices. It has a colorful side as well and no better place to see it than the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Northwest DC. Typically a night time destination for the twenty-something’s, there’s plenty of diversion during the day, especially for your stomach and your eyes.
Historically, the Adams Morgan neighborhood has been a gateway for DC’s diverse immigrant population, hailing predominantly from Latin America but spanning the globe all the way to Eritrea and Vietnam; evidence of this migration lies in a 5 block radius in which 18 different ethnic cuisines are offered. Once your gastronomic curiosity is satisfied, take a walk up and down 18th Street and admire the murals and artfully-decorated storefronts.
This is also the place to test your makings as an abstract art photographer. For example, look at the mural art near the corner of 18th Street and Columbia Rd NW; it is a riot of color which can produce weird and unusual images in your camera. Keep an eye out for unique patterns and shapes in the murals or use reflections in the side mirror of a car of the colorful neighborhood. This is a neighborhood that will help you get OUT of your left brain and into your right brain, it will make you more creative and imaginative, and it will teach you to see images in a whole new way.