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Proud pup mom, type A creative, lover of the outdoors, Top Chef fan girl, and wedding and portrait photographer. Welcome to the blog!
HI, I'M RACHEL!
I hope you’ve been enjoying all the cherry blossom photos for the past month! And I hope you’ve been inspired by the kwanzan cherry blossoms photos I’ve been sharing so far! Because today I’m giving you more!
I figured I should take some time to tell you more about the kwanzan cherry blossoms. And why you would want to book a session with them specifically. The kwanzan cherry blossoms are, as you can see, bright pink, fluffy blossoms. They usually reach peak bloom about 10 days to two weeks after the lighter pink cherry blossoms (the yoshino trees, which are the majority of trees at the tidal basin). There are a little over 400 kwanzan cherry blossom trees in the areas surrounding the tidal basin.
Just when you’re bummed that cherry blossom peak bloom is over, you can be delighted by this second wave of gorgeous pink blossoms! I happened upon these trees several years ago when I was at the tidal basin for session at the very tail end of the yoshino peak bloom. There were barely any trees with pink left on them, so we were walking around looking for whatever was left. That’s when I spotted a grove of bright pink blooms just off the beaten path! We headed over and I took some of my favorite photos of that time!
Last year I had several cherry blossom sessions that had to be rescheduled due to weather. They were sessions originally scheduled at the tail end of peak bloom, so we decided to push them to the kwanzan peak bloom. I also had a couple sessions that happened to be scheduled during the kwanzan blossoms peak bloom. They weren’t scheduled that way on purpose, but I took a chance and asked my clients if they wanted to include the trees in their photos. And they said yes! So, last year I did five kwanzan cherry blossom photos sessions. It gave me the chance to fall more in love with these beautiful blossoms – and now I can’t get enough!
There are a few reasons why I like the kwanzan cherry blossom trees, and why I think it’s worth booking a session with them specifically.
Of course I love the yoshino cherry blossom trees. But I will tell you – it is a challenge and a half to find yoshino trees with low enough branches to be featured in portraits. This is especially challenging around the tidal basin. The area around the tidal basin is only so wide, so there are only so many trees to work with. Especially if you want a view in the background, like of the monuments. It’s challenging to find trees with low enough branches that they will fill in the area behind my clients’ heads. Or low enough that I can use the branches as foreground.
Often, the branches are so high that in order to fit them in the frame, it has to be a wide shot. That can be beautiful, but I also like some variety. And some foreground! There are some cherry blossom trees known as weeping cherry blossoms, that have long, flowy branches, but they are super limited around the tidal basin. There are some in other areas, but again – they are rare.
The kwanzan cherry blossom trees are shorter, and shaped in such a way that their branches are fuller and lower. They’re more in line with how tall people are, so it’s easier to use the branches as foreground. And to have the pink fill in behind people’s heads. We can easily get close-ups and wide shots.
With the yoshino cherry blossom peak bloom, the novelty comes with the fact that they are the majority of trees around the tidal basin. That means you have the water, the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial in your background, depending on where you’re situated. It’s iconic!
Along with the iconic-ness and novelty come crowds! There are so many people at the tidal basin during cherry blossom season, it is a challenge to get photos without anyone in the background, even at sunrise. We often have to wait in line to use one spot that everyone else is using. There are people watching, people walking into the background of the shot, and crowds of people in the area. It’s worth it – it’s just a lot!
There are very few kwanzan cherry blossom trees along the tidal basin. I’ll usually get shots with the couple in the area that have the Washington Monument in the background, but honestly those are not my favorite. The majority of the kwanzan cherry blossoms are more off the beaten path. There are way fewer people out and about during kwanzan peak bloom because the timing is after the yoshino peak bloom and the festival is over. It’s way easier to get photos with no one in the background and no one is pressuring us to hurry up so they can use our spot. It’s just a better overall experience and outcome.
I personally love the bright pink blossoms. They’re vibrant and romantic and unique! They’re beautiful and so fun to work with. The bright pink blossoms really stand out and add something special to your photos. Not only do they look unique, but they actually are unique: kwanzan cherry blossom trees have a super short lifespan! I didn’t even realize trees had a lifespan; I thought they just kept on living as long as they were healthy. Apparently not! These trees only live for about 25 years! It’s extra special to have your photo taken with trees that only live for a short period of time.
In summary – if you want to skip the hoopla that comes along with the traditional cherry blossom peak bloom, and have your photo taken with these vibrant, unique trees – we can do that! You can ask to schedule your cherry blossom session specifically during the kwanzan season. Just note that in your inquiry and I will take it from there!
Did this post get you excited to book your own cherry blossoms session or spring portraits?! If yes, send me a note and we can chat about what you have in mind: contact me
Hi – I’m Rachel! A wedding, engagements, and headshots photographer in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and northern Virginia. I love helping individuals and couples feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera. If you’re a dog owner, that’s a plus! I’m currently booking 2023 portrait sessions, micro-weddings, and elopements, as well as 2023-2024 weddings.
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Rachel is a wedding and portrait photographer
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