Ditch the National Mall photoshoot for unconventional backdrops around the District

Media Credit: Sarah Urtz | Assistant Photo Editor

Venture to places on campus or around the District for a picture-perfect shot.

The backdrop of the Washington and Lincoln monuments will never disappoint for a graduation photoshoot. But there are more off-beat spots where you can pose with your cap and gown on campus and around D.C. that will make your photos stand out from the rest.

The stairs on the back of the honors program building

You may not know about this spot on campus, but the metal staircase descending from the back of the University Honors Program building is a hidden gem for a photoshoot.  The honors program building sits on the edge of Kogan Plaza, and the metal, industrial-looking staircase is attached to the back of the building. You can pose on the stairs and snap a portrait without needing to leave campus.

University Honors Program building, 714 21st St. NW.

Dumbarton Oaks Garden

Dumbarton Oaks Garden was purchased by art collectors Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss in 1920. For the next 30 years, the Blisses transformed the 50-acre property into a landscape filled with hundreds of different plant species, from enormous beech trees to rose gardens.

The grounds include several places for a photo opportunity, including the Arbor Terrace, a wooden terrace crawling with vines that overlook the lower gardens; an orchid filled with apple, cherry and pear trees; and the Box Walk, a long, brick staircase flanked by boxwood hedges. There are also several fountains and sculptures in the Star Garden.

Dumbarton Oaks Garden, 1703 32nd St. NW. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m.

The Bridge at Yard’s Park

Yard’s Park is one of the newest additions to D.C.’s ongoing development of the Southeast waterfront. The center of the park is a 200-foot pedestrian bridge that was completed in 2010. The bridge’s tunnel-like rings that line the walkway stand out over the surrounding architecture in the park. The bridge can add depth to any photo, and graduates can pose in the middle of the tunnel for a portrait in a cap and gown.

Yard’s Park, 355 Water St. SE. Open every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The National Arboretum

While it is a bit of a hike off campus, the National Arboretum’s 446 acres of gardens and greenland is an ideal location for an outdoors photoshoot. The massive property contains several different exhibits showcasing plants from all over the globe, like bonsai trees and pink, red and white peonies.

In addition to its gardens, one of its most popular attractions is the National Capitol Columns. The permanent installation displays 22 Corinthian columns that supported the U.S. Capitol Building when it was first constructed in 1828. The columns now sit in the Ellipse Meadow at the arboretum and could be a breathtaking backdrop for a graduation photo that includes a historical element of D.C.

National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. NE. Open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Blind Whino

The Blind Whino is a nonprofit organization and event space in Southwest D.C. dedicated to arts and culture. The arts collective is housed in a historic church that was home to the Friendship Baptist Congregation for nearly a century. The worn-down walls on the exterior of the church have since been painted with abstract, vibrant artwork in all colors of the rainbow, becoming an Instagram-worthy location. For a funky photo with several colors, pose in your cap and gown in front of the Blind Whino.

The Blind Whino, 700 Delaware Ave. SW. Open Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

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