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What’s in a Name – NPS? | Washington, DC Photography

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What’s in the NPS name?

I’ve heard it many times, “How did your business get its name?”

And NPS could stand for a lot of things.

  • NPS Photography

  • Nikon Photography School

  • National Park Service

  • National Presbyterian School (iykyk)

  • My name – Natasha Price Sewell

What27sInaName NPS DCPhotographer1 - NPS Photography

NPS Photography

In my case, NPS Photography stands for my name – Natasha Price Sewell.

Natasha Sewell Photography was just too long and Natasha and Sewell can easily be misspelled, so I went with my initials! It was something I never really thought about and I actually only checked to see if there was another NPS Photography – not any other business or organization – so when there wasn’t another NPS Photography, I took it!

But, I do have some connections to the three NPSs above!

Nikon Photography School

I have never taken a class or studied with Nikon Photography School, but I do shoot Nikon!

I started with a Nikon D40 – a Christmas gift from my husband while we were living in Germany in 2006. And now, I shoot primarily with a mirrorless Nikon Z6 – and it’s A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I also have two D750s and a D600. Too many cameras – I know! But it’s always good to have a back-up camera, right?

So, no, my business is not named or affiliated with the Nikon Photography School.

National Presbyterian School

Senior year in high school, I was required to do a Senior Project. A month-long experience with a supervisor from our school that culminated in an actual project or paper at the end.

I chose to be a volunteer in a kindergarten class at National Presbyterian School in Washington, DC (NPS)!  We had a family friend that taught kindergarten there and I was planning on studying elementary education in college, so it seemed like a perfect fit!

And working in a school and helping in a classroom cemented my plan to study elementary education in college. Did you know I was a first grade teacher before I had kids? I taught first grade.

The crazy thing about my senior project is, I can’t remember if I did a project or a paper! But, I do have fond memories of the kindergarteners (who would now be in their mid-30s – mind blown!) and activities we did.

Another crazy thing, my advisor for my senior project was a teacher in the lower school of my school (elementary grades) and I just did a newborn session for her granddaughter!!!  Small world, right? And so incredible to reconnect with people over the years.

So, no, NPS Photography isn’t named after National Presbyterian School in Washington, DC!

National Park Service

Nor is my business named after The National Park Service! However, I have been to many National Park Services’ locations (NPS.gov), as I’m sure you have, too.

National Parks can be found in all 50 states plus DC, Guam, American Samoas, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. I’m always surprised how many places are part of the NPS. And those brown signs always let me know they are part of the NPS!

But, NPS isn’t just parks, but battlefields, monuments, rec areas and so much more. Obviously, the monuments in DC are a big part of the National Park Service and they make a beautiful, historical backdrop for family photos, too.

I don’t think there’s a person in the US who hasn’t been to a NPS location!

NPS Locations I’ve Visited!

I have been fortunate to visit many NPS sites throughout my life and travels with my family (in case you didn’t know, travel is my true love language!). Just follow the brown signs!  I know you’ve all seen them.

I started looking through the National Park Service website and I was truly overwhelmed by the list, so I did what every girl would do, switched over to Wikipedia!  Wikipedia lists sites by state, so it’s much easier to follow! Here are some of my favorites:

  1. The Grand Canyon, Arizona – NPS – We did a Grand Canyon trip in 2012 with our kids. We even did a raft trip which was fun for everyone! Wouldn’t advise it if you’re scared of heights!

  2. Montezuma Castle National Park, Arizona – NPS – Part of our Arizona trip in 2012. Amazing to see this dwelling that is carved out of cliff.

  3. Golden Gate National Rec Area, California – Our kids get to choose their senior year spring breaks and my middle chose San Francisco in 2019. So, obviously we checked out the Golden Gate Bridge.

  4. Muir Woods, California – NPS – Part of our 2019 San Francisco trip.Totally amazing if you haven’t been! We loved hiking and exploring while we were there.

  5. Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia – Georgia summer beach trip in 2017. Georgia beaches are beautiful!

  6. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii – NPS – OK, buckle up for this one. In October 2002 my husband had a medical conference in Hawaii. I tagged along and we left three kids at home (4, 1 and 5 months!) with our mothers. The whole time I was there I was glued to the news because the DC sniper was on the loose. Not sure if you remember that, but one of the shootings happened at a gas station very close to our house. So, needless to say, my stress level was high, but we did manage to have a good trip overall. And we visited Pearl Harbor and the Arizona memorial which is beautiful and very moving.

  7. Acadia National Park, Maine – NPS – Maine is my sister’s happy place and after joining them in the summer of 2016 I understand why!  We often talk about our amazing hikes and adventures in Maine and the pop-overs at Jordan Pond!

  8. Fort McHenry, Maryland – NPS – I grew-up in the DC area and we did many day trips to Baltimore to explore!

  9. Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts – NPS – My husband’s uncle has a house on Cape Cod and we have enjoyed many summer vacations up there over the years in Brewster and Chatham.

  10. Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia – NPS – Again, grew-up in DC, went to college for a year in VA, so I’ve been there many times! Fall is definitely my favorite time of year.

  11. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio – NPS – We lived in Cleveland, Ohio from 2003-2006 and used to go explore with our young kids.

  12. San Juan National Historic Site, Puerto Rico – NPS – We honeymooned in Puerto Rico and went back for our 15th wedding anniversary!

  13. Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Texas – NPS – In high school, my sister and I visited my uncle in Texas (he was stationed there with the Air Force). We actually visited a lot of sites in Texas including The Alamo which isn’t on the NPS list!

  14. GW Memorial Parkway, Virginia – NPS – Again, I grew-up in the DC area.

  15. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Virginia – NPS *random fact* My mom was on the Wolf Trap Board back in the day and did  the Wolf Trap cookbook – Dining Al Fresco! My Grandfather’s BBQ sauce recipe can be found in the cookbook along with my mom’s corn pudding!

  16. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington – NPS – At one point, my husband wanted to do his residency in WA, so we went and checked it out! Beautiful out there, but too far away from our east coast family.

  17. Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC – NPS – Again, growing-up in DC.

  18. Too many NPS Washington, DC Monuments to list! – At this point you know!

Amazing National Park Service sites throughout the US and its territories and all of them make for beautiful pictures spots. But, we’re so fortunate in the DC area to have such a long list of amazing spots for photos – whether sightseeing or family pictures with a professional photographer.

And not all the spots are monuments. There are plenty of beautiful parks, too!

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What to consider when choosing a NPS location for photos?

When choosing a beautiful National Park Service location in the DC area there are some very important things to keep in mind!

  1. People. There are so many people in DC including tourists and it’s important to keep that in mind. Scheduling your session at a time of day when there aren’t mobs of people around might mean a VERY, early morning session. So be prepared! This session was taken at 7am – best light and no people.

  2. Season. Let’s face it, cherry blossom season is crazy in DC!  The paths and areas around the cherry blossoms are swamped and it’s difficult to find a people free area that shows off the beauty of the cherry blossoms. This is not to say it’s impossible to get cherry blossom pictures. It just might mean going to a slightly different, less travelled area!

  3. Architecture. Most of the NPS locations in DC have iconic architecture. Large white columns, lots of stone and beautiful stairs. You need to be sure you want these elements in your pictures. If you want all the greenery, you might want to choose another location!

  4. Timing. Typically I shoot in the early morning or close to sunset. As I stated above, early morning means less people…major bonus! Sunset is gorgeous, but there will be more people around.

  5. Weather. I am always a fan of SUN!  But there is nothing wrong with some cloud cover. Typically, I reschedule if it’s raining. Those early morning sessions are perfect in the spring and summer when it can be super hot outside! But, early mornings can be chilly in the fall and winter, so dress accordingly!

  6. Location. I’m a BIG fan of the Lincoln Memorial because you get the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument, too. The Jefferson Memorial is also gorgeous, but just be aware that it’s not close to the other monuments. So, you need to choose the location you prefer!

  7. Restrictions. There are very specific guidelines to where we can do photographs at the monuments. For this reason, I will choose exactly where we shoot. And we’ll need a permit!

  8. Parking. Parking is a breeze in the early morning hours! You might have to search or walk far for a sunset session.

The National Park Service DC monuments give you a stunning backdrop and the chance to truly pop! Pop? What do I mean by that?

Any neutral backdrop makes you pop! You really are the focus. All the National Park Service monuments are white marble and create the ideal neutral background for our photos. So, it’s important you choose what to wear very carefully. And lucky for you I have a blog post and Pinterest Board to help – plus you get a What to Wear Guide when you book a session with me!

We’ve covered how I got my business name (it’s my initials!), what National Parks I’ve visited, tips for your NPS (National Park Service and NPS Photography) photo session, and what to wear! Phew!!!!  That’s a lot of info, but there is one more thing…choosing the right National Park Service location for you!

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5 Best NPS Locations in DC For Photos

Although I haven’t photographed families in all these locations, I want to give you an overview of DC spots and, yes, National Park Service spots are on the list, so you can choose the location that’s right for you! Keep in mind, some locations require a photography fee and permit through NPS.

  1. Constitution Gardens – A park area in the confines of the National Mall. Lots of greenery and paths and even a little pond.

  2. Lincoln Memorial – Did I mention this is my favorite? Beautiful light and architecture.

  3. Rock Creek Park – So many spots on Rock Creek Park – nothing architectural, but lots of green!

  4. Jefferson Memorial – Cherry blossom heaven in the spring!

  5. Washington Monument – I personally like it in the background at a session. The Lincoln Memorial with the reflecting pool and Washington Monument are breathtaking!

So many amazing options! And the NPS sights aren’t the only amazing places for pictures in DC. DC is literally full of beautiful spots!

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4 Things to keep in mind when deciding which NPS location is best for your family:

  1. Do you want natural elements? Trees, grass, etc.

  2. Do you prefer architectural features as your backdrop?

  3. Are you willing to walk a bit to go to the BEST spots?

  4. What time of day works for your family?

Once you answer these questions, together we can choose the best location!

Do We Need a Permit?

Do we need a permit to shoot at DC National Park Service locations? This is a question I hear often! YES! We do. A permit is required for all DC National Park locations. But, I can make it easy for you and apply for it. You will just need to pay the fee.

There is a $90 processing fee and the permit fee depends on the number of people who will be at the session.  Typically my sessions are under 10 people, so the fee is $50. I usually put in the paperwork as soon as my client books a session, but you can apply up to a year in advance!

Whether you’ve lived in the DC area for your whole life, are here for a short time with the military or government, or are enjoying a vacation with your family, you can’t go wrong with a DC Family Session at one of the National Park Service locations listed above.

Are you ready to book a Lifestyle Session with NPS Photography whether at a National Park service location or in your home?

dc photographer

meet natasha

I'm DC photographer, Natasha Sewell. I'm all about capturing those unscripted, full-of-personality moments in the comfort of your home.

As a mom of three and a former elementary school teacher turned in-home newborn and family photographer, I know how to get your littles to cooperate and have FUN!

Let’s get to preserving your family's real-life moments in the place you’re most comfortable – your home.

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