Cherry Blossom Time

My self-assignment to photograph cherry blossoms in Washington D.C., back in the early '90's, had been carefully worked out. From maps I studied the locations of monuments and their proximities to each other, where to park, traffic flows, which streets were one-way, etc. My objective was to produce transparencies of some of our national monuments with the blossoming cherry trees. Early morning and late afternoon shots only. I had a pretty good idea of where the sun would rise and set relative to selected monuments, and planned my shooting accordingly. The weather alternated between snow, freezing rain, and rain as I drove south toward D.C. Steady rainfall and congested Beltway traffic that evening did little to elevate my spirits. On schedule, and according to plan, I parked at my predetermined location near the Tidal Basin early the following morning. Joggers and day walkers were already circulating. The cherry blossoms looked good, and I figured that a little sun and warmth would have them picture perfect.

However, what with all my planning and logistical considerations, I failed to take into account one important thing - lots of people. Bus loads and bus loads of cherry blossom viewers. At times it seemed as though a camera on a tripod set up a magnetic attraction to other camera bearers. "Look", I heard one junior high-schooler exclaim, "there's a photographer", and fifteen or twenty kids were soon streaming out of their yellow bus and enthusiastically clustered in front of my view with their instamatics at the ready. The misperception seemed to be that I knew something they didn't.

The next morning was clear and fresh when I parked beside the Basin in time for the early light. Although I felt better about some of the photographs I took that morning, I still didn't feel comfortable and relaxed with my approach, or more to the point, with my looking. Maybe my plan was to rigid, I began to think, maybe I should plan less and see more. After all, plans can change.

So, for the next two days I walked, and looked, and photographed whatever moved me. Instead of trying to avoid people I often let them become my subjects.

School kids, picnickers, fellow photographers - all subject matter against the backdrop of our nations capital at Cherry Blossom time. Everyone was having a good time, and I was no exception.

I returned home satisfied with the outing. Instead of feeling disappointed about the planned photographs that I didn't take, I felt good about the unplanned ones that I did.