What a difference a couple of weeks make. As April started in the Mid-Atlantic region, freezing temperatures and a couple of inches of snow would have led you to believe that winter would never end. Instead of birds singing in the morning all you could hear was the unmistakable raspy sound of ice scrapers chiseling away windshields before the dreaded morning commute to work got started. Gladly, all that appears to be behind us now and those dreaded ice scrappers have been put away for good. This coming week should also be the peak bloom period for the famous cherry trees lining the Tidal Basin in DC. The annual Cherry Blossom Festival is in full force and the weather could not be more perfect. Time to get out and see the world waking up from its long, winter slumber. See you out there.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say that we’ve had enough of this winter. Not that the DC Metro area can compare with the likes of Norway or Hokkaido, but rather that we are just not used to this long, wintry seasons any more. Sure, they show up every three or four years, but this lack of consistency is not enough for anyone to justify those big winter purchases, if you know what I mean. Proof of this is the fact that a single inch of snow is enough to close all area schools and the Federal government (do they still get paid if they stay home?). Small businesses are affected as well when area customers gravitate to shopping malls and large retailers in order to stay warm while overcoming cabin fever syndrome. So, if by any chance Pope Francis happens to be reading this blog (I know, a long shot, but I’m going to take it anyway), I would like to ask him to do a little lobbying above his pay grade to see if this endless winter can finally be put to rest. And just in case, a million thank-you’s in advance.
Something good always happens in our national capital region when a snow storms forces most of the government to shut down for a few days. For starters, the entire region’s stress level comes down a notch or two. Bureaucrats get to enjoy a paid day off courtesy of the taxpayers and the environment gets a bit cleaner thanks to tens of thousands of commuters staying home for the day. What’s more, a sort of calm sets into the area with the falling snow, giving people a chance to reconnect with themselves and the place where they live. It may not be quite enough for advocates of the Slow Movement to label Washington, DC as a Slow City, but it’s nice to experience for a day or two what all that slow stuff is all about. I’m digging it.
Afraid of walking up to a stranger and asking if you can take their picture? Can’t blame you if you are, as it could be a nerve-wracking experience for the non-extroverts amongst us. What people with cameras don’t realize is that the worst that could happen is for you to get a dismissive “no” in the process. Rarely will people show any fangs as part of their answer. My experience has been that while half the people will say no and keep on walking, the other half will gladly say “yes,” if you ask nicely. In fact, for many folks out there minding their own business, your asking is kind of an ego-booster of some sort. People take time to make themselves up as best as possible before going out, and it is not to be visually ignored by the rest of us. As a photographer, you can’t help but notice these fashionistas when you go out. They are different in some visual way: better looking, more colorful, strange, exotic, or simply unique. Whatever the reason, they catch the photographer’s eye, and the often-repeated advice that being nice and showing a sincere interest in them (or what they are doing) will always go a long way in you getting them to agree to have their picture taken. So best to avoid photographic ambushes that give so many photographers a bad reputation and instead give your subjects a little time from your busy photo day. You’ll be amazed at how nice people can be in return, as I discovered with the young woman in the photo.