8 Top Portrait Photographers in Washington, DC

The Nation’s Capital is clearly no stranger to professional photographers, news hub and press magnet that it is. For wordpreneurs in the region, this turns the city and its huge metropolitan area into an incredibly rich resource for local photographic talent, whatever the genre, like portraits. Whatever wordpreneur project you may need their professional portraiture help with—headshots, personal branding, content, book cover images, etc.—they’re  just an email or phone call away. Here are eight of the top Washington, DC portrait photographers for you to check out.

Demonstrating very clean, crisp, and slick sensibilities, Paco Alacid’s portraits and headshots are visually striking. Whether shooting in studio or on location, there is a palpable “fashion” aura to a lot of his work, and that’s not surprising at all with over 25 years of fashion photography experience. With a keen eye on purpose, however, Alacid adeptly adjusts seamlessly without missing a beat to capture images that nail the desired objective. Browse through his website portfolio and Instagram account to see his skills in action, whether he’s shooting portraits, headshots, or highly-produced fashion scenes.

For a lively, colorful, and very upbeat look and feel, take a look at lifestyle photographer Danielle Finney’s work. No studios here—Finney shoots her clients out on location, in naturally-lit settings, instantly giving her images an unmistakably true-to-life friendly, comfortable vibe. We can see it in her models’ expressions and demeanor, and we can sense their personalities jumping out of their pictures. Finney clearly has that intangible ability to connect with her subjects, and when combined with technical mastery, we can vividly see that it results in truly spectacular portraits.

Edgy, sometimes gritty, and undeniably compelling, Nick Moreland’s portraits tell stories without uttering a word. They communicate, and powerfully. Unusual among Washington, DC portrait photographers we’ve seen, Moreland’s use of hard flash is almost ubiquitous, whether he’s working in his studio or not. The tool sure is a perfect fit with his artistic sensibilities, however—the man likes his contrasts, edges, and sharp details. But man, do his images draw you in and keep you riveted! He notes that he’s also been playing around with color gels and filters, and we have zero doubts he’ll pump out impactful images with those as well.

Wedding and portrait photographer Mari Harsan brings a more classic, conservative style to the table. Her formal portrait sessions happen traditionally in a studio to begin with, typically without props, and with simple backdrops, nothing that will distract and take attention away from her subject. Using exquisite lighting techniques and model direction, Harsan effectively sculpts and manipulates all the elements into the stunning images we can see in her portfolio. Interestingly, while browsing through her on-location wedding pictures, we can see that the portraits she captures there are also similarly cleanly set and composed, giving us more than just a hint of Harsan’s vision, taste, and creative instincts.

Often serious, dramatic, and incredibly strong, William Martinez’s work has a quality we find unique among Washington, DC portrait photographers. Many of his portraits are clearly planned and prepped, and yet they are intriguingly—even hauntingly—real. Martinez favors using available light, producing an abundance of natural shadows and darkness; when combined with his deceptively simple compositions and usually stoic subjects, the results are, more often than not, just brilliant. Sure, Martinez’s impactful approach has very specific visual applications, but if that’s the look you want, with clients like Google and Amazon, among many others, you’ll be in good company.

Technology. Business. Government. Entertainment. Health. Media. Science. These are just some of the industries and fields whose prominent figures have had their portraits shot by Zaid Hamid. A creative portrait photographer for over three decades, seeing one of his very slick images leaves no doubt in one’s mind that it was captured by someone who knows exactly what to do with a camera. His images aren’t just notable for their high technical quality, though—as you browse through his polished work, keep on the lookout for various elements you’ll often spot in many images that reveal his subject’s personality.

It’s particularly fascinating and refreshing today to encounter a photographer like Alyona Vogelmann who loves to work with black & white. She shoots color too, but we can clearly see from Vogelmann’s portfolio that her simple, clean, and classic creative style lends itself very well to b&w. Not that her color work is lacking! On the contrary, Vogelmann’s abilities with both mediums present a double whammy for her fine art and personal branding portraiture clientele, giving them the best of all worlds. Want to be wowed? Make sure to check out the Before & After page on her website.

An actor, Daniel Carkuff-Corey says he wanted to make funny YouTube videos, so he got his very first camera. It turns out, he’s really talented at using it. So good, in fact, he’s made a business of it. We’ll need to point out one thing, just in case you don’t notice it from his portfolio: unlike the other Washington, DC portrait photographers here, Carkuff-Corey predominantly does headshots. Take a look. If you don’t notice it immediately, that just highlights exactly why we’re impressed: his headshots are so brilliant, they look and feel nothing like the cookie-cutter standard stuff we’re all used to seeing. We think you’ll be amazed at what he can capture and create being that close to his subjects, and consistently. If you need killer headshots, Carkuff-Corey’s definitely your guy.