Photo Assignment: Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial


Given that a trillion photos were snapped in 2015, the odds of snapping an “original” photo at a tourist attraction or monument/memorial in Washington are ridiculously low, but it’s fun to try and see what you can accomplish.

The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial is one of my favorite places to visit in Washington.  Compared to the other old buildings and monuments in Washington that recall ancient (for the U.S.) history, the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial is a living monument.  Besides memorializing a war that happened during many of our lifetimes, it is constantly changing, with the mementoes being left behind behind by these visitors making its recency much more palpable.


The Memorial was quite controversial around the time of its design and construction, with its black stone (from Bangalore, India!) and unconventional design.  The Memorial includes two other pieces, the Three Servicemen and the Women’s Memorial, which are placed close enough to interact but not so close as to distract from the design of the black wall.


Red Carnation

I went to photograph the Memorial early in the morning – actually well before dawn.  The reflective black stone allows a visitor to see his or her reflection simultaneously with the engraved names (58,307 total), which is meant to symbolically bring together past and present.  The two 246 foot, 9 inch walls point toward the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and at night, the row of lights and the interplay of the lit monuments in the distance , along with the reflective nature of the walls, offer a lot of interesting photographic options.


Dawn 2

Reflecting on Lincoln

So when I g0t there at 5 something, intending to set up at the apex of where the two walls meet, there was this guy all set up with his tripod up by the Washington Monument end.  There was this giant pink cloud passing in the sky.  But fortunately he packed up about 10 minutes after I arrived.


I thought it was a cool shot, but the next two ended up being my favorites.



It’s a stunning Memorial to a tragic loss of 58,307 lives. I tried to capture it photographically, probably like thousands before me – but ultimately, there’s nothing like going to see it in person.

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