National Harbor, Maryland

Scenes in National Harbor, Maryland

While the east coast of the U.S. is known for having beautiful sunrises, anyone who has visited the west coast will say the sunsets here pale in comparison to those in west coast cities like San Diego. 

This adage was proven wrong during my recent visit to National Harbor, Maryland, part of the greater Washington, D.C. area. I was in National Harbor for my first in-person professional development conference since February of 2020, days before the COVID-19 pandemic started shutting things down.

During our brief stay in this 300-acre waterfront development along the Potomac River, I had a chance to see for myself why Expedia has ranked National Harbor as one of “The Best Places to Catch Astounding Sunsets” in the United States.

With views of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the Washington monument, National Harbor is packed with 40 restaurants, a marina, public art displays, the largest casino outside of Las Vegas, and attractions such as an outdoor theater, and a 36-foot carousel. The area even has a circus.

My personal favorite thing to do was ride the Capital Wheel. This 15-minute experience takes riders 180 feet into the air, treating them to unique waterfront views of Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. 

Like the professional development opportunity that brought me to the area, the Capital Wheel ride provided me with a much-needed lift and a new perspective. When I was firmly back on the ground, I was inspired to capture the scenery around the Wheel in a different way.

State Farmers Market

Our State Farmers Market offers fresh produce, a chance to practice photography, and marketing insights.

One of our favorite summer activities is visiting the State Farmers Market to pick up locally grown fresh-cut flowers and produce harvested just a few hours before.

We are repeat customers of the Farmers Market because the taste and quality of the fruits and vegetables – particularly the corn, tomatoes, melons, and peppers – are unmatched by anything we can find in the grocery stores or grow ourselves.

It also brings us joy to support the farmers, vendors, and small businesses with booths at this expansive market owned and operated by the State of North Carolina.

Besides the obvious health benefits of getting fresh fruits and vegetables to add to our diets, walking around the Farmers Market provides me with other benefits. It gives me a chance to sharpen my photography skills. 

The wide variety of colorful plants and produce available at the Farmers Market provide endless photo inspiration. The tight, brightly sunlit spaces have forced me to get better at working unobtrusively with the conditions available. 

One of the tricks I’ve learned is to set my exposure compensation at -1 on sunny summer days to get better detail in the most harshly lit areas. I’ve also learned to spot and make good compositions from existing arrangements since vendors don’t take too well to people rearranging their products!

Finally, these trips have also been a fascinating study in marketing. With handwritten signs, similar prices, and no-frills booths and display tables, the produce and flower vendors compete solely on product. The produce that looks the freshest and best is going to get bought. 

It’s a good reminder that when competition is high and there are few opportunities for promotion, one of the best ways you can stand out is to improve your product.