Neil Colton Photographer: The Blog » Lifetsyle, Travel & Fine Art Photography by Neil Colton


Washington, DC Portrait Photography-Portrait of A Correspondent


Gunnar was frustrated.

An online article he had recently authored in the US was to be featured in Der Spiegel’s print edition.  His editor in Berlin needed updated professional portraits and headshots of Guunar and he needed them now!

As a Senior US Correspondent for Der Spiegel, Gunnar was accustomed to having his articles published, but with a text by-line, not a headshot or portrait.  It had been years since he had a professional portrait or headshot created. He was scrambling to find a photographer who could create the type of environmental portrait that matched the look he wanted. He searched the web, scouring dozens of Washington, DC portrait photographer’s sites. He found nothing that inspired him.

Then he found my site. He liked what he saw.

I was traveling when his email came in.  Gunnar wanted my earliest open date. According to him, my portraits were modern, classic and engaging. I’ll take that.

I looked ahead to the first opening on my schedule, called Gunnar and offered him the date. Their was noticeable relief in his voice. His job was done. Mine was just beginning.  Gunnar wanted an environmental portrait that had a ‘very natural’ look. No cliche shots of him sitting on the steps of the Capitol or straddling the center line of Constitution Avenue at 5AM. Nothing that would scream ‘foreign correspondent in Washington DC’.

I knew just the place.

We met at a small park in the Virginia countryside, about an hour west of downtown Washington. I don’t shoot there often, but when I do, I remember just why I like doing outdoor portrait sessions there. Tall mature trees create large areas of wonderful open shade, next to sun drenched fields bordered by wooden fences and low stone walls.  A working grist mill and restored historical buildings strung around the site offer great options for settings and backdrops. Add in a lily pond, walking paths and a restored tool shed, circa 1800, and the option list for portrait shots is a location photographer’s dream.

We meet early on a weekday morning. The park feels like it’s our own outdoor studio. We are virtually alone.

Gunnar is nervous. Very nervous.

I solve that quickly, getting right into the session. No time to let him worry about how he looks look or how to pose. I start shooting and talking.  It works. Within 5 minutes, Gunnar is comfortable with me, with himself and with the session. We are rolling. We move around the site, working the settings and creating a series of portraits and headshots of Gunnar.

A little over an hour later, we are done. Another dealine met, another satisfied client and one very happy editor.







Washington DC Portrait Photography: Portrait of An Artist

Olga Bauer is a talented Washington, DC mixed media artist, specializing in abstract art. She is also a friend and a wonderful subject for portrait photography. Olga and I met a few years ago, when I photographed her and her family on a warm sunny day in May. We enjoyed that session so much that we decided to meet again in the fall and create a series of portraits of Olga alone.

For this session, I chose a location along the Potomac River, just north and west of the city. Bordered by a broad walking trail cut through a deep dense forest, the location was perfect for the day. We met there on a bright cool morning in November. The fall colors were stunning and so was Olga, as we spent the next few hours searching for the best locations to create a series of portraits for Olga’s personal portfolio.

Olga is not only a very talented artist, but she is also a wonderful model, with qualities of elegance, poise, beauty and patience that are admired and appreciated by this portrait photographer. Shooting in the studio allows control of every aspect of a portrait session. From the ambient temperature in the room to the color and quality of thelight, the photographer is in complete charge. No guesswork there.

Move outdoors and that all changes, dramatically.

Everything becomes a challenge and that continues through the session. From choosing the best locations to managing pink cheeks to harnessing (or avoiding) the power and beauty of a brilliant sun, creating portraits on location requires a patient (and adventurous) model and an experienced photographer. On this day, Olga brought the patience and adventurous spirit and I brought the camera, along with a bit of experience.

Many thanks to Olga for a wonderful session and to helping me create some great portraits of her!

To see Olga’s artwork, please visit

Thanks for checking out Washington DC Portrait Photography: Portrait of An Artist!




 Joel & Julia: A Love Story

This love story begins in China.

The place is Beijing. A newly arrived American student named Joel is introduced by friends to a beautiful Chinese girl, Qian (Julia). Joel is smitten immediately and son Julia is, too. They fall deeply in love. They spend the next two wonderful years together, before Joel accepts an assignment that will take him to Singapore and away from  Julia. For the next two long years they would live through a difficult long distance relationship, flying between Singapore and Beijing and dreaming of the day they would be together again.

Then, a sudden twist in fortune takes Joel to Washington, DC on a new job assignment.  Once settled in Washington, Joel would launch what would become a complicated and intense effort to bring his true love to the United States. A year would pass, slowly. Then, after countless hours, days and weeks of phone calls, fighting the piles of endless red tape and, in the end, making desperate personal appeals to newly found friends with influence, Julia would fly to Washington!  Joel and Julia would finally be united.

Now together in Washington, they would soon wed in a private civil ceremony in the city. But that is not where this love story ends.

Julia had always dreamed of a beautiful traditional wedding among friends and family, in her homeland of China. The civil marriage was one of convenience and necessity only. And so, to fulfill her dream, Joel and Julia returned to the small city in China that was Julia’s childhood home. There, among loving family members and childhood friends they were wed in a beautiful traditional Chinese wedding ceremony. So ends one true tale of love, as another is only just beginning.

Now, to the images of Joel & Julia: A Love Story.


wedding portrait of a bride and groom in washington dc
wedding portrait of a bride and groom at the tidal basin in washington dcwedding portrait of a bride and groom at the tidal basin in washington dcwedding portrait of a bride and groom at the jefferson memorial in washington dcwedding portrait of a bride at the jefferson memorial in washington dcwedding portrait of a bride and groom kissing at the jefferson memorial in washington dcwedding portrait of a bride and groom at the fdr memorial in washington dccandid wedding portrait of a bride and groom at the tidal basin in washington dccandid wedding portarit of a bride and groom walking near the tidal basin in washington dcwedding portrait of a bride at the fdr memorial in washington dc


The Lincoln Memorial by Neil Colton PhotographerVietnam Womens MemorialWashington DC Photography Tours-FDR Memorial


Award winning photographer Neil Colton leads private photography tours in the historic Capital City of Washington, DC. These personal tours are designed for individual photographers and groups of up to four. The focus is on travel photography, lifestyle photography and photojournalism, capturing images of the iconic, historic sites of this beautiful city and learning to tell the story of your visit with compelling photographic essays.

With its broad well lit streets, low skyline and easy access to monuments, memorials and museums, Washington, DC is one of the most photogenic and photographer-friendly cities in the world.

Photography tours are 4 hours long and open to any level of photographer. Tours can include:

  • The Icons of Washington, including the White House, The Lincoln Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial and other iconic sites on The National Mall
  • Capitol Hill
  • DuPont Circle
  • Georgetown
  • Adams Morgan

Neil will lead you to the best places in Washington to create compelling pictures of this historic Capital City.  He will also lead you to sites that are off the beaten path, where tourists and visitors rarely go. As a longtime resident and former lead instructor for one of Washington’s most popular photography tour companies, Neil knows the city well.

Unlike fast-paced, heavily scripted tours, your itinerary is flexible and can be changed on the fly. Throughout the day, Neil works alongside you, at your pace and without pressure, to make sure you see the city as you want to see it and that you capture wonderful images of the city of Washington, DC.

About Neil

Neil began his photography career as an architectural photographer, creating images of award winning projects for architects and design firms. He has worked as a photojournalist, a commercial lifestyle photographer and as a contract photographer for a media company in New York, creating portraits of CEOs and CFOs in the financial world. His travel photography has been featured in regional publications and travel magazines. His commercial clients have included ad agencies representing Airbnb, American Express, AT&T and Anheuser Busch. His documentary portraits of The People of Haiti were used as the stage backdrop for high profile benefit concerts in the US, following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Haiti in 2010. They have also been used by several international non-profit organizations and NGOs for worldwide promotional campaigns.

His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Professional Photographer, Elan’ Magazine and Hilton Head Magazine, among others.


  • For solo photographers, the rate is $325.
  • For 2 photographers, the rate is $285 per photographer.
  • For groups of 3- 4 photographers, the tour rate is $275 per photographer.

To schedule a private photography tour or workshop, or for more information, contact Neil by email here.

Spring and summer 2019 tour and workshop dates are booking now. Please contact me if you are interested in a private tour of Washington or a personal photography workshop. I would love to share this beautiful city with you!


It was truly a great experience having you personally taking me around Washington, DC and teaching me excellent photography tips and insights from your considerable personal experience. “

Dr. Ian L., Santa Monica, CA

I was heading to Europe, ready to take great pictures of the cities and sights in England, Spain, France and Italy. My new camera was all that I expected, but my pictures were not. They were more like snapshots: flat and boring. A friend recommended that I take a travel photography workshop with Neil before the trip. I am so glad that I did! In a few short hours Neil showed me how to compose a photograph and ‘see’ the picture, before I snapped the shutter. He also showed me how ‘tell a story’ with my pictures. Working with Neil has given me the confidence to take on Europe with my camera!

I can’t wait for the plane to take off!

Steven S., Bethesda, MD

I have taken many workshops and tours, but Neil’s private tour in DC has been the best of them all. I learned more in 3 hours with Neil than I did in the 3 years I have owned my DSLR. His instruction is clear and simple and he takes the time to work with you individually. I definitely recommend Neil to anyone who wants to improve their photography and create great images.

Linda C., Washington, DC