Well, it was a little past peak, but the annual DC Cherry Blossom Festival was actually today, and the weather was drop dead gorgeous also, so we dragged our butts out of bed at 6:30am and were on the road by 7:00am sharp to get down into town to take it all in! Like usual, our timing was perfect. It only took us 40 minutes to get down to the Tidal Basin from Rockville, MD, we quickly and easily found a spot to park along Ohio St SW, and then took everything in in around 2 hours before the crowds made it impossible. First photo taken at 7:43am, last photo taken at 9:31am, including plenty of family photo and doggy breaks. As we were rolling out is right when all of the tour buses and various groups had unloaded. What had been quiet and peaceful bridges and pathways with plenty of space before, became mobbed with people and standing room only, which we hate. We snickered as we were rolling out at the massive crowds we managed to dodge, and then lumbered our way back up to Georgetown Cupcakes, where there wasn't a line yet either, and got a dozen to go! :) After a grocery stop closer to home, we were home by 11:00am.
Pro tip, folks. This pro photog cries every time he goes down to see the famous DC Cherry Blossoms, and sees so many people with very expensive pro grade photography gear trying to take pictures of their wives or girlfriends, but without a flash! Dude, people, guys, you NEED fill flash for stuff like this, or else your girlfriends are going to beat you! :) Especially with mixed lighting through trees with part of a person's face in shadows and another part in direct sunlight, fill flash is needed to help even the illumination, and it's especially needed when taking backlit photos like below. In one shot my flash just hadn't recycled completely yet, as it was probably popping off full power shots. It's not often that I drag around my big lump full-sized Canon 580EX flash, but this is one of those occasions. See the difference?
If you can't figure out the whole flash thing (there's not much to it, I just knew when I needed one and turned it on), you just need to find places where you can shoot that have nice natural lighting and that aren't backlit, and where illumination is even across a person's face. There's nothing more painful than seeing some really pretty girls all dressed up to the nines, who were having photos taken of them by someone who had no clue what they were doing!
My setup was exactly as shown. My workhorse Canon 7D Mark II body (could have been a cheap Rebel for this and it wouldn't have mattered), and my Canon 18-135mm IS STM white box special "kit lens", and the essential 580EX flash for anything with people in it. I had my trusty Tokina 12-28mm ultra-wide lens in my bag also, but never actually used it.
The weather in the DC area is best described as schizophrenic in March and April. Last year we froze our butts off and actually got better photos at home, but this year it was absolutely perfect, so we really enjoyed this!