Learn the principles of cemetery and landscape photography and a bonus lesson on how to photograph ghosts in a cemetery
Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery
Photograph Arlington National Cemetery beautifully decorated with holiday wreaths!
From the Revolutionary War to present day conflicts, our veterans are devoted sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. They come from all backgrounds in life to place those lives on the line for our freedoms. Wreaths Across America honors their sacrifices by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 3,400 locations across the United States, at sea and abroad.
The current-day program began in 1992, when the Worcester Wreath Company found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience of visiting Arlington National Cemetery, Morrell Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s veterans. With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.
The annual tribute went on quietly for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet. Suddenly, the project received national attention. Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington, to emulate the Arlington project at their National and State cemeteries, or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for honoring our nation’s heroes.
In 2007, the Worcester family, along with veterans, and other groups and individuals such as local American Legion and VFW Posts who had helped with their annual veterans wreath ceremony in Arlington, formed Wreaths Across America, a non-profit 501-(c)(3) organization, to continue and expand this effort, and support other groups around the country who wanted to do the same. In 2008, Wreaths Across America became a national tribute with December 13, 2008 unanimously voted by the US Congress as “Wreaths Across America Day”.
In 2014, Wreaths Across America and its national network of volunteers laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 locations in the United States and beyond, including ceremonies at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, as well as Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and the sites of the September 11 tragedies. The organization’s goal of covering Arlington National Cemetery was met in 2014 with the placement of 226,525 wreaths. Since 2014, every grave in Arlington National Cemetery is decorated with a wreath on Wreaths Across America Day, which is the 3rd Saturday in December. This year, that is December 17, 2022.
Arlington National Cemetery itself is very photogenic – it is one of the most beautiful locations in the D.C. area. Add in the Holiday wreaths on every headstone and it makes for an amazing sight! The early morning light, with frost/dew adds to the beauty of the cemetery. On the safari, instructor Sherryl Belinsky, who has spent many hours at the cemetery photographing its beauty in every season, will discuss tips and techniques for composition, white balance, lens usage, and aperture and shutter settings. Since there is a fair amount of walking, tripods are optional. Be sure to bring a wide-angle prime or zoom lens that will cover a wide range of focal lengths.
We will meet outside the Visitor’s Center – once you go through security and exit the building, we will meet to the left of the steps, near where the Trolley picks up passengers. From there, we will walk up Roosevelt Drive, then Weeks Drive to the Kennedy Family Gravesite. From there, we will continue up Sheridan Drive and Cook Walk to Arlington House, where Union Civil War soldiers that were the first to be buried in the cemetery are interred, to photograph the view of Washington.
We will return to Cook Walk and follow it to Wilson Avenue and the Memorial Ampitheatre, where we will photograph the Changing of the Guard at 11am. Along the way, there will be plenty of opportunities to photograph hundreds of headstones decorated with wreaths. There is a lot of walking on this safari, so wear comfortable footwear and dress for the weather!
Parking onsite – $3/hr. or METRO stop (ANC) on the Blue Line
- Extra memory cards
- Extra charged battery
- Tripods optional
- Accessories such as filters, remote release
- Weather appropriate clothing
We will meet outside the Visitor’s Center – once you go through security and exit the building, we will meet to the left of the steps, near where the Trolley picks up passengers.
Sherryl Belinsky is an award-winning photographer who lives in Northern Virginia. She started her love affair with photography over 40 years ago, when she bought her first SLR (film) camera – a Pentax K1000, and her boyfriend (now her husband of 41 years) who was studying Fine Art at George Washington University taught her the principles of photography. Over the years, she has continued to practice and fine tune her skills as a photographer, although when her two sons were young, they were the subjects of the majority of her photos! As her sons grew older and she had more “free time”, she picked up her camera and started looking for a variety of subjects again. Her favorite types of photography are flower and nighttime (especially fireworks!).
She bought her first digital camera in late 2001, and her latest, a mirrorless, interchangeable lens digital camera, in late 2019. About 10 years ago, she started going on safaris with WPS and taking workshops, which has enabled her to learn new techniques and refine her ever-expanding skillset.