DC is beautiful and historic and has tons of amazing places where you might want to have your professional photo shoot. Unfortunately, many of those places (like the ones with monuments in the background) are permitted. Obtaining a permit is not terribly difficult. However, it is an added cost that some folks do not want to pile on top of the cost of a professional photographer. And YES, they will ask you to see your permit, sometimes more than once by different park rangers. So trying to get away without the permit is not the best idea.
Luckily, there are still a few lovely spots in DC where you can take photos without a permit!
Located between D St. NE and Constitution Ave, NW at Louisiana Ave, NW
Senate Park boasts a lovely fountain and a straight on view of the Capitol. Another little hint, there are also beautiful cherry blossoms here for those who don't want to brave the Tidal Basin (or get a permit) come cherry blossom season.
Meridian Hill Park
Located in Columbia Heights at 2330 15th St, NW
Also known as Malcolm X Park, the park has beautiful stairs, fountains, pools and sits on a hill for a beautiful view of the city below.
Georgetown Waterfront Park
Located along the banks of the Potomac River from 31st St, NW to the Key Bridge
Sitting right along the water this park offers a view of Arlington, the Kennedy Center and the boats on the Potomac.
Located at 703 1st St, SE
Photographing inside Union Station DOES require a permit, but the outside of the building is almost as gorgeous as the inside and can be used without a permit.