D.C.’s last snowball fight of the winter? (one can only hope)

There are lots of great photo opportunities during the winter. Unfortunately, they’re in the winter. What I’ve come to accept is that I don’t like the cold and I certainly don’t like walking around with my camera when temperatures are below freezing. Still, sometimes, you just have to man up and get out there.

On Monday, in what was hopefully the last snowfall of the season for Washington, D.C., I trudged out to the National Mall to take pictures of a snowball fight organized by the Washington DC Snowball Fight Association. Yes, such an organization actually exists to bring order to what could otherwise be Twitter-induced flash-mob mayhem.

After a blizzard back in 2009, a snowball fight organized over social media turned into a free-for-all at one of the city’s main intersections. It famously resulted in a plain clothes  police officer drawing his weapon on a crowd that had just pelted his Hummer with snowballs. I’m pretty sure if you drive a Hummer into a snowball fight, you’re pretty much asking for people to throw at you.


Snowball fights in the nation’s capital are a civilized affair / Photo by Joe Newman

Anyways, these days, snowball fights are still organized via Twitter and Facebook but are rather civilized affairs. The organizers tell participants not to throw snowballs at vehicles, to respect the police and not to target members of the media on hand to cover the event. (Think more Kickball League than Gangs of New York.)

How considerate are these people? Well, consider that they moved the location of Monday’s snowball fight from their usual spot at DuPont Circle because someone had shoveled the sidewalk and left too many chunks of ice in piles around the circle.

There was an organized snowball fight in January and I had wanted to get out to shoot some photos but … there’s that matter of how I don’t like being out in the cold.

But as someone who wants to be serious about his photography, I realized this is something I need to overcome because not taking pictures three to four months out of the year is not a great option. To that end, I recently ordered a pair of shearling-lined leather boots from L.L. Bean. They arrived in time for the big snowstorm we had during President’s Day weekend but as it turned out, we left town for our annual trip to Palm Springs just as the storm started bearing down on D.C.

I figured that I wouldn’t have another chance to wear them this winter. Fortunately (unfortunately?), I was wrong.

The new boots came through Monday’s snowball fight with flying colors. I walked around in four to five inches of snow for more than an hour and my feet were never cold. The other thing that performed flawlessly was my new Olympus E-M1, which, when used with my M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, is weather sealed to keep moisture out and is designed to work in frigid temperatures.

I can’t say the same thing about my right hand. At the top of my list for next winter is to find a pair of gloves that allow you to slip an index finger out to work the camera controls. As the British say, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”

All images by Joe Newman.  See more on flickr.






Joe Newman

I'm Joe Newman, multi-media story teller, non-profit do-gooder, international street photographer, serious poker player, intrepid traveler. Bourbon drinker.

  • Jess

    March 16, 2014 at 12:28 am

    That looks like so much fun! Even though winter is the last thing I want to think about now. I’ve had the same dilemma as you – I know I should be getting out to practice my photography, but my fingers go numb in ten minutes and I just want to be where it’s warm

    • Joe Newman

      March 27, 2014 at 11:53 am

      Well, it wasn’t the last snow of the year. We had four or five more inches of snow on St. Patrick’s Day and flurries again this week. That’s crazy for DC.