A certified sixth-grade teacher and a longtime resident of the DC metropolitan area, Shaady Fakhrai seems perfectly suited to deliver informative tours of the capitol. But it wasn't her professional experience or her hometown pride that got her in the saddle—it was a medical emergency. After a terrible accident left her wheelchair bound for several months, her only release was her physical therapy sessions, where she'd rebuild her leg muscles on a stationary bicycle. She made a vow in that doctor's office: "The day that I can ride a bike again, I'm going to ride my bike for, like, fifty miles, and I'm not going to stop." And that's exactly what she did. Soon after her recovery, happenstance led her to cross paths with a pedicab, and two days later, she was starting a brand-new career.
Today Fakhrai oversees a fleet of pedicabs and drivers who lead not only historical tours, but also bar crawls, holiday excursions, trivia tours for prizes, and demonstrations in ponytail physics. On the Monuments Tour, locals and tourists alike get the inside scoop on the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Vietnam War Memorial, and the National Mall. The Lincoln Beer Tour starts out by tracing the footsteps of the assassin John Wilkes Booth, and ends at a local brewery where guests toast the Great Emancipator with free samples. The DC Wonderland Wine Tasting tour ups the ante on capitol refreshments by letting riders sip still or sparkling wine while they tour the Newseum, the Crime and Punishment Museum, and the Friendship Arch, among other locales.
French-trained photographer E. David Luria loves many subjects, but he directs most of his attention toward Washington, DC's historic architecture. His images, which lovingly depict the city's landmarks, have been published in Time magazine as well as several local Washington papers. Luria teaches tricks of his trade privately for the Smithsonian Resident Associates Program, but also through Washington Photo Safari's tours.
Luria, along with a team of 11 other instructors—many experienced independent photographers and photojournalists—shepherd small groups through the capital's streets, gardens, and halls while teaching them photographic techniques. These include how to use selective focus, control F-stops and shutter speeds, and remove vampires from pictures taken at night. They then help participants practice these skills on expeditions through buildings such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington National Cathedral, and the National Building Museum. More seasonal tours let guests document the short-lived cherry blossom season, challenging them to capture striking tableaus of the pink petals from land or water. They also teach composition among the verdant garden landscapes and elegant buildings at Hillwood Gardens and the US Botanic Garden to foster tourists’ appreciation for nature and their ability to heckle squirrels.
Supplying all materials, Art By The Glazz's artist-led painting sessions kindle brush-wielding talents during three-hour classes held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. New artists capture shapes and shadows inspired by a number of pastoral- or wine-themed templates, with step-by-step instruction from pigment professionals. One complimentary glass of wine emboldens the pigment-shy, and those with a thirst for more can visit an onsite cash bar. Aprons protect against stray paint, wine drops, and the tears of fruit trapped in a beautiful but airless eternal present, although Art By The Glazz recommends wearing old clothes. Finished masterpieces chaperone each artist home, ready to be mounted on a wall or hung from the dining-room chandelier.
During Cookies and Milk sessions, kids or teens settle down with a complimentary dessert amid canvases ripe for realizing 2-D tableaux. During each session, one featured painting of a subject, such as the beach, Green Eggs and Ham, or Mickey Mouse, is perched mid-studio to kindle students’ imaginary fires. The company also hosts corporate team-building events, small groups, and birthday parties, giving guests an enjoyable ice-breaking activity.
Lynford Morton doesn't like to be called an instructor. Instead, he prefers photo coach. To Lynford, coaching more accurately describes his process of giving advice and support and boosting confidence in photographers as they actively snap shots of their subjects. His teaching method sticks to this sports analogy, as he first forms a foundation of photography principles—a playbook of sort. Then during hands-on sessions, photographers practice using techniques and calling audibles to get clouds into the right position. Since Lynford keeps most classes at a ratio of 1 to 12 or fewer, he can guide students with tips or illustrate a point with a teaching app on his iPad.
Lynford has always loved to tell stories with pictures. His father, a self-taught photographer from a village on St. Kitts, fueled Lynford's passion at an early age—which he later bridged with a photojournalism college major and a career in public relations. Now, he walks the historic streets of DC each weekend with troops of eager photographers anxious to tell their own visual stories.
Before Comfort One Shoes' sole experts are allowed to fit a single shoe to a customer's foot, they must graduate from Comfort One University and undergo a mentorship process. It's only then that they can help shoppers find their desired footwear, whether it be lace-up Ziera boots, On running shoes with CloudTec technology, or Thierry Rabotin shoes, handmade without uncomfortable, rigid components. Alongside men's and women's footwear, the shop stocks an assortment of bags and accessories such as colorful iPhone cases from Triple C Designs that protect phone exteriors and conceal scratches from the last time you transformed into a werewolf.
Comfort One Shoes also seeks to better the world through creative philanthropic efforts, such as collecting 25,000 shoes for those without and offering their employees half their pay and time off to volunteer in the community. Perhaps such initiatives are part of the reason Comfort One Shoes earned the National Shoe Retailers Association’s Retailer of the Year Award in 2011.
In the shadow of national monuments and blooming trees, a chorus of camera shutters click while photographers usher once-fleeting moments into eternity. Premier Photo Tours' staff helps foster such experiences, giving shooters skills with which to go after their photographic pursuits. Each a combination of instructor and guide, the company's camera pros lead themed walks around town that teach kids and adults how to frame scenic shots or get a stubborn art sculpture to smile. Deeper instruction comes in the form of Photo Mentor classes for photographers who want to take a more artistic and technically savvy approach in any stage of their photography development. During any of Premier's sessions, snappers have the opportunity to build community with one another around their budding talents, which can be enhanced on group travel excursions to some of the world's most photogenic locales.