Alexandria’s Most Shared Christmas Photo and the Man Who Took It

"None of my work has been shown yet, unless you count all the walls of my house."

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Alexandria at Christmas, 2019. (Photo by Chris Bridner)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – This picture of Old Town awash in holiday colors is fast becoming Alexandria’s most shared Christmas photo. It went viral almost immediately when amateur photographer Chris Bridner posted it to his Instagram page.

Chris Bridner has taken other amazing shots but this one has struck a chord with individuals, publications and major companies who have been re-posting it like mad. “Oh man, it continues to climb: IGDC, Northern Virginia Magazine, Visit Alexandria, two Alexandria hotels, a local apartment complex, a Virginia family blog, and your paper have asked permission explicitly to share my picture. I imagine there are a few others who have shared without credit,” said Bridner. [Editor’s Note: As of December 30, 2019 the photo has been viewed over 55,000 times on the Zebra’s Facebook page alone.]

“I always enjoy the lights on King Street but try to find unique ways to frame them. I was driving home one night and saw the Masonic Temple lit up in holiday colors and knew that from certain spots on King Street you can see it all the way down. I decided to wait until late at night in hopes of having less people and traffic,” Bridner told the Zebra.

When he first posted the photo, Bridner’s caption included, ” You would laugh at me if you saw the number of times I had to walk in the middle of the street between lights dodging turning cars in the crosswalk to go take some shots. You’d think that the traffic would be light at midnight.”

Chris Bridner. (Courtesy photo)

So who is Chris Bridner? His photo is getting a lot of attention, so we thought we’d ask him a few questions:

Are you a professional photographer or a hobbysist?  If a hobbyist, do you belong to a local photography club? Has your work been shown?

I’m a hobbyist with ambitions to keep advancing my photography so that it may one day become a full-time job. I don’t belong to any local clubs, though I have taken place in some photo walks organized through Instagram. None of my work has been shown yet, unless you count all the walls of my house.

Do you live in Old Town? How did you get the photo?

I do live in Old Town and LOVE it here! I decided to wait until late at night in hopes of having less people and traffic. I actually intended to take this photo about a week before I did, but we had such bad weather with clouds and fog that I had to wait until the conditions were right.

What kind of camera did you use?

This was shot on a Sony A7III. For those interested in the details it was shot on the Sony FE F4 24-105 Lens at F11, 100 ISO, 4 second exposure on a Peak Design Tripod.

What is your best piece of advice for an amateur photographer to get a great shot like this?

Get out of automatic! Learn how the different settings on your camera work, even it means you take a lot of “bad” photos practicing. Also think of how a picture would look at a different time of day, different types of light (or darkness) can really help make or break a photograph. There are many times where I see something during the day and think “this would look good at night” or “imagine this at sunrise”.

Quick-fire questions:

What’s your own favorite photo you have ever taken?

My girlfriend and I along with our two close friends went backpacking in Patagonia (Chile side) last year. We hiked long distances every day and were often ready to collapse at night. On our second night, I noticed how our campsite was near a lake that really nicely reflected the mountain range. Despite being exhausted, I woke up early for sunrise the next morning and captured a beautiful explosion of color that both lit up the mountain range we were hiking and looked like a mirror on the lake. It’s by far my favorite photo I’ve ever taken and is still the background on my computer.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Ellicott City, MD and have lived in either Maryland or Virginia my whole life.

How old are you?

I’m 31, 32 in April.

Do you have any pets? Kids? Spouse?

I have an incredible long-term girlfriend, Kat, and our dog (Kat will be mad if I don’t call him our fur son), Leo. Leo’s an incredible pup and friend, you can catch us running together through Old Town on most mornings. I am so lucky to have both of them in my life.

What’s your favorite thing in your closet right now?

Kat will tell you that I have too much gear (there’s no such thing)! I am a member of the lululemon Old Town run club, so you’ll always find me running in their gear. I recently bought an Atom LT vest from Arc’teryx that I’m living in both in the office and on my outdoor pursuits. For the workplace, I am a big fan of dress shirts from Mizzen + Main, they have just a tiny bit of stretch that make them incredibly comfortable plus they’re machine washable and made in the USA. Finally, I am a diehard Baltimore Ravens fan (I have a Ravens tattoo), so I would have to say my Ravens hat is my go to for all occasions right now.

What is your occupation?

I work in fixed-income valuations, but since that’s a mouthful I normally just say I work in finance.

What’s your favorite local restaurant?

Big fan of Momo Sushi, Virtue Feed and Grain, and a little French spot on Washington called Le Refuge.

For Fun: You Might Be Living on One of George Washington’s Farms

iPhone or Android?

iPhone all the way! Currently have the 11 Pro Max

Favorite cocktail?

I don’t drink alcohol, but I am OBSESSED with Sugar Free Red Bull and drink that socially all the time.

Favorite word?

I don’t know if I have a specific word, but I wear a necklace that says “Memento Mori”. It’s a reminder that we will all die. It’s not meant to be morbid, but more of a reminder for me to live my life to the fullest every day so that when my eventual time does come, I’m not left with regrets and what-if’s.