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Exploring Photo Inspiration at Local Festivals

Exploring Photo Inspiration at Local Festivals

In the event you’re on the lookout for quite a lot of enjoyable photograph alternatives, it is arduous to beat the array of topics and actions at an area pageant. Meals, rides, music, automobiles, costumes and actions make for memorable and dynamic photographs.

With the approaching of fall, the native pageant scene is in full swing. From the Emma Crawford Coffin Race & Parade, in Manitou Springs, Colorado, to the World’s Largest Disco in Buffalo, NY, and every part in between. Or simply come to rejoice the meals by discovering one the nation’s many (many) bacon, blueberry, strawberry, or pumpkin festivals.

And that is simply within the U.S. Worldwide festivals worldwide, from giant metropolitan cities, to small city and villages additionally make for enjoyable photograph alternatives.  Whereas Worldwide festivals might not contain as many specific meals sub-specialty teams a America’s festivals (wanting at you Nationwide Litil Pageant), the aim is identical. We’re celebrating . . . us. A part of recognizing historical past, custom, and tradition is celebrating our widespread historical past, custom, and tradition.

It is onerous to anticipate future generations to hold on traditions which might be introduced merely as benign historic details. For those who’re anticipating your grandchildren to keep in mind that your group was the birthplace of the electrical toothbrush, or the creamed corn capital of the Midwest, then it wants to seem in additional than a historical past ebook’s footnote.

Typically the topic of the pageant itself is dynamic. However it could actually additionally introduce you to some really fascinating individuals: horse individuals, automotive fanatics, weekend meals truck distributors, carnival vacationers, circus performers, leather-based and wooden crafters, civil warfare re-enactors, banjo pickers, and do-it-yourself buffalo jerky makers.

It has been stated that bored individuals are boring individuals. However those that have a interest, a pastime, a ardour, and even occupation they take pleasure in sufficient to take the time to share it? These individuals won’t ever bore you. So take your digital camera to a pageant full of people that discover one thing fascinating–even when it isn’t your cup of tea. Their ardour will come via in your photographs.

Listed here are some topics to maintain an eye fixed out for at your subsequent native (or not so native) pageant.


Longtime Apple design guru Jonathan Ive as soon as stated, “One person’s car is another person’s scenery.” Most automobiles exist for utilitarian functions–to get us forwards and backwards to work, the financial institution, or soccer follow. Nevertheless it’s a testomony to the artists, engineers, producers and collectors that such a lunch pail-friendly invention is able to excessive artwork and wonder. The identical business that gave us the boxy Jeep throughout wartime produced the beautiful Jaguar.

17mm, 1/500 sec at f/11, ISO 400

I am a very long time car-lover, however I would not name myself a “gear head” by any stretch. I smile at the strains, the colours, the textures, and the sense of energy and velocity that comes with imagining–and infrequently driving–basic or unique automobiles. Automobiles are an ideal topic for native festivals. First, it is often cheap or free to take a look at a basic automotive present. Apart from some rarefied collections of cars, most automotive house owners love displaying off their satisfaction and pleasure. Second, automotive exhibits are quite common. Automotive house owners do not want a lot of an excuse to return collectively and admire their cars. Some automotive festivals stand alone. Some could also be tacked on to a county truthful, or a charity 5k enjoyable run, or a chili cook-off. There’s even an app devoted to discovering automotive exhibits.

When in search of nice photographs of automobiles, attempt altering your typical perspective.  Get low with a large angle lens, or give your self a shallow depth of area across the hood emblem. The much less strange the viewpoint, the extra unique the automotive will appear. Additionally, look ahead to the automotive’s strains. The place does the slope of the hood take your eye?  Do not deprive the viewer of discovering the top of that line–like an unresolved melody, it’s going to solely irritate. Watch your background, too.  If there are too many individuals standing across the automotive to attend for them to cross, contemplate an extended publicity to blur them out.


Animals are nice topics for pictures. They do not shy or get indignant whenever you take their footage. They do not obsess over whether or not you, Mr. Photographer, made them look fats. They usually definitely do not make duck faces (apart from the geese, in fact.)

70 mm, 1/1250 sec. at f/eight, ISO 400

Animal acts are a mainstay of many native festivals. Human interplay makes for enjoyable photographs. Within the picture above, the canine had been educated to make use of the coach’s knee to leap into the air and catch the Frisbee.  As a result of the joys is usually constructed across the fast tempo of the animal, hold shutter velocity as quick as attainable with out sacrificing usable mild. I used to be lucky to have a sunny day when this was taken.

However typically, probably the most photogenic animals at the pageant won’t be there to carry out–they’re simply pets of the attendees.  As a result of so many festivals occur outside and unfold out over a big space, they’re naturally pet-friendly in a method that a sporting occasion or live performance is not. Somebody who is perhaps shy about having strangers take her image will exhibit her chocolate lab like a vaping teenage mall rat showcasing his Yeezys.


Music festivals abound. I am biased in favor of jazz festivals, however my bias appears to be shared by many others. Jazz festivals, notably in hotter climate, stay a well-liked purpose to collect and have fun outdoors. The opposite causes all appear to contain a deep fryer (extra on that later).

Dizzy Gillespie enjoying at the Mayport Jazz Pageant – Jacksonville, Florida. 1982. Black & white photograph print, 7 x 5 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Reminiscence.

What separates a music pageant from a live performance may solely be the variability and variety of acts, and period of the occasion. However as photographers, there are another explanation why a music pageant could be a greater photograph alternative than a live performance. First, most music festivals contain many daytime acts, whereas most live shows are predominantly night and night-time visible topics. Whereas this can be much less dramatic, it additionally means not having to push the bounds of your lens and digital camera physique capabilities to the restrict in darker venues. Festivals can even supply extra accessibility to the performers. With acts unfold out all through the day, you may be capable of get nearer to the stage in case you’re prepared to snap some photographs of an up-and-coming act that does not have thirty thousand followers crowding the stage.

Even in festivals that are not totally constructed round music, music is usually a part of the celebration. You may even discover a road performer, or a sidewalk musical artist. Search for musicians who’ve distinctive devices, or play them with a focus or depth that speaks of the evocative nature of the music they’re producing–and their ardour for it.

Oh, and this is another merchandise for the pageant guidelines, whereas we’re on the topic. As photographer, for those who ever take a photograph of a road musician–or any road performer, for that matter–with a tip jar, tipping isn’t optionally available for you. In the event you photograph such an individual with out throwing in a tip, you are a schmuck.


The meals is half the enjoyable of a pageant. However meals might be tough to photograph, to make certain. Specialists in product images are masters at controlling mild, texture, and post-processing to create mouth-watering photographs of even the least memorable dish or beverage. You are not going to have the time or gear to tug that off at a pageant, so anticipate it to be a bit of extra informal. That does not imply you need to dumb the pictures right down to the extent of the incessant right here’s-what-I-ate-today fare on Instagram. Pageant meals is meant to be, properly, festive. Enjoyable. Jolly. It is Much less about #paleo or #southbeach and extra about #DeepFriedSnickers, or #FunnelCakeComa. However greater than the kind of meals, pageant meals is concerning the individuals having fun with the pageant, laughing and having fund with pals.

That is to not say that the individual–not the food-must all the time be the topic of the photograph.  Within the picture under, the sandwich is the topic. The lady holding it’s smiling, however she’s one in every of many festival-goers within the picture. She’s having enjoyable and has an amazing, trustworthy smile. However she’s not the topic of the photograph, she’s the context. It is a mediocre picture technically, however her angle and the straightforward pleasure and the silliness of providing up a sandwich to be memorialized in a photograph, make it a enjoyable second. By the best way, that sandwich was a incredible pork tenderloin–I had one identical to it after I took the image.

22mm, 1/100 at f/eight, ISO 100

Two extra tip about pageant meals pictures. First, until it is a child consuming one thing comically sloppy, like ice cream or cotton sweet, nothing good can come from a photograph of somebody truly within the act of consuming meals. It is awkward and gross. Additionally, if there’s a marquee meals to the pageant, be sure to seize it. So when you’re capturing at the Pineapple Pageant in Jensen Seashore, no one needs to see an image of a Sharon consuming a silly scorching canine. (Basic Sharon!)  Get. The. Pineapple.

Video games & Rides

No pageant or carnival is full with out the vertigo-inducing insanity of a thrill journey that makes you would like you hadn’t eaten eight pancakes for breakfast. They all the time have intimidating names just like the Terror Twister, or the Tremendous Scrambler. However the concept is straightforward: spins, twists, some G-forces and out of the blue you are Roger Moore in Moonraker, together with your cheeks falling again into your cranium questioning why you paid completely good cash to really feel such as you’re a check pilot at a reduction area shuttle proving floor.

Ferris wheel at night time, Clifford Photographic Assortment, OSU Particular Collections. & Archives.

However the Ferris Wheel continues to be the king of this specific jungle. Probably the most recognizable and commonest sort of carnival journey, the Ferris Wheel can also be iconic enjoyable for photographers. Its peak movement make it visually distinguishable from the remainder of the pageant round it.  The Ferris Wheel and different carnival-style rides, are naturals for night time images. Capturing these mechanical marvels at night time may make lengthy exposures not solely a artistic aptitude, however crucial. If you cannot deliver your tripod to the halfway, search for a picnic desk or coated trash can to brace your digital camera on for a 1-2 second publicity.

Costumes and Clothes

Gombey dancers from Bermuda carry out in the course of the 2001 Smithsonian Folklife Pageant on the Nationwide Mall. Photographer: Harold Dorwin. Smithsonian Establishment.

Local festivals are overflowing with costumes and particular attendees sporting particular clothes. Typically, this flows from cultural or religious significance, as with Native American gown. It may additionally outcome from particular historic occasions, like revolutionary or civil conflict period re-enactors. It is a good way to recollect historical past.

Visually, photographers are drawn to the weird. In that sense, there’s a journalistic high quality to all images. Perhaps it’s a extra colourful panorama, or a broader smile, or a cuter toddler than we see in our thoughts’s eye. So long as it isn’t the mundane, the traditional, and the every-day, ho-hum image in our heads, then we need to seize it.  So when revolutionary militia-men or a bagpiper wearing full kilt regalia walks by, it is no marvel it piques our curiosity.

Photographers ought to be cautious of 1 specific problem when photographing fair-goers in particular gown. Ensure you have permission to photograph. I am not speaking a few mannequin launch, but when there’s a specific cultural or religious significance to the gown of some attendees, have the occasion organizers restricted images indirectly? For instance, throughout sure ceremonies, or if flash prohibited? You do not need to be the one who’s chargeable for the outright photograph ban.


Festivals supply nice alternatives for human exercise, fascinating material, and evocative imagery. Convey an excellent walking-around lens and a curious thoughts. Speak to the man who sells do-it-yourself root beer. Learn how lengthy home-made candle-making has been a assume in western Pennsylvania. If festivals are designed to have fun us–our previous, our tradition, our pursuits–your photographs are a digital time capsule for future generations to take pleasure in. Who could possibly be tired of that?



Concerning the Writer

Andy Perkins

Andy Perkins is a part-time actual property and panorama photographer with Atlas Images, LLC of Indiana. He’s additionally a full time lawyer and doesn’t look after hazelnut. Extra at, IG @atlasphotoguy