Help and tips for photographing parades and festivities

With tomorrow being Fat Tuesday, the penultimate day of celebrating Mardi Gras, there will be plenty reveling at parades in New Orleans and at other major celebrations around the world. For those of you planning to photograph these events (or similar parades in the future), here's a few tips to make the most out of your pictures.

With tomorrow being Fat Tuesday, the penultimate day of celebrating Mardi Gras, there will be plenty reveling at parades in New Orleans and at other major celebrations around the world (i.e. Carnivale in France, Carnaval in Brazil, etc.)

For those of you planning to photograph these events (or similar parades in the future), here's a few tips to make the most out of your pictures.

1. Subjects: There are many subjects to consider at parades and festivities to tell your story. There are floats, trinkets being thrown, dancers in the street, etc. Trying getting action shots, close-ups on peoples faces and their reactions, and focusing in and out of different spots in the frame (similar to the photo above).

2. Composition: Don't simply point your camera at a float and snap a picture. Not only is it boring, it doesn't tell much of a story or reflect any emotions or thoughts. Consider multiple angles on the same subject, and then select your favorites to share after the big event is over. For further tips on photo composition, read this.

3. Lighting: Most parades are outdoors, and lighting isn't much of a problem. But there are weather aspects to consider (clouds/overcast skies, blaring sunlight, time of day). Then a lot of events and parties (particularly ones associated with Mardi Gras), take place at night. Sometimes there will be a lot of artificial light already in the street (street lamps, light from restaurants and store windows, party string lights, etc.), but consider some of these nighttime tips as well.

4. Auto-Settings: Chances are, things are going to be moving fast and you're not going to have time to shoot something twice. Get to your event early, adjusting as many of your cameras settings in advance as possible (focus, white balance, ISO, etc.) You're not going to have time to change settings for every single frame - or you might be missing out on a lot of potential photos.

5. Safety: This goes for both you and your equipment. With crowds of people sure to be there, it might be wise to go stake out some spots for potential views and angles before the big event. This way, you're not tripping over other people, getting knocked over, etc. Also, take caution with the photography equipment you want to bring. If you're moving around a lot, you'll probably opt out of bringing a tripod. Be careful of thieves, either outdoors in the crowd or indoors. Don't leave your cameras and lenses lying around, either because someone might steal it or a drink is bound to spill on it.

[Image via Social Travellers Site]

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