T H E ( A L M O S T ) W E E K L Y P H O T O G R A P H
18 July 2016
10 Things To Shoot At Festivals
A slow shutter speed creates a slightly different image of a monk preparing for a dance. 50mm lens, 1/4 second @ f8, ISO 100
Young kids watching a festival performance in the Paro Dzong, Bhutan. 200mm lens, 1/200 second @ f2, ISO 100
A few of my photography friends are very aware that many of the events and festivals we photograph today will not stay the same forever. If you have an interest in cultures, may I recommend you Google search photographers Art Wolfe, Richard I'Anson and David Kirkland. They have all produced projects and books that document vanishing cultures and not only do I love their photography, but also what they are doing.
I haven't gone into cultural projects quite as deeply - at least not yet. However, when visiting Bhutan, I'm keenly aware of just how precious these festivals and ceremonies are. And while some 'performances' in some parts of the world are put on just for tourists, you know that these Buddhist festivals are authentic because of how few foreigners you see. There might be two or three dozen tourists walking around with cameras, but in a throng of many thousands it's just not an issue.
The best part about shooting these festivals is access: access to individual people because they are relaxed; access to the performers behind the scenes, simply because you're a tourist; and access to locations within the dzongs (the fortified monasteries) that on other days are closed to the public.
So, what are the 10 most important things to shoot at festivals? Here's my suggestions:
1. Start with an overview of the location or the venue.
2. Photograph individual performers full length - aim for action shots or at least poses that have some meaning.
3. Photograph three quarter portraits with details of their costumes.
4. Get in close with a telephoto for full-frame portraits to show their makeup and masks.
5. Turn your camera on the audience - show how many people are there.
6. Photograph portraits of the audience reacting to the festivities.
7. Photograph the children who are disinterested in the performances.
8. Go behind the scenes to photograph the performers preparing.
9. Photograph details of their costumes and accessories.
10. Conclude with people leaving the performance, or perhaps an empty venue with the residue of the festivities.
Once again I've chosen some festival photos taken in Bhutan for this week's newsletter with the transparent intention of encouraging you to visit Bhutan later this year with David Oliver and me. Click the Read More link to see some more festival shots and to read why I think you should visit Bhutan this year!