Parades can be an exciting photographic challenge. They are colorful, joyous, and filled with interesting floats and participants. Whether you are photographing a small hometown parade or a large scale event in a major city, the techniques are largely the same.
In the following video, you'll learn essential 5 tips to help you capture the spirit of your parade.
Get there Early
If you arrive at the parade staging area, you can capture some terrific images of the participants as they prepare. This is often early in the morning, but the results can be worth it as the light is always better earlier. If the subject is agreeable, you can use the opportunity to make some portraits, and conduct an interview with people of interest. During this time you can make notes on who is marching, and perhaps find an itinerary of the day's events. When it comes time to add captions, you'll be glad to have this information.
When possible, I like to shoot with two lenses on separate cameras. One holds a 17-40mm for wide angle scenes while the other has a medium telephoto 70-200mm when more focal length is necessary. Still, if I was only allowed to bring one lens to a parade, it would be the 70-200mm. The longer reach is essential when access is limited by thick crowds, public safety authorities, and police barriers.
Look for Small Details
Think of photographing a parade as telling a story. Rather than focusing all of your efforts on the repetitive group formations as they pass, try to find details that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. This is not only limited to the parade participants, but the onlookers as well. Finding the quieter moments amidst this chaos can be a real challenge. Don't be afraid to use the existing elements for better vantage points. If you can find a park bench to stand on, you can shoot over the crowd for an unobstructed view.
Consider Adding Multimedia Elements
With HD video capability in most DSLRs, and even phones, you can add a dynamic aspect to your storytelling with video and/or sound. A simple Flip video camera came in very handy when I had a brief moment to speak with Mr. Bill Toledo, one of the surviving members of the legendary Navajo Code Talkers who transmitted messages our World War II foes couldn't crack. I also use a Zoom H2 field recorder to gather quality audio.
Shoot Wide and Fast
In order to blur distracting elements and get enough light into the camera, a wide aperture like f2.8 or f4 will be very helpful. This will also allow you to achieve a fast enough shutter speed to freeze your subject's motion. At a minimum, you want to use 1/250th of a second. This will also help prevent camera shake. Don't hesitate to raise your ISO if it's necessary to reach these settings.
I want to offer my sincere gratitude to all military members and their families for their service to our nation. Thank you!
Written By NYIP Student Advisor Chris Corradino