Parades are one of my favorite events to capture. They are a photographers dream; subjects march directly up to you on a known route. There are a variety of participants and great interactions among them. Most recently I took photos at the the 46th Annual Scottish Christmas Walk sponsored by the Campagna Center. The parade is unique because it features Scottish clans marching in their tartans through the center of Olde Town Alexandria. Not only are participants decked out in a variety of traditional kilts and dresses, their are bagpipe bands and animal groups (e.g., Scottish terriers and Irish wolfhounds) marching down the avenue.
Here are some tips and tricks for getting great photos at a parade:
- Research the parade route and determine the sun's position relative to the route - plan your shooting location accordingly.
- Choose a unique vantage point. I like being street level to get full frame photos of the faces of both marchers and viewers.
- Set your focus to spot so you get the exact subject you want in focus. There will be significant movement in the fore and background of shots so a narrow local set point ensures you get the clarity you want.
- Set your shutter speed to at least 160 to make certain the pace of the parade and marching/waving movements don't spoil your shot.
- Get in close to capture the details of floats, instruments, costumes and vehicles - they are all art forms on display.