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Parades and Ceremonies
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Parades and Ceremonies

Photographs of festivals, parades, and other ceremonies can infuse your travel photographs with a splash of color and excitement. People tend to be less inhibited at such events, so your candid pictures of strangers will seem more friendly and intimate. As they usually celebrate something of historical, religious, or traditional significance, these events can add depth to your travel album.

Some festivals, such as the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, are annual highlights that draw crowds of tourists from around the world. Others may be less adventurous but can be equally chaotic both physically and visually. Finding a clear vantage point to shoot from, then, is vital. You can shoot from above, from a hotel balcony, or a high set of steps, or you can arrive early and stake out a good shooting position before the hordes arrive. If you're unfamiliar with the event or its history, ask around a few days in advance. You may get ideas for where to position yourself.

What to shoot? People, especially children, are the heart of any special event, so use a zoom lens to isolate candid expressions and reactions in the participants and the crowds. Look also for costumes or decorations that symbolize the focus of the festivities—the American flag and Uncle Sam costumes, for instance, are a colorful part of Fourth of July parades. What are the emblems of the event you're shooting? At religious ceremonies and events, take special care to avoid photographing situations or scenes that are sacred to the participants.

Sometimes important ceremonies are held at night, presenting a real challenge in available-light photography.

Next: "Stage Shows and Events"