Today, June 30, is the fiesta celebration of my home city of Tacloban in the central Philippines. It is highlighted by the Sangyaw (local word for dance) Festival. It is a dazzling street parade showcase of pomp and pageantry, of costumes and choreography. This was taken in 2011, the last time I was in Tacloban. If you follow world news, Tacloban City may sound familiar to you. In early November 2013, it was ground zero and in the direct path of Typhoon Haiyan, a category 5 super typhoon, the strongest cyclone to hit land packing sustained winds of 315 kph. It left more than 6,000 dead and over 1,000 missing, most of them in Tacloban. Today, after a year and a half, I have heard the city has recovered from the devastation. And I hope the celebration this day will continue the tradition of people carrying those festive smiles, graceful poses and a resilient spirit. God bless them!
It’s the subject matter that counts. I’m interested in revealing the subject in a new way to intensify it. A photo is able to capture a moment that people can’t always see. ~Harry Callahan
Telling a story
To document a festival it’s important to choose a variety of subject matter. Don’t just take random pictures of revelling crowds as they rarely make great pictures. Instead, focus on individual participants who are dressed up, capture details of costumes and try to make shots that are representative of the festival – dances, floats, musicians, the crowd’s enjoyment.
Get variety in your shots by framing vertically and horizontally and changing viewpoints (look for walls, balconies, rooftops) to give different perspectives. Don’t focus solely on main events, the peripheral activities are usually very photogenic too – think ‘behind-the-scenes’ shots, such as dancers dressing up, vendors selling knick-knacks, and so on.
A festival is also a great time to take portraits – people are in a festive, relaxed mood and are more open to being photographed. Plus you’ll have hundreds of different models to choose from! Have all your settings ready on your camera and work fast as you don’t get a lot of time to compose and shoot.
~Jean-Bernard Carillet from his article Capturing the Moment on Camera at Festivals
The most effective photographic symbol of motion is blur.~Andreas Feininger
Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.~Peter Adams (Photo location: Sangyaw Festival, Tacloban City)