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!
The best photo images are not taken anyway, they are “made,” and I have always thought that learning photo composition is not that much more different than learning anything else. Some people just catch on faster than others, but eventually with practice most people can do it. How long that will take mostly depends on how you go about it. The only real way to practice composing an image is by recording them on film, or digitally, so that you can see what you did right, and what you did wrong? It is actually all of your mistakes that teach you how to do it right the next time. However, just slapping a lens on your camera and shooting away is not the answer either. As the saying goes, “There has to be a method to the madness.”~by Paul W. Faust from his article The Art of Seeing: An Exercise in Photo Composition
The most active of shapes use diagonal lines – the triangle is an eye-catching building block for your picture. Its three sides also introduce odd numbers into the photographic vocabulary. As well as triangular-shaped subjects, think about the structure of your photograph – are there three elements you could join together with imaginary lines to form a triangle?
Four sided shapes such as squares and rectangles mirror the four sides of the picture frame – there’s no conflict there, so the viewing experience isn’t as absorbing. However, they can be used alongside diagonals and triangles to produce a more exciting image.
~Digital Camera Magazine: Master Composition
Every image needs strong underlying compositional order so that it grabs the eye from a hundred feet away…If it can’t grab the eye from a distance, it will never be an interesting photo, regardless of how many fine details it might have. Details don’t matter if there’s no story behind it.~Ken Rockwell
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