It seems like there is always a parade somewhere. Photographing parades can be a great deal of fun. There’s always something or someone interesting to shoot. Here are some basic tips for parade photography.
1. Research the parade. Find out its history. Look at past parade photographs and see what sorts of shooting opportunities are available.
2. Contact the organizers and ask for an access pass in return for prints. This may help get you closer to the action. Sometimes you can fake it, but it’s best to ask.
3. Study the parade route in advance and if possible, recon that area to see where the light is, what backgrounds are nice, what angles will work and if there are any special places where you can do something special like get up high to shoot down on the crowd.
4. Bring a medium telephoto and a short lens. That way you can shoot everything from the big shot to the intimate portrait.
5. Shoot early. It not only typically gets you the best light, it also gets you fresh faces, fresh costumes and fresh people who aren’t tired from hours of marching.
6. March WITH the parade, not against it and walk backwards to get the straight on shot.
7. Bring model releases just in case you get something of commercial value. If your subjects are minor’s get their parents’ permission to photograph them and their parents’ signature on the model release.
We have lots of big holidays coming up in the next several months which typically feature parades. Go out there and get something memorable to bring home to your friends, family and if you’re lucky, folks who might pay you for the shots.