Celebrations,  Festivals,  Parades

Are you ready for the funk? Annual U Street parade and festival returns

Although the Funk Parade is just in its third year, it has already become one the District’s marquee cultural events. The all-day celebration pays homage to the U Street corridor’s rich musical and cultural heritage. This year, the DC Focused community is proud to be part of the event as the official photographers of the parade and musical acts. So, it’s fitting that we look at some of our favorite images from last year’s Funk Parade and talk about things to consider if you’re planning to photograph this  year’s event.

All images are part of the DC Focused flickr pool.

1. Jeffrey Morris | Work the angles

Funk Parade
© Jeffrey Morris


Jeffrey got low on this photo, which produces a much more interesting image than he might have gotten had he shot the dancers straight on. The low angle really makes the dancers more dynamic and really brings us into the scene. Just as important, it allows Jeffrey to frame the main subject’s head against the sky, rather than a more busy and distracting street scene. Shot from eye level, we might have lost the dancer’s wonderful expression in the busy background.

2. Victoria Pickering | Composition FTW

Funk Parade
© Victoria Pickering


Whether she composed this shot in camera or cropped it, the placement of the boy in the corner, with just his head and shoulders in the frame is terrific. It accentuates the juxtaposition of the smallness of the boy and the size of the dragon. She also wisely cropped the shot down so that it’s just the boy and the dragon, nothing else to distract us from this wonderful scene. Shooting up at the dragon also accomplishes the same thing Jeffrey did in the photo above — it isolates the dragon’s head against the sky. Of course, the pièce de résistance here is the expression on the boy’s face. Wonderful.

3. Miki Jourdan | Wait for the candid moments

Funk Parade
© Miki Jourdan


There will be countless opportunities for candid photos at the parade. There’s a tendency, however, for less experienced photographers to grab a quick shot and move on before they’re noticed. Instead, when you see what might be an interesting scene, stay with it a bit longer. Expressions often change in a flash and what might be an okay shot turns into a great one just by waiting for that right moment. In this shot, Miki captures a wonderful moment that makes us wonder what they’re looking at and what might be causing their different expressions.

4. Dimitris Manis | Get in position

Funk Parade
© Dimitris Manis


Parades are crowded, so getting in position is critical. Getting there early and staking out a spot is one way to do it. The problem with that is you’re stuck in one spot and don’t get to try different vantage points or work the crowd for those moments we talked about above. What it really comes down to in these situations is mindset. Do you want to be a spectator with a camera or a photographer with a purpose? This is a time when you want to channel your inner photojournalist. Your job is to get the shot and that means you have to work yourself into the best positions up and down the route. That doesn’t mean being rude or pushy or breaking any laws. Don’t be that guy. But do squeeze through the gaps and get yourself to the front. Here, Dimitris took advantage of the moment and put himself in front of the drumline to get the shot.

5. Caroline Angelo | Find the unscripted moments

Funk Parade
© Caroline Angelo


You’ll get lots of shots of performers and spectators and people having fun — that’s what parades and festivals are about. But look for those moments that tell a story or are out of the ordinary. Caroline’s image of what we assume is a mother applying lipstick to her daughter is one of those special moments that tells a great story. Composing the shot so that the drummers are in the background walking past made it even better.

Multi-media story teller, non-profit do-gooder, international street photographer, serious poker player, intrepid traveler.