Celebrations,  Parades

Tips for photographing parades

D.C. has lots of great parades, including the Memorial Day parade coming up on Monday.  But parades can be difficult to photograph.  Even if you get there early and get a good spot, last-minute arrivals can surge into the street and block your view.

So here are some ways to get good photos despite the obstacles:

  1. If the parade route is too crowded, go to the block before the parade starts, where the groups are lined up.  Often they start their parade routine on this block while waiting their turn.

    Bagpipes on 7th St., lining up for the parade
    Bagpipes on 7th St., lining up for the parade
  2. Find where the groups are rehearsing, which can yield interesting images.

    Rehearsing for the Memorial Day parade
    Rehearsing for the Memorial Day parade
  3. See the parade twice.  If your starting viewing place is near the beginning of the parade, you can see the full parade there and then walk to the end of the parade and see the second half of the parade again.
  4. Try to find a good clean background, or if you can’t, use a zoom or aperture that helps to blur the background.  Or take close-ups of the parade participants to eliminate the background entirely.

    Carrying the flag at the Memorial Day parade
    Carrying the flag at the Memorial Day parade
  5. It is usually mid-day, sunny with harsh shadows, and the parade participants often wear hats or costumes that shade their faces.  So either try to get their faces exposed correctly, or lighten them in post-processing.
  6. And if you can’t get good shots of the parade participants, take photos of the crowd.

    Crowd at the Memorial Day parade
    Crowd at the Memorial Day parade

Images © Victoria Pickering

I'm a D.C. native, but have only been taking photos for about five years. Even in that time, I've seen so many changes in D.C., and am increasingly interested in photographing the things in D.C. that are temporary or may be demolished, and the people who interact with the city. When I'm not out photographing, I'm a web developer.

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