On Dec. 4, I photographed the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade. I had decided to produce a photo book on the parade using an online, print-on-demand company that requires no money upfront. The person purchasing the book spends the money. This would enable me to create a unique document of the event with an investment of only my time and skills as a photographer.
My first priority was to photograph every carriage, buggy and wagon during the parade. There were over 100 entries, but I figured this shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s not like they would be galloping through downtown. But I also realized I needed a sprinkling of crowd shots to give the event some additional atmosphere. I decided to use two camera bodies, one with a wide-angle zoom and one with a telephoto zoom, to give me the widest range of coverage. I used autofocus and aperture priority for my exposure setting.
Photographing in this way is similar to being an official graduation photographer. Your responsibility is to get a photo of every student being handed their diploma — in focus and exposed right. Aesthetics are not a priority.
My plan was fairly simple. When I spotted a carriage I would photograph them from a distance with the telephoto lens. As they passed by me I would grab a shot with my wide-angle lens. But I soon realized that my stationary position meant all of my backgrounds looked alike. This would create a really boring book. By changing my position I could get different scenes but this increased the possibility of missing a carriage. So throwing all my intended plans away I started walking and running forward and back alongside the parade, alternating between the wide-angle and telephoto lens. At times it did feel like the horses were galloping passed me. But by reacting quick and moving with the parade I managed to make my goal.
While I couldn’t always make the best shot of every horse-drawn vehicle, I was able to find moments within the chaos when a rider’s smile or wave to the crowd would capture something more than a simple document
Planning out photo shoots is wise, but good photography is often like good jazz — improvisation is always a part of the mix. Or, don’t photograph the cart before the horse.
View the whole book at http://www.blurb.com/books/1842493.