Whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day in New York or Mardi Gras in New Orleans, there are a few guidelines to consider when photographing a parade. Apart from knowing the route, ditching the tripod, and joining (yes, joining!) the parade as a volunteer, check out our parade photography other tips below!
Show up Early
Wake up early and get a good spot! While it’s great to photograph crowds, you came to the parade to photograph – well, the parade.
Know the Route
Check the route beforehand. This is especially helpful if you’re familiar with the city. Otherwise, do some scouting a few days before. If you know that tall buildings will likely shade large portions of the route, plan accordingly. Or, pick a spot that you know has better light. If all else fails, follow the professional photographers.
Ditch the Tripod
We rarely say this, but leave your tripod at home! Instead, travel light with minimal gear — just a strap if you can. Unless you’ve picked the perfect spot, move around! Use your feet to capture the diversity (and angles) of the day. If you absolutely need to stabilize your image, we recommend a monopod.
Join the Parade
If possible, join the parade! This is sometimes easier said than done, but parades (especially smaller ones) encourage people to join in. Take shots from the inside. If you don’t think you can’t join on the day of, then plan ahead and consider volunteering to help out. Just remember to ask if you can bring your camera!
Use a Telephoto
Telephotos are heavy, but worth the slog. A workhorse 70-200mm will suffice. There’s so much to capture in a parade, that a telephoto is necessary to grab shots at different distances.
Freeze the Action
Your ideal shutter speed is somewhere between 1/250 and 1/500s to capture clear shots of the parade in motion. Turn on autofocus, too!
Get Your Subject’s Attention
Candid shots are great, but try flagging down some members of the parade. Let them know you’re taking their picture, and they’re likely to give you a bit more to work with in terms of enthusiasm. It’s a parade, after all! Mix your candid shots with a few of these portraits for some added dimension.Parade photography tells a story. Joining the parade as a volunteer, official photographer, or even as a parade crasher brings you closer to the action. Use a telephoto lens to grab the dynamic shifts of the parade, and then grab your subject’s attention for a few fun portraits. Leave your tripod home for a bit more range on foot, and freeze the action by putting your shutter speed somewhere between 1/250 and 1/500s. Otherwise, enjoy the day!