The Many Reasons I Shoot Street Photography (And Why I Shoot At Parades and Festivals)


Tonight – Wednesday. The documentary Everybody Street, as part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography was showing at the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta. I attended, along with a few from The Atlanta Street Photography Group… REWIND to Tuesday…

 Darkroom Tuesday. Time to play with analogue photography. Yes, I still shoot film. Here we go… Contact sheets. Lots of negatives of the dozens of festivals and parades shot with my group.  Why are they all still here? Why did I take all of these shots and never do anything with them? Oh, those first few weeks of darkroom development last year. Lack of confidence. Self-judgment. Some of that still lingers.

For The Randomness
For The Randomness

2 hours later, I think, “what for?” and I just walked away.

FAST FORWARD to tonight: During the documentary, one of the photographers mentioned that she loved photographing parades for the same reason I’ve always said – not for the parade itself, but from the thousands of opportunities in the crowd around you.

Back home, I grabbed a handful of my film shots that might prove the value of parades and festivals for street shooting (below). Thousands of moments abound, but as a photographer, you can only capture a few, if you’re lucky.

And that’s in a nutshell the challenge of street photography: IF you are lucky and if you are patient, you can capture a few shots that that carry meaning and tell a story of what is the REALITY of the human experience. That’s what I’m interested in: An artistic expression of the realistic, human experience. 

For the uncanny gestures
For the uncanny gestures

In Atlanta, unlike New York and other major pedestrian-centered cities, we are known for sequestering part of the human experience in our vehicles. Where I think a street photographer has the most opportunity to create a meaningful image is where people gather in numbers. Hence the festival/parade connection. Plus you get the added bonus of people being enchanted with watching others be enchanted with what’s going on! You might even get a unique portrait or two.

Tonight connecting with these images made me feel confident in saying this:

In street photography, it’s perfectly okay, if not a great opportunity to exploit festivals and parades for value they offer…

for the abundance of candid emotions, for the ironic stories, for the challenge you can find in the experience, and the for the way seeing these experiences makes you feel.

Locations: Atlanta, Decatur, Candler Park, Little 5 Points, Oakhurst. 2012-2013.
All photos taken in analogue with the following:
Nikon FE-2, 35mm, Yashica-D, medium format,
Holga 35mm BC, Ilford HP 400 and Kodak Tri-X films

See larger, full series on Flickr.