Five ways to improve your Carnival photography

Notting Hill Carnival 2012 with Poison, (c) Carole Edrich 2012

Notting Hill Carnival 2012 with Poison, (c) Carole Edrich 2012

It’s coming up to  Carnival time in London and we can look forward to some of the most colourful and exciting open air dance shots of the year.  Wherever your planned Carnival shoot, if you’ve decided to take your camera and want to maximise your chance of taking great photographs, consider doing these five things in advance.



1. Practice shooting in crowds

You can guarantee the carnival will be busy, so go to an indoor or outdoor market or busy shopping area to get a feel for shooting in crowds.

Change your camera settings in the crowds so that you know what you’re doing. Carnival will be busier, with more bustle and more highly excitable people, but this basic preparation will serve you well. Then when you’re home look at your photographs to work out what you could have done better.

2. Think about how you might use composition to tell a story

Carnival gives you the opportunity to tell as many – or as few – stories as you’d like, so take some time to think about how you’d tell them by using different angles. Do you want to show what individuals or groups are doing? Do you want to include their surroundings or focus in on particular details? How might you show the environment? How can you compose an image to engage the people who might be looking at it in the future? Think about the way different camera settings will help you tell your stories and what lens(es) you might best use.

Notting Hill Carnival 2012 with Poison, (c) Carole Edrich 2012

Notting Hill Carnival 2012 with Poison, (c) Carole Edrich 2012

3. Practice shooting with a buddy

It makes sense to go to the Carnival with a friend and if that friend is a photographer they’ll probably have more patience for what you’re planning to do. Go out in advance and get a feel for how you work together. You’ll find you don’t need to stick close to each other to remain in touch, and that there are times when it makes sense to stick close and work together and other times when it’s better to be separate while still keeping each other in sight.

4. Plan to carry things safely

Bags with zips, pockets from which your keys or change won’t fall if you adopt a strange position to get that perfect angle, lens wipes, camera accessories and tissues within easy reach, water, toilet paper and spare change are all good ideas. Do you really need all those lenses? Anything you carry will feel very much heavier by the end of the day even if you have ergonomic bags. You could miss the moment while changing a lens. Think about how to maximise your personal health and safety, what you really need and what you can do without.

Notting Hill Carnival 2012 with Poison, (c) Carole Edrich 2012

Notting Hill Carnival 2012 with Poison, (c) Carole Edrich 2012

5. Act respectfully

This is much easier to do when there are fewer people around and in less exciting environments, so practice. Don’t gawp, ask permission to take peoples’ photographs and think in advance about how the way you act might be misinterpreted by happy intoxicated people who – by the end of the day – are also going to be extremely tired.

Have fun!