As you might have figured out by now, Feb. 10th was the Chinese New Year. The Town Square here in Rockvill celebrated this last weekend with a parade and exhibits. I couldn’t resist going on Photo Safari because, well, how convenient is that? The parade passed right by my front door. It’s nice when the world conspires to bring pretty costumes and festivities right to your doorstep.
I grabbed my camera, threw on a sweatshirt and head out for the fun. That’s when it hit me. I might have been a teensy bit arrogant to think that just because it’s right outside the door, that I didn’t have to plan. I might have been a teensy bit unprepared. Okay, I was a lot unprepared. Here’s what I learned:
1. If you’re going to be outside on the East Coast in February, you should probably wear a scarf, coat, hats, and gloves. I didn’t take any of those things. It didn’t take 10 minutes for my fingers to freeze right off and my cheeks to turn into ice cubes. I dashed back to the apartment to get them, and felt much warmer on my second attempt.
2. It’s nearly impossible to get a good shot with a glove on your trigger finger. One of those gloves with no fingertips might come in handy. I ended up taking my glove off, and then I ended up going for coffee just so I had something warm to hold.
3. Finish your coffee before you have to take photos. Especially don’t try to hold a half full coffee cup while attempting to push into the street to take photos of a passing parade. You might end up wearing it.
4. If it’s February, and you’re in the Northeast, your hand will get frostbit. Just accept that. With the coffee gone, there was nothing to keep my fingers warm while I took pictures. I decided it was the least I could offer to the creative muse and lived with it.
5. If you’re short, you’ll have to get creative and/or rude. There’s just no way around it. When I’m in a crowd, I’m invisible. I’m below most people’s eye level, so they walk right over me without noticing. Those who actually see me push their way around because they’re used to having to do that. I gave up and joined them, and ended up with a few really nice shots because I wasn’t trying to be polite.
6. The crowd will surge if something cool passes by. Get ahead of it or get eaten. See #5.
7. The best photos are in unexpected places. Everybody is going to have the same shots of the parade passing by, since most people have the same vantage points. Try going out before the even starts and getting shots of them setting up. Or stick around as it finishes and the performers relax. Take a peek into quiet corners where people take breaks. Children before they get tired. Or even after they get tired.
8. Take it as it comes. You can’t control the timing, the weather, the people, or the show. Relax, and stay open to the possibilities as they parade in front of you.
9. Wear clothes that let you move around. I wore a sweatshirt because my bulky coat would have made it difficult to climb over benches and get into tight spots. Yes, I was cold. Art is suffering, right?
10. It’s impossible to get a good photo if you don’t actually leave your house. This should probably be tip #1 because it’s really the most important. Get up, go out, and see stuff. And be sure to take pictures!