Festival Photography – Tips and Techniques

Recently I have been to Bhutan and had a chance to experience the Thimphu Domchoe, which took place at the Trashi Chhoe Dzong. Festivals are colorful and offer some spectacular sights for photographers to capture. The following suggestions would help you capture better photos during festivals.

1. Research about the festival
Researching about the festivals well in advance would make your job easier rather than directly attending the festival with no idea of it. Ask the locals about the significance of the festival, where the festival is going to take place, the route of the procession(if there is any). You could also request them to be with you during the festivals because they know much more of it than you do. Also visit the venue before and make note of the vantage points.
Masked dance performances by the monks

2. Photograph the unusual
Well capturing the festival is not enough. You need to think out of the box. Search for subjects that are unusual. A person capturing the festival on his phone or a confused kid who don’t understand what is happening or a police man who is trying to keep the crowd in order all make great subject matter.
A person taking a picture of festival on his phone

3. Capture the emotions of the people
People usually attend festivals in devotion or to have some great time with their friends and families. Usually the emotions of the people at festivals are natural and portray lots of different feelings. One might be wondering about the significance of the festival while other might get totally get involved in the happenings. What ever the emotion, do capture people keeping proper photography etiquette.
A father watching the Thimphu Domchoe along with his kids

4. Capture the movements
It’s time to slow down the shutter speeds. You would get some great shots if you can hold your camera steady or use a tripod if possible. The following photo was taken during the Diwali festival using a long shutter speed to capture the trails of the fireworks.
Trails of fireworks using long shutter speed

All photos were captured on a Canon 50D body and a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS lens.

Sai Karthik Reddy Mekala

Karthik Reddy has been traveling around the world since completing his M.B.A in 2012. He is passionate about photography, trying out new food, meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and explore places solo.

4 Responses

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