The organizers of this year’s Oakville Jazz Festival knocked this one out of the park. While other jazz festivals I’ve attended recently, including the Beaches Jazz Festival, have relied on the old try-and-true acts (some of dubious talent), the Oakville festival featured lots and lots of young new performers and the performances were excellent.
Jazz festivals offer you an opportunity to try out your street photography skills.
The performers love having their photos taken (and may even buy some great shots from you so remember to bring business cards) and the crowds are pretty agreeable to you stepping in front of them to shoot and then move on at least early in the evening.
Most of the best times to shoot jazz festivals is the hour before and after sunset. That golden glow of the sun low on the horizon can really be helpful in making colours pop so long as the stage is in front of you and the sun is over your shoulder and the crowds haven’t grown so large as to make walking around tough to do.
It’s a lot harder if the sun is setting behind the stage and you’re getting sun flaring across the screen. Of course every so often the flare makes the photo and you can all it talent or art! By 9pm at most street festivals the crowds are too large to easily step in front of the stage.
This fall I will be teaching a couple of one-night workshops on street photography for a couple of local camera clubs but here are a couple of tips.
First dress in black. I didn’t get this from Johnny Cash, the singer who was known as the “the man in black” but from Jay Maisel who is one of the best street photographers of all time. Jay shoots the streets of New York City and his candid artistic renditions of street life are amazingly great photos.
Jay says by dressing all in black he just disappears into the background when he’s shooting. His subjects rarely even know they’ve had their photo taken so Jay’s images always have this fresh look to them.
Another tip I give at every workshop: Shoot lots. Digital shooting costs nothing more than the price of the memory card. Getting a candid portrait is easier if you’re shooting lots of images especially when you’re shooting singers or bands in action.
Yes I look for the “special moment” shot but especially as the light is fading and I’m squatting down in front of the crowd (and at 66 thanks to yoga I can still squat and better yet I can still get up unassisted) and there’s kids running in and out of the shot and I’m getting hungry and tired then it’s easier to shoot a bunch of frames and look for genius on the Lightroom screen than trying for the one-off perfect shot.