How To Shoot An Event As Part Of A Travel Story - Procession in Ceglie Messapica - Carla Coulson
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How To Shoot An Event As Part Of A Travel Story – Procession in Ceglie Messapica

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The ‘main event’ the statue of San Antonio di Padova in the streets of Ceglie Messapica copyright Carla Coulson

I love the feeling of arriving in a new place, my ‘photographer’s antenna’ on overdrive at all the wonderful nuances and differences of that town or country. I am endlessly fascinated by the food, the architecture, the scents, feelings and excitement it all inspires.

I have always loved to travel and it was by no accident I passed the first 12 years of my photography career as a travel photographer. I knew in my heart the day I started photography school that was what I wanted to do.

One of my favourite aspects of travel photography is shooting a cultural, sporting, musical, religious or fashion event that is particular to that place.

There are many great reasons why you should shoot an event as part of a travel story. When we are photographing a place we are trying to tell a story of that place, it’s people, it’s culture, they way they live, eat and enjoy life.

An event inspires powerful feelings. As photographers to tell a great travel story means more than a sun setting over the sea, it means showing emotion, belief, joy, happiness, devotion and connection of the people to that place. Lots of these emotions naturally occur at events.

It’s also a great way of using the place as a backdrop whilst something rich is going on.

An event often has deep historical significance, it’s part of a tradition that can go back for centuries and the whole town turns out in their best outfit for it!

Oh and there are fabulous costumes, brass bands, fairy lights and a whole lot more depending on the particular event.

Before I shoot an event, I research it.

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Shooting around the event nun arriving at the church copyright Carla Coulson

These are some of the things I take into consideration when I shoot an event:

1.  What’s its history, what is the story or legend behind the event?

2. I want to know how the event ‘works’. What time it starts and finishes. This is really important in regards to shooting it as often events are held at sundown or night and this needs to be calculated when planning your equipment and degree of difficulty.

3. Where it is and is there a particular route it follows? I walk the route if this is possible looking at all sorts of vantage points where I could shoot from.

4. I do light tests if an interior venue is to be used..

5. What’s the main event? In these pictures the main event is the men carrying the statue.

6. What’s going on around the event? This often is more interesting than the main event. It could be people arriving, worshipping, selling things, children together playing. All sorts of things happen around the main event and there are many beautiful storytelling  moments to be captured.

7. I am constantly looking, scouting around to see what I can find that isn’t the ‘main event’. I have learnt throughout the years that often the best shots around to be found in the streets around the main event, backstage or afterwards when everyone is relaxed.

8. When someone points something out or suggests something I will go and check it out.

9. I have fun.. cause an event feels like a big fabulous party..

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Shooting around the event copyright Carla Coulson

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A new perspective copyright Carla Coulson

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Shooting around the event copyright Carla Coulson

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 The main event and a side story copyright Carla Coulson

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Shooting around the event, lady waiting for the procession copyright Carla Coulson

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Shooting around the event.. cat waiting for procession copyright Carla Coulson

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The boys in the band copyright Carla Coulson

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A new angle on the main event copyright Carla Coulson
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The Boys in the band during a break copyright Carla CoulsonCarla Coulson procession ceglie messapica puglia san antonio di padova 0018

 The statue of San Antonio di Padova just before it leaves the town copyright Carla Coulson

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 The statue leaving the old town copyright Carla Coulson

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Shooting around the event.. fairy lights that decorate the town copyright Carla Coulson

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Families who join the ‘after party’ copyright Carla Coulson

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A selfie with the lights behind.. copyright Carla Coulson

All these photos were shot during last years Caravan Travel Photography Workshop in Puglia Italy. If you would like to eat, breath and  live travel photography for 7 days next June in beautiful Puglia please click here for more information.

I hope you enjoyed this insight into travel photography.

“As a young boy growing up in rural India, most of what I knew of the world was what I could see around me. But each night, I would look at the Moon – it was impossibly far away, yet it held a special attraction because it allowed me to dream beyond my village and country, and think about the rest of the world and space.” Naveen Jain

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8 Comments
  • stunning pictures Carla, and fantastic tips too. Especially about doing your research and looking for side stories. They are my favourite images of yours xx

    October 7, 2014 at 12:18 pm
  • Words fail me to describe just how stunning I find these photos. Thank you for the fabulous tips. I am completely in love with each and every one of these photos. May I ask, for the night shots were you hand held or using a tripod? I would love to know the settings you used if you are happy to share them? I can’t stop looking at these. Jx

    October 7, 2014 at 11:52 pm
  • Thanks Carla, love the tips on doing the background research- would help not to miss anything out. I think these make for the best travel stories- I am always hooked by stories of that nature. xx

    October 8, 2014 at 12:21 am
  • Sharon Wiley

    Thankyou Carla

    Stunning photos and great tips. you really capture the story around the event and your passion and respect for those participating is truly inspiring

    Many Thanks

    Sharon

    October 8, 2014 at 4:33 pm