Travel Photography Series Part 4 – Cultural, Music, Sporting and Local Events

Carla Coulson Travel photography series cultural events

 Easter Procession Trapani Sicily Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy

I love an event!! As a photographer an event normally means wonderful photos and it is a rich storytelling opportunity no matter where in the world it is held.

For those of you who have been following along on my Travel Photography Series thank-you for all your lovely comments and enthusiasm.

Today I would love to talk about the importance of local events in your photography stories and how they can enrich your travel story. In case you missed the first 3 parts you can catch up on them here, Food, People and Architecture.

Travel Means Cultural, Music, Sporting and Local Events

As photographers our photos are stronger when they tell a story. When you are photographing a travel story your aim is tell a story of the place, their food, culture, people and how they live without writing a word. Our photos are the words.

Events are particular to a place and often have an importance significance and historical reasons for being. They add loads of atmosphere and depth to your story.

Events means costumes (even cowboys have their own look), props (in the form of statues, horses or candles), organisation (love a procession or a tilt the ring horse event), role playing (everyone has something to do) and it means you can catch life as it happens.

Scour travel guides, books and the internet to see what happens and when in the place you want to photograph. I often travel around these events so as to be sure that something will be happening when I am there.

Sicily-Easter-Italian-Joy-Carla-Coulson copy

Easter Procesion Trapani Sicily Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy

Religious Events

I flew to Trapani in Sicily for Easter back in 2003 on the advice of a Sicilian friend. He told me in Trapani there is one of the biggest religious processions in the Catholic world. As I was trying to show the Italy I loved I felt this religious element was important. I wasn’t disappointed in Trapani, the way the women dressed, what they held, the statues, the music and the devotion were incredible.

carla coulson rawlinna kalgoorlie travel photography series

 Tilt The Ring at the Rawlinna Rodeo Copyright Carla Coulson Chasing A Dream

Sporting Events

Show me a rodeo and I am in heaven. I travelled 400kms on a red dirt road from Kalgoorlie to go to this rodeo. It was Australia on steriods. Needless say I was one happy photographer.

I would be equally excited to shoot a day on a Sydney beach at a Nippers carnival, a warm-up for a local soccer team in Italy or skiing competition in the Canadian mountains. Every countries sporting event is unique, the backdrops, the participants, the costumes and the format.. Bring on the sporting events..

Spain Carla Coulson flamenco dancers travel photography series

Morning Flamenco classes Seville Copyright Carla Coulson Chasing A Dream

Fete-de-la-musique-Paris travel photography series

Fete de la Musique Paris Copyright Carla Coulson Chasing A Dream

Dance Events

There are cities like Seville in Spain that thump to the rhythm of Flamenco. Dancers fly from all around the world to live, dance and train in Seville because it is the heart of gypsy Flamenco along with nearby Jerez.  Two fabulous Flamenco dancers gave me the tip to go to an early morning dance school to see the pros belting it out. Talk about camera shake that floor was jumping.. Divine morning.

Paris too has a unique music festival that happens once a year. Every bar, cafe, street, corner and shop is alive with music. People dance on the streets like an old Robert Doisneau photo..Check out if dance is an important part of the culture you are shooting.

Fashion EventsZuhair Murad Backstage Copyright Carla Coulson

Jean Paul Gaultier Paris travel photography series copy

Jean Paul Gaultier Paris Copyright Carla Coulson

Fashion Events

Paris is synonymous with fashion, its’ the home of Haute Couture and some of the oldest fashion houses in the world. A big part of Paris and what happens in this ctiy revolves around the fashion world. Couture and pret-a-porter shows give this city and energy 4 times a year.

Carla-Coulson-Italy naples travel photography series

Music Events

Every country has their musical instrument. Music plays a huge part in a culture and it is at the centre of most celebrations. I know in Italy there is a brass band lurking behind every door just waiting to burst into song for the procession of the madonna, the village festival and an important funeral. The two guys above are part of an old Neapolitan tradition that only happens at Christmas where they walk the streets and play a sort of home-made bagpipe to serenade the fabulous presepe (nativity scenes) that fill every corner, home and church. See if there is a musical instrument or festival that is centred around music and what music traditions are important to the place you are shooting.

Carnevale Carla Coulson travel photography series

Gentleman dressed in costume at a private party at Carnevale Venice copyright Carla Coulson

Cultural Events

Hey, there is only one Venice and one Carnevale and if you have ever been to Venice in February the costumes and parties are unforgettable. One of my early jobs was for Marie Claire and it was a story on Carnevale in Venice. It was amazing to enter incredible palazzi, witness mind blowing costumes and ladies stepping off water taxis holding a mask to their face. Check out and see if the place you are photographing has a unique event.

I hope you enjoyed this instalment of my Travel Photography Series. These are just some suggestions but the list is endless. Wishing you safe travels, new adventures and wonderful friendships through photography.

“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” Mahatma Ghandi





P.S. Please feel free to share this to all like-minded travel photographer friends and friends! x


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Liz Thomas
10 years ago

Thank you for this Travel series! I absolutely love each post and the advice you offer!

Corrina Tough
10 years ago

Beautiful Carla- as usual- classy and informative xx Corrina

Marsha @ Splenderosa
10 years ago

Love the movement in the photographs. Brings the action to life so well. Just wonderful!

10 years ago

Thank you for this amazing post Carla! Lots of great tips and the photos are so creative reflecting different cultures. xx

10 years ago

What a gorgeous eye you have! I’m a sucker for desert shots and I’d love to see the Kalgoorlie series Xcat

Peggy Braswell
10 years ago

what a great photographer you are + adore the photos.