Top 10 events in Seattle
It doesn't stop with just 10 events
I was lucky. The year I decided to photograph all the events that happened in Settle, it was sunny every weekend from May to October. The Seafair PR director said I was his lucky charm and would call me up to make sure I was coming every week. And while I learned a lot about event photography photographing for 30 high school yearbooks, nothing beats experience and practice. If you want to become a better image maker make more images. The same with communication.
Scroll down to get to #1and don't forget to read the copy for an explanation and a few tips.
#10 Jingle Bell Fun Run
I am constantly looking for position, especially when it is a large crowd of thousands. So when I saw the event manager and the announcer up on a 3 story scaffolding I just started climbing up. This is where it helps to look like a photographer. When I got to the top, they said what are you here for? I smiled and said to take a picture, can you ask everyone to wave for me? So I gave them direction before they had a chance to ask another question. Own your career.
# 9 Folk Life Festival
Look at the angles, and try to get them all. Most entertainers face the audience and a lot of times that is a good image. In this case I got to the side which allowed me to create more action by making the dresses and the foreground larger.
I love cultures and music. The Folk Life Festival is one of the largest in the world. You will not be disappointed.
# 8 West Seattle Summer Fest
You don't have to go to Europe or Asia to photograph cultures. They are all over in your own community. Just place yourself in a age group or a cultural gathering. This was at West Seattle Summer Fest. I love the ingenuity of this young adult and it truly says, "American Teenager." That was over 15 years ago and I assume the writing on his chest has worn off. I wonder if he was Student Body President?
See my separate section on Cultural Portraiture. Currently my favorite subject to photograph.
# 7 Numerous Music Concerts
All big cities have numerous music concerts. I have been fortunate to have photographed hundreds of concerts so I usually don't have a problem getting a pass to be in the pits. Been doing it since the late 60s. Got bad hearing to prove it. Now ear plugs are required because you are right next to the speakers.
Of course the rules have changed since then. Now they let photogs in the pits for 2 or 3 songs and you have to be credentialed. There are limits as what you can do with the images. They do not want you marketing images but they do want publicity. Promoters also want images that they can post on their site. I've always greased the skids. Treat people right and they usually treat you right.
By the way, the best place to be in the pits is to the right if the lead singer is right handed, and left if singer is left handed. Otherwise it will look like the singer is swallowing the mic.
# 6 Seafair Milk Carton Race on Greenlake
One of my all time favorite images. The kid was so excited to see the press boat taking pictures at the Milk Carton Races he didn't even notice he was going to smack his sister in the water. Probably not going to make the crew team when he gets older.
All the entries need to be made of Milk Cartons. Some float, some don't. It is usually the first event of three months of Seafair events.
# 5 New Year's Eve at Seattle Center
Sometimes your favorite event image comes from the crowd. I call this one "Ghost Dancers." On New Years Eve at the Seattle Center you have to get there early to work for position. Each year I go, I like to get a different position. You don't have a lot of time to move around and with the crowd you couldn't anyway. Of course fireworks images require a tripod and I positioned at the Fountain where two of my pod legs were against the bench and the other was between my legs. This was to prevent the pushing crowd from bumping my tripod during an exposure.
So these two teenagers in the middle of winter stripped down to their shorts and jumped in the fountain and started dancing. I focused on the ground but used a slow shutter speed.
Got some good firework shots too and the key to a fireworks image, is to make the location recognizable. That is why photogs from all over the world come to do the Fireworks at the Needle. (A fireworks shot below.)
# 4 The Zombie March in Seattle Center
The Zombie March is always a fun one. Seattle is always in competition with other cites to break the World's Record for the most participants. I think one year we stole it away from Mexico City which has a population of around 10 million and celebrates the Day of the Dead.
Now even though I looked like a professional photographer sometimes that is not enough, so I simply said "Work with Me" and all of a sudden they become a runway model with attitude. Through the years you learn the "tricks of the trade" which makes me valuable. I got a million of them. "Every image has a lesson" ~ RGT
# 3 The Seafair Torchlight Parade
The Seafair Torchlight Parade is Seattle's longest parade. It starts in daylight and ends in darkness. People start lining up at 10 am. I always make sure I am at a parade at least an hour before start time so I can catch people getting ready. Which are usually the better images. This was the very beginning of the parade as they were unfolding the flag. I got up close before they were really starting. Cause normally you would not be able to come up the the flag like that.
# 2 The Seattle Pride Parade
This is another example of being there early. He had a big dragon head that he wore and was hydrating before he put the head on. This is when it helps to have a telephoto lens. When he saw me he put the dragon head on and posed for me. Obviously, not the shot I wanted but he was proud of the outfit.
I also stay after the parade is over. If you walk with the parade from the start to the end, you get different backgrounds and at the end you get people who are exhausted.
There is a reason events hire me to take pictures.Plus I am always thinking of new ways to promote them. I can hardly wait for the next event who has the funding to have me hire assistants. Actually it could be some of their volunteer staff. This idea will knock their socks off.
# 1 Seattle 4th of July
The first year I photographed the Seattle 4th of July Fireworks, I went to Gasworks Parks where 100s of thousands of people converge. I got a couple decent images. After the first few shells went off, the Space Needle was not visible, due to the smoke.
I had photographed the Space Needle before from West Seattle, that is across the bay. So I asked some of the locals if they could see the fireworks from there. Yes, was the answer. July 2nd, I went on a scouting trip. The spots I thought I could pull my van up and get on the roof of my van, away from the crowds, were already taken by 25 RVs. So I went to a restaurant and asked if I could use their roof. They said, "sure if I would sign a waiver, but the best spot is actually up on the hill." They were right.
The 4th I was so early I wandered the hill and saw a house that had a better view than what I had picked out. So I knocked on the door with my portfolio in hand and asked if it was possible to take images from his deck. He excused himself to talk to his wife. I was in luck. Perfect position to have the fireworks behind The Needle.
The next week I brought him prints and I was invited back next year.