Last night I joined my Group at Luna 1878 Winter Night Market at the Queen Victoria Market.
The whole area was filled with lots of food and market stalls. At each end they had live music entertainment. It was a night full of smokey air, coloured lights and thumping music….all wonderful, sensorial elements.
The question is…how to photograph these elements? How do you work out what you want to say about a public night time event?
How do you make your pictures unique to that event, rather than just generic pictures of performers and food stalls?
The answer lies in ‘atmosphere’.
Firstly, you’ve got to open up your senses.
You have to start taking in the data without sensoring anything.
Just prick your ears, start listening and watching and feeling for where the energy is coming from, and start observing where the people are drawn to.
You open your eyes. You look around, up, down, to things up close and out in the distance.
Go with the flow, literally, which is to say, the flow of the energy, or atmosphere, of the place.
When I first arrived, there was smoke billowing around, and the big down lights illuminating the whole area.
It didn’t feel very atmospheric! But then I chilled out and started walking around and switching on my heart.
Notice what you’re naturally drawn to.
For me it was the Latin beats being created by Sin Frontera.
It was tricky to get good angles and not block the audience view. The front man was a bit-of-a-dude with the hat and fancy pants.
With live performance it’s important to try to capture:
- the energy of the performers, given by the decisive moment you ‘click’ the shutter
- the space in which they perform, the elements around them on stage, and the lighting – all governed by composition
Changing up the point of view is worthwhile.
In this one we can see the performers’ perspective. It’s more about what they see as they are performing on stage.
Look for randomness.
This character was wandering about with a raised left eyebrow.
You may find after the initial spontaneity that your subject tries to pose, which this fellow did.
But you when you already have it, so you can smile and move on.
This one is great because you can see the character but you also get a sense of the real person underneath the fake makeup.
He was standing by a big fire. See how the orange colour is there, and the glint in his eye gives life?
This isn’t an accident! It’s a photo of the lights, deliberately out of focus. At events like this there is so much to take in, and the lights were changing colour every so often.
Little lights and shadows might catch your eye.
Sometimes the best pictures actually happen when you’re looking for the light itself and nothing else.
With street performers the common temptation is to come in close and capture just the performer.
Consider the immediate scene around the performer, such as with this one with the sea of blue lights around him and how the fire licks the night air.
So there it is, how to capture atmosphere at a night time public event.
I hope you found this helpful and inspiring!
Luna 1878 Winter Night Market is held at the Queen Victoria Market every Wednesday night in August. It’s worth going along and don’t forget your camera!
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