A powwow is a beautiful and inspiring event filled with color, movement and energy, so how can you best capture it on camera?
If you plan on taking your camera to the powwow and snapping photos of the beauty of the event, it’s important to be prepared and have the right approach and strategy. With a little bit of preparation and know-how, you can get some beautiful images that represent the unique native culture on display.
Here are some tips that you can keep in mind for getting better photos at your next powwow event:
Get a Low Angle
When you are photographing the dancers, don’t shoot from the stands looking down. Your photos will be so much more powerful if you photograph them at eye level. If you want an even more dramatic angle you can get lower.
Shooting up at the dancers from below will make them look more large and dramatic and will make for a more impactful photo. You can also consider using a wide angle lens, which will help you to get more of the colorful celebration into your photograph.
Use the Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is one of the most important guidelines in photography. Once you understand it, you’ll have a much better eye for composition and you will be able to place the subjects in your photographs so that they feel well balanced.
Of course, rules are meant to be broken and you don’t always need to follow this guideline, but it’s a good general guideline to follow when it comes to composition.
Try Using the Flash
If you are taking a photo at a powwow on a bright and sunny day, the intense sunlight can create deep shadows. Using your flash can help to fill in those shadows and give you a better photo.
It will also help to light up the subject’s eyes and make the colours of their clothing pop. (Of course, this only works if you are close enough to your subject.)
When photographing a powwow it is important to be respectful and not take photos at inappropriate moments. For example, don’t take photos during prayers, flag songs or other ceremonies or when the Master of Ceremonies has forbid photos. Also, always ask a dancer for permission before you take a photo of their regalia. Many dancers have worked for hours to create their beautiful beadwork and it is something personally meaningful to them. Some don’t like to have this beadwork photographed, as it may allow someone else to copy the design.
If you plan on selling your images afterward, make sure you contact the pow wow committee in advance and get signed model releases.
Cell Phone Photos
What if you aren’t bring a camera to the pow wow and you only have your phone? The good news is that you can still take amazing photos. Here are some tips for photographing powwows with your cell phone:
- Clean your phone’s camera lens to avoid blurs and smears.
- Ignore the zoom function, it only makes your photos poor quality. Instead, get as close as you can to your subject and then crop.
- Try not to use the flash either. It’s just an LED flashlight and it can give your photos a strange light.
- Use an app to actually edit your photos, rather than just adding filters over the top. You can download full image editing apps for your phone such as Photoshop Express, SnapSeed and iPhoto.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind when you are photographing your next pow wow. Have fun, enjoy the beautiful spectacle and capture some great images that reflect the energy, spirit and joy of this very special celebration.
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