I’m very much in my comfort zone when it comes to photographing outdoor events and one of the most fun to snap locally is Garstang Children’s Festival.


The flags were up in picturesque Garstang.

During my time as the Garstang Courier‘s resident press photographer (1991 – 2002) it was one of the busiest day of the year for me, being under pressure to quickly turn round a large number of photos to fill a special pull-out feature. Back in the halcyon days of local newspapers, there would also be at least one reporter stood in the crowd with notebook in hand! With two parades at Garstang; late morning and early evening, my personal challenge was to have the office window filled with photos before the end of the day. Now that may not sound much of a challenge, but remember we are mostly talking pre-digital with hand printed photos from the darkroom.

Spectators of all ages wait for the parade.

The Garstang Children’s Festival dancers are a traditional start to the procession.

A delightful face in the parade.

A circus theme is always a popular choice.

When I photograph events, especially this type involving mainly children, I look for appealing faces, strong expressions and anything that really tells the story of the occasion.

Some lovely floats.

Painted faces.

Proudly carrying their fancy dress trophy.

Trains and elephants; so much hard work goes into decorating some floats.

Riding in a cannon.

My favourite shot!

Too much excitement is tiring for some!

A delightful trio

Harry & Megan make an inevitable appearance!














































Photographing carnival processions is great fun, whether your kids are dressing up, or if you are just admiring those who do. Here’s a few simple tips

  • Find a good vantage point with a clear view free of obstacles such as signs, bins, in the foreground and ideally not in the background either.
  • If it’s a sunny day avoid shooting towards the sun (unless you like silhouettes and lens flare!) and from the side to avoid harsh distracting shadows. The shade is okay, but beware if the background is sunlight as it will confuse the camera’s exposure.
  • Look for interesting faces with character (as well as face paint and good costumes of course).
  • Try panning with moving floats/people to give a sense of movement.
  • To get sharp pictures when you are using a telephoto/zoom lens keep an eye on the shutter speed. Select at least 1/125 of a second and preferably faster (1/250 or more).
  • If you are snapping a single subject with a long lens, use a large lens aperture (eg f 2.8 or f4 to blur the background and make them stand out. This is important for a carnival which will probably have a ‘busy’ distracting background.
  • Take several shots of each subject in quick succession. A child blinking usually spoils a good photo.
  • Look for strong contrasting colours
  • Keep it simple; less often has more impact.
  • Concentrate and be alert so you don’t miss a great moment.
  • Look ahead to see what’s coming and plan your shots.

I hope you have enjoyed my brief look at snapping events and the photo tips help. Many are obvious but are still easily forgotten or overlooked. Happy snapping!…