Shooting the Seattle 2016 Pride Parade
On Sunday June 26, Seattle hosted its 42nd annual Pride Parade in support of equality in human rights. Naturally I sought out to photograph the parade and get a chance to test out my new a7Rii in the field.
I got to the parade with just enough time to walk around, get a feel for the atmosphere, and find a spot to shoot from for its beginning at 11 AM. The street where the parade was taking place was barricaded off so that the massive crowd wouldn't interfere, but I saw plenty of photographers on the street capturing the festivities. Coming from a background where hopping fences to get a photo is the norm, I tried to keep to the sides and blend in with the rest of the media — until a security guard asked for my press credentials. I told him I didn't have any, and he directed me to stay behind the fence among the crowd. I said "OK", and simply walked a couple blocks down where I would try again. I had intentions of continuing this until I either found a place I could stay and shoot or reached the end. Fortunately the next block's security guard was lenient and I was able to perch there and shoot for the duration of the parade. That spot turned out to be great, as the announcer's booth, live TV cameras, and main stage were also there, so the energy of the parade was at its peak.
When photographing, I sought out a few key things. Primarily, I looked for action and excitement, the sort of which would make an interesting photo. I also looked for color; the rainbows, the clothing (or lack thereof), and the people all made for very bright and vibrant images. On a deeper level, however, I wanted to capture the genuine emotion of the participants. I knew that there would be an overwhelming feeling of happiness, now that gay marriage is nationally recognized, but that there would also be hints of sadness due to the Orlando tragedy and a controversial bill that is said to be discriminatory towards transgenders. I photographed intently, always looking the block over and picking out a few interesting subjects to narrow focus on as they moved by swiftly.
The parade went much longer than scheduled, ending around 3:30 instead of 1:30. By the end I was left with half a battery out of four — and that's having turned my LCD display off and using only the viewfinder the entire time! I'm definitely going to need more batteries and a USB power bank for longer shoots, trips without readily available power, or video shoots. Aside from that, the camera performed excellently. Autofocus was absolutely spot-on and I had no complaints in that area. My only real complaint comes from the metering. I shot in P mode in order to keep things simple, but I found that the camera was constantly overexposing by up to a full stop in sunlight. Once I figured that out, I left the exposure compensation on -1 EV which kept the highlights from blowing out excessively.
By the conclusion of the day, I had shot over 600 frames... In 42 megapixel RAW... My hard drives are going to fill up very quickly with this camera. For my editing process, I went through Lightroom and used its built in rating system. On first pass, I gave the each photo in the collection a gut-feeling rating from 1-5 stars, then kept only the photos with 3 or more stars. That group amounted to 175 photos — far too much to begin any initial editing for a photo series of about 20 — so I cut those down further, passing through the remainder again with the rating system. Those were cut into 112 photos with 3 or more stars and just 33 photos with 4 or more stars. I selected only those with 4 or more stars and there I began the editing and ideas for sequencing. By the end, I kept 24 photos, of which only 19 were published in the Seattle Pride photo series.