Four Ladies Enjoying a Parade

San Francisco, California, USA

My wife once told me that she enjoys this photograph. She told me that when she looks at it, the photo reminds her of spending time with her roommates in college. Spending time with her friends. Of course, I think she is touching on what makes this photo enjoyable and relatable. Not only are the ladies dressed up in a fun and colorful way, but image reminds us of fun times and friendship.

While attending a parade in San Francisco, California with some friends of mine, I happened to notice these four ladies sitting on a wall. They were sitting together, talking, having fun, and enjoying the day with one another. Their outfits were colorful and playful. The day was bright, sunny, and warm. It was just a great day for friends to share some time together, enjoying one another's company.

I think everyone can relate to this idea. And because of that, this idea resonates with people when they see this photo. It certainly was the idea that resonated with my wife when she told me that looking at it reminded her of spending time with good friends.

The Crowd at the Parade

The crowd along the parade route was thick. People where everywhere, going in every direction. And as happens when this many people are out celebrating, people were cheering, smiling, and just generally having a good time. People had adorned themselves with all kinds of makeup, costumes, hats, jewelry, capes, wigs, etc.

Places to sit were very limited, with most "seats" already taken. Even more rare were "seats" with a decent view of the parade. Against all odd, these four ladies managed to find some good seats where they could rest for a bit. Yet another reason to be happy. They found a seat amid the chaos. This particular location happened to be a short wall forming one side of an underground subway entrance. Immediately behind them, not visible in the photograph, is a set of stairs leading underground.

Meanwhile, other members of the crowd were getting a bit more creative with seating. For example, some people were climbing up on top of covered bus stops along the streets. One bus stop so many people on it that I genuinely began to wonder if this was one of the design considerations. Of course, I wondered this as I slowly backed away from the structure, just in case. Basically, anything that looked like a person could sit on it, had one or more people sitting on it: tops of walls, bus stops, large planters, newspaper dispensers, etc. A few people had even started scaling up lamp posts.

In the off chance that parade onlookers managed to forget where they were, there were plenty of reminders. One of the more obvious reminders were the iconic cable cars commonly associated with San Francisco. Luckily for me, one of those cable cars happen to be passing by as I was capturing this photograph. It is a nice addition to the background, making it clear where the photograph was taken. It was certainly better than the rather common looking building facade across the street.

Capturing the Photograph

As one can probably imagine from the description above, several factors need to come together in situations like this. The most obvious of which is timing. A cable car was approaching. I needed to position myself further back on the sidewalk to capture the scene. This meant I had to step further back towards the buildings, away from the road. As a result, people were passing in front of my camera as they walked by on the sidewalk. This is on top of all the normal considerations, such as lens considerations, camera settings, etc. Sometimes you just need to capture the moment as best you can, and as fast as you can manage to do so.

Not a lot of photographers like to admit this, but luck plays a large role in photography. More so in street and event photography. Do not get me wrong, there is plenty of skill and experience involved as well. Skills a photographer acquires with practice, such as good timing, being observant of surroundings, knowing your gear, making adjustments quickly, and so on. These things will increase a photographer's chances of noticing an opportunity when it comes around, and being able to seize that opportunity in the best way possible. That said, any photographer that is honest with themselves must admit that luck is certainly a factor.

When short on time, one of the useful things that I like to do is to zoom out a bit more than I normally would for a given composition. This provides the opportunity to crop the image later in post processing. This is particularly useful if the composition of the image is a bit off. To a limited degree, cropping can be used to shift the subject within the image frame, and as such, shift the viewer's focus a bit.

The Bay Area, Northern California

The area around the San Francisco Bay, is commonly referred to as the "San Francisco Bay Area," or just the "Bay Area" for short. This includes San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Silicon Valley, Mountain View, Berkeley, Napa, and many other notable locations. There really is no clear definition of the Bay Area, with different people defining different boundaries. I have heard a few different definitions myself while living here.