Photographing Pride

Rainbow Flag at Night

It’s June, it’s summer, and it’s Pride Month. As I’ve covered and photographed Pride-related events for years, and have always found the experience uplifting, inspiring, and exciting.

Last year, because of the pandemic, there were only virtual Pride events. This year, though, small Pride festivals and events are happening live, in person, again.

If you’re interested in photographing Pride related events, in particular the Pride March in a specific city, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Love is Love. Celebrating Jersey City Pride.
Storefront decorated for JC Pride Fest 2018. Photographed by Alina Oswald for Out IN Jersey Magazine.

First things first:

If you photograph for yourself, try to find the best possible spot from where to capture as much of the event as possible, while not standing in anybody’s way. That said, if you walk in the Pride March, for example, you’ll have more vantage points from where to photograph. To be part of such events, you can volunteer with participating organizations or join friends who’re walking with certain nonprofits or other organizations. Check the event’s website in advance for more into.

If you photograph for a publication or any other client, then you should inquire about a press pass. You’ll need a press pass! It will allow you to attend opening ceremonies and walk in the March with other marchers, photograph everything and everybody around you, so that you can visually capture the full story of the event. Note: wear your press pass so that it’s visible at all times; follow guidelines.

What to bring:

Rainbow heart-shaped candies at Jersey City Pride Fest. ©Alina Oswald.
Rainbow heart-shaped candies at Jersey City Pride Fest. Photographed by Alina Oswald for Out IN Jersey Magazine.

Comfortable clothes and shoes. Also, bring a hat and sunscreen, sunglasses, clothes with pockets and/or a bag to carry a small bottle of water, maybe even a small snack, etc. And keep in mind that you’ll be standing and walking in the sun or rain, perhaps without the possibility to find a bathroom, for a significant amount of time! Check the weather forecast for that day. Bring a raincoat for you, and also rain sleeves for your camera and lens. (I have two plastic rain sleeves and keep one in my gear bag at all times, just in case.)

NOTE:

When photographing, look for interesting defining moments that capture the specific event.

For example, the state of New York passed the Marriage Equality Act in June of 2011. Hence, while photographing that year’s NYC Pride, I had to capture images like the one posted below:

NYC Pride March 2011. Photo by Alina Oswald.
NYC Pride March 2011. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

Getting Gear Ready:

Charge batteries, clean camera sensors, check lenses and cameras, make sure your memory cards are still working, are backed up and only then formatted; when it comes to gear, bring two of each, for backup, especially if you shoot for a (paying) client. Bring zoom lenses and speed-light(s) and make sure you have plenty of charged batteries for the speed-light(s).

Senator Chuck Schumer at NYC Pride March 2013. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Senator Chuck Schumer at NYC Pride March 2013. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

Prior to the event, study the event schedule and map–the who, what, where, when, etc. and get there before it begins.

Photographer capturing NYC Pride 2013. Photo by Alina Oswald.

What to photograph:

  • speakers, guest speakers, important people at the opening ceremony
  • marchers and important people in the march
  • the crowd and people in the crowd
  • the city during the event – the streets, sky, and buildings against the sky, the ground covered in rainbow glitter and tiny rainbow flags, etc.
  • behind-the-scenes (bts) and behind-the-glamour images as well as what-remains kind of images]
  • the event from as many vantage points as possible; zoom out to capture the entire scene, zoom in for details
  • if you know marchers or other participants, or people in the crowd, photograph them and even take selfies with them, if they’re ok with it (ask first)
  • serious moments, moments of silence, and also fun stuff
  • celebrities or well-known individuals, as well as bts workers and helpers
Police officer stops to give his dog some water at NYC Pride 2013. Photo by Alina Oswald.
  • come in early and stay for as long as possible; try to capture as much as possible
  • most importantly, enjoy the amazing energy that always surrounds Pride events; be safe and have fun!
At World Pride 2019 in NYC walking with Visual AIDS and distributing What Is 21st Century Liberation broadsheet co-designed by artist and activist Avram Finkelstein
Pride Hearts in Jersey City. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Colorful hearts decorate the streets of Jersey City for JC Pride Fest 2018. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

Happy photographing and Happy Pride!

Alina Oswald

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