Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

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Street Hunter Weekly Pic by Andrew Sweigart

When you’re stuck shooting only on weekends, fewer events proceeded a greater “bang for the buck” than festivals. When first trying my hand at street photography, I found shooting at festivals to be a particularly comfortable way to get my feet wet with the experience. As time went on, shooting at these events became a little more like shooting fish in a barrel. But around where I live, they’re still a must for me.

They provide much more action than the weekend city streets in Central Pennsylvania and that means they present a great opportunity to practice! Practice speed/response time. Practice shooting in tight spots/crowds. Practice finding subjects in the crowd and isolating them. Plus, I still like documenting Americana, and here we have that in spades.

However, Artsfest in Baltimore is a different ballgame. Held every year over a single weekend in July, it is America’s largest free arts festival. Several streets in the city’s Mount Royal neighborhood are closed down and they’re lined with fine arts vendors, stages with live music, dance and other performing arts. There’s also food vendors, sculptures, games, children’s activities and various art exhibitions. This amazing event draws over an estimated 400,000 visitors over its three-day span! It’s nowhere as chaotic as, say, Mardi Grass, but it’s fun for all ages. I had no idea it was so massive until I visited Artscape for the first time last year.

What was really great about the festival was the sheer volume of free-spirits all over the streets. I’m a big fan of people expressing their individuality with their wardrobe (even though I really don’t) and I love shooting them. This woman I caught in a break in the crowd, her feathers immediately drawing my attention. I took the opportunity to nail the focus on her face with the lens wide open, to really isolate her. I also love how she almost has a look of wonder on her face, because I was feeling the same that day. I can’t wait to go back this year and soak it all in again.

Let Your Freak Flag Fly by Andrew Sweigart

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