Capturing Candid Moments at a Festival / by Todd Henson

A member of Embajadores del Folklore after performing a Morenada dance.

This is the third and final post about XXX Festival Boliviano, the 30th annual Bolivian Festival held at the Prince William County Fairgrounds in Manassas, Virginia, on September 3, 2017. As with the previous posts, be sure to click on any of the photos for a larger view.

Here is an example of a performer looking right at the camera.  This performer was with Tinkus Bolivia who performed a Tinkus dance.

Another example of a performer looking right at the camera. In this case I was in a lower position looking up at this performer with Morenada Bolivia USA who had just performed a Morenada dance.

In the first post I shared photographs of several of the dance groups that performed. In the second post I shared many photographs of individual performers. In this post I look at capturing candid moments. These might be interesting moments during a performance, but are more often captured between or after a performance when the performer has relaxed and perhaps taken themselves momentarily out of the persona they portray while dancing.

I love this photograph of two young performers with Tinkus de San Simon USA, who performed a Tinkus dance. One performer is looking down the route they would take towards me, and the other is looking back towards the rest of their group.

In this version I captured a lone young performer from Tinkus de San Simon USA, who had performed a Tinkus dance. She is facing away from me, looking towards the American flag and back towards the rest of her group. I really like the moments captured in these two images.

I like trying to capture these candid moments because I think they help tell the story of the event. They show another layer to the performance and the performers. For example, we see the exhaustion when someone takes the mask off their head, the beads of sweat dripping down their face. And in that moment we can see the effort these performers put into their performance.

In this photo I captured the moment after the performer from Fundacion Socio Cultural Diablada Boliviana removed his mask after their final performance of a Wititi dance. You can see his exhaustion as he lifts his head towards the sun.

And in this photo we see another performer from Fundacion Socio Cultural Diablada Boliviana who had removed their mask after performing a Wititi dance.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I don’t consider myself a people photographer. I rarely photograph people. But I am just as attracted to a stunning portrait or to impactful examples of street photography as I am to photographs of the subjects I most often shoot (nature, wildlife, outdoors). So I really enjoy events like this Festival, where I can practice photographing people in a challenging environment, trying to capture action and movement, but also trying to find and capture those more intimate moments between the dancing, trying to show a little more personality to the performer.

Here a performer from Tinkus Tiataco pauses during the Tinkus dance, raising her hand to her mouth. What was she thinking? What was she feeling? 

Here is a moment when a young performer from Salay Bolivia USA pauses, raising her hand to her head, just after her performance of a Salay dance.

This photo captures a moment from a Tinkus dance performed by Tinkus Bolivia. I believe the girl with the whistle is leading her group within the dance. I like her pose and the positioning of the other people with the image.

Here is a small group of performers from Morenada Revelacion Cocanis VA USA just after performing a Morenada dance.

The next time you find yourself at this sort of event, or just out about town with your camera, consider looking for moments you can capture, moments that help tell a story about the subject. And if, like me, you usually shoot nature, consider occasionally photographing something different, such as people, events, or street photography. It’s a great way to learn. And in the end, light is light, and anything you learn about light in one environment can almost always be applied to a different environment.

A performer with Fraternidad Alma Boliviana raises her hand at the end of, or just after, performing a Tinkus dance.

Another performer from Fraternidad Alma Boliviana after performing a Tinkus dance.

I tried to frame this member of Morenada Bolivia USA amongst the colored feathers of other dancers in his group. They had just performed a Morenada dance.

In a moment captured after her dance, sunlight creates colored reflections on her face from the sequins in her outfit. She is a member of Fraternidad Folklorica Cultural Caporales Universitarios San Simon Filial VA, who performed a Caporales dance.