The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a huge arts festival that runs in August and even though you need tickets for many of the shows at the Fringe, you can visit the Royal Mile for free where you'll find plenty of street entertainers you can capture images of.
Due to the event's popularity and the variety of things on offer to photograph, you will see all sorts of photographic approaches so there's not really hard-and-fast rules to follow more like guidelines that'll help you capture the best of what the Fringe has to offer. Also, although taking photos is fun do remember that you're actually there to enjoy yourself so do take your eye away from the viewfinder occasionally and just enjoy the atmosphere.
Photo by Cattyal
1. Lens Choices
A standard zoom is perfect for the sort of distances you'll be taking photos from. If you own a telezoom do take it, however someone will more than likely get in the way if you're using a longer lens so use it for tightly-cropped shots rather than trying to get a shot from a distance. Wides can work but make the point of getting in close to fill the frame and accept that you are going to get fussy backgrounds.
2. Know Where You Are Going
Pick up a guide as it lists times as well as locations of where things are happening, plus if it's your first time visiting, there's usually a handy map included to help you find your way. The best location is on the Royal Mile where you get street performers and artists promoting their shows with mini-performances.
3. Be Patient
It does get bustling with visitors and performers coming and going all day but hang around for long enough and you will find something to aim your lens at.
4. Take Care
Due to how busy the Royal Mile gets remember to take care of your possessions and don't leave anything unattended. It can also get hot at this time of year, so remember to keep hydrated and you'll probably encounter a sudden downpour, too so keep a brolly handy.
Photo by Cattyal
5. Payment For Performance
Some performers would like a payment for posing and it is up to you if you want to make a contribution. Some of the shows are excellent and you might feel that a sample of enjoyable street theatre is worth some small change.
6. Be Polite
As they're performing in public, on the street they tend to not mind you photographing them. However, if the opportunity arrives, it is always polite to ask them if it's OK to take a few shots.
7. Capture Close-Ups
As they're passionate about their performance you'll have plenty of interesting expressions and movements to photograph so get in close if the opportunity unfolds.
8. Crowd Or No Crowd?
If there's a big crowd or the street they're on is particularly cluttered hide it by cropping in close to the performer. However, if the crowd's having a particularly good time, having them in the shot can work well in an image with the performer. Alternatively, just capture an image of the spectators watching the show.
Photo by David Pritchard
9. Speed & Position
Shoot quickly, watch the background and move around to explore different camera angles.
10. Different Perspective
Performance shots are great but don't overlook capturing shots of performers scooping up change from guitar cases or moving position to set-up for the next part of their act.
11. Continuous Shooting & Focus
Switch to continuous shooting but don't be tempted to constantly machine-gun away. Instead, take the time to watch for the key moments that are worth capturing. Continuous focusing will help you maintain focus on the street performers.
12. Shutter Priority
Consider using Shutter Priority so you can decide how much you freeze / add motion blur to action shots. To add crowd movement to your shot you'll need a slower shutter speed and a support. Tripods take up too much space so use a monopod or even your camera bag as a support. Use a small aperture and low ISO to get the slower speeds you need. You may need to experiment to find the exact shutter speed that works but the beauty of digital means you can check the screen, adjust and take another shot.
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