Photographing people on remembrance Day

Tips on how to photograph people out and about on Remembrance Sunday

|  Portraits and People
 Add Comment
Remembrance Sunday is the day we pay respect to all the service men/women and civilians who've lost their lives in wars since the 1st World War. Up and down the country we will se parades, band marches, displays and events in the various cities, towns and villages. Retired military folk when come out dressed in their Sunday best and wearing medals they were awarded in the wars they fought. many thousands more turn out to pay respects too and bring wreathes of
poppies to place on memorials.

Without being disrespectful it's a great opportunity to photograph striking candids of old and young some in mourning some in celebration. 

remembrance day parade
ePHOTOzine member Anna (fishnet) took this photograph of her son who was in the Remembrance Sunday Parade with his fellow Sea Cadets. Anna used a Nikon D80 and was limited to what she could photograph due to where she was standing, but the result captures the emotion of the day well, and the black & white toning enhances the mood.
You can use a compact camera or SLR to take candids. The lens is the part that makes or breaks the shot. And there are two approaches, shoot from a distance  and take true candids where the person doesn't know you're taking pictures. This method needs a lens of around

200mm. Or the up close and "in your face" approach using a wide to standard lens. In such cases you need to be comfortable with taking people photos and familiar with your camera so you can shoot quick and be unobtrusive. If you do use a longer lens be aware that your

shutter speed should be at least twice the focal length you're shooting at so the 200mm end of your 70-210mm zoom would need a shutter speed of at least 1/400sec. If the weather's good that won't be a problem. If it's dull you may need to use slower shutter speeds and in such

cases a camera support will help. A tripod is not ideal as there will be a lot of people milling about and you don't want them tripping over the legs. Use a monopod as an alternative . Avoid using flash as it will draw attention to you and could cause harsh unnatural results. Take a polarising filter with you too.

The principles of candid photography apply here. Be unobtrusive and respectful. If you're shooting up close be polite and ask to take a photograph. Shoot people with sympathetic eye. Don't catch them in embarrassing moments that are uncharacteristic - treat people how you would expect to be treated.

With those thoughts in mind it's down to the nitty gritty. A longer lens used at maximum aperture will help make the main person stand out from the crowd. If the photo is of a procession or assembly you will find people are close together and focusing on one with the others going

progressively out of focus can be very effective, especially if shot from an acute angle. make sure the lead person is looking where you want them. One stereotypical shot if you can get it is one person you focus on is looking in one direction and the rest in another. All it needs is for you to have your eye on the ball. Watch for distractions and catch that moment. Don't be afraid to crop tightly either group shots often look better if tightly framed.

If you want a whole row of bystanders sharp, and you're at an angle to them, focus on one that's a third of the way in to the row (this is known as the hyper-focal point) and use a small aperture and all the row should be sharper.

Many of the attendees of remembrance day wear black. This colour clothing absorbs light and can fool the meter. Take a shot while you're waiting for ceremonies to begin and check the result on your LCD screen or histogram if your camera has one. Aim for the clothing to come out black and not grey, and with a small amount of detail in the darker areas. Watch that faces are not blown out (bright with no detail) where the black has fooled the camera's exposure system. You can use your camera's exposure compensation option going + if you need a brighter image or - if it needs to be darker.

If you photograph a parade from a crowd try to get a front row viewpoint so there are no obstructions and as the parade passes pan along at the same speed and take the shot at a slowish shutter speed (1/15sec) to create a feeling of movement. The subject should be fairly sharp and the background will have a small amount of motion blur.

If you're photographing individuals look for happy and sad opportunities ...older folk who may will have lost friends and relatives and catch the sympathetic moment when a tear is shed or a past experience pondered and happy moments when a loved one is in a parade in their new uniform.

Make a record of the older folk who fought and are out wearing their medals with pride. Close up and  tight crops can be very emotional.
Remembrance Day candid by David Humphreys
Northampton Remembrance Day candid by ePHOTOzine member David Humphreys

ePHOTOzine Member David Humphreys is a regular visitor to the Northampton's town centre ceremony. Here's some excellent additional tips from him:

Try and get a timetable for the event. Your local paper will probably have an article with details of times of events. My paper indicated that various groups will be leaving Northampton Market Square at 9.30am and marching to the church. This allows me to get a good position for capturing group and procession shots for which I'll use a 18-55 lens.

The local dignitaries in their red and blue ceremonial robes leave from the Guildhall 15 minutes later so I like to nip round and capture them. A 50-200 telephoto often works well here to compress the group against the backdrop of the gothic building. Back then to the front of the church for some more group shots as the people wait to go in. Also an opportunity to get some detail shots - medals, poppies, ceremonial, swords that sort of thing.

Time to grab a coffee while the service is on, then in position by the garden of Remembrance at 10.45 for when the groups file out of the church to lay the wreathes. I tend to use 50-200 for candids to as unobtrusive as possible. Look for interesting faces or for pattern shots - my p/f banner is a crop of a line of soldiers' boots and legs . Whatever you do show respect for the event and put the camera away for the two minute silence.

Once the event finishes the groups break up. This is the time to get some shots of the wreathes grouped around the cenotaph and people reading the inscriptions. Many of the veterans will wait around catching up with their mates. If you ask them nicely, explain you are a camera club member or whatever, they are usually happy to pose for a couple of shots.

Photograph crowds, capture close ups, catch the action, record the emotion...and then share your shots in our special Remembrance Day forum.

Whether you're a beginner looking for a compact camera or a pro in the market for a high-end DSLR visit Nikon – the company who has photographic gear to suit everyone.

Support this site by shopping with one of our affiliates: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, ebay UK
*It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

Other articles you might find interesting...

6 Top Natural Light Portrait Tips For Beginners
3 Top Tips On Using Fill-In Flash For Portraits
Urban Portrait Shoot Photography Tips
Winter Portrait Photography Tips
Photographing Low Light Portraits
Tips On Shooting Great Group Shots
Creative Child Portraits On A Budget
Fun Portrait Photography Tips

There are no comments here! Be the first!

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.