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Photographing Country Fairs

Updated on February 20, 2014

My fair photos are really your fair photos. To some it's a fair but to most of the world they are better known as carnivals.

Whatever name you choose to use, these events offer the opportunity to capture a wide variety of images seldom available at one single event or location.

This is a rather simple project but one that can turn out many great images in one of the most entertaining activities to which many cities and towns are enveloped in almost every year. Carnivals are fun, no doubt, there many tents, attractions and colorful characters offers any photographer an ample and almost limitless array of good photographic subjects that can keep you busy snapping shots for hours on end.

Focus on unique and colorful attractions including mannequins and carnival figures. Rides are specially worthy of being photographed while stationary and while functioning. Be sure to include people enjoying themselves. a word of caution, if your are going to include shots of people tray to do so at angles or distances that do not make the subject recognizable if your intention is to eventually sell or publish the images.

There are two ways of doing this; inform the subjects that you would like to take their photos and for what purpose and get them to at least verbally agree or get a signed model's release which is definitely easier said than done. Carnival rides, and any inanimate objects should be recorded in their entirety and on close up mode. Staff, even if they are in costumes, should be asked politely to pose for the camera and if they ask which is seldom the case, reveal your purposes.

Record close ups that appear as abstracts focusing on intricate details and color bundles since many of these rides are colorfully painted in very vivid reds, blues, greens, yellows and so on. This project can be done in daylight and better yet during the night hours where the emphasis should be the bright and colorful lights which are always abundant at any carnival.

If there is a Ferris wheel and more than likely there will be one, do record several images of it at long range and close up modes while it's still and while is twirling, this is a worldwide recognized symbol for carnivals and it can be your opening image in a set.

Photograph other major rides the same ways while they are still and while the function. The images done while the rides are working will give the sense of movement and offer an audience an air of what it feels to be riding one and the images done while the rides are still lets an audience see the subject in all its splendor.

Focus on carnival games of chance and try to record the essence of it and how it's played such as getting rings around the top of bottles. Also important are photographs of the prizes if one is lucky enough to beat one of these games of chance.

Do not forget to record images of the many foods that are plentiful at any carnivals such as the fried "elephant ears" which to this day is my best excuse for attending one. If there are carousels available by all means photograph them in close ups and in their totally. Take several images of the "horses" so that they appear as abstracts. They are usually very richly decorated and painted and make great photos.

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. | Source

Be creative with your carnival photos since they have been photographed many times. Do not become lax and record many images especially close up abstracts that are full of color.

If suing flash and you will more than likely need to when shooting at night, do not aim the unit directly at people's faces. Not only can this be rude but you run the risk of causing "red eye".

A simple solution is to use a diffuser on the flash head such as a handkerchief on the flash head which is held in place with a rubber band. This creates a softer light and it's not as obtrusive as a full flash burst.

If you are lucky enough to live near or to visit one of the most famous carnivals in the world the allow your senses to be overwhelmed with the myriad of photographic subjects.

From the subtle, fun, amusing, sensual to the exotic and erotic as well as the very and extreme extravagant scenes presented by Brazil's Rio Carnivale. Record images to your hearts content.

Although this carnival has been recorded and photographed in more ways than one can imagine there is always room for more creative images and these images are very well received by calendar companies, many publishers and travel magazines as well as most of the photographic stock houses.

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      randomcreative:Thank you

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      So many beautiful ideas here! Next time I have the change to go to a big fair or carnival, I'll have to look this up again.

    • justom profile image


      6 years ago from 41042

      Ha, yeah that too...and the scenery:-P

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      justom: Actually I just go for the

    • justom profile image


      6 years ago from 41042

      Nice hub Luis, those places are all great fun to take photos at. There's so much going on all around you it can be overwhelming but that's a good thing!!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      FloraBreenRobinson: Thank you, There is always some shots that can be taken

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      6 years ago

      Our biggest fair in Southern B.C is the P&E during the summer in Vancouver. There is no point taking pictures at local fairs here as they are not well attended anymore.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Faithful Daughter: thank you. There are plenty of articles on this site. As far as photographing your paintings, a basic process would be to use a lens that allows you to frame the painting, use a diffuser on top of your flash or light source, and set the controls for automatic exposure

      Note: If using a flash aim it towards a white ceiling so that the light will bounce onto the painting. If using other light sources ; aim at 45 degrees to the painting and still use a diffuser on them. A diffuser can be as simple as a sheet of white cotton cloth and it prevents harsh shadows as well as lessens the reflection back from the subject. Don't forget to use a tripod for your camera

      This may help:

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Lynn; Thank you...still waiting to see some of your photos...with your enthusiasm they are sure to be good ones

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evie Lopez 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Amazing photos and great photo tips! I love the ferris wheel one.

      I'm a novice when it comes to photography and I have a long way to go to learn. I would love to see some tutorials from you in the basics of photography. Right now I am trying to learn how to photograph my paintings and adjust the WB in my camera to get the best colors, but I can't seem to find simple steps to do this on the web. I read about shooting white cards and grey cards but no simple explanations on how to.

      Voted up and beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 

      6 years ago

      Awesome, colorful shots and so much fun to choose from at a Fair. Thanks for the tips! Now I need to find a fair. lol!


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