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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Another great place to get photographs of people is at festivals. Everybody's dressed to the nines, having a great time and themselves photographing everything around them.

This shot was taken on the final day of the Sapporo Festival, where a large crowd had gathered in the grounds of Hokkaido Jingu, Sapporo's largest shrine, to watch the priests bless the coming year.

Many of the girls and women were dressed in gaily coloured kimonos and looked fantastic.

I had taken a wide-angle, close up photograph of this little girl a few minutes earlier. I had approached her Mum and asked if I could take a shot, and then asked the little girl, to which she proudly agreed as she posed for me.

After the ceremonies were over I headed outside and was standing on the steps of the shrine with a 70-200mm zoom on the camera just looking for some nice shots. As I was standing there the little girl came down with her Nan and Mum firmly grasping each hand, almost carrying her down the steep stairs as she gripped her blue lollipop tightly.

As they walked past I gave her a big smile and a wave and said bye-bye, to which she replied rather shyly. As I watched them make their way down the stairs she cast a single, furtive glance back at me. I was already waiting there with the camera to my eye. Kids are the same all over the world. I knew mine couldn't resist a look back and figured that she wouldn't be able to either. Lucky for me I was right.

Had I not had some sort of interaction with the family earlier the girl might not have turned around. I often find that the secret to getting good people shots is to have some sort of friendly interaction. Let them see you as more than just a stranger with a big zoom lens. A couple of minutes spent trying to communicate in broken local language makes a world of difference in breaking down barriers and getting people to open up to you.

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