New Years Day is filled with traditions within the city of Philadelphia. It is the only day of the year where it is normal to see intimidating South Philadelphia residents covered with make-up and feathers, wearing brightly colored outfits, while they drunkenly strut down the street howling "Happy New Years" to any passing body. The Mummers Parade is held every New Years day where local clubs (the majority of them located one Two Street) compete in one of four different categories. For the past several years (and if I am home for New Years Day), and I have strutted down to Center City and followed the String Bands as they make their way around the city. A group of my closest friends have joined the club Froggy Car and have been "competing" for the past two years.
The above photo was taken within the shadows of City Hall, about one hundred feet from the judge's stand. One of the local clubs is setting up for their performance and I managed to catch the eye of a man and (what I can only assume) is his daughter. The photo is very symbolic of Philadelphia during this day. The Mummer tradition has deep family roots, passed down from generation to generation. On the right side of the frame, you see casual observers mingling among the performers. If you are not in the Mummers, you are in the thick of it, whether you like it or not.
There are two things I really want to point out with this composition:
- This composition really tells a story. This frame really does feel like a frozen moment in time. The pose of both the father figure and daughter displays their personality with a casual contrapposto lean. The movement behind the two provides a dynamic background as they stand there as two static statues. It is a nice contrast between the foreground and the background. The non-Mummer participants just add to the day's story.
- The leading lines from the crosswalk and the buildings help emphasize our two characters. The buildings leading lines intersect and takes your eye to the center of the image and then down to the characters. The lines guide you in the direction toward our characters. But, its the crosswalk lines that really helps emphasize this composition. The crosswalk connects the background with the foreground. They help introduce and push our characters forward toward the viewer. It also connects the background non-Mummer with our Mummers. The leading lines help.
A simple piece of advice from this image: Photographers are storytellers. A photographer tries to displays what he or she sees and feels from every surrounding environment. Try telling a story with every frame and this is how you make your photography interesting. But, to make an authentic organic photo, stand back and watch the world go back. Be that fly on the wall and try blending in with your surroundings. Zoom out. Step back. Look up. Remember to put the viewer in your shoes. By simply blending in, your photography will stick out.