The annual Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade was held on December 1, 2018 in Midtown Atlanta. I covered the parade as an opportunity to begin building my photojournalism portfolio and to grow my stock editorial portfolio on Shutterstock.
In this blog post, I am going to talk about mistakes I made (well, I’m not sure “mistakes” is the right word because I honestly did not know what I did not know) and important lessons I learned covering the parade, processing my photos, and submitting them for editorial stock. In the end, both me and my gear were soaking wet, I had to reject about 95% of my photos, but it was a blast. I would do it again any time.
I’m sure I will think of other mistakes I made and lessons I learned during this experience. I’ll post those when I think of them.
Mistake #1 – I brought the wrong rain gear.
I posted previously on my packing list for the parade. I knew the weather forecast was rain, so I packed for rain. But, I packed the wrong rain gear. I brought a large, plastic freezer bag and cut a slit in the bottom of the bag so I could shoot through the slit and protect the camera the rain. At least, that was the plan. It rained so much, the bad, to give a bad quote, was as useful as a screen door on a submarine. Also, the poncho I wore was a joke. After the parade, there was not one dry stitch of clothing on my body.
Lesson learning – Bring the right rain gear!
In the future, I will wear a wet weather jacket, pants, and boots. Also, I am going to buy a legitimate rain cover, like this one, or this one. If you have any suggestions, leave me a note in the comments section! At the end of the parade, I was shocked that my camera was still operational because it was so wet! Since that day, they aperture drags when I make adjustments. I’m a little worried about that.
Mistake #2 – Not enough research, so I didn’t have a shot list.
In fact, no research. I did watch several videos and read some blogs on covering parades. Those helped, but, obviously, they did not prepare me for this parade. I did a basic internet search on the parade and found the start time and place. That was about it. It was supposed to begin on Peachtree Street at 16th Street in Midtown Atlanta. Here’s the problem – there are two Peachtree Streets that run almost parallel to teach other – West Peachtree Street and Peachtree Street NE. I have lived around Metro Atlanta for 23 years and I had no idea! So, while I am wandering around West Peachtree Street looking for a parade, it had begun one block east from my knucklehead-self. So, I followed a couple of marching bands and found the actual parade route.
Lessoned Learning – No matter what you think you know about a shoot, it’s not enough.
Actually, I had to make this mistake twice in two weeks before it started to sink into my stubborn skull (I covered the victory parade and rally for the MLS Cup Champion Atlanta United FC. I did barely enough research on that one, too. Thankfully, I had a friend with me who knew more than me about the parade and saved my bacon). Whether it is portrait photography, landscape and travel photography, or photojournalism, you must do your research – not just a little.
In fact, in the future, I am going to call the parade organizers and get as much information I can before I get there. I am not going to cover any other events without a shot-list based on research and information from
Mistake #3 – I took too many BAD pictures because of the first two mistakes
I thought that if I shot in volume, I would cover for my first two mistakes. I shot 660 images. I culled down to 40. Thirty were accepted by Shutterstock. The main reason photos were not accepted was they were blurry because of rain on the front element of the lens.
Lesson – It’s not how many pictures, it’s taking the right pictures
This goes back to a lack of research on the event (see above). I need to develop a shot-list well in advance.
Mistake #4 – Make sure to select “editorial” when submitting to your stock photography site.
Nope, I didn’t. Yep, I had to resubmit, which cost me a 24 hours to get my content out on the web.
Lesson – No, you are not going to sell your photos if you don’t submit them correctly and timely.