Photo Tip Series – Photographing a Memorial Day Parade


Written by Nathan Wertheimer

The next Photo Tip Series I will be writing about is Memorial Day parade photography. There are many Memorial Day parades throughout the United States each year in the month of May. Check your local listings to find one in your area. In Central Florida, we have a few Memorial Day parades in Orlando, Sanford, and Kissimmee. Come out and support our veterans and remember the fallen that have died for our country.

Don’t forget to check your personal photo gear the day before a Memorial Day Parade. It is recommended to charge your camera batteries that are ready to go. Some amateur photographers are wondering what type of lenses to bring? I suggest bring an assortment of lenses with you to the parade. One can choose to bring from 18-55mm lens, 55-200mm, and or a 70-300mm lens that will work. If you have an all-around general-purpose lens such as the 28-300mm lens this will work because one will not have to change lenses during the parade. Make sure your camera and lenses are clean. Plus, bring a Speedlight flash for moments in the shade.

While at home one must pre-plan photographing a parade. Here is what to look for. One must anticipate where the sun is positioned in the sky this depends on the time of day. Most of the time the sun will almost peak overhead. One should not to be shooting facing the sun. This will cause people and vehicle to look dark with the background over lit. Overcast days are great to capturing a parade. Next, try finding a great spot to view the parade from the sidewalk curb. Don’t forget to bring a folding chair or blanket to sit on.

Plan to arrive early on the day of the Memorial Day parade to photograph some of the set-up preparation before the parade. Plus, you’ll find a great parking space too. This is the time to great some great portraits of the participants on these wonderful floats, military vehicles, and much more while they set up. Most parade participants are usually waiting around before the parade starts. This is a great opportunity to get these shots. One will not be able to capture everything in a parade. Take this moment to get the close up shots of people, military vehicles, and floats, in the staging area. Once the parade is over many people, military vehicle, and floats, will disperse and head for home leaving you no chance of taking photos of subjects.

During the parade, one will capture a lot of images. One will want to take a variety of shoots such as wide angles of the floats and background together, get some tight shoots of people having a great time. It is ok to put your camera on auto mode if your not comfortable with shooting fast. Your shutter speed should not be low but in the 500 – 1000 + will work. A low shutter speed will have people and vehicle blurred. I recommend keeping the auto focus on because it is hard to manual focus during the parade. The f-stop range will be f6.3 – f8. Some photographers like to photograph f2.8 – f4 that has an out of focus backgrounds with their subject. The depth of field will be short on the person and or vehicle if using a low f-stop. Another thing to consider is the ISO with the lighting conditions. You may want to adjust accordingly. Another thing to keep in mind is the pace of the parade. This depends on the pedestrian walking along with the moving vehicles. At times, I have seen floats tailgate each other, which is not a good thing. It is not wise to jump out into the street to get a photo in action. This could injury someone else and or to yourself.

One may notice some photojournalists taking photos in the middle of the street on the parade route. As a photojournalist, we are given the courtesy to allow getting the shoots what we need to cover this parade while on assignment. Please allow us to do our work. Law Enforcement is working a parade and is watching for unauthorized people stopping the flow of the parade. Law Enforcement may even ask you to leave if you are causing a problem or scene, which will end your day of fun.

In past years of a parade, anything can happen. I have seen a vehicle stalling with smoking underneath the hood while trying to move down the parade route. Eventually, the driver had to move the vehicle off the parade route and let the parade continue. This is a great photo moment when anything can happen. If something doesn’t look right, say something to Law Enforcement. Always keep your safety in mind.

At the Sanford Memorial Day Parade, this event is one of the larger events in Central Florida. I photograph this parade almost every year. What is neat about this parade is that the parade route goes through 1st Street in the middle of the Downtown area. Sanford’s parade route starts on east 1st Street by Fort Mellon Park and moves west on 1st Street to Park avenue then takes a right down on Park Avenue down to the Riverfront Park Memorial area. At the end of the parade route, Sanford has another event following the parade called the Sanford Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony. Everyone is welcome to attend this event. One may even get a chance to see the Tuskegee Airman. Which are only a few left living. After the ceremony anyone is able to meet and greet the many dignitaries on hand.

Post Memorial Day Parade photo processing is a challenge. One must decide what to color correct. Not all the photos you took will turn out great. I suggest posting your best photos of the Memorial Day Parade on your social media accounts. Some people will like them and post comments too.

I wish everyone happy photography to you. Thank you for reading this Photo Tip Series and check back again for some more Photography Tips Series in the future. If you like this article, then like it on our Otownfun WordPress account. For more great events and places please check us out at .

Note: All written content and images are copy righted by either by the person and or company who wrote and photograph published for this article. Any questions please contact .


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s