Notting Hill Carnival Behind the Lens

I was 6 years old at my first carnival. The excitement of loud music, elaborate costumes and the waft of Caribbean food in the air. I remember not dancing much, but instead soaking it all in from my dad’s shoulders mostly. So it’s hardly surprising that almost 25 years later, I felt very similar to that little girl. Dumbfounded with curiosity, but this time with my camera in hand.

On the Day

One of the best things about my experience photographing Notting Hill Carnival after it’s 2 year hiatus was that I was not alone. The meet was organised by none other than UKBFTOG, an all female photography group. They aim is to champion the work of black female photographers up and down the UK. I stumbled across their Facebook group very early on in my business journey and it has grown to feel like a sisterhood.

Our Carnival meet was sponsored by MPB.COM. They invited us to rent out some of their best photography kit to capture carnival in all its glory. I think it’s safe to conclude that we all at some point felt like little girls in a sweet shop throughout the day.

As I have recently upgraded my gear, I was keen to rent and try out the RF 35mm 1.4. For my non-photography friends is a small but wide lens. This means that it lets in a lot of light, but also maintains sharpness and requires a certain amount of closeness when it comes to portraits. I really wanted to challenge myself to get up close and get low to explore angles and perspectives. But mostly, to showcase carnival as 6 year old me remembers: contagious, rebellious, freeing and fun.

I arrived at Westbourne Park Station at 10.30am. The energy is brewing and there is anticipation as the float procession begins. I stood watching bands get ready, floats fix their costumes and people’s personalities come alive. As I mentioned, carnival has always felt contagious and free. It felt good to capture those fleeting feelings as the bass from the speakers got heavier and the crowds began to grow. There’s something special about taking a step back from big moments and photographing it as it unfolds. To me, not much compares.

To Conclude

It was definitely one of my sweatier photo sessions. Between squatting to get the shot and whining my waist to the music, it’s safe to say I was completely exhausted after. I met some incredible people and I was even featured in an article by Amateur Photographer, where I sing the high praises of my new love interest (the RF 35mm lens).

My photography business continues to take me on a wild journey, but being able to travel back to a time where carnival was the most intriguing and captivating thing I had ever experienced is not what I had in mind.

Notting Hill Carnival, I’ll be back… with my camera x

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