Sisters' Meal Festival

Updated: Jun 4

Why a Wonder: A dazzling Valentine’s Day-like festival during which ethnic Miao girls wear beautiful silver headdresses and necklaces – as well as colorful dresses woven with intricate patterns. It’s a singing and dancing cultural event that is unlike any in the world.



Where: Guizhou Provence, China.


When: Yearly in mid-April for three days.


Photography: You will be photographing alongside, and often literally shoulder-to-shoulder, with many other photographers vying for photographs. Bring your patience as well as your camera gear.



Have two camera bodies at the ready, one with a wide-angle zoom lens and one with a telephoto zoom lens. That way, you will not need to switch lenses when you want to take portraits or large-group shots – which will help you tell the story of the mesmerizing event. For super-wide shots, shoot with a fish-eye zoom, like the Canon 8-15mm zoom.



To ensure a good exposure, take a test shot in each location or lighting condition. Check your histogram and highlight alert to make sure the silver is not overexposed. If it is, reduce your exposure little by little until you can see the detail in the silver ornaments.


Because the girls' faces are shaded by the headdresses, you may want to use a speedlite or reflector to light the face and eyes. When processing your images, you can also lighten a face in Photoshop or Lightroom with the Dodge tool.



In addition to spending time at the festival, which is held on the bank of the Qingshui River, stop by the local villages for smaller events and for more intimate portraits – without fewer eager photographers around.


As always, watch the background. It can make or break a shot.



As always, respect the subject.



More: Check out this KelbyOne class, Travel Photography, Making Portraits of Locals.


© Rick Sammon



This post sponsored by Delkin Devices.






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