The waiting game 4

That’s what a Street Photography outing can be like. You stand at a busy spot and watch the interactions between people to find something to photograph. And frankly, there’s always something going on and if you’re attentive enough, you can capture some very interesting photos. Personally, it’s the bus stops that attract me. I always find opportunities for photos. But not just any bus stop. The ones that are particularly busy. I can spend dozens of minutes waiting without getting bored. There are also the pretty backgrounds. That’s kind of how most street photographers start. It’s pretty easy and success is almost guaranteed. At least as far as the form is concerned. It’s more complicated to do something with content. So yes, I spend a lot of time waiting in the street, but that’s not what I want to talk about today…



Last Sunday, I dragged my little family to Saint-Gilles. It is the beginning of the holidays for my boys. They are anticipating the winter holidays by two weeks. Joachim is at college and his school is the centre for the BEPC exam for the 9th grade. So he is invited to stay at home. Ronan could have continued to go to school until the 9th of July, but to avoid him sulking for the next two weeks, it was agreed that they would both stop school at the same time. So we went to the beaches because there was an event I didn’t know about. It was the Grand Boucan. It’s our carnival made in Reunion.



The main street of this small seaside town is full of people waiting for the parade of chariots and people dressed up. We arrived quite early because the roads are closed and we wanted to park easily. At the end of the morning, we went to eat in a small restaurant on the port before going to see the festivities. This is where the famous waiting game started. The endless waiting under a blazing sun (even if it’s austral winter here). The more the minutes passed, the denser the crowd became. I abandoned my little family to go and take some pictures. Pictures of people waiting. It’s a bit like a giant bus stop. A bus stop that must have been 500 m long!



It’s quite captivating to see people waiting. Well, when you put it like that, out of the context of Street Photography, it may sound strange, even weird… But my fellow Street Photographers know what I am talking about! It is a multitude of small scenes that unfold in front of my eyes. And this crowd ! Oh my God, it felt so good. I’m not used to seeing so many people. Even at the last trade fair in the streets of Saint-Denis, there weren’t that many people. So I was over the moon! I had to walk the streets twice in search of interesting sceneries.



And it is not necessarily obvious. It is difficult to extract clean, legible scenes from the chaos of the street. Like it is not easier with a lot of people. Yes, I know I’m boring. Few people and I complain that nothing is happening and then lots of people and I complain too because it’s not easy to take pictures… I’m not so close to a contradiction ! But it’s still better to have raw material. That was the case that day. It’s up to me to order this chaos to be able to make photos.



The wait was interminable and although we could see the floats in the distance, they were not moving fast and we gave up and went for an ice cream. We tried to come back to see the procession afterwards, but the crowd was even denser than before and it was impossible to see anything. This is where I took the most interesting photo of the afternoon. It was a photo that I didn’t look for, but it just came to me.



We walked back to the car without seeing anything. We were not more disappointed than that. We had come for the atmosphere and we were served. I had been able to take a few photos of the people in costume who were going to be part of the procession before the parade started.



While the children were on a pee break, I saw this scene which gave me my second favourite photo of the day. In the end, these two photos are carnival-related, but not the kind of photos you expect to see when you say you’re going to document the event. We’re more into backstage photos. That’s what I prefer in the end. I didn’t come to photograph the parade. I was interested in the people. Again, if you’re not a street photographer, it’s hard to understand.



All the photos were made with theRicoh GR3.

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4 thoughts on “The waiting game

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      I didn’t spent that much time in the streets, but I love those crowded streets ! I like it when it’s messy with a lot of people. I remenbered when I was in Roma, Paris, I was like a kid in a candy store ! The more the better. Street is so simple to me in these situations. I don’t know if it’s because I live in small size cities … Anyway, parades are easy places to make photos…

  • John Harper

    Those being entertained are much more interesting than the entertainers. The entertainment is rehearsed, acted, staged, predictable. The crowd are candid and totally unpredictable. Therefore it follows that the audience are infinitely more important than the show…if you’re a photographer. Clearly the two you mention are standout photographs…fabulous. I also really like the opener.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      The opener is a classic. A guy in red in front of a red background. A perfect shot for a festival ! Ok I should have shared this one in the other Blog … I rarely go to parades or events to make photos, but I was happy to go to this one. It was a bit too looong for my wife and kids. Next year, I will go alone just to have my fix of photos !
      We street photographers have this habbit of focusing on the audience rather than the show. As you said, we like it candid but we also like to capture the emotions and the audience never lies !