Happy Lunar New Year of the Ox! Every week I pitch event coverage ideas to the SFStation (city guide to San Francisco) editor, and if she likes any of them, I am assigned to photograph the event. This week I got Lunar New Year Flower Market in Chinatown.
Here was my pitch:
"San Francisco offers many opportunities for inter-cultural immersion, and the Lunar New Year Flower Market is one not to be missed. Much more than a shopping event, the flower market heralds the celebration in anticipation of Chinese New Year. The bustling, festive crowd will enjoy lion dances and other Chinese performance arts in addition to the endless display of winter-blooming flowers, brightly colored fruiting trees and array of traditional Chinese foods. Attendance to this free event is expected to be 400,000 over the two days.
Photos will capture shoppers and visitors in candid and posed shots, as well as the festive atmosphere including splashes of brightly colored flowers and decorations."
Usually, an event with many people makes an assignment easier, as there are more subjects. Chinatown Flower Market was the closest I'd experienced to Hong Kong crowds outside of Hong Kong. It was so crowded, it was hard not to get jostled, and hard to pull aside people to photograph them. I stuck to the side streets, where the pace was slower.
At events such as benefits and fashion shows, people expect to be photographed, and understand the To Be Seen Scene. Street fairs are different. People look very surprised and perplexed, some become bashful. I've learned to pick out young adults, especially young women who look like they put a little thought into their ensemble. High percentage rate of agreeing to be photographed. Teens are the most self conscious, as if by being in an online gallery everyone in the whole world is going to bother to look at their picture and critique it. The only people who refused today were a group of teens, apparently too cool to be photographed, and even too cool to bother to look at me. I know I too was a teen at one point, but for some reason I just can't empathize with them any more!
The people most enthused about being photographed was this group of demonstrators.