Baikasai and Not Repeating Yourself

Maiko-at-Baikasai-1
Maiko-at-Baikasai-1

One of the challenges in covering annual events is making images that look different each year. The second time I went to Baikasai at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto, I was very conscious of the fact that I didn't want to repeat myself and make images of the geiko and maiko that looked exactly like the images I had made the first time I had been to this wonderful festival. Since I was mindful of creating something new and different, it wasn't too difficult.

The first change I made was that I used a different lens. The first time I went to Baikasai, I used an 85mm lens, but the second time I used a 70 - 200mm zoom. Both lenses are great choices for portraits, but each lens brings a different set of challenges. With the 85mm, I couldn't always get close enough. With the 70 - 200mm, I was often too close. The minimum focus distance is about 4 feet, and I found myself leaning back and away from the maiko or geisha I wanted to photograph because I was too close and my lens couldn't focus.

The second change I made was that I tried out different compositions, like with the photo posted here. This photo is as much about the maiko's kanzashi as it is a portrait. All I needed to do was shift my lens (easy) and my attention (harder) a few inches to the right to get a different look instead of keeping her face more in the center of the frame as I would usually do with a portrait.

Photography, like life and baseball, is often a game of inches.