I'm a shy photographer - at least at first. I'm just not good at sticking a camera in someone's face, much less directing them on how to pose. That's why I tend to use longer focal lengths for street photography, because I can sit back unobtrusively and get natural candids without bothering anyone. For the bashful photographer, Mardi Gras is the perfect place to practice because everyone - and I mean everyone - is looking to get snapped. And the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 is an excellent lens with which to practice. More photos here.
Day and Night
Night parades are interesting because of the flambeaux (people carrying kerosene torches and gyrating to music) but they also present a challenge because it's difficult to take photos at night with a portrait lens, hand-held. Having a fast lens and a camera with a large sensor helps.
Everyone Together - and sometimes in the altogether
In addition to the established "headline" parades such as Rex and Zulu, many smaller marching groups and societies gather in the older parts of the city and snake their way informally through the neighborhoods to meet up with the big parades on Canal Street. Early in the morning we joined the Société de Sainte Anne's which began to gather around 9:00 on the edge of the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods - more specifically, a block of Royal Street between the Silk Road Bar and a place called Mimi's In The Marigny. It was just one large crowd of people and music.
Take me! Take me!
It's easy to take photos of people. They just walk right up to you. Sometimes they even frame it for you.
After the Party
At midnight, Shrove Tuesday gives way to Ash Wednesday. The bars close. People go home. And the 40 days of Lent begin...