#OldFashioned #4thOfJuly in #Blaine: A #VisualOrgy


My FitBit said I walked over 12,000 steps or 5 miles, my face is sunburned, shoulders hurt, and shot 1500 images while writing 15 note pad pages of names. But it was damned worth it.

The noise of the crowd and the blaring of horns filling my ears, the smell of horse manure filling my nostrils, and my eyes flooded with the Red, White, and Blue as everyone celebrated Independence day.

Hooping it up:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - An energetic Alex Gehringer of Blaine entertains the crowd during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – An energetic Alex Gehringer of Blaine entertains the crowd during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash., on Friday July , 2014. Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year’s parade.

Yesterday I covered the annual Blaine’s Old-Fashioned 4th of July for the Bellingham Herald. And as much as I like to cover breaking news or sports, good features also get my blood going. Especially a parade.

Decked Out:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Maggie Breckenridge of Blaine hands out candy during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Maggie Breckenridge of Blaine hands out candy.

It was a visual orgy. It’s my term I use when it’s not difficult to shoot photos. Some use the term “like catching butterfies.” But let’s be real. Everywhere you turned there was a picture to be made.

It was a Visual Orgy. And yes, I’m trademarking it.

Canadian and Proud:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Canadian Aiden Mufti, 12, of Vancouver, B.C., watches the festivities during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Canadian Aiden Mufti, 12, of Vancouver, B.C., watches the festivities.

To begin with, H Street was full of people browsing the venders and food trucks. I did have an assignment to photograph poffertjes being made. However, the vender who made them was there. Scratch that assignment.

Family Celebrating:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Barry Dyck (cq) of Bellingham and his daughter Piper, 4, cheer as the floats pass by during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014. Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Barry Dyck (cq) of Bellingham and his daughter Piper, 4, cheer as the floats pass by.

That left me to concentrate just covering the masses. From the kids, to the classic cars, to the parade, to the entertainers, I had plenty to shoot. But, one must be smart.

You can go out and just “spray and pray” everything. Or you can stop for a few minutes, breathe, observe your surroundings, and then shoot methodically.

Equine Patriots:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Members of the Rodeo Cowgirls Drill Team entertain the crowd during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Members of the Rodeo Cowgirls Drill Team entertain the crowd.

For instance, rather than shoot 3 or 4 different things at the same time, Pick a subject and work that. Choose a vendor and photograph just that vendor as they make their product. Shoot wide, then tight, then work different angles.

The move onto your next subject. This keeps you more focused and on track when documenting large events.

Sharing the Pride:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - American Legion youth volunteers pass out miniature American flags as they work the parade route during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014. Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 entries meaner the route.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – American Legion youth volunteers pass out miniature American flags to the thousands lined along Peace Portal Drive as they watch the almost 100 entries meander along.

As the parade was getting ready to start, I walked up and down the route on Peace Portal Drive to find a few well decorated people. After “marking” a few areas I wanted to cover during the parade, I made my way to the announcer’s booth. This gave me a great vantage point to not only photograph from, but also so I could listen to what the entries were and make notes.

Belting Some Tunes:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Robyn Gillespie of Langly, B.C., entertains the crowd after the end of the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash., on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 entries of all types.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Robyn Gillespie of Langley, B.C., entertains the crowd after the end of the parade. The background was cluttered and lighting poor. I opted for a low angle and waited for the moment.

But, the difficulty with such a large and fluid event is that you have to be fast on your feet as well. I tried my butt off to get the names of the two little girls running around everywhere as they gave away American flags. I ended up bailing as I lost track of them.

One Nation:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Isabella Ramirez, 7, left, and Sandra Cortez, 12, with the Chicas Reina dance troupe out of Ferndale, entertain the spectators during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.  Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by in this year's parade.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Isabella Ramirez, 7, left, and Sandra Cortez, 12, with the Chicas Reina dance troupe out of Ferndale, entertain the spectators.

One of the most intriguing subjects I photographer was 12-year-ol Canadian resident Aiden Mufti of Vancouver, B.C. He painted his face in the Stars and Stripes. I was a pretty cool feeling to find out our neighbors to the north appreciate We the People.

Proud Veteran:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – American Legion riders ready their bikes before the start of the parade.

As the parade continued, one entertainer had more energy than a perpetual motion machine. Blaine resident Alex Gehringer hula-hooped the entire parade route. As with most of the entries, he was very entertaining.

Smile!!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Thousands lined Peace Portal Drive to watch almost 100 floats pass by during the Old Fashioned 4th of July parade in Downtown Blaine, Wash.,  on Friday July , 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – As the parade was moving rather quickly, I ran in front of this float while firing a few frames. I did not get their names, but I like the photo.

Since the parade was over, I was able to spend a little time shooting the performers on stage. Sister duo Robyn & Ryleigh Gillespie were playing. They sounded pretty damned good.  Here’s their website for more information: Robyn & Ryleigh

As I worked them, I could not get a clean angle. So I opted for a low angle shot and worked the moment and guitarist Robyn played. It’s a pretty OK shot. Works.

As I was nearing my deadline, I opted to finish with that and head back to the paper to finish up. Made the front page and 3 photo package on page 2. Not bad.

And at the end of the day, instead of going out to fight crowds so I can photograph fireworks, I opted to stay in and enjoy a night at home. Plus, my feet hurt too much from those 12000 or more steps.

Click here for more photo’s from this year’s Blaine’s Old Fashioned 4th of July Parade on The Bellingham Herald website.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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