Whitby Goth Weekend Portraits

Whitby Goth Weekend Portraits 2021

The Whitby Goth Weekend has become a very popular event that is held twice a year. Due to Covid19 both weekends in 2020 were cancelled, as was the April 2021 event. Thankfully it returned the Halloween weekend in late October 2021. Over the years the event has branched out so that now you are just as likely to see Steampunks and those in Halloween costumes as you will see Goths. Naturally with so many interesting characters roaming the streets, the event has become popular with portrait photographers too.

Advice For Photographers

If you enjoy taking people portraits and the Whitby Goth Weekend appeals to you I can offer the following advice that might help you get the most from the weekend:

  1. If you think you will require accommodation in Whitby book early to avoid disappointment. If you have access to a car you might find that you can get cheaper accommodation staying in a nearby village or somewhere like Scarborough (30 minutes drive away).
  2. Think carefully about which camera lens to pack and maybe bring more than one to get a wider range of portrait looks. In 2021 I took all my photos with an 85mm f1.8 lens. I wanted to shallow depth of field to blur distracting backgrounds. The 85mm lens is ideal for head and shoulder portraits. It’s too long for full body portraits though. As a result many photographers seem to use a zoom like a 24-70mm f2.8 lens. My favourite portrait lens is currently my 135mm but the distance required between photographer and model is not workable in such narrow, busy streets like this. I’ve also noticed that 70-200mm zoom lenses seem popular. For those who prefer prime lenses I would say a fast lens in the focal range of 40-85mm makes the most sense. If I owned a fast 50mm lens I would have probably taken that. It might seem obvious but I will point out that the focal lengths I’ve given are for full frame 35mm cameras.
  3. Besides camera body and lens(es), other photographic gear you might want to consider packing includes spare battery or charger, spare memory cards, lens cleaning cloth and a tripod. A tripod is only really required if you want to try some sunrise or sunset landscapes. For portraits only you are likely to be handheld all the time. Other photographers might also say you should take a flashgun but I rarely like the quality of light they produce. I think a white / silver reflector or continuous LED lighting makes more sense, particularly if there are two of you working together.
  4. Don’t be shy about asking people if you can take their portrait. Obviously be polite and if someone says no respect that. People have gone to a lot of effort with their costumes and the vast majority are happy to pose for a quick portrait. Respect their time, work quickly so they can get on with their day and thank them for their time. You may also want to give them your business card so that they can request a copy of the photo.

Some Whitby Goth Weekend Portraits

I’m only going to share a small selection of my images from the 2021 event within this article. To see more of my photos from the event visit my Facebook page or my Instagram page. I also upload high resolution versions to my Flickr account in case someone is looking to get a print of themselves from an image I’ve taken.

Whitby Goth Weekend is popular with a wide range of ages and both men and women. You should come home with images that lend themselves to female beauty type processing as well as more gritty or documentary editing, perhaps even black and white.

In the example above I went for a flattering processing style. Areas of the face like the forehead, cheeks and chin were softened. A digital ‘foundation’ was added to the same areas. Just like foundation in the makeup world it can help cover bad skin though in the case of the subject above, she had great skin. However modern high quality lenses are often so sharp that they show every pore of the skin so I feel most female portraits benefit from slight softening. With areas like the eyes and lips I tend to sharpen these to make them stand out. With eyes I will also boost the colour of the iris and intensify the whites of the eyes to make them pop.

I hope this article has proved interesting or useful to you. Feel free to leave a comment if you are a regular to Whitby Goth Weekend and want to share other tips for photographers. Hopefully I will be attending again in 2022. I’m always happy to meet other photographers at the event.

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