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Practice storytelling by photographing a local event


Aaron Shultz dressed as a fruitcake clowns around with a catapult during the Manitou Springs Fruitcake Toss. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Aaron Shultz dressed as a fruitcake clowns around with a catapult during the Manitou Springs Fruitcake Toss.
Even during the cold weather season, the best way to stay sharp is to keep shooting. Last week I attended the Manitou Springs Fruitcake Toss and used the opportunity to practice my storytelling.

The Manitou Springs Fruitcake Toss began in 1996 with attendees coming from far and wide every year since. It’s a great excuse to get outside and be a little silly. The toss has a bunch of different events and you can rent a fruitcake to use in the games set up in Manitou's Memorial Park. The event is also a fundraiser for the local food pantry.

Odds are good if you’re attending this event, you don’t mind having your picture taken. So I get a pass to photograph people doing something fun and without worry that I’m intruding with my camera.

So, how do you tell the story of an event like this? Here are a couple of tips:

Hone in on someone that can help tell the story visually. In my case, it was Aaron Schultz with the Manitou Spring Chamber of Commerce. Aaron was dressed up as a fruit cake, so he was easy to pick out from the crowd. He also loved to clown around and is good natured enough to let people take his picture — a lot.

Second, it’s easy to get lost in the busy nature of an event like this. Lots of people are there and lots of things going on. I like to focus on the smaller details, so first thing I did was make a good detail shot of the cakes. Second, some of the silly aspects of the event, line the cake inspections (if you bring your own fruitcake it needs to be inspected first). That’s kind of a humorous detail and something that is easily missed with all the goings on.

I also like to get reaction shots. Tossing a fruitcake, for some reason, brings out great reactions from participants. Photographs of people hanging out in a park on a cold January day throwing fruitcake and being excited is kind of fun.

Lastly, of course, I make sure to have a couple of scene setters in the mix. A fruitcake flying in the air is funny, a fruitcake judging contest and people getting serious with a catapult and fruitcake is a good one, too.

If you find yourself itching to photograph and are looking for inspiration find a quirky event like the Fruitcake Toss to pick up your camera and get out there, take some pictures and practice your storytelling.
Happy shooting!

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

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