Photo Blog: What’s this French side Carnival I sometimes hear about?

First, a confession: I had never before attended any French St. Martin Carnival event. Not once. Not ever. I wasn’t boycotting. It had just never occurred to me, oddly enough, that there would be anything to see there.

Not even when my former site, MoreBacchanal, was the most visited local entertainment site, and I had spent dozens of consecutive weekends shooting every major event from Carnivals to costume parties to lingerie fashion shows.

I had scanned the calendar of French Carnival events a few days earlier, weighing the events to attend. Carnival is already at least 25% over, and I’ve voluntarily skipped all but this one event so far. It was the inaugural individual costume-judging costume held at the Marigot Waterfront, a seaside strip of restaurants and vendors’ stalls. That’s where you can catch the ferry to Anguilla if you were so inclined (Be inclined, someday. Anguilla is great). I wasn’t sure I’d find much that was interesting. It was long past sunset. The event was about to start late (no surprise).

I found some things to shoot. For instance, this father-daughter pair. I thought they were particularly fascinating, the way he seemed to dote over her and the way she seemed to revel in it. In this moment, she was mirroring his posture. I had been watching them for a few minutes and don’t recall her turning to see him standing that way. They just both relaxed into a pose that was nearly identical.

She was remarkable in her quietness. The world was exploding around her in anticipatory shouts. Children her age frolicked. Adults milled with vast feathered costume pieces. But she was still. She wore that look of apprehension on her face most of the times that I saw her.

This photo nearly became the featured image to this post. I remember shooting the reel and lamenting that it was mostly disposable. I was tossing frames for having exposure or focus problems. I tossed a few because they didn’t say anything. This guy approached the judges’ stand when it was his turn to perform, and I happened to be right in front of him. Four frames fired, one selected.

This girl was having a pageant mom moment before I shot this frame. She was arguing with the woman who was adjusting her sash. I’ve seen that type of thing happen before. Adults often forget that children aren’t there to manifest the adults’ aptitude (or reflect their supposed ineptitude). I thought she looked thoughtful and curious in this moment.

Here are a few others from the reel. Little else to say about them, just that they were interesting to shoot.

This post almost went off on tangents about the cultural symbolism of the border and the tendencies toward isolation of both sides of the island. Maybe I’ll post about that sometime, or edit this post. We’ll see.

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