Been there. Clicked that. It is often billed as ‘the festival of festivals’. And after attending my first Hornbill Festival in Kisama Heritage Village near Kohima, Nagaland in December 2017, I was finally privy to what all the hoo-hah was among photographers and Instagrammers alike to rush to this festival.
Since 2000, the Hornbill Festival has been an integral part of the Government of Nagaland’s tourism drive. Named after the colorful hornbill bird, the festival happens every year between December 1st to 10th and brings together all the tribes of Nagaland to create a mega-event. The festival has also played a huge part in encouraging the other Northeastern states nearby to come up with their own 10-day cultural festivals.
If you are a click-happy shutterbug like me, the reasons you have for visiting this festival can be summed up in 2 words: beautiful pictures. The Hornbill Festival does leave a long-lasting memory of colors, music and culture, and one of the best ways to immortalize this, is by taking pictures at the festival.
So, if you are heading to the next Hornbill Festival, here are my top tips for you come away with the best pictures of your life!
1) Start at the Amphitheater
The Hornbill Festival happens over a massive expanse called the Kisama heritage village, and there are multiple things happening at any time inside the village. But one of the best experiences in the village happens in the central amphitheater where the cultural events are held twice every day during the 10-day period. The first event is between 10 AM to 11.30. And the next event is at 2 PM. While the activities here are a little staged for the audience, they are always the best place to start clicking around.
2) Go early for the best seats
Of course, you are eager to take pictures of the Hornbill Festival. But so are hundreds of other photographers – both amateur and professional. So the key to getting good pictures is ensuring that you have the best seats in the house for the amphitheater events. In my opinion, this would be the center of the red carpet that surrounds the edge of the amphitheater, just below the VIP pavilion. If you manage to make it a little earlier than the 10 AM start time for the cultural events, you can grab a spot on this carpet too!
3) Carry a good zoom lens
Even if you find a spot on the ‘red carpet’ I mentioned above, note that most of the action in the amphitheater is still happening a good distance away. You can capture the colours and the intricate details a lot better if you have a good zoom lens at your disposal.