Nov 5, 2020 | iPhone, Street

Using an iPhone 11 Pro for Street Photography at a Renaissance Festival



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Is the iPhone 11 Pro equal to the task of street photography at a renaissance festival?

Walking around a renaissance festival you are sure to see some characters.  Well dressed and colorful characters, I might add.  Colorful is a good word to describe a renaissance festival as colors abound everywhere.  Is the iPhone 11 Pro up to the task of taking photographs at a ren fair?

Street Photography – what is it?

Defining street photography is a difficult task.  It’s one of those terms that means different things to different people.  I think of it as photography of people out and about on the street.  Some will be candid, some will be posed.  

In street photography, you are taking photos of people.  People going about their day, people paying bills, people on their way to lunch, maybe even people out on a stroll with their special someone.  Whatever the reason for them being there, the photos are all about people.

Keep in mind that if you decide to try taking some street photography images, to have some common courtesy and ethics.  Don’t take photographs of someone that tells you they don’t want to be photographed.  

This is a big one for me and the reason I shoot less candid photos, I simply am too prone to ask a simple, “May I?” as I raise a camera or phone.  It gives that person a chance to communicate if they don’t want their photo taken.  So, my street images are a little less candid than others, but that is my choice.

Street photography at a renaissance festival

Street photography at a renaissance festival will be a lot easier than photographing on a busy street downtown or in a popular hipster hangout.  There are three kinds of people at a renaissance festival: performers/sellers, role players, and normies.  Let’s discuss each of those in turn.


The performers or sellers will usually be in costume and are used to having their photos taken by normies during the festival.  You will generally not have much of a problem just shooting a photo of a performer, especially during their acts.  Asking for a photo is also something they are very used to.  Sellers are used to being photographed as well and the more extravagant their costume, the less likely they are to decline a photo op.  They built their costumes through a lot of time and effort, they like showing it off.  A good tip for more photos is to ask them about their costume.  A lot of times there is a story behind it.

RenFest Vendor
RenFest Vendor

Role Players

Role players are those attendees that come in a costume.  Much like performers/sellers, they are very likely to respond favorably to photo-op requests.  They also spent time putting their costume together, so a request for a photo is often seen as flattering.  Most of the time they won’t have much of an issue with candid photos, but some will see it as rude.

ren fest vampire
image of a woman at RenFest with a purple costume


Normies are the ones at the renaissance festival with normal clothes on and cameras out.  You will see some photographers there in costume, but usually not.  I would recommend being much more careful about candid photos of normies.  They are normal people and probably not used to having their photos taken in public.  Generally, at a renaissance festival, there will be enough to photograph without having to get candids of normies.


Events are where you will see performers working their trade.  Some performers might dance or juggle.  Others might monologue a funny story.  Whip cracking, acrobatics, and something with fire – anything you might think of as a carnival act is fair game.  

Usually, these performers are very good at their craft and their level of showmanship can make for some interesting photography, some may have caught some epic moments.  Distance and crowds will be the biggest hardship for great photos of some performers.  Get your photos, just be respectful of others around you and the performers themselves. Try not to use too much digital zoom or your photos will be of low quality. Learn more about digital and optical zoom here.

knife throwing
knife throwing at the RenFest

Some of the events at a renaissance festival will be planned.  You will be able to know when and where the performance will take place ahead of time.  This allows you to know where you need to be and when, while you are free to shoot other images out in the crowd.

Other performers are not so scripted and timed.  There will be various performances that appear almost at random throughout the “kingdom”.  These performances, I guess you could call them sideshows, will be more impromptu and informal.  They might amount to little more than a pair of performers that give out free bad advice in one spot.  The next sideshow you run into might be a roving group of monks complaining about all the “miscreants” milling about.

RenFest duo
image of RenFest duo in costumes


Sellers themselves, along with their wares, can make for some interesting street photos.  Some of the items being sold are one of a kind, often made by the seller themselves by hand.  Some of the items sold will be pure junk, that is inevitable.  Many of the items will be something you won’t see anywhere else.  A thoughtful image of a seller with some truly exceptional wares can be quite thought-provoking.

Think about taking close-ups of the wares they might be selling.  Sometimes a closer perspective can reveal things about the item that seems mundane to most people.  Color swirls, textures, and depth can all provide a unique view of the item or even part of the item.

A video might be a consideration here as some of the sellers have quite clever strategies.  For instance, I was enticed by a lady selling roses.  Attempting to get me to buy a rose for my wife, the seller proclaimed that she had “love on a stick” for sale and then proceeded to walk slowly so I could catch up to her.  That much wit earned a sale for her and a rose for my wife.

Why not use a DSLR camera?

The renaissance festivals I have been to entail a lot of walking.  It starts when you park your car and trudge to the front gate.  By that point, you realize that you are just getting started for the day.  

While there are refreshments just inside the gate, the day will involve a lot of walking.  A DSLR, while it may way only a few pounds, will become heavy as the day wears on.  If you wear it around your neck or in a bag, it will feel like fifty pounds by day’s end.  

Moreover, it is going to be much larger and obtrusive than an unassuming iPhone.  Remember, there should be plenty of light and (hopefully) good weather, which is where the iPhone and its small sensor will shine.  You should be able to nail some really great pics from the iPhone.

Now if you are on a mission for some photos to sell (or you are being paid to shoot), then sure, break out the heavy kit and have at it.  Maybe I just carry too much gear for shoots, but I can’t just roll with a camera and one lens.  I’ll have to have more: a zoom for stage performances or jousting, a wide-angle for closer work, and Payne a prime for portraiture type work.

Or I can shoot for fun with an iPhone 11 Pro and post what I think are the best of the best.  Nothing says I can’t still sell shots from an iPhone, I just won’t take that to a paid gig and expect to actually get paid.


If you can work within its obvious limitations, the iPhone 11 Pro can net you some great street photography images from a renaissance festival.  You can get some great close portrait type shots as well as wide-angle views of the scenery.  With good lighting, there will not be much that you can’t capture adequately. 

Sure you can do better with a full rig, but the iPhone is easily enough camera to make wonderful images in this type of venue.  Your eye and your subject matter will be much, much more important than your camera anyway.  So if you are so inclined, head out to your nearest renaissance festival and get some great images and make some great memories while you are there!

If you like this post, please comment below and leave a suggestion on the right side.  Until next time, go take some pictures.



Ralph is an avid photographer in his spare time. He spends a lot of his photography time shooting sports photos of his daughter, who plays softball and swims. He also has a keen interest in mobile photography.


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