Photography Project: Tips for Photographing a Chalk Festival


When I told Peter I wanted to photograph the Glendora Chalk Festival, his eyes said “Really?” but his mouth said “Sure honey”. I am drawn to the graphic designs, the colors, and the shapes….and this one was really fun because it was primarily kids creating the art. I’ve posted more pictures than usual to show the possibilities of these events. All of these images were captured in less than 30 minutes; but it did take me almost 3 hours for creative processing.

Photo Capture

Equipment and preparation:

  • Short to medium telephoto zoom (I used a 24-105),
  • R-Strap to quickly get the camera into place
  • Image-stabilizer if you have it
  • Increase your ISO to stop movement and camera shake.

Photo note: wait a couple of hours after the festival has started. This will give the artists time to put down the base color and start drawing the shapes. Timing is important; sometimes capturing the drawings mid-stream is more interesting than capturing the finished product.

Shot List

  • People in action: At first I would get frustrated waiting to get a clear shot of the art. But then I realized, I really liked my images where you can see a hand working, or the back of the individual bent over the piece.



  • Strong shape and color: Look for art that is strong in color and has simple shapes and design. These will provide great source material for manipulating them into abstracts during post-processing. For example, the Before image is boring, I almost deleted it…..and then creative inspiration struck.
  • Tell the story: look for subjects that help tell the story – the image the artist is using for reference, the tray of chalks, etc. These subjects also tend to be colorful and interesting.


Post – Processing

  • Cropping is your best friend. There is a lot of activity at chalk festivals, take your shot with enough room to crop out distracting elements, like the gray sidewalk.
  • Change the color scheme: Last year I took an close-up of a drawing of Spiderman. the colors were very “Spiderman-like”, so I changed the color scheme and found I like the abstract nature of the image. I tried the same on what was initially a plain green frog.


  • Create an abstract. My tools of choice for the images below are: Flaming Pear Swerve and Filter Forge.


  • Chalk is messy. I used Topaz Clean on almost every image to take out the chalk dust and distracting elements.

1304_MFA_Chalk_018-Edit 1304_MFA_Chalk_006-Edit 1304_MFA_Chalk_007-Edit

In case you want to see some more……


1304_MFA_Chalk_017 1304_MFA_Chalk_010-Edit

This is the season for sidewalk chalk festivals. It’s a photography project that can take less than an hour….well maybe more depending on carried away you get with processing.

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