Photographers' Blog

The thrill of the fair

Munich, Germany

By Michael Dalder

Many of us have been invited to wedding ceremonies and receptions in our time, as guests or even as photographers. One Saturday, at five o’clock in the morning, my colleague Lukas Barth and I prepared our camera gear to photograph a wedding party, with around six million guests.

I’m not sure how many of them were aware of the fact that the party they were attending – “the Oktoberfest” – originally celebrated and honoured the marriage of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in 1810.

A gingerbread heart is pictured during the 181st Oktoberfest in Munich

Almost 200 years later, the celebration still exists in the form of the world’s biggest beer festival, a place where tradition meets madness. The fairground has been called “Theresienwiese”, or “the Wies’n” by experienced visitors and, despite the name “Oktoberfest”, the festival always starts on the penultimate Saturday of September.

Visitors enjoy a beer during the opening day of the 181st Oktoberfest in Munich

Visitors from all over the world – some dressed more or less in traditional Bavarian attire – wait expectantly to taste the special Oktoberfest beer, which, with around six percent alcohol, is a lot stronger than regular German beer.

We arrived at the fairground to find almost 3,000 people already queuing in front of the entrances to each of the 11 tents, hoping to catch one of the non-reserved seats inside. Some of them had been there since four o’clock in the morning, even though the beer would not be served before midday. Many had already started drinking beverages brought from home and often revellers were very jolly before the festival had even begun.

Covering the world’s biggest beer fest

By Michael Dalder and Kai Pfaffenbach

It’s 5am when my alarm clock rings and to be honest, my thoughts are more about coffee than beer.

However, I packed my gear and tried to get ready for the world’s biggest party, where tradition meets madness in Munich: The “Oktoberfest”.

It all started in 1810 when a rich banker hosted a horse race to honor the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. Since then the fairground has been called “Theresienwiese”, where the Oktoberfest common name “Wies’n” stemmed from.

F8 and be there?

Reuters reports “A Malaysian Muslim woman who will be caned next week for drinking beer has defiantly asked that the punishment be carried out in public in a case that is fuelling debate about tolerance in this multi-racial country. Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno will be the first Malaysian woman to be caned under Islamic laws applicable to Malaysia’s Muslims, who account for 60 percent of the 27-million population.”

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno chats with her son (R) Muhammad Azfar, 7, and daughter Wann Kaitlynn Sari Dewi, 5, at her father’s house in Sungei Siput, about 300km (186 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia’s state of Perak, August 21, 2009.  REUTERS/Zainal Abd Halim

If Kartika is caned in public would you as a photographer (if it were up to you decide) go to the event and take pictures of this mother of two being beaten? And if you did how would you shoot those pictures, wide and in close, so close you could hear the crack of the cane on her body and hear her cries of pain? On a longer lens from a distance, more detached as a person but shooting tight pictures that you know will give the viewer every painful detail of the punishment? Or, finally, from a distance on a wide lens to show the crowd surrounding the scene? And once you have shot those images how will you edit? Would you sanitise them and not file the pictures that show Kartika suffering the most or would you feel that everyone should see what you had photographed, knowing that a morning daily family paper may not even use that image?

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