Tuesday, January 23, 2018
News Roundup

All Eyes focus: 6 quick questions for photographer Andres Leiva on covering The Gasparilla Day Parade 2017

Question: Have you ever covered Gasparilla?

Answer: No, this is my first time, but I have heard a lot about it from the other veterans who have been doing this for a while.

Question: What was it like for you? What did you think? What was your first impression?

Answer: It was a little overwhelming at first. Because there are thousands of people out there. I kind of felt like a kid in a candy store, not even really knowing where to start. You know like, something's going on here. Something's going on over there!"

Then once I started walking into the crowd, and getting settled in, it was a lot of fun. Plenty of things to photograph.

ANDRES LEIVA | Times

The pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe Gasparilla are seen aboard the "Jose Gasparilla," on its way up the Seddon Channel to the Tampa Convention Center during the Pirate Invasion of the Gasparilla Pirate Festival 2017 in downtown Tampa on Saturday, January 28, 2017.

Question: There's a photo that you made. It's a dead on shot of the boat coming right towards you, surrounded by all the other boats.

Can you talk a little bit about that photo. Where there any challenges to getting that photo?

Answer: I took it from the prop floor of the Tampa General Hospital. The photo itself was not too hard, because, just a matter of waiting for the ship. The problem was a really annoying water tower, in the background across the channel. Part of the challenge was finding an angle where I could shoot the picture, and either crop it out, or have the ship cover it.

What I ended up doing was just waiting until the ship was in the right space in the channel. Then I shifted over with the camera until the tower was out of view. Beyond that, just making sure there weren't any people hogging the space by the edge of the garage. Getting there early, and making sure that I had a space cut out was really important.

ANDRES LEIVA | Times

The "Jose Gasparilla," pirate ship makes its way up the Seddon Channel on its way to the Tampa Convention Center during the Pirate Invasion of the Gasparilla Pirate Festival 2017 in downtown Tampa on Saturday, January 28, 2017.

Question: Did you have any technical challenges while photographing this event?

Answer: I'd say probably the biggest technological challenge was just the wireless signal. When you get like 100,000 people together, the bandwidth just drops. Knowing that I needed to send, I had to give myself time to leave the area to get service. My editor needed photos around five so I started making my way towards the fringe of the crowd.

ANDRES LEIVA | Times

Jennifer Cardenas of Tampa reaches over her head to snag a set of beads during the Gasparilla Pirate Festival 2017 in downtown Tampa on Saturday, January 28, 2017.

Question: Which image was your favorite? Which one was like, "Oh my God, I can't believe that just happened!"

Answer: I really like the shot of this lady who's pouring a shot into the mouth of another Gasparilla member.

That was really funny, because I saw her from down the parade line waving the bottle of rum, and I was like, "There's no way that she's actually going to get someone to do a shot with her."

But this guy just walked up to her and just took a shot. She poured it straight into his mouth. It was probably the most Gasparilla thing I've ever seen. A pirate taking a shot of rum from a parade watcher on the sidelines. That was pretty funny!

ANDRES LEIVA | Times

Annalise Sorvillo of Chicago pours a shot of liquor into the mouth of a member of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla during the Gasparilla Pirate Festival 2017 in downtown Tampa on Saturday, January 28, 2017.

After that, I would say my second favorite, weirdly enough, is probably the one of the truck and the crowd. Mainly because I had to cross a lane of oncoming traffic on the Davis Island Bridges. I kind of just scrambled over, took some shots, and then scrambled back before a car could hit me. That was kind of an adrenaline rush.

Getting hit on a day of work. You don't have that kind of time.

ANDRES LEIVA | Times

Thousands of parade-goers lined both sides of Bayshore Boulevard during the Gasparilla Pirate Festival 2017 in downtown Tampa on Saturday, January 28, 2017.

Question: If you were to have advice for other photographers who are going to participate next year, what would your advice be?

Answer: I would say definitely ask the people who have done this before. Because ... You know there are really cool, interesting shots to be made, but it also helps to have an idea of what people have done before. There's so much going on, and when you're one person against the crowd of thousands of people, it's just really overwhelming. Asking people who have had experiencing doing it definitely helps.

That's one, and then, two, keeping mind of the fundamentals of the wide, medium, and tight shots. Getting overall shots of the crowd is really important, because, that's the kind of picture that shows how big it is. Then, you know, little moments, and little details are also important too.

ANDRES LEIVA | Times

Allison Borelli of New Jersey reaches for discarded beads with a pirate flag during the Gasparilla Pirate Festival 2017 in downtown Tampa on Saturday, January 28, 2017.

Question: Anything I didn't ask that you'd like to add?

Answer: Make sure to wear comfortable shoes. Oh, yeah, I have my little, tactical fanny pack, I filled it with granola, water, and with my sunglasses, and little stuff like that. It's going to be ... It's like super key. Your going to be walking a lot, so, making sure you're properly equipped is important.

Andres Leiva started at the Times in 2016. Before that, Andres interned at the Gainesville Sun and studied Journalism at the University of Florida. He loves shooting sports and breaking news.

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