Saturday, August 17, 2019


While in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho had the opportunity to attend the JULYAMSH Indian Pow Wow. 
Various tribes from the Northwest, including Idaho, Washington. Oregon, Montana, Alberta and British Colombia, Canada gather each summer for a dance, singing and drumming competition. Each tribe sends their best performers to represent their traditions, dress and customs. 

At first the visual impact is so overwhelming with over a hundred dancers in a small arena. So many bright modern colors, the decorative rapid movements, intense serious attitudes and the sheer beauty of it all.. seemed at first impossible to capture with a camera. 

The men dance aggressively, quick fast movements in rhythm with the multiple drums while competing for a judge's attention, attempting to out impress other tribal dancers.

Twisting turning stepping to rapid pounding of the drums...

Fast movement, dramatic gestures, flying feathers, 
ribbons of colorful flash fill the camera's lens. 

Visually overpowering the individual under all the regalia.

Tried toning down the colors so as to focus more on the participants. So many bright colors were too strong visually, distracting from seeing the real people involved.

The lady's dance is all foot work and attitude. Here an invited dancer from Oklahoma leads the procession of tribal princesses.  

This photo?  hmmm, with the color toned down, looks too stiff, no WOW factor... 
The fourth girl with the rainbow dress overpowered everyone else if at full color.

The male dancers invoked the unique tribal heritage from their ancestral origins.

Let's introduce more contrast...  better.

Whoops, by going straight B&W, has details but loses in attitude and excitement. 
Too dull. No focal point of interest.

Maybe try a different tint....   Hmmmm...  No, not quite right.

Participants were of all ages from infants to grandparents.

How about a close up...   No, too sharp, is modern looking, not the look or feel I seek.

Settling down, let's refocus of individuals, attempting to capture 
the native sense of attitude and the personalities. 

Here a young girl seriously studies the dance moves of teenagers performing. 
The competition between the tribes and among the individuals is intense. 
They are all battling for honor and tribal pride.

Note the square topknot in the girls's hair?

Let's try an old school type of photo editing, harking back to a long lost era 
of strong proud warriors, rich tribal heritage.  

Strong but too sharp, too crisp.

This is better. Has a 1920's grainy look, strong contrast, slightly out of focus.

The proud attitude is showing... good sense of warrior strong. 

Finally on the right track to capture and show the spirit of the individual 
honoring their heritage. 

This B&W image captures the beauty with a sense of power within.  
Strong, determined and proud of who she is. 

In the mist of swirling colors and frantic activity, 
she projects calmness, composure of a tribal princess.

And finally,  different princess from a different tribe...  what does her image say to you?

???????  Post your comments...

Being allowed to mingle among the PowWow participants 
as they competed was a fantastic experience.

I better appreciate now their tribal heritage and the impressive efforts they put into preserving and promoting their culture. The training and formal preparation for the intensity of their performances was on full display. 

Well, that was a walk-about in the photographer's mind as one attempts 
to achieve a certain look and feel for the images. From the several hundreds of photos taken, 
these are the few that survived the selection / editing process.

Thank you for taking the time to follow along.

See you on down the road,


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  1. I kind of liked the first three shots best, wild colors highlighting the rapid movements you captured well. The last pic reminded me of the old time photographs taken of Native Americans by the early photographers of the time, back in the old West.

    1. I agree with you Dom, the first three shots are interesting, the composition is a bit jumbled. I think what is troubling me are the modern bright neon colors they have incorporated into the traditional designs. So out of place in my mind. I understand that to compete, if others use those colors you must also in order to be noticed by the judges. But so untraditional. Since this was my first PowWow on preserving heritage, was not expecting to see 21rst century neon.

      Guess I am the old fashion one, not them.

  2. I have always enjoyed your pics but this time you showed us a glimpse into the effort you put into them. I love seeing how you change them for different effects. You told a story within a story. Very nice!

    1. Thanks Jerry, glad you enjoyed reading the thought process in making a good picture.

  3. This is absolutely beautiful! I hope you share these with them. I love the colors, but I also love the black and white. The last picture looks like a painting. I don't know any of the photo lingo composition and such, but I do know when pictures speak and these speak something beautiful. You captured a lot of energy in these pictures.
    (I am crossing my fingers that chrome works for my comments).

    1. Lily, Chrome worked, great! Glad to have you back onboard on the ride.

      It's interesting what you can find and do when you experiment in photography. Many pleasant images come about that way.


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