Rose Parade 2014: How to take great photos — and share them with KPCC

Rose Parade

Grant Slater/KPCC

A Rose Parade volunteer leads a float along Orange Grove in front of the Tournament of Roses headquarters on Monday morning,

Route of the 2014 Rose Parade

Tournament of Roses

The route of the 2014 Rose Parade.


Here's a few tips on how to snap great photos of this year's Rose Parade. It's all about strategy.

The 2013 Rose Parade will travel down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1, starting at 8 a.m.  (You can view a map of the route above.)

If you're planning on being there, there is only one thing to keep in mind if you want to photograph any of the parade's 42 floats, 23 bands and 21 equestrian units: Where you go is the most important thing. The Rose Parade is all about location, location, location.

The parade steps off on its five-and-a-half mile march through Pasadena at 8 a.m. If you wait until then to find your spot, it will already be too late. Parade organizers expect more than 700,000 people to line the parade route, and moving around will not be easy.

Fortunately, we have advice on where and how to shoot the parade below. But first, an invitation.

If you do take a great picture of the Rose Parade, send it our way, and we'll share it with the KPCC audience.

Here's how to send us your Instagram images:

Here's how to send us your Twitter images:

  • Use the hashtag #KPCCRoseParade when you tweet your pictures.

E-mail us your pictures:

There are three options for parade picture-taking, each with pluses, minuses and equipment considerations:

1) In the bleachers

The Tournament of Roses and enterprising property owners along the route set up bleachers for parade viewing. If you don't have tickets by now, you're probably out of luck.

If you're one of the lucky few with tickets, you'll want to bring your telephoto lens to snap pictures of the passing floats. An iPhone alone won't be enough to capture the parade participants from the nosebleed seats.

2) On the street

Outside of the bleachers, it's first come, first served for a slice of real estate along the Colorado Boulevard sidewalk.

If you want to reserve a spot, you're out of luck. Instead, be prepared to camp out overnight, especially along the streets of Old Pasadena. Thousands of parade watchers spend their New Year's Eve snuggled up in sleeping bags along the parade route.

You might have better luck getting a front-row seat without an overnight campout closer to Sierra Madre Boulevard in east Pasadena, near the parade's endpoint.

If you do manage to score street front real-estate, bring a wide angle lens. The biggest Rose Parade floats are monstrous, and it will be hard to capture them close-up with anything else.

From a street-side view, you should be able to get some interesting and candid shots with your mobile phone. Be creative!

3) Before the parade

If you want to get up close and personal with the Rose Parade, the only real option is to catch the parade before it's a parade.

There are several barns scattered alone the Foothills Freeway, and they offer photo opportunities in the days before the parade.

Check our map for more places to view floats before the parade

The final chance to get up close and personal with the Rose Parade is in the few hours before the parade starts. You can get some interesting candid and street shots of the parade floats before they step off.

Floats stage before dawn along Orange Grove Boulevard. Marching bands and equestrian units stage on the bridges over the 110 Freeway, on Fair Oaks and on Raymond Avenue south of Colorado Boulevard.

Make sure to approach from the south. Routes from the north will be blocked along the parade route.

If you choose this option, you'll likely miss out on watching the parade in person. The best thing to do would be head home and watch the parade from the best vantage point of all: on your television at home.

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