I recently took photos of a parade, but when looking at my photos, I realised that I was standing at the same spot almost all the time, so the photos were not really coherent or telling a story. Does anyone have any tips for how to make more interesting, story telling photos showing personal characteristics during parades?
I think it depends on the kind of parade.
For instance, for a few New Years' parades, I've been in Philadelphia and shot the Mummer's Parade. Everyone wears such bright and varied costumes, and walks really close to the edge of the road. Shooting with a wider lens (35mm f/2.0, or 17-55mm f/2.8 for me) still let me get pretty good portrait shots. When people are within five feet of the lens, more telephoto means less keeper shots, or at least, shots that show I was at a parade.
I'm not sure that staying in the same place prevents you from telling a story. I can't remember the name of the movie, but one that particularly sticks in my mind had a store keeper in it who shot from the same location, every day, at the same time of day, for twenty years. The resulting photos told the story of how the neighborhood changed, of how some people are always on the same schedule (always passing by his store at the same time), of those strange days when everything's completely out of whack. Just because things are passing you and you stand still doesn't mean you can't tell the story of what's passing you.
I think getting close and using a 35mm lens can give you fairly interesting results, the distortion can give the photos more of a personal feel. Choose a few spots you intend to shoot from before the parade that way the background can be composed to your liking.
I really like parade shots that tell the story of a couple of people as opposed to the birds I shots that just show the structure.