I was lucky enough to attend two DCI 2016 competitions: the DCI All Stars on July 12 at Campbell County High School in Northern Kentucky, and the Drum Corps International semi-finals on August 12 at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. My wife’s family is deeply rooted in the culture of The Glassmen (Toledo). And I played trumpet for four years with my high school marching band. Now, both of our teenage sons are in their first year of competition marching band, so DCI 2016 was well worth the price of admission.
Drum and bugle corps are well known for powerful music, but these shows are replete with visual splendor too. DCI 2016 was no exception. These photos captured just a smidge of the spectacular design, motion and personality that saturated this year’s shows. Once upon a time, it was enough for a killer band to simply play their hearts out for 12 minutes. Today, the bar for showmanship is a lot higher. Every corps competing this year had a well developed theme, most with theatrics, costumes, props and a story line. So no silent photos of staid musicians playing like toy soldiers. The visual drama was captivating, and I sought to convey pieces of it with my photos.
Shooting DCI 2016: pros & cons
For these shows, I brought my Canon 5D Mark iii and a Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3. (Shooting from up in the bleachers, I needed as much lens as I could carry.) The task of photographing such events is bitter-sweet. In any fraction of a second, so much happens on the field that you’re bound to get a lot of great shots. But so much happens simultaneously that an army of photographers wouldn’t catch it all. So if you ever shoot one of these events, bring extra cards.
Fans of DCI will recognize The Bluecoats, Boston Crusaders, Carolina Crown, Madison Scouts, The Cadets, The Academy and The Cavaliers.