How To Take Great Photos at Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia?
Do you enjoy unique festivals or celebrations of local cultural traditions and photograph them? Festivals and cultural events are always a great chance and way to learn about the local people and portray a foreign culture and country with lively photographs.
If you are the one who wants to make most of your festival experience as visual storyteller such as photographer, documentarian and looking for a unique and ancient cultural event, Mongolian Golden Eagle Festival must be on your photo adventure bucket list. Ancient customs and heritages of Kazakh minority of Mongolia and true example of eagle hunting tradition of nomads will appeal your participation and discovery in the Western part of the country-Bayan-Ulgii province in the middle of September and at the beginning of October.
This cultural and bizarre festival can be extremely rewarding for travelers, video makers, and photographers, but they may demand a certain amount of skill, some pre-planning, get know what is happening and when to have correct information and find the right spots etc.
As an experienced Mongolian photo tour operator, with our excellent photo guide or photographing crew let you take memorable photos and videos of eagle hunting festival. Now we are here to help you to make great visual works, to get along with crowded conditions and also show you the great photos of our previous tours to Annual Golden Eagle festival.
Hope you get some Golden Eagles and Huntress photo inspirations and ideas from our photos.
“There are no bad pictures; that's just how your face looks sometimes.”
Pre-Festival Photography For The Eagle Festival
If you want to create a complete documentary or video of the festival, it is best to make pre-preparation videos or photo stories of Kazakh people. Local nomads usually gather in a festival location before one day and it might look alike nomadic migration from their homes. Sometimes a few groups of local families come together in the queue with their Eagles and camp near the place where the festival is held.
You can shoot these moments from the best spots and make some pre-festival videos or photo stories of Golden Eagle festival. If you want to have a video or audio interview of Kazakh nomads, their pre-festival feelings and our special photo team will also allow you to have this incredible opportunity. People love to see how the ‘magic’ happens, so behind the scene pictures are great.
Photographing The Eagle Hunters’ Parade
The festival starts with an opening parade of Kazakh hunters and their trained eagles. On those moments make great photographic subjects, so prepare yourself to capture. Mongolian Eagle hunters-Kazakh people dress up their traditional clothing and you’ll find they’re relaxed, in high spirits and happy to be photographed. It is a great chance to take photos of hunters with their decorated horses, beautiful traditionally made hunting outfits as well as their trained Eagles. Their entrance will compete for the first awards of the festival - Best turned out Eagle and Owner. You should take advantages of crowds and festive atmosphere to mingle with locals and get close to the unique action.
View Or Drone Photography At Golden Eagle Festival
Calling Eagle on arm competition is another great chance for photographing and video making. But if you are alone, not traveling with your special interest friends, choose one place to shoot hunter’s side among crowds or eagles side on the mountain. Because the eagle will be released from the top of the mountain and hunter calls his/her trained eagles and must meet up eagle among people down. It is also the best time for taking your drone out to a big open area of Golden Eagle festival, but you have to be careful about the time.
If interested in taking more Eagle photos, action pictures or landscapes images - the whole view of the festival, you need to find the best vantage point on eagle release mount, shoot from a distance with a telephoto lens or capture Best Eagle at locating its owner from a distance.
Your Lens on Spectaculars of Eagle Hunters
Please remember to turn your lens on the Golden Eagle Festival spectators, who make a great story as they watch and react to the proceedings of the festival.
From foreign tourists to local nomads, elders to the youngsters, from some weird face impressions to happiest ones, please don’t lose those golden moments, always picture it and keep in mind.
Find The Right Photo Spot At The Festival
The key is to get a good position. Otherwise, you may end up in a sea of people and sometimes only come away with photos of the back of someone’s head. Unlike the best places are often reserved for press or event photographers, just talk with your photo guide who is experienced and know everything about the festival and find the best position and can easily take best ones you desire to take.
Portrait photography of Kazakh Hunters
The Golden Eagle Festival in Western Mongolia is an excellent time to take portraits. It is a great opportunity to photograph Kazakh people faces when they are in a mood of relaxed, happy and more open to being approached than during their daily lives. Since the Golden Eagle Festival attracts a wide range of local nomads, it offers a great deal to photograph a whole array of people in one place.
By using a telephoto lens, get in close and take a frame-filling shot, whereas a wide lens places your target in their festival environment, producing a picture that says more about them and where they are. If you want to take especially someone’s picture-portrait, we will arrange it for you and you will be rewarded with the more characterful picture at the festival, nature or their homes – and feel a friendly encounter. Great travel photography does not only highlight the beautiful landscapes and historic buildings but also portrays the local people.
Taking Action Photos of Catching Prey- The Highlight of Eagle Festival
It is the key event and high light moments to shoot incredible photo stories of the Golden Eagle Festival. The third and the last special contests to challenge Hunters and their trained Eagles are Best Eagle Hunting Prey. Hunters will be dragging stuffed animals and the eagles must catch them. It highlights agility of eagles and hunter’s ability to taming their eagle.
Be always ready to close up these actions, behind-the-scene shots and catch un-repeatable moments on your camera. Some previous experiences say, Eagle catches the prey only within 0.6 seconds - just prepare for your camera and your eyes to the scene. Close-up pictures are taken with a telephoto lens can give a real sense of the action.
Photographing Kazakh Cultural Performances
Moreover, you can take images of cultural performances of Kazakh people such as their traditional dance, song and also some interesting activities among other local participants.
Two of them are called Kyz Kuar –Woman chasing game while on horseback and Push Cashy which fights for death goat body while on horseback.
A small interesting game is Coin grabbing on horseback and it is quite challenging and these small cultural events will be different subjects or colors to your documentary or video.
Post - Festival Photography & Local Nomad Visits
If you want to photograph deep inside Kazakh nomads’ life and interview them, we’ll also arrange and prepare everything ready for your classic portrait and cultural video showing the nomad’s costume and heritages which all give a real sense of their unique and unchanged lives for thousand years. Above all, remember that Golden Eagle festival is a fantastic experience and would be an adventurous and brand new culture to your life.
However, do not forget to come away with just photographs and no memories of travel. Visiting local family after the festival will fill all your must-do travel lists in western Mongolia.
For those who want a fantastic festival documentary, this specially arranged visit will be beneficial. This visit also can give you more understandings about hunters and trained eagles’ nature connection without words, listening stories of heroic hunts of them, photographing and seeing proof of their amazing preys and many more.
Don’t Miss the Second Option for Photographers
If you really want to travel Golden Eagle festival, but the festival time of September or October can’t really match your schedule, our specialized photo team can offer you great second option. We can arrange same events, Kazakh nomads – Eagle hunting contest and performance, Mongolian landscape photos, portraits, cultural videos and documentaries for only you and your team.
Visiting The Most Photogenic Places Before/After The Festival
After having great Golden Eagle Festival, we highly recommend you extend your travel to Altai Tavan Bogd National Park to do some hiking, trekking and also photographing picturesque alpine lakes, rivers, beautiful mountain hills, valleys, five highest peaks in Mongolia and full spectrum of archeology with petroglyphs, standing stones, burial mounds and Kazakh cemeteries listed in UNESCO cultural heritage sites.
For complete and perfect documentary work, it is wise to show surrounding nature of Kazakh minority and their landscapes to your visual work. Especially in Khoton Khurgan Lake, it is great opportunity to feel and capture above nature and historical wonders together with many Kazakh nomads-Eagle hunters living inside the park.
It is a full adventure to shoot endangered species in Tsambagarav snow capped mountain, including argali sheep, ibex, grey wolves, red deer, black vulture, elk, snow leopards, Altai snow-cock, golden eagles, and many others. Learn more
Significant Way To Improve Your Photography
As you know, good photography does not just happen. Golden Eagle festival will give you an opportunity to challenge yourself with a wide range of photo styles, compositions, and subjects. Also, you have to be pre-warned and festival photography is big, hard work and almost impossible without the assistance of experienced photo team.
If you want to capture all aspects of the festival, then you’re going to have to move around a lot and be thinking on your feet while quickly composing each shot. It is definitely challenging, but the rewards will make it worthwhile. Each shot and scene you take, you should compose as it planned on using it enter photo or video contest. Photographer Asher Svidensky made it and introduced Mongolian first eagle huntress Aisholpan Nurgaiv to the world through his amazing photos which made him as well known photographer and a young girl as a film star. Learn more about Aisholpan Nurgaiv.
Photographer: Batzaya Choijiljav
Meeting Your Mongolian Photo Instructor & Team
At Ayan Travel, our photographic and adventure travel experts create well-crafted tour itineraries in Mongolia. The photo adventures we arrange are to put our clients in the path of inspiring photographic opportunities, to seek out authentic nomadic experiences, and to get you away from the common tourist trails.
We assist you with the process of how and what the tools work together to better achieve in Mongolian photographic vision and seek out to provide niche photography workshops to the best photo spots and visually exotic destinations in Mongolia.
Our team instructors will stimulate your inner artist and discuss your visual works’ planning in Mongolia in advance.
What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”