Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Goodnight Raleigh and the State Fair

John Morris and Sid Fowler

“Carnival is a pageant without footlights and without a division into performers and spectators.” – Mikhail Bakhtin.

Photo by John Morris

Photo by John Morris

While the midway of the 21st century bears little resemblance to the Medieval festivities Bakhtin focused on in his work, the openness from conventional norms and dissolution of social hierarchy on which he focused still seem to hold sway within the fairgrounds every Autumn. By the time people have wandered past the tents, the agricultural exhibits, and stumbled down into the dizzying lights and noise of the midway, something restrictive has been left behind.

Photo by Rocio LluchPhoto by Rocio Lluch

For someone who almost exclusively photographs people, the carnival is both challenging and rewarding. This wonderful energy permeates the crowd, and while taking intimate portraits is difficult, and candid shots near impossible with the shifting crowd and variegated lights, people who would often treat you with suspicion or tell you get stuffed will gladly pose and smile. I love the mix of people, too. While most events provide a somewhat narrow slice of our nation, the fair has it all; young, old, families, criminals, lovers, saints, all races and nationalities.

I think the carnival atmosphere is a very romantic place as well. Gangs of teenagers roam the midway, looking for hook ups. Young lovers sparkle, old couples find the time to walk hand in hand for the first time in months.

Perhaps it’s cultural – even the romance in Charlotte’s Web centers on the carnival – but I think there’s something deeper than that at play.

This year, though, I wasn’t photographing alone. John Morris joined me for the evening, and Goodnight Raleigh’s newest contributors Sarah Mascarah and Rocio Lluch went and shot some amazing stuff.

Photo by Rocio Lluch

Photo by Rocio Lluch

Photo by Rocio Lluch

Photo by Rocio Lluch

Photo by Rocio Lluch

Photo by Rocio Lluch

Photo by Rocio Lluch

Photo by Rocio Lluch

These people were too beautiful

These people were too beautiful

This guy was actually really friendly, even though he's kind of giving me the eye in this shot

A bear of truly enormous proportions

Officer Porter, keeping the peace

Officer Porter, keeping the peace

The Guesser

The Guesser

Early halloween costume?

Early halloween costume?

Family

Family

Every year, when the fireworks start going off, I tell myself I won’t frantically around taking portraits of people in front of the fireworks, that it’s cliche and I should avoid it. Then every year, about 30 seconds into them, I take off running down the midway, tapping people on the shoulder and saying “excuse me, could I please get a portrait of you guys with the fireworks in the background.”

Fireworks

Fireworks

More families

More families

Lovers

Lovers

Ok, so yeah, a couple of these are from last year

Ok, so yeah, a couple of these are from last year.

Cheesburger stand

Cheesburger stand

Bar-b-que man

Bar-b-que man

More officers keeping the peace

More officers keeping the peace

Luke Skywalker and his sister the Princess

Luke Skywalker and his sister the Princess

Another beautiful couple

Another nice couple

This was also from last year. It was much colder then

This was also from last year. It was much colder then

Carnie

Carnie

Another carnie

Another carnie

I couldn't get enough pictures of this guy

I couldn't get enough pictures of this guy

The greatest funhouse wall ever

The greatest funhouse wall ever

Not the best shot, but I got pretty wet for it

Not the best shot, but I got pretty wet for it

Yes, it was that awesome

Yes, it was that awesome

Exhaustion

Exhaustion


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