This weekend we went downtown to take photographs and happened upon the Festes de Santa Eulália, one of the patron saints of Barcelona. Also known as the Festa Major d’Hivern (Winter Main Feast), the Festes de Santa Eulália is dedicated to kids and we founds crowds and crowds of children everywhere we went downtown with every square holding some sort of event – there were traditional dances, games, story-telling, parades, you name it.
One of the themes I like to photograph is children. They are so natural and full of expression that I can’t resist taking pictures of kids playing or simply running around. Photographing people can be very hard, particularly if you are shy like me. I don’t want to feel like an intruder and I’m sometimes worried people will misunderstand my interest or be suspicious of my motives for taking their pictures. My photography teacher back in Toronto told me to be obvious about it – just ask, she said. Even if you don’t speak the language, all you have to do is point a picture at someone, smile and raise your thumb up or your eyebrows in a question-like manner. Nine times out of ten people will comply. Yet, I felt shy most times and I used to try to sneak the odd shot with my telephoto lens. But my new 50mm lens requires me to get right up close to people to be able to get a good shot. So lately, I’ve become a little bolder. And the results have been fantastic! This weekend I would point my camera at little kids, often dressed in costumes, and every time that the parents were around and noticed me, they would tell the kid to look at me, smile, etc. Nobody looked at me suspiciously or were troubled by my interest in any way. I should have the pictures by the end of the week to share with you… This one I took last year, during the Festes de la Mercè, the other Barcelona patron saint:
Well, no Catalan festival is complete without a parade of giants, big heads, water-spewing dragons, a presentation of castellers, and some correfocs. You gotta love Catalan culture; it’s so rich!! I’m particularly fond of the castellers, the amazing groups of people of all ages (6-80) who make human towers, which they call castles.
Here’s a picture from the Diada Castellera de Vilafranca del Penedès, this past summer:
The groups are identified by the colour of their shirt. Here in Barcelona there are several neighbourhood groups like the Castellers de Gracia, Sants, Poble Sec, Sant Andreu, etc. There is also the Castellers de Barcelona, who wear red shirts and are up in the higher leagues. All the groups compete in making towers of various difficulties, and I wrote about them a few months ago when we went to check out the best group of all – the castellers de Vilafrance del Penedes.
This Sunday we got right into the group and almost felt part of it. It was great! I got some really near upclose shots and can’t wait to get my pictures back from the lab! Alan should have some on his blog during the next few days.
If we lived here full time, we would definitely join a casteller group and volunteer at the various neighbourhood Festa Major. If we had kids I would definitely look for a place where they could learn the traditional dances. It’s really nice and I’m glad they are keeping these traditions going….