Visual stories from Spain

I spent the last three weeks in Spain with the family - a very enjoyable experience for all of us. Photography was not the main purpose of the trip, as it was more of a family visit, but I took my D700 with the 35mm f/2 and the 85mm f/1.4 and carried the camera in a small bag wherever I went.

In 2011 I want to focus mostly on story-telling photography, still with a focus on people, but less so on pure portraiture. I kept that in mind when I was photographing in southern Spain, and I wanted to share some of those images along with the context for the story.I am not as interested in technical feedback on the images as I am on your emotional or intellectual response to them - do the images speak to you or move you in some way? do they make you want to know more? Technically all the images are done with ambient light, and in some cases with a pretty high ISO.

1. Flying over me. This place in Seville is popular with kids and families, as the birds are used to people feeding them and only fly away when some dog gets assertive with them. This is what happened here, and I simply pressed the shutter as the doves started to fly towards me. This images speaks to me of the old fashioned parks in Europe, like this one built in 1929.

2. Skipping horse manure. Spaniards, including children, dress well. Here I captured two sisters with their pretty coordinated outfits maneuvering around horse manure from horse carriages in this historic district in Seville. I liked the contrast between their preppy looks and the dirty streets.

3. Rowing with suspicion. Seville built a massive square for the 1929 World Expo, the Plaza de Espana, which has been recently renovated and people can again rent a boat and row in the semicircular pond around the plaza. I caught this family rowing and they caught me too. I liked the suspiciousness in their faces, especially the boy.

4. Last goodbye. This was hard to watch. I was strolling in Carmona, a town near Seville, where the toll of bells spoke of death. I approached the group of people waiting outside a church, where a funeral limo was waiting. Eventually the relatives of the deceased appeared, and much to my surprise, the driver of the limo did as well, carrying a small white casket by himself. These two images capture the moment in which the tiny casket is placed in the car and the grief of the mother.

5. Sand lipstick. Taken in the Mazagon beach, a beautiful stretch of sand. I loved the absurdity of the older woman applying makeup while the sand truck was coming. The only story here is whatever we want to fabricate.

6. Living on the edge. With the economic boom in Spain immigration has greatly increased, especially from Latin American countries. Making a living in Spain these days is tough, as the economy has turned sour and unemployment is rampant. One way to try to make a living is selling stuff on the streets, but permits are nearly impossible to get, and vendors are constantly harassed by local police. I think this image shows how nervous the vendor is, watching out for trouble.

7. Spanish pride. This couple lives in Vejer de la Frontera, a beautiful white village in Cadiz. They rent a room in a tenant house that was built adjacent to the Moorish city wall. In fact, they hang their laundry to dry on top of one of the wall towers, which makes for a funny tourist experience - big underwear hanging next to 700 year old stones. Here the man of the house shows his pride and his wife to the camera.

8. Maintenance. There is some ambiguity in this capture of a couple of guys fixing their horse carriages. They are actually changing one of the horse shoe’s in the middle of the street, but it looks as if they are concerned with the thin tire around the cart wheel. I spent some time talking with them and suggested that they charge tourists for picture taking, as it would be more profitable than waiting for passengers. They looked at me funny at first, and then they immediately saw the truth in my proposal and started to discuss how to place a sign requiring tourists to make 1 euro to take pics of their tired horses.

9. Tapas bar at noon. This is the interior of Bar Tino in the heart of Sevilla, a tapas bar that’s been there since the time of the Romans  The bar has a terrance outside where people sit to have some food and wine, and also a counter whence I took this photo.

10. Freshness between the Virgen and St. John. This photo was taken at the Triana Market, where they sell the freshest seafood. This shop keeper was helping her customers with a smile on her face. On the back wall I noticed two religious images, the Virgin Mary, and the Spanish Saint John of the Cross. There is quite a bit of traditional religious fervor in this Triana neighborhood.

11. Fishing village in Portugal. Not much of a story telling picture, but it does reflect the calm and simplicity of living in a fishing village by the ocean. This picture was created in Tavira, Portugal, where I had the most wonderful seafood lunch I can remember.

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Category: Life


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