This is now my fourth trip to Spain and I was at risk of taking for granted how amazing the place can be and is. The incredible thing about returning to a country you have been to a number of times is trying to find new things to do. Fortunately, in a place as large as Spain, that’s not too hard.
So for this trip other than my umpteenth return to Barcelona I am working hard to see new places. So, far so good. I may add that I stayed in Barceloneta on this trip and with that came a whole new perspective on this great city.
I have to be upfront I can be unbearable to travel with which is why I largely travel on my own. I would love to travel with a group of friends but I find all I want to do while away is take Photo’s. Don’t get me wrong I do travel with friends from time to time but they are usually in short bursts for e.g. in a couple of weeks I will meeting up with some friends from Oz, the USA and Norway in Lisbon, Portugal. I find it’s too hard to be trying to plan trips around a large group of people.
I’ve been contributing to the Lonely Planet Images (LPI) held by Getty Images for over 10 years and no matter where I go, I lug my camera pack with me. If you ever want to lose weight try it. I am yet to come back from a trip fatter!! I sometimes dream of having really light hand luggage but can’t seem to make the shift to a cute little mirror less camera. One day I expect I will. By the way I do love my iPhone. Sometimes it shames a DLSR!!
I walk A LOT when I travel. For me roaming around a city and often getting lost is a perfect day. It’s only a pain when you are trying to get to a museum before it closes or trying to work around siesta as you do in Spain.
So, here are some observations and images from my first week away Barcelona and Zaragoza. All with a Photo head on.
Spain has some of the most diverse things to see within one region let alone one city. This week alone I started in Catalunya – Barcelona and will have ended in Aragon – Zaragoza.
In Barcelona, I found myself immersed in the modern side of the place. Now, when I say modern you know I am thinking Antonio Gaudi and Casa Batllo which I hadn’t been to previously, yes I’ve done Parc Guell, La Familia Sagrada and numerous other residences but for some reason this one evaded me until this last week. Wow!, is all I can say probably if you only had limited time to see his work I’d start here. As a complete contrast to Gaudi, I then immersed myself in the 1992 Olympics and the nearby Place d’Espanya followed by the Montjuic area. Yes, I have never explored these parts on previous trips. It was a busy time and one that re-energised the city for me. Strangely, I recall going past Place d’Espanya on a previous trip and the Bull Ring was still used for sport and not as a shopping centre. I don’t recall much else from this part of the trip.
So, the challenges shooting in a city like this are interesting. The light at this time of year is really clean so it’s not hard to get colourful crisp images. Images captured cover everything from a random street protest advocating for more open space for children in the Barcelona area to play in through to people doing everyday things at the beach or at galleries.
Barcelona has a reputation for being a thieves paradise and I must admit the number of times locals came up to me to warn me about safety and my camera gear reinforced for me how amazing people are here.
So, aside from this what do I look for?
You know it changes in every location and every trip. I sometime will stand in one spot watch the world go by and then take a few shots and see if the location offers potential and if it is a good candidate for me to shoot in. Observation is so important, no point snapping away and not being sure why you are shooting the images you are taking. By the way, I do shoot the touristy stuff but try to find something else to send to LPI. Having a sense of things happening, the presence of people in the shots is helpful and knowing how to incorporate people so the shots will be used is important. I try to play with lighting (exposure) and composition and for some reason every trip seems to throw up a visual theme that is carried through my images. For e.g over recent years I have found some of the following themes come through my work – dramatic late afternoon shadows, people on a Vespa, people doing activities such as running & shooting people from above. I never plan this it just happens and before I know it I’ve created a body of work that has similar themes and executions. All the essentials of Photography come to the fore.
When I travel I have my camera with me about 99% of the time (My physio loves me when I return!) so it’s pretty easy to explore and refine ideas until you are happy with them.
The move to Zaragoza has not only been about following the path of Caesar Augustus but the path of the other cultures that have walked down these streets. The funniest thing today was to be in the Caesar Augustus Theatre Museum and hear a group of school children at the end of their tour in unison yell out Hail Caesar in Spanish. So, cute!
Zaragoza has reaffirmed for me how great people are. I have to admit on nearly every trip to this wonderful country I have been so lucky to meet locals who will either introduce you to aspects of the local cuisines or traditions just from talking to you randomly on the street. The key thing is to let your gut rule you. The other night I was walking along the Pssg. Gran Via and started talking to a guy called Alberto who was a local and about to start off on an unplanned travel adventure and try to carve a career as a travel blogger. It was great to be able to walk around a city I had already been in for a couple of days and then walk round with a local who could give his perspective on the place. When meeting people your gut needs to rule you and your first instinct will usually be right. We walked round a few different districts and finally settled in at a local tapas bar specialising in mushrooms. Imagine that!! Spain seems to always throw up these types of meetings for me. I have been very lucky to have met some great people through travel. In fact two of my best friends were met during my days back packing in the early ‘90’s.
Travel helps inform me about the world and also free up my image making, I spend a lot of my time back in Melbourne shooting, Weddings, Events and Sport by travelling I think it helps me re-look at the way I do things with my work but also, the way I deal with people and places. I rarely go out and shoot with the same head on my shoulders as the one when I travel. I have from time to time gone exploring my own home town with another Photographer friend and I think that is the only time I’ve come close to looking at my own city in the same way as I look at a foreign city. It is possible but takes more work.
Anyway, the images attached as some of the shots so far. Let’s see where I end up at the end of 7 weeks.
I’ll finish on this note – a friend asked me what does Spain smell like? That’s harder to answer than you think. My response, the smell of fresh food I’d like to also add that you are always hearing people in conversation and today I noticed that in this region – honeysuckle is everywhere. Weirdly, this makes me think of my childhood and the honeysuckle tree growing outside my bedroom window.
Spain is a land of sensory delights not just visual ones.
Oh! and in case you are wondering no I’m not missing winter!