A tower collapses while attempting a tres de deu, a castell with nine stories of three people. Only in the last few decades have women been allowed to become castellers.
Catalonia – Photo Tip

When photographing festivals, get involved

Photo by Luis Sanmiguel

Catalonia – Photo Tip When photographing festivals, get involved

I'm navigating through massive crowds at Festa Major in Vilafranca, Catalonia trying to capture the human towers on camera. Swiftly moving through a crowd with all your gear without upsetting people or breaking anything requires a special talent.

Jochem Wijnands
Jochem Wijnands Founder / photographer

Festa Major is a true celebration of Catalan culture, displaying typical Catalan activities such as the stick and ribbon dance and the impressive castell, a human tower that exceeds the simple three-layered towers we all once made at the kindergarten gym, but are more like seven, or even eight layers high.

I'm in Vilafranca to capture this phenomenon. Photographing festivals can be a challenge for a photographer. Because of one thing: the crowds. My number one tip is whatever happens, keep smiling because remember, you are outnumbered.

You have to think very carefully about where you want to go and anticipate the coming events, because your ability to move is very limited and - if you are in the wrong place - you will have a problem.

You will need accreditation to get a good spot to take your photos, which means you need to plan ahead and contact the local authorities days, sometimes weeks, before the happening. One approach I really like is to get involved during the preparations, the training and the rehearsals so you can get to know the people. Once the actual festival takes off you then will be in the middle of the action and the story becomes more interesting.

In order to be able to take a photo with a perspective similar to the photos I took of the castell, you almost need to be part of the pinya, which is the base of the tower where there is a lot of pushing going on. Keep calm, keep your camera steady and think of your goal: to get the best possible shot.

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The castells come in all shapes and sizes; totem poles, Christmas trees, towers and pyramids. Although normally built from the base up, a more complex form is built by starting with the top level and then lifting it and each supporting level below it in turn. Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

Nikon D2x

Aperture
ƒ/8
Exposure
1/350
ISO
200
Focal
35 mm

The castells come in all shapes and sizes; totem poles, Christmas trees, towers and pyramids. Although normally built from the base up, a more complex form is built by starting with the top level and then lifting it and each supporting level below it in turn.

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