Episode 3 : First Stop - BarcelonaThis is the third post in a series chronicling my 2016 summer photography project through Spain, France, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Click on this TAG to view all of the articles in this series. If you want to skip all the text, you can scroll all the way down to a gallery of my favorite images from Barcelona 2016.
Ah, Barcelona. How I’ve missed thee.
Pausha and I lived in Southern France for two years. Since we were right on the French/Spanish border, Barcelona was our nearest big city and we would “drive to town” almost every month, and more frequently in the warmer months and when we were entertaining friends.
We fell in love with Barcelona right away, as many people do. The food, the culture, the energy, the architecture, the art, the food. There is so much to love about Barcelona and to be quite honest, there wasn’t a whole lot Pausha and I missed about France when we repatriated back to the States. It was Barcelona that was fondest in our memories.
Kazdyn and I arrived at our flat late afternoon and hit the ground running. Forget sleep — we’ll sleep when we’re fed, as the saying goes. This stage of the trip was largely about food, settling into our photojournalist/bachelor lifestyle, retracing familiar steps and visiting old haunts. And food. Barcelona was very much a homecoming for me and it was comforting to find that everything was exactly as I’d left it.
I had a shooting plan, but it sort of all fell apart.
We played it really loose for the first few days, and we were perfectly content to just sort of wander where our instincts took us. We were a bit more intentional in Krakow and Prague later on.
There’s a funny thing about Barcelona for me. Whenever I see a Barcelona street shot in my Instagram feed from another photographer, I almost always know it’s Barcelona before I read the caption or see the geotag. BCN is just that kind of town. Paris is like that too, I suppose, but Barcelona is just unmistakably and immediately recognizable.
In a street photography scenario the locations are every bit as much part of the story as is the subject of the photograph, in a way that I don’t feel is true for cities such as New York or San Francisco. For this reason, I brought the two zoom lenses to use throughout the day, and two faster prime lenses to use at night. The zooms because I wanted to ensure that I could get the character of the surroundings into my frame even when working in a narrow alleyway that wouldn’t allow me to “zoom with my feet.”
I later found that I gravitated to the prime lenses for street shooting and favored the zooms when shooting vistas from on high or catching cityscapes and architecture. I’m glad that I brought the zooms, as they factored heavily into shooting in Auschwitz and in Prague but I quickly learned that I didn’t actually need to have them with me at all, and that was very surprising to me.
Water is very important for me. Yes, yes, I know; water is kind of important in order for organic life to survive, but that’s not what I mean. I mean that I can’t imagine living in a landlocked state or city. In Santa Barbara we’re only 50 paces from the Pacific Ocean. When we lived in France, the Mediterranean was only 30km away and we could reach the Sea in 15 minutes if I hauled ass on the highway. I’m not an avid swimmer or sailor but put my toes in the surf every few days. It’s cathartic for me, and the Barceloneta is one of my favorite features of this city.
I especially appreciated the old locals who would gather to play dominoes and drink sangria in the sun.
Tourists Go Home!
I never before picked up on just how sick and tired the locals have become of the “Hugely Massive Constant Invasion” of tourists and we got a taste of that frustration in the form of silent protestors in the Gothic Quarter, and some other not-so-subtle messaging displayed at some of the more heavily-visited tourist destinations such as Park Güell and Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.
Pausha shared with me an open letter to all Airbnb customers that someone had posted in Venice, Italy recently and it gave me pause. You can read that open letter here. http://imgur.com/zzZnvFR
This letter itself was inspired by a similar letter posted in the city of New Orleans where locals are having their own Airbnb battle. Read more about that here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/06/business/airbnb-pits-neighbor-against-neighbor-in-tourist-friendly-new-orleans.html
All in all we were in Barcelona for 6 days, and in addition to eating a lot of incredible tapas, our photography playground included:
- Barri Gòtic
- Arc de Triomf (our flat was right around the corner)
- Parc de la Ciutadella
- La Rambla
- La Boquiera
- Plaça de Catalunya
- La Barceloneta
- Park Güell
- Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
- Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia
- La Sagrada Familia
…and food. Wow, did we really do all of that in 6 days??
We also met a handful of very fun strangers, from the honeymooning Americans for whom I shot some portraits, to Cecil who moved to Barcelona from Canada to start a design business, to Taylor the undergrad who was observing the fish at the harbor. Kazdyn of course was a magnet for folks trying to sell him pot. Go figure.
Speaking of which: Some food recommendations.
My personal restaurant recommendations for anyone traveling to Barcelona are
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