Holi Colour Festival Barcelona 2015 Photos
The Holi colour festival in Barcelona – ‘The Crazy Holy Color Party’ in other parlance – is an annual event in Barcelona that we photographers love! The Holi Festival originates from India, and has spread around the world. Worshippers and revellers alike cover each other in brightly coloured powders, so the crowd transforms from glowing white to a myriad of hues in impressive rainbow explosions. There are countdowns for this, so the photographers are standing by for these beautifully photogenic moments.
Sitare from the Holi Festival has an excellent open approach for the photographers – anyone can get access to the steps for an elevated position above the festival for free if they apply; you needn’t be an accredited professional photographer. This is excellent; we know from teaching photography in Barcelona, London and around the world that often keen, talented amateurs are just as talented as full-time pro photographers, especially with continual training to keep up to date with the latest photography techniques. The Holi colour festival proves this time and again as photographers of all levels of experience come to take photos of the colours in Carmel.
One major question they have is how to protect the camera from the coloured powder. The best solution is to use a waterproof camera or a waterproof housing so you can wash the camera afterwards. Some models, and Pentax stands out for this, make their cameras tougher and with more weather sealing than others, so they are great for taking photos of Holi colour festivals. The most popular technique is to use plastic bags and duct tape, together with a UV protective filter, to shield the camera. This can work pretty well, though it does make it trickier to compose the pictures. Many photographers simply opt for the ‘dangerous wildlife’ approach to photography; using long voyeuristic telephoto lenses to take photos of the people at the Holi colour festival from a safe distance. Other more dedicated photographers get into the midst of the fray and are necessarily rewarded with more engaging pictures.
Having done done both approaches in previous years, and with my professional flash equipment lent to one of our alumni, I brought along a white background, a large silver reflector and most importantly, a Bluetooth speaker loaded up with Clandestino by Manu Chao, and set up a mini walk-in studio. I was fortunate enough to find an assistant, Daniel Lopez (https://www.facebook.com/dadasphotography) who did a great job photographing the groups – you can see his pictures on his Facebook page. The idea with the white background was to get a clean, high key feel a la Avedon. The event itself was messy and, in the middle of the action, a blur of colour, so I used a slower shutter speed to give a sense of Impressionistic movement. The hard sunlight was used for standard butterfly lighting, with the silver reflector used for fill to brighten up the images and add an interesting catchlight to the ubiquitous sunglasses. Amusingly, a toddler with a water pistol adopted the reflector at one point as a huge frisbee, and many colourful festival-goers thought it was a shiny circular mat.
The other photographs were taken more candidly around the Holi Colour festival in Barcelona. At the sight of the camera, most groups would ask for photos and double in size as nearby party-goers joined the picture. The crowd itself, and particularly the people, aloft like Catalan castellers, who stood out above it, were photogenic and became more symbols than individuals. Certainly a great many photographers were there, so it’s with pleasure that I look at the same scenes photographed from multiple different angles as the pictures of the Holi Colour Festival appear on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Here are some of the photos from the Holi festival; you can share them with friends legally as long as the watermark stays intact. High resolution ‘fotos’ without watermarks are available too on request.