When we think about Mardi Gras carnivals, most often the first locations that come to mind are Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, and perhaps Trinidad. But the start of the Lenten season is celebrated in many parts of the world with the outpouring of dance, music, color, and joy known as Carnival. While each region’s celebrations have a few elements in common–typically the all include grand parades with samba dancers and floats, all decorated in lavish costumes–there are many notable regional differences. For example, in my home in the San Francisco Bay Area, Carnaval SF is unique for its array of “comparsas” (samba school contingents) representing the cultural traditions of all of Latin America and the Caribbean as well as parts of Asia.
This year I had the great pleasure of capturing Mardi Gras Carnival images on assignment in Funchal, capital of the tiny island group of Madeira. While politically a part of Portugal, Madeira is located off the coast of Morocco in North Africa and has a decidedly different cultural flair than what is found in mainland Portugal. Samba and Carnival were essentially invented by African slaves in Brazil while it was a Portuguese colony, and the samba parade traditions have migrated back to Portugal where celebrations are held throughout the country. Given its location between Africa and Europe, Madeira combines distinct cultural traditions from both regions and offers a special flavor of Carnival that I found exhilarating. And best of all, the celebrations roll on over a whole week with numerous events, retaining a true local flavor with few tourists.
My wife and I recently returned from two weeks of travel in Europe to fulfill several of my photography assignments. I’ll publish separate posts in the coming weeks covering some of those professional assignments. In today’s post we’ll explore the vibrant capital cities of Lisbon, Berlin, and Barcelona. While each of these three cities has a personality very much its own, I’m hoping my images will demonstrate that photographing cities, like photographing people, is all about looking for what we have in common even as we celebrate our differences. Urban photography is special to me because cities are the places where history, architecture, and culture often align most dramatically to paint a full picture of how we live today. Note that all of these images and many more are available to view and, if desired, to purchase; just click on any image to view the gallery. Enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed these favorite images from three great European cities, along with my descriptions of how the images were made. To view more images, or perhaps to purchase a few, just click on any of the photos to go to the gallery.
What are your favorite techniques or images from your urban photography? Do you have urban themes you like to document wherever you travel? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.