Cadiz Carnival 2014


The Cadiz Carnival or CADIZ CARNAVAL as the local Gaditanos call it, is an amazing spectacle. Many ‘Gaditanians’ totally live for this event, all year round. For a town that inhabits 124,000 people the Carnaval in Cadiz is quite an amazing thing in itself, but if we told you it’s one of the biggest carnivals in the world, second to Rio de Janeiro, it sounds almost impossible. It takes place in the small old town, on the plazas and in the narrow streets, and it goes on for more than 2 weeks! In Cadiz the carnival is a small industry in itself, and for many of the inhabitants it’s a full time obsession. We’re amazed at the talent, flair and wit that exists in this small 3000 year old city.



The Cadiz carnival dates back to 1591. The Religious authorities already forbade students and priests join the feast on the streets. During the golden ages of trade with the Americas, Noblemen and rich merchants didn’t want to join the fun, maybe because the lyrics had already developed into a witty commentary towards the rulers and the powerful. Nowadays it is still famous for its musicality. The satirical Chirigotas take the city, they sing and play with amazing humour and expression, parody and word-plays. Some of them have simple costumes, while others are amazingly detailed. The Coros (choruses) who parade the Plazas on the first Sunday. We started taking pictures in La Viña, along with our student.



Shooting in crowds is difficult, and you have to be fast, because someone’s going to walk into the frame in a millisecond. So that would be the first tip:

1. Always be ready!

2. Eye contact
In crowds you look for compositional patterns (it’s always a question of where to crop) or details, facial expressions, moments of communication between people, and often people relating to you.

3. Get high!
One of the things you should do in a crowd is try to get high up (or sometimes low, if there’s space). Fortunately, one of the Luzia courses tutor – Ignacio Fando – knows people and places, and we were invited to shoot from a friend’s balcony in the most perfect location on Plaza Mina (Gracias Mer!). Shooting tops of heads can be a problem from above, so you don’t want to get too high. First or second floor is perfect. You also want to try to get people to look up, getting a ‘connection’ in a massive crowd. The reward for having flirted and dwelled a bit with the players while they were on the ground came as they recognised us up on the balcony. You don’t want too much waving or recognition, but the guy looking straight at the camera leads you into the image with more engagement.




The official Carnaval contest takes place at Gran Teatro Falla, and we at LUZIA were fortunate enough to follow the Chirigota winners ‘Esto si que es una chirigota’ in their final preparations before the final – which they won!!! This Chirigota perform a satire on politicians and the Spanish authorities, and it’s extremely funny, even if you don’t understand the language. Make no mistake, this is not a performance cobbled together at the last minute. We really recommend having a look at their stage performance on video because it’s a finely honed act and while it’s responsive to the feisty audience, it’s no amateur act, and it really shows the best of the Cadiz spirit and humour. Some of our shots are from the ‘dressing room’ in a local Peña where we were invited to hang out on the big night, and accompany the Chirigota winners to be through the streets to the El Falla theatre.


If this inspires you to come, we run themed photography courses in Cadiz.  Part of what we do is enable people to shoot in great locations and gain access where a visitor would never have a chance. As you can see, this year we backed a winner!

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