Barcelona street photography. Our new 4 day photo workshop for 2023 / 2024
Our Barcelona street photography course is a 4 day photo workshop. New to 2023, we have created a fully immersive itinerary brought about from years of experience in guiding our clients in the Raval, Borne, Gothic Quarter, Barceloneta and other neighbourhoods of the city. This workshop is specifically designed for street photographers, carefully planned to take advantage of the best light in the most photogenic locations. We have recommended the ideal camera equipment needed for successful street photography in past blog posts, but in short, we suggest small, discrete cameras and lenses that don’t get in the way of our subjects or shooting experience. For street photographers, Barcelona will not disappoint. Thanks to an open and friendly society, the local residents are some of the most engaging subjects for street photography found anywhere in the world. The city is home to a multi-cultural society, while also proudly retaining it’s Catalan traditions. From tattoo-clad youngsters on skateboards, to market traders sharing a kind word with elders, Barcelona offers an extraordinary insight into the lives of it’s residents. Likewise, thanks to some wonderful backgrounds for adding context, environmental portraits play a large part in our shooting experience. Ideally, this workshop will be run as a private tour, though we will also be running it for small groups on scheduled dates. You can click here to view information on all of our photo walks, tours and workshops in Barcelona. Below is our daily itinerary showing how we spend each day for the Barcelona street photography workshop.
Day 1 | Barceloneta – El Borne
We meet in the morning at our hotel in Barcelona where we will introduce ourselves, discuss the days ahead and talk about our photographic goals. As the workshop is specifically designed for street photography, we will briefly go over how the time will be used each day, etiquette between the other photographers in the group, and how taking candid photographs of strangers is perceived by the locals of Barcelona. As avoiding harsh light is crucial to capturing subjects at their best, our days will consist of shooting based around morning golden hour and afternoon golden hour in order to capture scenes full of shadows, contrast, depth and saturated colours. After sunset, we will take advantage of the lower light levels by adding movement with slower shutter speeds. We will take a couple of hours break in the middle of the day when the sun is at it’s highest point.
We start our day by heading to the beachfront by way of the famous Las Ramblas. Strolling down this pedestrian boulevard at our own pace, we will become acquainted with our environment while getting into our stride for the days ahead. Street photography usually requires a high amount of potential subjects wandering around, and as the Ramblas cuts through the Raval and La Ribera districts, we will take advantage of pedestrian traffic walking along and crossing through it. Arriving to the seafront in the Barceloneta district, offers a glimpse into the lives of the locals as they exercise along the palm-lined promenade and relax at the beach by the Mediterranean sea. Barceloneta has an interesting mix of urban decay and urban renewal, that makes for some great contextual backgrounds. During lunch at one of the local restaurants overlooking the port, we will go over the fundamental principles of street photography, styles, techniques, camera settings and how to approach our subjects in a variety of situations. In the afternoon, we will head to one of our favourite neighbourhoods for street photography. The Borne district is a myriad of narrow, Medieval streets, lined with tall, residential blocks. Designer boutiques, cafes, art galleries, restaurants and markets make this area visited by locals from around the city as well as the locals that reside here. In Medieval times, parts of the Borne would actually be located at the shoreline. Due to a shortage of space, landfill was added to extend the city into what is now the Barceloneta neighbourhood. With wonderfully decayed backgrounds together with the directional late afternoon light, the avid street photographer can be rewarded with stunning images from the Borne.
Day 2 | Encants – Sant Marti – El Raval
Our second day starts at the exciting Encants flea market. One of the oldest flea markets in the world, it has been running continuously since the 14th Century. Up until 2013, traders would lay out their wares in a chaotic mess in a designated open area. Since then, the market has been transformed into one of Europe’s most impressive buildings. This purpose-built 3 storey structure has a roof like nowhere else. Set at different angles, an amazing mirrored canopy covers 500 stalls, a mix of antiques, books, ornaments, clothes, furniture and just about every item of junk you can think of. The Encants flea market makes for a great morning of photographing the locals in a wonderfully photogenic location. The flea market makes up part of Sant Marti – the district with the most recent urban development and transformation of the former industrial area of Poblenou. Using the ultra-modern architecture that lines the Diagonal Mar street as a backdrop, we will also spend time capturing the action in this dynamic and upcoming part of the city.
In the afternoon, we will visit the Raval – Barcelona’s oldest district. Situated on the south side of the Ramblas, the Raval was located within the city walls until they were knocked down in 1859 as the city began to expand. In contrast to the Eixample neighbourhood with it’s perfectly placed octagonal buildings, tree-lined boulevards and Bentleys parked in front of top designer stores, the Raval is typically known for it’s large-scale immigration, poverty and other social issues. Unsurprisingly, this makes the Raval probably the top location for street photography in the city. Laundry-clad facades line winding, narrow streets. Graffiti seems to be everywhere, as are the amazing photo opportunities on offer. One of our favourite hangouts is outside the MACBA [Modern Art Museum]. An open plaza with pedestrians passing through, skateboarders come to meet and practice their skills in front of the glass facade. Behind this building, you will explore another great spot where people add scale to an impressive blend of classical and modern architecture at the CCCB [Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture]. But just wandering around the residential areas, searching for directional lighting at the numerous intersections, composing little elderly ladies in front of urban decay as they come back with their groceries from the market, to a friendly chat before photographing tattoo-covered subjects that are often willing to oblige to be photographed – the Raval is the kind of location that you can return to time and again.
Day 3 | Gothic Quarter – La Boqueria – La Ribera
On day 3 we start early as we arrive to the Gothic Quarter during morning Golden Hour. This district is especially beautiful at this time of day, when the light makes the wonderful stone architecture literally glow. Deep shadows and directional lighting create depth and atmosphere. These types of backgrounds are best suited without crowds of people, but rather picking out individuals when they pass into pockets of light at the decisive moment. Historical documents claim the true history of Barcelona began right where the Gothic Quarter stands today because this is where the Romans laid claim to the land and built their first settlement, which was fortified by the addition of a thick wall that rose up to a full 60 feet and boasted 78 towers. Within the Gothic Quarter lies the old Jewish Quarter [known locally as El Call], and is notable for containing the oldest Synagogue in Europe. As well as housing the Santa Eulalia Cathedral dating back to the 13th Century, the Gothic Quarter retains a labyrinthine street plan, with many small streets opening out into quaint open Plazas. The Gothic Quarter is undoubtedly Barcelona’s most photogenic section of the city.
When the light gets harsh, we will head to the famous La Boqueria market at the Ramblas. Local farmers have been trading here since as far back as 1217. Initially a meat market, by the 14th Century, farmers sold their products here that were grown around the villages surrounding Barcelona. Today, it stands as one of the world’s premiere markets with it’s wonderful scope of quality local and international gastronomic products. Apart from the enormous variety of fresh products on offer, there are some excellent tapas bars located here. It’s not everyday that you see people dining as a butcher passes by with a Jamon slung over his shoulder. As the light is lower inside the market, it is also a great place to practice adding movement into our shots. The fun, dynamic and lively Boqueria Market is an excellent location for environmental portrait photography. Making use of the wonderful light during afternoon Golden Hour, we will wander through La Ribera and explore the labyrinth of cramped, residential areas. La Ribera is one of the areas of the quarter of Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i La Ribera of Ciutat Vella [the Old City]. This is the perfect area to go over the various camera techniques and settings that we have learned to date. Due to the fast-paced nature of street photography, deciding which settings to use, and consequently navigating around the camera quickly, means there is a lot to learn. We aim to simplify the process and help you take control of the camera, as well as showing you the importance of patience, predicting a scene, engaging with your subject, and being confident in your surroundings.
Day 4 | Gracia District – Eixample
On day 4 we will head to the metro station and head up to the Gracia district. Dating back to the 17th Century and previously a separate village located outside of Barcelona, Gracia was integrated within the city when the Eixample was being constructed. Gracia is known as the most authentically Catalan neighbourhood of Barcelona. In contrast to the multicultural districts located around the centre, Gracia is known for it’s unusual mix of elderly and pro-independence residents. The Catalan language is spoken far more here. Even the restaurant menus are often only written in Catalan. Likewise you will see more pro-independence flags and graffiti here than anywhere else in the city. This quaint district is self sufficient in it’s own unique way. Markets, stores, cafes and restaurants abound, and you get the sense of a village environment, compared to the bustle around the Ramblas. Our morning will be spent wandering around the area searching for subjects that reflect this authentically unique district. We will enjoy our farewell meal at one of our favourite restaurants serving traditional Catalan cuisine.
From Gracia we will walk down through the beautiful, tree lined Paseo de Gracia of the Eixample district until reaching our hotel, where we will spend time going over our selected images to date. We believe that a critique of our images will help us understand what makes an image stand out from the crowd. Being self critical and striving for quality rather than quantity is crucial in order to grow at successful street photography. We will also discuss post processing techniques, and some of the most important tools used in Photoshop Lightroom. After our group critique, we will exchange contact information and bid you farewell.