Barcelona multiculturalism and urban culture are interesting themes for photography
European cities like Barcelona are known for a number of iconic representations of urban culture. Skaters, graffiti, multiculturalism are the protagonists of this post about Barcelona urban photography
When I arrived to Barcelona I had to re-set my definition of Street photography. Taking photographs of strangers in the streets and in public places was not well accepted. However the city was full of elements that fostered creativity and elements of urban culture becoming an iconic representation of the city. Let’s see some ideas:
1- Graffiti: Graffiti represents a multicultural and multirracial Barcelona, it critizes social problems and exposes the impact of mass media. I think due to their creativity, originality and beauty, graffiti is the perfect frame for some of the best Barcelona urban photography.
Although the golden age of graffiti in Barcelona is far back to the nineties and beginning of the 2000, and despite stygmatization, now many people call it art. Commercial art galleries and internet became the new places were graffiti artists found funding, recognition and autonomy for their projects. Now there are areas in the city where artists can legally practice their art and receive exposure. There are even art tours only dedicated to this and in our Barcelona photography tour we include some of the good ones (if you are interested in watching more, just let us know filling the form down below)
2- Barcelona skateboarding scene: Barcelona started attracting skaters back in the 1990 that were looking for a non expensive city to gather with some ideal conditions: mediterranean climate, beach flavour and an open and relaxed environment. Today it is still one of the best spots for skateboarding in Europe. You just need to go to the Macba square to watch it, but not only there or in the city center, also in other areas like Badalona or the Port Forum where spaces are adapted to exercise skateboarding. Skaters in Barcelona find little trouble among residents or the police to exercise and the Macba (Modern Museum) has even set oficial days for them to practice: Tuesday and Sunday evenings. Although almost everyday you’ll find them hanging out in the area.
Skaters are the best theme for motion photography in Barcelona and some scenarios like Macba offer an ideal environment and architecture
3- Multicultural: Barcelona is not only Gaudi and modernist architecture. In the area of Raval is were live more people from diverse social, cultural and geographical backgrounds, but anyone visiting Barcelona will notice the “Top Manta”, a group of sellers showing a range of luxury goods (most of them of fake design) on a blanket (manta). Most of them are of African origins who go to touristic sites of the city to offer handbags, sunglasses and clothes to tourists.
It not only happens in Barcelona, the multicultural suburb bursts the touristic façade of many European cities that blend architectural gems, luxury stores, high cuisine, touristic souvenirs and the street sale of a fake copy of luxury brands for a lower price.
There are also vendors of different origins selling goods and souvenirs in the streets close to touristic sites. But what I think is great news in Barcelona is that some of the “manteros” (vendors) managed to create their own fashion brand (Top Manta) sorting out the way to find suppliers and legitimising their, now illegal, sale. Their idea is to start selling “top manta” products instead the pirated ones. But the main source of the problem of manteros is the fact that they are undocumented migrants excluded from the mainstream labor market that suffer everyday persecution by the police for their unlicensed sales.
This will take us to another city that might not be the one we wanted to catch in our Barcelona urban photography unless we have a real documentary intention to depict the street life as in real street photography.
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