Alex Dani: Bilbao Carnival

The 5th of March 2011 is the day of the biggest fiestas in Bilbao, a city in the northern part of Spain. Bilbao is one of the cultural and industrial centers of the Basque region. People here are very friendly and joyful; they know how to party and drink Kalimotxo (the mixture of Coca-Cola and red wine), taste Txupitos (a tequila or vodka shot) and finish it with Pintxo (a small sandwich with tuna or jamon).  The Carnival events in Bilbao start at Gran Via and the procession of people dressed up in fancy costumes moves through the central streets of the city. With a population of more than 300,000 people during Carnival, almost everybody is dressed up as Batman, Superman or Donald Duck. You can have a coffee with Dracula sitting next to you or go to McDonalds with the Flintstones. Believe me it is unforgettable experience. At any point in the crowded streets, you’ll find musical groups stationed in plazas or in open air carts, accompanied by guitars and lutes. People are friendly and just dancing in the street.

This is a paradise for a photographer. You don’t need to look for themes and topics, just you have to be quick enough to spot everything you see through your rangefinder camera. I use both Nikon and Leica cameras, but during Carnival there is a trick. To celebrants the Leica camera seems to be a toy and people are always smiling, so sometimes they don’t even notice that you are a photographer and taking a picture of them. Many of my friends took pictures of everything they saw: family costumes where the whole family was dressed up in the same theme, carnival processions with giant toys, etc.

Personally I, decided to take the snapshots of children. They were very natural in their images: Dracula, Spiderman, Asterix, Batman. Try to find a kid who does not dream of becoming a superhero or his favorite cartoon character for a night. In Bilbao your childhood dreams come true.

I used my new Leica M9 camera with 90 mm Summarit-M lens. In Photoshop I just added some sharpness layers to make the photos look more realistic and, of course, I wanted to accentuate the colorful life in Bilbao. If you don’t have plans yet for the 5th of March 2012, I will see you in Bilbao. It is worth coming for.

-Alex Dani

Alex Dani is a fashion, advertising, nightlife photographer currently based in Bilbao, Spain. After graduating from art school in Ukraine four years ago, he spent two years traveling around the world accumulating conceptual original ideas and elaborating his unique style – true emotions,  fantastic dynamics and colors. His lifestyle photos portray the goodness of the human race, in the nightlife photography he highlights the devilish side of a young generation and fashion photos add a glamorous touch to his style. You can view more of Alex’s work on his website, http://alexdani.com.