At the end of the year it’s worth going through your photographs and deleting those that will not be needed again, trimming down all the family shoots to just the photos that featured on online galleries and perhaps downloading images from hard drives to DVD discs for archiving. It’s also a fun time to review the personal snaps, and attempts at personal projects from the last year. One set of images that stand out to me are some holiday images from El Rastro, Madrid, Spain.
I’m not an massively well-travelled chap and have never seriously involved myself with anything so high-fallutin’ as ‘travel’ or ‘documentary’ photography, but I do like to create strong images when abroad rather than bog-standad holiday snaps. As my wife, Lidia, is from Madrid, it’s a city I often find myself in and, as you’d expect, it’s a rich environment for photographic opportunities.
One location I love to visit when I can is El Rastro. El Rastro is the largest outdoor flea market in Europe and you can visit every Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm throughout the year. While it’s of course a major tourist draw, and stalls selling bits of tat are certainly to be found, the market retains plenty of Madrid authenticity. It’s a wonderful place to browse affordable antiques and bits of unique bric-a-brac and finish off with a drink and tapas.
Although the area is generally safe, it’s recommended to keep your bag secured at all time and be aware that pickpockets can sometimes be found. While incidents are few and far between it’s probably best not to take a top-drawer camera likely to attract attention. On the day I visited El Rastro I took an older DSLR and a small 85mm lens. The compact size and focal length meant I could mingle with the crowd and steal candids without being too close.
You can buy everything from leather goods, original or reproduction art, antiques, or hippy-dippy clothing. If I lived in Madrid I’d doubtless use El Rastro to create some sort of vintage boho home on the cheap. Haggling is all part of getting a good deal and vendors may be vivacious latin characters or world-weary folk that have been peddling their wares for too long.