Alright, so let's start with the most important question: what went through my head when I decided to book tickets to Barcelona 9 hours before departure without knowing anything about or anyone in Barcelona?
So let me try to answer that question real quick. I've thought about going to Barcelona to shoot for quite some time now. When my schedule cleared up super spontaneous and a friend asked if I wanted to go somewhere I was totally up for a trip. Unfortunately my friend totally dumped me with our plan (just kidding, she got sick), so I wasn't sure if I should go without any preparation all by myself. Well, eventually I decided it was a great idea to book my tickets and just risk it (it was 9pm and the flight left at 6am).
As motivated as I was, I took it to Instagram and Facebook to try and find some local people to shoot or just hang out with, as that's the way I usually do it when traveling somewhere, and went to sleep.
When I arrived in Barcelona at around 10am the next day the only thing that was going through my head was 'what am I doing here?'. I haven't gotten any feedback from my posts on social media and I didn't even have a place to sleep. So I decided to try to find a Starbucks and do some research. After around two hours of googling I just wanted to go and walk around the city a bit and look for some locations to shoot at (I still didn't have any athletes to shoot, but still, maybe I'd find someone). Keep in mind, I had to carry my camera bag, which feels like 100kg, with me all day long as I still haven't found a place to stay at yet. So after running around the city all day long in the sun looking at some locations, getting a bad sunburn and being super exhausted, I went back to Starbucks to try to find a place to sleep online (around 7pm and I still haven't had a place to stay and no people to shoot with – that's when I got a little worried).
I eventually found a hostel to stay at, at around 8pm and finally could do some more research on athletes in Barcelona.
I thought that I wanted to share with you how I found all the athletes in the end, as I do get asked this question quite often.
Usually what I do is post on Facebook and Instagram if someone knows someone in a city and that worked quite well until now. Unfortunately it didn't work this time at all, so I had to get creative. At one moment I came up with the idea of looking for past breaking and BMX events in Barcelona on Facebook and I actually found one past BBoy battle. Then I just had to go through everyone who clicked on 'going' on the event, look for local BBoys and write them a message (it sounds way easier writing it now as it was in that situation). Unfortunately I couldn't find any BMX events on Facebook so I stepped up my game and googled for local BMX shops in Barcelona. I found one, looked it up on Instagram, went through their followings looking for local riders and contacted them. When I was finished with that, I went though the followings of the people I just contacted again, repeating the same procedure. If you think that that's a lot of work right now, hell yeah you're right! But if that's what you gotta do. It was worth it though as I had around 10 responses the next morning (I couldn't really believe it neither – thank you holy social media). Luckily some of those 10 people were super spontaneous and motivated as well.
That's when I decided I should still do some sightseeing so I went to see the famous Sagrada Familia. I spent around 5 minutes walking around it and then went straight back to the hostel to pick up my camera gear and meet a BMX rider to shoot (that was way more important than old buildings in that moment).
Alessandro (the rider I met up with) was really amazing and he is one of the most positive persons I've ever met. We had an awesome day just riding around Barcelona shooting and sharing the best vibes ever. At the end of the shoot we decided to meet up again the next morning for a sunrise shoot at a spot, where you could see the whole city (that's the advantage of shooting locals as they know the best spots).
The third day in Barcelona was pretty packed as I managed to fit three shoots for that day (who would've thought I would be able to find that many people to shoot? Not me!).
So the first shoot was with Alessandro. The spot he took me to was one of the most beautiful places in Barcelona for sure. We had an amazing sunrise and took some incredible shots (we even met some Austrian people up there).
After that we hadt breakfast and Alessandro invited me to chill at his place. That's when I met his super nice girlfriend and his great roommate. I can't really describe Alessandro as I feel like everyone should meet him in person as he's just one of the kindest persons out there and his positivity makes everything way better. So it was amazing I got to meet him and I definitely will come back to visit him.
After that it was time to take the one picture I've had in my mind from the first day when I walked around the city. Luckily I found an amazing Swedish BMX rider who's living in Barcelona now who could do the trick I needed to get this shot. We just hadaround one hour to shoot as Benjamin had to go to work afterwards. We worked perfectly as a team though and got every shot in just a couple tries. So I got the shot that I had in my mind pretty quick and we still had some time for some portraits and another action shot. I won't share 'The One Shot' here right know as I want it to be shown big on my website first so stay tuned for that.
The last shoot of the day was with BBoy JohnnyFox. He told me that he just competed at the Red Bull BC One Cyper Spain and got into the top 16, so just that you know how good he is. He was an incredible person as well, just super friendly and motivated. Unfortunately we didn't have a lot of time with this shoot neither as it was getting dark pretty quickly but we still got a couple really good shots.
Here are a couple more behind the scenes shots from that day. And keep in mind that the pictures I share here are mostly none of the final ones. The final ones are going to be shown on my website soon or on my social media channels.
So let's try and round this whole story up. In the beginning I was a little scared of what was going to happen, as I've never done a trip with that little preparation. It ended up being an amazing experience though. I had some challenges to overcome and I had to get creative to figure out how to handle those challenges, but I definitely learned a lot from that.
I'm also incredibly happy that I got the chance to meet all these amazing people. One of the things I like most about photography is to get the chance to meet and work with new people. Trips like this one prove my fascination right over and over again. I feel like there are not too many better things than getting to know new and amazing people all over the world, so I feel really honored to be able to experience that.
I think that's actually it for this post. I hope it was interesting to read, maybe you got some inspiration from it and maybe it was a little fun as well. Thanks a lot for reading this one (if you read it, otherwise thanks for clicking on it and improving my statistics) and please let me know if you liked it and what you would like to read in the next post.
Oh yeah and check out the amazing athletes and show them some support on Instagram at: @alessandrodonaggio | @benjakerman | @johnnyfox95