Traveling Through Europe for Photography

So I’ve been traveling through Europe recently and I wanted go and see the spectacle that happens in Spain every year known as the La Tomatina. For those who don’t know La Tomatina is basically a huge tomato fight that takes place in the Valencian town of Bunol. The festival happens during the last Wednesday of August every year and involves over 150,000 tomatoes and about 20000 people chucking them. I wanted to go down and check it out since it had been on my bucket list for quite a while since my friend showed me pictures of it. I thought it would be a good opportunity to take some pictures and witness some of the chaos that was going on. I travelled down from the Basque country by bus, which took longer than expected but it was also nice to see some of the scenery and how it changed from the lush Basque country down into the dryer Valencia region.

At La Tomatina the fight commences at about 10 am with a gun shot. There are few rules that people abide by so there isn’t any unnecessary injuries, although sometimes a black eye can be expected. Firstly only squashed tomatoes should be thrown. Some of the more unripe ones can actually do quite a lot of damage. These tomatoes are grown specifically for the tomato fight, because they are big and juicy but they lack the taste that is desired from eating tomatoes. They are also easy to grow and ripen at exactly the right time of the year. The second rule is that no one should throw anything but tomatoes. The tomato throwers should also give way to trucks and lorries. Fourthly, no ripping of shirts is allowed, and finally when the final shot is fired, no more tomatoes are allowed to be thrown. So, believe it or not, there is some structure going on beneath the chaos.

I wanted to take pictures of the festival but of course I couldn’t be down on the streets because my camera would immediately be smashed by tomatoes. Luckily, I had a plan. I made friends with a man who had an apartment overlooking a street where the fight took place. When he found out I was a photographer who was here to take pictures he kindly offered his apartment to shoot from. Thank you very much Manuel. It turned out to be a great decision to take him up on his offer, because not only did I have a great view to take pictures from but he provided us with canapés and drinks throughout the morning. When the fight was over I was feeling tipsy. To anybody seeking adventure in Europe in the summer time I would highly recommend going along to the festival at the end of August and getting ‘stuck in.’ It might be useful to organize your trip slightly in advance since only 15,000 tickets are issued to foreigners, the rest going to locals and they cost 10 Euros.

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