I love shooting Carnival in the Dominican Republic. Both the energy, and the participation of the people, make for an incredible experience. Different from other countries or cities, every major province in the Dominican Republic has a Carnival. Its content, significance and costumes are unique. Moreover, each celebration takes place on a different date, so if you so choose, you can be in a different town experiencing a different celebration every Sunday for three months starting in February.
In the Dominican Republic, Carnival mimics the spirit of its people, always happy, always celebrating. One of the most famous celebrations is in La Vega, a small city a couple of hours away from the capital of Santo Domingo. Here they take Carnival to the extreme, performing every Sunday in February, four days of celebration in a month. The main attraction characters of La Vega, are the Devils or “Diablos,” who carry inflated cow bladders covered in rubber (vejigas) and hit you as they dance through the streets…. painful but fun.
I always profess that good photography is a by-product of the experience; you have to be in the moment, be part of it, and live it, to be able to make interesting and meaningful images. Photographing this Carnival in that manner is one of the most complex shoots you could ever attempt.
Long lenses and shooting from afar, especially cultural events, is not in my book. You have to dance, sing, interact with people, have a beer or two and in this case, endure the painful caress of the “vejiga.”