Ben Pipe: Semana Santa
When Ben Pipe saw photos of Semana Santa, he knew it was an event he had to photograph himself. That was years ago, and it wasn’t until this spring that he was able to get to Spain and take part in the event he’d been waiting so long for. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, takes place each year in Spain and is celebrated to commemorate the Passion of Jesus Christ leading into Easter Sunday. Members of the Catholic brotherhoods march throughout the streets, and though the event is religious in nature, it is famous for its celebratory qualities, with huge floats, fantastic costumes, and crowds of people staying out until all hours of the night. Seville is said to host some of the most elaborate processions in all of the country, and this is where Ben headed for his shoot.
I enjoy getting involved in local traditions and festivals when documenting a country. It is a chance to photograph the people and customs of a destination, and to show a side of the place that might only be seen a few days a year.
Thanks to some flight complications due to a strike in France, Ben’s initial flight was cancelled. He had to miss a day and a half of the festival, so when he finally got there, he was ready to hit the streets with his camera rolling. He enjoys using “fast, prime lenses” to isolate subjects, which is exactly what he did in this bustle of culture, people, and costumes.
After a couple of days I discovered the official app which allows you to track each procession’s progress through the city, allowing one to be in the right place at the right time—that helped enormously!
Ben shot the festival from Wednesday until its climax on Easter Sunday. The crowds were massive, but he was able to make his way through the city to see how the celebration was taking place in different areas throughout. On the last couple days, he also explored parts of Seville that were untouched by festivities—such as some classic Seville landmarks, architecture, and café culture.
In the future, he hopes to photograph Semana Santa in other areas in the region. “It would be good to see how it unfolds in one of the smaller villages or towns in Andalucia, where each have their own unique take on the festival,” says Ben.
To view more of Ben’s work, visit benpipe.com!