In the tiny town of Sant Guim de la Plana (Catalunya, Spain) something very impressive has been happening for the past 33 years. Despite only having a population of 70, they manage to put on a spectacular display that can bring in up to 10,000 visitors over the Christmas period.
Most people bought up in a Christian or Catholic country will probably be familiar with the typical nativity scene, or ‘pessebre’ as it’s known here. A typical scene is made with figures made of cardboard or some kind of plastic dough and placed on display where it represents the birth of Jesus. I can remember making figures at school that would proudly go on display by the school entrance for visitors to see.
Spain being Spain always takes things one step further and the nativity scene has not escaped. In Sant Guim de la Plana they have nearly 300 volunteers who perform a living nativity scene, or should I say 32 different scenes. Each scene portrays life during the time of the birth of Jesus. One of the largest scenes shows the typical stable with Mary holding a baby Jesus, complete with an angel floating about the stable. However, the other scenes mainly focus on traditional crafts that would have been done in this region during that time. Almost everything is as real as possible, from the fruit in the markets, the farm animals and even the warm food that filled the kitchens with an amazing smell.
I really enjoy shoots like this and being able to go behind the scenes and get to know the performers both before and after the 3-hour event is a real highlight. There’s something special about people who volunteer their time to create performances like this, having the passion and love for something that serves no other purpose other to entertain makes documenting things like this a joy,
Young and old preparing for the performance. Shot on a Canon 5D MKII 1/160 f3.5 ISO 2000
Preparations take place in a small room. Shot on a Canon 5D MKII 1/125 f3.5 ISO 2000
An elderly woman walks on her way to get into position. Shot on a Canon 5D MKII 1/50 f4 ISO 2000
Geese squawk as a volunteer adds the last details to a scene. Shot on a Canon 5D MKII 1/250 f2.8 ISO 2000
Final preparations are made before the doors open to the public. Shot on a Canon 5D MKII 1/60 f2.8 ISO 2000
A young girl can’t help but look to see if the crowds are arriving. Shot on a Sony a6000 1/60 f4 ISO 2000
As the doors open the performers stay motionless as spectators pass by. Shot on a Canon 5D MKII 1/6 f7.5 ISO 1000
The pessebre is hugely popular with photographers. Shot on a Canon 5D MKII 1/100 f2.8 ISO 2000
Many aspects of life are included in the performance. Shot on a Sony a6000 1/20 f3.5 ISO 3200
The experience is ended by cooking toast on an open fire. Shot on a Sony a6000 1/45 f4 ISO 3200