The religious attire that is worn during the festival has obviously developed sinister connotations due to similar clothing being adopted by the Ku Klux Klan. Arguably, this makes it an important subject to document, shedding light on a tradition that has no associations with the Ku Klux Klan’s ideologies. Providing a window into this unique celebration was one of Chris’ motivations: “I wanted to explain Semana Santa to others that don’t understand what holy week is,” he says.
A self-confessed traditionalist, Chris shoots solely in black and white, having learned the art of black and white printing as an understudy to the expert Robin Bell. Besides this, he does not adhere to one style. He chooses to shoot in a way that comes naturally to him based on his influences.
“I don’t really see that I have any style as such, if anything I am just following in the footsteps of my inspirations. I suppose the medium format cameras that I use give a certain style or look to an image as it is square – I have always preferred the square image,” he says, citing how he also feels more comfortable using these cameras that allow him to look down into the viewfinder.
The images in the series often focus on the people taking part in this fascinating festival, clad in a variety of eye-catching outfits. Some show the manic and busy nature of the festival, whilst others show tender and calmer moments, most notably, one man walks ahead of the pack dressed as a centurion.
Amassing such a variety of images was achieved by revisiting the festival each year, it is a kind of artistic immersion that Chris has long been a fan of. He goes on to explain that, “many of my projects take a very long time to produce, often done over a period of years.”
The time taken to produce this particular project was exacerbated further due to Chris self-publishing and self-funding it. “The last six years have been a real labour of love for me,” he says. “It has been hard work at times, but fundamentally I wanted to make a guide to Semana Santa, and try and explain what it is and what it means to the people of El Cabanyal.”