Photographing Tomatina is difficult. At first you think it’s all good fun and then all of sudden the trucks come and you’re being pushed and pelted with tomatoes from every direction, especially if you have a selfie stick. I’m not saying my photos from Tomatina are amazing, but I did get a few good ones alongside enjoying the action, and I definitely learned a few tips for next time, and for you…
1. Take a GoPro
Tomatina is no place for fancy cameras, or non-waterproof cameras, or I’d say even the recommended disposable cameras sold on the streets. If you want to get any sort of decent photo get yourself a GoPro, or some lookeylikey cheaper, same same but different make.
Imitation GoPros start from around £40 at Amazon, or go for the real deal…
2. And a selfie stick
Be warned that this selfie stick will make you a target for tomato throwers, but so long as you don’t mind standing there while tomatoes are pelted at your face, just for the photo, you’re good. Tomatina is such a closed crowd there’s no way you could get any sort of crowd photo or see what’s going on without one. My best shots were when I held the GoPro up high.
I saw some people with Go Pros on their chest straps – this just isn’t going to work. Once the trucks come in everyone is pressed together to make way for them to drive through and so all your Go Pro will get is the dark of a mm space between you and the person in front.
I don’t think you’d get much with a head strap either – it’s just not high enough. A selfie stick is the only way.
3. Don’t bother with your phone
Now that I’ve seen what happens, there’s no way I’d take my phone to Tomatina. It’s just too crazy and too wet. I’ve got the GoPro app and was planning all these cool ways to take pics and then I just bailed at the last minute and left my phone on the bus. So glad I did. There’s no way I would’ve been able to hold my phone and my GoPro on a stick, and keep my footing and my sunglasses. Never mind fend off the tomatoes that were aiming for me.
4. Get close to the pole
Now that I look at my photos I wasn’t quite close enough to the pole for the GoPro to pick up well. I was close enough to be comfortable – without being in the direct line for the fat they were throwing from the pole – but not quite close enough for a good shot.
5. Get high, before the tomatoes come
If you want some good crowd shots try to get up on a pillar or a balcony. I’d advise you to move as soon as the trucks come though, the big-camera-photographers who looked so cocky about their viewing points were suddenly getting annihilated with tomatoes until they got down to be among the crowds.
6. Take the hits
I stood there for at least 5 minutes getting absolutely pelted with tomatoes all in the name of good footage, in fact, I actually have footage of my sunglasses being knocked off to the floor and then bending down to try and find them. If you want the shots though, you gotta take some.
7. Hang around after
The best photos – the ones where people are jumping in the tomatoes – are taken at the end when everyone’s walking back to the coach park. As much as you may want to, don’t just escape the tomatoey street as soon as you can, hang around to find some willing subjects for your photography skills and you’ll be rewarded.
8. Take before and after shots
If you’ve gone with friends make sure to get some before and after pics. And do a few selfies too – it’s pretty funny to watch how your ‘look’ changes after being pelted with 50 tomatoes.
9. Make sure you’re well charged
I charged my GoPro up the night before, all ready. I was so paranoid something would go wrong. I even decided to bring my trusty external Power Bank charger, and just before I went to bed I gave it an extra battery boost. In the morning I wrapped it up with my recommended €10 to bring in a plastic jiffy bag and stuck it down my bra as the two things I would bring to Tomatina – an external charger and some money. It wasn’t until I’d lost one bar of battery from taking photos of people climbing the pole that I thought I’d charge it up. It was then that I realised that when I’d gone to give it the extra boost I’d changed the lead so it no longer had an attachment on the end that would plug into my GoPro.
My GoPro lasted, just. And the charger still works despite being drenched, tomatoed and against my sweaty body. Just another lesson learned by me, to pass onto you. Check your chargers, leads and batteries at least twice before you leave the house!
10. Lick the lens
This is a trick I learned from a friend in the Adirondacks. If you’re in a humid, steamy environment, like Tomatina, your screen will fog up and ruin your photos (see above). Lick the casing where the lens is and the fog will disappear. You need to do this every few minutes at Tomatina – mmmm squashed tomatoes.
Photographing Tomatina: a warning
As I’ve said, don’t take anything you wouldn’t be prepared to lose. I was totally paranoid about my GoPro but I knew I had good insurance if I needed, although if I told them I’d taken it into a tomato fight with 20,000 other people I’m not sure of the payout.
I went to Tomatina with Busabout, which was great as I didn’t have to work out the logistics of getting there and back. Take a look at my Tomatina Survival Guide on the Busabout website if you’re planning on going next year, you’ll need it!