Geotagged Photo Storytelling

View Castilla Plana Project in a larger map or check the project page.

Have you ever been to a place that very few other people have a chance to visit? A place that is not “impressive” in the mainstream, flashy urban way. There are no amazing buildings, no glittering beaches, no spectacular waterfalls, nothing that can grab you by the throat and make your jaw drop. And yet, after you spend some time in it, you start discovering small, delicate things. Things that may seem unremarkable, perhaps even boring. But after a while, if you’re perceptive enough, you start to realize that each and every one of them has a little story to tell.

My story is about a place called Torrijos. A small town in the middle of Spain that no tourist would ever go to, even by mistake. I spent there a year and a half of my life. Among other things, I always kept my camera close. And it was through its lens that really discovered the place for myself.

Central Spain is not like the coast and it doesn’t fit any of the widespread known stereotypes about the country. It’s a barren, inhospitable land, flat as a tortilla. In fact, it’s so strikingly flat that it invokes illusions of grandeur in your mind. Because when you’re out there in the open field you’re the highest thing around and when there aren’t many other objects you can measure up to, you not only lose sense of distance and size, you feel like you’re carrying the sky on your own shoulders. Remember Don Quixote? He may have been a fictional character but his prototype was not. It came from here and it remains here, constantly reincarnated, reinvented and reinterpreted, it’s a remarkable proof of how geography can shape the human psyche.

It’s an unique story but I wasn’t sure how to tell it until I started geotagging my photo archive with pictures from the region. I caught myself playing with the map, revisiting all the places I know, remembering conversations, events, emotions. And then I thought well, maybe I can “pin” the whole story on a Google map, instead of writing it on a page and decorating it with photos. Instead, I will have different colored pins and each one will be independent of the rest. There will be no beginning and no end. You can click on as many pins as you want, look, read, zoom in and out. That’s pretty much how I discovered the place for myself.

If it works for me, it should work for other people too, right? So here are the humble beginnings of the Castilla Plana project. Take it as a beta version. It has enough pins for an introduction and the rest will come gradually, bit by bit, as I update it in the next few months. Wish me inspiration.

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