The Holy Ghost festas are spring and summer weekend festivals celebrating Portuguese culture and the Sainthood of Queen Isabel of Portugal.
Festas are hosted by Portuguese councils in various cities across California. These councils elect young queens to represent their communities and participate in a procession to and from Sunday Mass. Each Queen designs an elaborate and colorful hand-stitched cape they wear, and floats with statues of many Saints are also carried during these processions. Afterward, all attendees are treated to a communal meal of sopas in the tradition of Queen Isabel.
This book is a documentary of festas I attended between 1990 and 2009. Photographed entirely in black and white, it combines fine art photography with cultural ethnography to resonates on many levels.
I am a Designer and Photographer whose wife is of Portuguese ancestry. She introduced me to the Portuguese Holy Ghost festas. Being non-Portuguese myself, I became fascinated with the visual iconography and sense of community exhibited by attendees to the festas. I photograph these events through the eyes of a cultural outsider, and capture extraordinary moments that pass as commonplace to the seasoned attendee.