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The Three Kings, by Phil Crean

1 December 2020

According to tradition, on the 5th January the Three Kings visit all towns and villages in Spain. This image was made in Adeje, Tenerife, in the Canary Islands in 2018.

In Adeje the Three Kings arrive at the municipal football field where they are greeted by the mayor and other dignitaries who present them with a magic key which can open all the doors in the municipality - this allows them to go into the houses overnight to leave presents for the children, no Santa popping down the chimney here! This is the traditional Spanish Christmas when the "Reyes" bring the gifts to the children, which fits in with the very Catholic view of Christmas prevalent in Spain, and coincides with the story of the arrival of the Three Wise Men, (Kings), to Bethlehem bearing gifts for the new born Jesus Christ.

Parents bring their children to this spectacle to see the pageant and meet the Kings and the kids often present them with letters detailing their requests for presents. The Kings make a big show of walking around the crowd to meet and greet the children and this photo sums up for me the amazement and wonderful magic in the face of the young girl child who is just barely old enough to understand what is happening. I was so pleased to have captured her reaction to being confronted with one of the royal characters, with her mother looking on. The 6th of January is the final day of Christmas and all the children can be seen out and about with their new toys.

The assignment was a self-generated job as I have a good working relationship with the Adeje Town Hall and was able to get access to the event. Technically it was not a great challenge, Canon 5D MKIII 24-70mm f2.8 lens. Shooting at 1600ISO, 1/200 @ f6.3, bit of fill flash. The main thing was being in the right place at the right time, as is so much of this type of photography! The pictures were sent into Alamy Live News who distributed them to the UK and other press, and although this image wasn't published anywhere, others from the day were, and a couple have become repeat sellers as stock. Due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic restrictions the event is highly unlikely to go ahead this coming January, as with so many events and traditions.

Phil Crean was born in Dublin, Ireland, and moved to London in the 1980's where he studied photography at the then London College of Printing. He worked as a freelancer for magazines and design groups until the mid 1990's when he moved to Tenerife, where he continues to work as a photographer in an eclectic variety of situations; covering events, social photography, landscapes and running occasional workshops.

See more work by Phil Crean

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