man of la mancha

For those that know me, they know I love Spain! I've studied flamenco and traveled across the country as often as I could in an attempt to learn more of its culture.

Perhaps it stems from when I was a little girl;  my dad had a Matador poster from his tour through Spain.  It always intrigued and haunted me.

For the last three years I have been wanting to photograph this strange Spanish icon;  part celebrity, part royalty, wrapped in mystery, and of course, controversy.

It's extremely difficult for a foreign photographer to gain access, especially now when the Bullfight is being banned in parts of Spain.

But I did not want to focus on the bullfight ...

I wanted to see the man behind the mythology, the rich and intricate details of his process as he built his persona.

After many months of emails and phone calls, strokes of good luck, and the help of great friends, it finally happened!

After driving (and getting lost!) through endless dusty olive groves, we arrived to meet a  smiling and regal young man who spoke no english (and I almost no Spanish). He  graciously shared with us his very private process; dressing, preparing, and praying before a Corrida.

We did the shoot in his home, his mother and Mozo (assistant) present.  Peeking from the doorway, his mother witnessed her son's intimate ritual for the first time, and was moved to tears by the intensity and deep spirituality  as he prepared to face danger.

These are a few photos of Rafael Castellanos. He's a 20 year old Torero, from Castilla la Mancha, Spain.