El Sanatorio Duran Costa Rica
Portrait Photography in Costa Rica
El Sanatorio Duran Costa Rica: In the mountains of Costa Rica there is an abandoned mental health hospital that has become a national historic site. The old hospital appears to have been a very elaborate set of buildings in its day. At some point it fell into disuse and started to deteriorate, and since then it has become popular in local lore as a haunted area. Even some programs from Discovery have been out to film there and do some paranormal “investigation”. I first saw photos of the El Sanatorio Duran a few months ago, and since then I have wanted to do a type of fashion shoot there. It has such a unique character, and the fact that it is nestled in the mountains of Cartago province just makes it even more breathtaking.
The only problem is the national historic association that runs the place has very strict rules about taking pictures there. For example, they would not allow me to bring any professional lights, and the models would not be free to change outfits since it could not be a real photo session. As a result, I decided to go in guerilla style, that is, I just brought my camera and a couple of lenses, and one female model. We went in as tourists and the model had a little backpack with some different outfits so she could change on the sly. We tried to use accessories like scarfs and jackets to make as much variety as possible with the limitations imposed.
Because we got there kind of late in the day we just shot for a couple hours. The area is expansive, with several different buildings and I really could have shot there for a week straight. For example, every hour or so some fog would roll in really thick for just 5 minutes then it would be gone. Ideally I would have liked to be able to plan for that.
In the end, we got some good shots to kind of get a layout of the area, and hopefully some day soon I will be able to make plans to go up there again and do a real concept photography session.