14 Quebras Molas
Salvador de Bahia and Reconcavo Bahiano, Brazil 2012
After surviving Carnival in Bahia, I concentrated all my energies on the workshop that will end my three-month stay here in Brazil. Slowly the eight students began to arrive from seven different countries. Five of them had already studied with me before. Geralyn, Giorgio and Romain are veterans, companions of many adventures. The last three were coming for the first time. I welcome the mix of old and new students. It usually creates wonderful synergies. This was definitely the case with this wonderful group!.
On the very first day, after reviewing the students’ portfolios we set, as always, the bar pretty high. The VW van will be again our mean of transportation. I love driving it while we are getting lost in the Reconcavo Bahiano, the vast tract of countryside reminiscent of my beloved Cuban farmland. I take my students to places and people I’ve known and photographed for many years and, at the same time, we continue to explore new places.
We discover some lovely new locations like the abandoned old sugar mill where fishermen camp out for a few days while fishing in the river. What a place full of magic and mystery. Ordinary poetic moments unfold before our very eyes. Almost immediately it becomes clear that the level of photography will be high although some students are shooting street life for the first time. I respect each one of them for challenging themselves. Their hesitations and fears are overcome by the amazing group support. The most experienced students act as advisers in the pre-editing sessions before showing the daily selection to me.
This noble sense of camaraderie is probably one of the things that I love the most in my students. Beers, caipirinhas, caipiroskas flow and many pizzas with lots of extra garlic and basil are devoured as interesting debates over certain images take place. The six days in the Reconcavo fly so fast. Each day something magical happens. We photograph farmers and fishermen, a family circus, clowns without a circus, landless peasants who have become proud owners of their land. As always, their adorable children takes us on a tour. They hold our hands and bring us wild flowers with a huge smile on their face.
One of the most memorable moments was the one of the two horsemen riding their horses out in the open sea. When I first saw them from the beach riding their horses among the waves I felt an irresistible urge to go although I knew that we would get wet well beyond our waistline. Three students followed me. What a surreal spectacle was being able to photograph them from up close!.
Back in Salvador we continued our work with the families living in an ex, abandoned factory that I’ve been photographing for a while. It was so special to see them again, to spend time listening to their stories, helping them with some food and bringing back some images. Some beautiful photographs have come out that. We did lots of editing of personal projects including Giorgio and Romain’s who have been creating very interesting bodies of work in Latin America. On the last day after a very tough and final review of the best images taken by the students, I gave them the opportunity to help me edit my black and white panoramic images from Cuba. Some wonderful comments and suggestions helped me greatly to reduce the images and to make a better and tighter sequence.
We dedicate this workshop to the many speed bumps encountered along the way. Sometimes we almost took off for not seeing all of them in time. G had the lucky guess of how many were left to get to the hotel. She won a few beers and we had fun, lots of it that night!.
The group 14 Quebras Molas is another of those spirited adventures at BazanPhotos Workshops that I along with my students will always remember in the years to come.