Tomato Soup Gallery

Sicily, Italy 2008

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® Michel Oliva


It’s always an intense experience to take pictures. There is always a strong desire that pushes you to take them. It’s a search that without any doubt never ends. This journey has been a wonderful occasion to celebrate this pleasure. Thank you Ernesto! I also want to say hi to my travel companions!

Michel Oliva


® Piang NgokChong


“Moments…Juxtaposition…Expressions…Layers…”. I heard these before. But where are these moments? How do I find them? Please can moments hold still for me? When are juxtapositions “correct”? Why is it that my juxtapositions do not work? And why others work? And expressions! So many images spoiled by “wrong expressions”! Hey guys, hold your expressions while I take my time to walk over and compose the picture. But they would not cooperate! And how to put layers into 2-dimensional pictures? Damn! So elusive!

And “Non funziona!” “C’e’ sempre un motivo!” I know these phrases! At least my Italian lessons did have one good use!

I knew practically nothing about “street photography”. I still do not! But fool-hardly ignoramus that I was (and still am!), I plunged right into it. No. I did not expect to be a “street photography guru” by the end of the workshop. I had seen too many wonderful works by previous students. I did not dare dream to make images like those. But I did have great fun! And great food! “Polipo alla griglia! Mama mia!”

Slowly, I began to see a little better. I saw moments “captured” by fellow participants. Moments which were there for the taking, but which my infantile eyes did not see, till it was too late. Sigh! I began to see how some juxtapositions work, and why others do not. I began to recognize “suitable/great” expressions. (Wish I had Al Pacino with me to stand in the right place at the right time!). I began to understand the difference between a record/descriptive image/document, and an image that tells a multi-layered story.

And the end of the workshop, after making more than 2000 exposures, and after some very tight editing sessions, I had a measly 0.3% “success” rate (actually I think that was rather generous!). But I was happy. Happy because I had started on this wonderful journey of making street photographs. Happy because I had learn to see, and evaluate images in a more meaningful manner. Happy, because I had learn to be unscrupulously strict with my self-critique. And for this, Ernesto, I thank you – for sharing, and being stringent in your critique. And I must also thank my fellow photographers who showed me what I did not see, and did not know.

Piang Ngok Chong




® Vincent Goh


As the saying goes: ‘The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know”. That sums up how I felt for some time now.

I thought I had learnt plenty at my first Cuba workshop with Ernesto in December 2005. I thought I had grown more discerning; I know I do not fire the shutter as often like I used to. But what I did not know showed up plainly in the images I produce – all of which were ordinary and descriptive. I knew they lacked something vital as if I was cooking with missing ingredients and using the wrong technique.

My desire to grow my observation skill to the point where I can capture each moment and reach beyond led me to sign up for this Easter Sicily workshop.

Before I left for Sicily I studied the amazing images of other students, in the hope that I too would be as visually stimulated when I am there. Still nothing prepared me for what I saw: The Easter spiritual processions, crowded with intense, solemn and emotional moments, evocative and oh so challenging to capture.

It was Ernesto’s presence, dedicated guidance and illuminating response that steadied me and helped me focus on the moments.

Indeed, the maestro’s intense teachings, energy, inspirations and humanity demonstrated throughout the workshop left a profound sign in me. I hope to not only remember, but to understand the essence of his teachings.

At the end of our incredible 10-day workshop, I am astonished at the group’s performance. It was truly quite remarkable – it must be the Ernesto’s magic!!!

Thank you, Maestro, for showing me the way once again.

Vincent Goh


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