Sicily, Italy 2010
® Bo Arnklit
The fascinating markets of Palermo and the first processions of Trapani offer lots of photographic moments. We come back with hundreds of photos. We upload them and start selecting. The 500 daily photos become 20, all small masterpieces: composition, exposure, color, content, focus, everything just right. Then we all meet for the editing phase, Ernesto starts to scroll the photos on the computer and slowly shakes his head, first in silence, then the first comments: “too descriptive”, “too much awareness”, “too much confusion”, “some missing element”, “too simple”, He discards everything. “they lack emotion”, “there is no photographic moment”. There!, he said it. But what is the photographic moment? Difficult to explain, but slowly during the following sessions I begin to understand. You need to go beyond, transcend, capture the essence of the moment, the atmosphere, and as Ernesto said a photo is better when it “asks you questions”, if it stimulates your curiosity, if it conveys an emotion.
During the following days I try to concentrate on these aspects. Rather than happily shooting any interesting situation I see, I try to be more selective. I often find myself looking through the viewfinder, composing and just about to press the shutter, but in the end I realize that the photograph would not work 100% and then I just leave it alone. I take fewer photos but the overall quality has increased significantly: finally Ernesto selects one of my photos. I try to get closer to my subjects in order to get a greater sense of presence and involvement. Although I was a bit skeptical about Ernesto’s suggestion to bring only a single 35mm lens instead of the big zooms, I fully realize the usefulness in this kind of photography. It is light, small and unobtrusive which really helps when getting close to people. The manual focus is very fast on the big viewfinder of the D700.
The workshop culminates with the Easter Friday procession in Trapani, a 24 hour marathon with lots of occasions of lowlight photography, both inside the churches and in the narrow streets at night and especially at dawn. Finally we spend a couple of days in the splendid villa with full immersion editing and selection. With Ernesto and the other fellow students we have a great time discussing all aspects of photography, Sicilian food and general relax. Oh, and did I forget to mention the Sicilian cannoli, … and the Cuban girl in the bar in Trapani?
® Daniele Vita
The photographs bring me back to the magic experienced, I still think about it, ten incredible days that I hope to carry with me for a long time. I do not find the words that will manage to describe Ernesto’s work. I knew about Cuba and his work but I didn’t know him as a person and as a teacher. Right away he has revealed himself to all of us; behind each of his image there is him, his teaching and his being. It has been great my surprise to see him moved the second day of the processions, his carrying each one of us by hand and lead us towards our internal vision that everyday frees itself from its banality, from the stereotypes and bring us towards “our” vision, more intimate and representative of whom we are. Thank you Ernesto! And then all of us, each one has come here with different expectations and paths. Mine was taking place in a moment in my life full of personal changes even from a photographic perspective. Mine is a passion first and then work to survive on. I was looking for a push to understand to which extreme I could put myself into question in the immediate future. Perhaps I might have found some answers. Now, it’s a matter of not loosing myself and delve fully into photography and after a while realize what I’ve managed to do.
In the end, I wanted to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart: Kevin and Betsy with whom I managed to communicate in spite of my ignorance with English and paradoxically we managed to communicate both on funny conversations and on themes that united all of us; Giampiero, my Volvo companion, and also my final editor in the villa when everybody else had already left; to Bo and Enrica that filled me so much by looking so happy as a couple; Eugenio who spoke to me about a productive world of which I’m happy that I do not belong to; Davide for having put up with me during eh noisy nights at the villa and for his commitment with children; Maurizio, the lawyer from Bari with three offices, with his ironic joke has made me feel very close to him; and Lidia that probably for the fact that she was staying else where kept us at a distance, but I was greatly surprised by her latest images. An then Antonio that did all he could to meet all of our, sometimes banal, needs that we could have solved on our own and for the wonderful late night talks over our life.
® Davide Primerano
As I’m writing I’m waiting to board on the plane. A profound sense of sadness assails me, to forget those beautiful days will be impossible. I observe people move around me. The garbage man creates a beautiful silhouette while the man next to him, as Ernesto would say, is not interesting at all. I feel strongly that my way of seeing has deeply changed, for sure it has evolved. The long editing sessions were really so important By observing carefully the other students and Ernesto’s work I have enriched my critical abilities. Now, to return to my daily life will not be easy. I thank all the other students for the beautiful “photographic” and regular moments we shared. I thank Antonio for having introduced me to beautiful parts of Sicily and Ernesto for the important life and photographic lessons. A workshop in Sicily with Bazan goes beyond the photographic experience, it’s a life experience, it’s the happiness of all senses.
® Enrica Lavista
My first workshop with Ernesto, my first time in Sicily. Ten days seem so much, instead, for their intensity, they flew away in the blink of an eye. I remember with pleasure the harmony that the group created although it was quite heterogeneous in age, background and for the way of thinking, but for sure united in the collaborative effort and in the care free and ironic joking that took place at all times, unified by the strong photographic passion in an old villa with a strong Sicilian flavor, delicious food and the sea before our very eyes. A very beautiful human experience besides the photographic one and for this I want to thank you all the participants in the hope that I can meet them again soon.
Ernesto with his pleasant calm, his generosity, his severe but constructive editing skills has greatly helped me to understand how important it is to “clean” the images from what’s obvious, superfluous and to give importance to details that, often, make the image. To get close to your subjects, to establish a relation with them, to tell a story. I’ve tried to look for potentially interesting situations and to wait for the famous “photographic moment” that often doesn’t come and if it does come, you will easily tend to miss it. Is it for this very reason that we call it moment? Ernesto’s daily editing sessions have been splendid occasions to confront yourself, to discuss, to inspire and to try to correct yourself and learn to select in a more severe way other people’s photographs and your own.
In Trapani, the Easter processions, with their many-sided chaotic, situations were a tough trial for me. Luckily the sea, where I could rest my eye, was close, and it was beautiful to be able to isolate myself for a while with the music of the bands in my head while tasting a butter and ham rice ball. I understood that in order to take a beautiful image requires a lot of hard work and perseverance. It’s necessary to look. I’ve tried and will continue to do so. Thank you Ernesto!
® Eugenio Cozzi
® Giampiero Fiori
I return a second time to take the Easter in Sicily workshop under Ernesto’s suggestion. Everything seems the same and yet it’s all different. Ernesto’s words result clearer and more effective. I look for photographic moments and I wait for the right composition to create itself before my very eyes. I seem with more determination and more strength the right equilibrium between form and content. It doesn’t happen all the times, but I slowly become more aware of it. I thank all my travel companions including Antonio and Rosa and Ernesto that, once again, with a delicate balance and patience acts out as a catalyzer for the group.
® Kevin Greenblat
® Lidia Vespignani
It was over a year that I wanted to do a workshop with Ernesto and finally the occasion came during this year’s Easter celebrations. A great energy pushed me towards this adventure that I’ve experienced at the right moment in my life. I know Sicily quite well and it gave me much happiness to be able to do this work in a land where the people have always transmitted great warm. When I first arrived to the airport I was welcomed by Ernesto: his smiling and serene face put me at ease right away. The adventure started out well from the very beginning. Now, that I’m back to Bologna, I’m writing right away my first impressions. On a photographic level the Sicilian workshop has been a very significant experience. As Ernesto says: it’s true magic that I’ve been able, in such a short period of time, to make this huge jump forward! I believe that behind this small miracle lies the experience of a great photographer. With his tough editing sessions, his advise and all the passion he puts into it, Ernesto has greatly helped me to look at things with a different eye. It seem to me truly incredible that I’m now able to notice things that before would go unnoticed. I truly thank Ernesto for having given me this possibility, and I’ll do all I can in order not to loose this new way of looking at reality. I also wanted to thank you all my fellow students, Rosa that every morning would welcome us with a very special breakfast, and Antonio, Ernesto’s assistant, for having taken us around this splendid Sicily!
® Maurizio Paganelli
Sometimes photographic moments present themselves before us ad ripened fruit, ready for the picking. Other times these moments do not materialize themselves although we would deserve so for all the efforts put into it. And thus it happens that true, rare “gifts” alternate themselves with moments lacking the strength needed, which are much more frequent and harder to swallow. It’s totally useless to cheer for the formers and to grief for the latter: the only valid recipe is to insist, insist, insist in the search of your perception of reality.
Unfortunatley the lovely images taken by Betsy Karel are not in this gallery because, I quote:
I don’t want to post images until I figure out what I want to do with them.”
® Betsy Karel
Ernesto is a rare artist, one who generously shares his special worlds with his students. As a teacher he is both honest and supportive, the best possible combination of traits. Experiencing Sicily with him and the other students was artistically and intellectually stimulating, emotionally highly enjoyable, and from a culinary perspective, delicious!