Oaxaca, Mexico 2010
® Giuseppe Cardoni
I had met Ernesto in Italy during an editing workshop and this has been sufficient to make me take three planes to get to Oaxaca. He’s the only person I know able to not only to properly and instantaneously select the images taken by a student (usually a historic photographers’ weakness), but also to explain with efficacy and precision, the why of each evaluation, be it positive or negative. It’s clear that besides being a great photographer, Ernesto is a master of visual communication. His ability takes on even more didactic relevance in a workshop that combines shooting and editing. In fact, for me I do not believe that it was important if I managed to take good pictures in Oaxaca, thanks to the methodological instruments acquired in the creative/critique process, I surely feel that I’m now a better photographer then when I first arrived. It has been a great, beautiful experience, emotionally involving both on a personal level and also on an enological and gastronomic one. We had all we wanted. Thank you Ernesto for your contagious passion, and for your professional knowledge.
® Jean Ross
Ernesto, gracias por todos. I first met Ernesto in Oaxaca two years ago. His images from Cuba literally brought tears to my eyes. I knew at once that I wanted to study with him. It seems only fitting that I returned to Oaxaca for Day of the Dead for my first workshop. I came with the goal of finding out whether I have what it takes to move “above and beyond” taking pretty picture to making interesting photographs. I feel as though I’ve taken the first step on a journey and I’m still trying to figure out where it leads. Thank you for pushing me to do my best work and to look and think more deeply and more critically at what does and does not make a good image. It wasn’t always easy, but I found what I was looking for and much, much more. Thank you for sending me to the bus terminal, the Chapel of the Santa Muertos, and for helping all of us dig deeper and do better than we’d ever done before. See you in Salvador…
® Jean-François Bouchard
My comments on the workshop’s experience. You are very generous of your time. I like the fact that the editing sessions are done thoroughly even if it means it takes hours. We never feel you are rushing through the stuff even when there is a lot. My brief discussions with you really helped me crystallize my vision for my work. This is priceless! Your mentoring is very helpful since your “purist” approach counterbalances what I hear from other sources (contemporary art scene, etcetera). It took me years to really get (I thought I did before) the fact that one must be VERY selective. I was very surprised to hear that you think that: a) I might have a book if I pursue the current approach; b) that you think I can mix street photography and conceptual work… This is simply the most exciting scenario for me. I realize I do not spend enough time studying other photographers… You seem to be an encyclopedia and a barely know 20 photographers’ work… I must invest more time in this to better gauge my work.
® Luigi Loretoni
I’ve first met Ernesto during an editing workshop in Lucca, Italy in 2009. From that a desire to take his Oaxaca workshop blossomed both for the images that previous students had taken and that had been published on the students’ gallery. But being part of the workshop went beyond any expectations. The night spent in that small Mexican cemetery has been for me the most sensational, emotional, astonishing photographic experience of m life. The graveyard is on a hill lightened up by a myriad candles among which many people gather by the side of the tumbs of their dear ones. it’s a vision hard to describe with words and it has been also very difficult to capture with images considering how great it was the emotion I felt during that night. An event that even now I have difficulties to fanthom entirely. A unique experience that will always stay etched in my memory. The lit candles stuck on the ground around each tomb, the people barely illuminated by this faint glimmer that spend the whole night next to their deceased, are a combined of realism and spirituality that evoke unforgettable impressions. I thank Ernesto for having given me the opportunity to participate in this workshop of Dias de los Muertos in Oaxaca. To fully comprehend this ritual remains still difficult for me, as a local newspaper was suggesting when it said that: ” Very unlikely visitors can comprehend what we do because for the the ending of life is the end of everything.” In the attempt to understand this old and magical ritual I’ve been helped by reading again of a poem of the great Spanish poet Antonio Machado tat goes like this: “And you can know yourself if you’ll recall the hazy pictures of past dreams on this sad day when you are going about with open eyes. For this alone is memory to be prized, this signal gift of calling back old dreams.”
® Richard Ross
Ernesto – It is difficult to organize and sum up my reactions. So much happened in so short a time that much of it is still a blur, and the days run into each other in my memory. My interests before the workshop were more in photography as a fine-art form, and abstract compositions, and a medium for expressing my emotions or reactions to still life or patterns — perhaps trying to evoke the feeling or atmosphere of a certain scene, rather than telling a story. I had previously avoided photographing people because of my own issues with privacy and personal space. You forced me to immerse myself into a totally foreign and different world that was much more alive and vital than any I had dared approach previously with a camera. I dipped my toe into that world timidly, but you kept urging me deeper and deeper. However, images I thought were good were often the ones rejected by you, and images that you really liked were ones that I passed quickly by or thought were failures. So, at first, it was difficult to understand what you were seeking to teach me. But you continued to explain your reasoning along the way as to why certain images worked and others failed, and I began to understand better what made a good photograph, and integrated those teachings so as ultimately to understand a new way of seeing more deeply. I learned so much about composition, and the importance of eliminating extraneous details in the camera, not in the “darkroom.” (although I may continue to challenge your 10% rule). I don’t think I will ever become a “street photographer,” but I learned so much that applies to every photo I will take. It’s hard to imagine a more intense learning experience, both in terms of photography and total immersion into a foreign culture, and your devotion to your students and to their learning was very evident throughout. I loved to listen to Giuseppe speak English, and I was in awe of his photography during the workshop. I was especially surprised, because I was not that impressed by the work he brought form Italy. Anyway, I tried to give you a few comments, but if you want something more specific, please let me know. Overall, I agree with what John told me — it was magical and certainly changed me for the better — as a photographer and a person. THANKS! Another bonus — getting to meet Juan and see his exquisite and heart-rending work.