Reecountering Pepe Gallery
Iquitos, Peru 2012
® Linda Kay Myers
The workshop this May was my second to the city of Iquitos, Peru and I really enjoyed taking pictures there. I found Iquitos to be a vibrant, exotic place with tropical animals, such as monkeys and manatees and colorful plants and flowers. I loved our boat trips down the great Amazon River, which is so much grander than the Mississippi River in my backyard. The people were friendly and enjoyed being photographed. We were told riveting tales about the recent spring flooding and the ways people found to survive the upheavals and displacements this caused. If I am lucky, I hope to go back some day.
Linda Kay Myers
® Nilo Rebecchi
The days spent in Iquitos with Ernesto, Linda Kay and Willard have been an extraordinary and intense adventure. I had chosen Iquitos as my first course “on the field” with Ernesto because I was fascinated by the idea of a frontier town, isolated, immersed in the Amazon forest, that has developed by the river, far from everything.
Reality turned out to be much more fascinating than I had imagined. Iquitos mixes up nature of infinite beauty and wide-spread situations of profound poverty. Here everything is endless: the sky, the forest, the rivers, and for many their difficult life. It has been a great teaching to observe these people, often devoid of even a shack to call home that manage to keep a dignified attitude, that lovingly raise their children, living in perfect harmony with the natural environment. People that didn’t hesitate to welcome us in their modest abodes to let us photograph them. I think of our guide, who lives in a small, floating hut with his wife and his three children and their animals and that by himself studies English on the only book given to him by a traveler; of a woman who inhabits a hut built on stilts, still wet due to the recent floods, who lives there with her only son afflicted by epilepsy and that to make a living takes care of the neighbors’ children: on a wall she had written with a piece of chalk ” Christ loves you.”
Being in Iquitos has been an all-encompassing experience. For nine days we photographed, looked at photographs and discussed about photography. I had the luck to have several difficulties to overcome and that forced me to ponder about my many prejudices and gave me the opportunity to experiment up to which limits my desire to photograph pushes me.
It has been said that the best way to learn is to rely totally on your master. Ernesto is a magnificent maestro. He discovers extraordinary places and situations and with ease he shares them with you, he guides you inside and with charm he gives you the impression that the images you take are yours.
® Willard Pate
After 11 years and 23 workshops with Ernesto much of what he says about photography has become ingrained in me. Now with copies of my photographs from the May trip to Iquitos in front of me as I write these comments, I keep thinking how right he is to say, “Go back to the same places.” After a second trip there, I have much more of a feel for the daily life of that bustling hub of river traffic. Certainly I’m still an outsider, and always will be, but hopefully these images show at least the beginnings of some insight into the remarkable variety of human and animal life on display in the harbors and along the river banks of the busy city and its watery surroundings.
Time after time, I and others of Ernesto’s students have used these brief comments to talk about how his teaching has impacted (and even changed) our photography. Perhaps what we don’t articulate enough, however, is that so much of Ernesto’s teaching involves getting us into situations that demand that attention be paid to the nuances of a culture. To photograph with Ernesto means “going beyond” the surface cultural cliches that satisfy many workshop leaders to something that is perhaps not quite definable, but nevertheless recognizable the rare times when we achieve it–insight into the life of particular human beings in a particular culture. I think that is why I have been a participant in so many of Ernesto’s workshops and why I recommend his workshops to all who want to improve their photographic skills beyond the merely technical. He gives us the opportunity to use our cameras and eyes in the service of vision, not just surface reality.