Ja Estamos Chegando Chapada Gallery
Chiapada Diamantina, Brazil 2013
® Sandra Pereznieto
I’ve spent so many years trying to get back to my personal work. In my search, I happen to read Ernesto’s students comments, which lead to a clear road for me. Months went by while I waited for the day I would enroll in the course, but I know now that it was impossible to be prepared for what I found. I traveled to Bahia with a mix of expectation and strangeness; I was the only student to attend the workshop and that stirred up my emotions, but I knew life had made up that decision for me, so I accepted the challenge as I have many others in my life.
Soon all my doubts and fears vanished. Ernesto came out to be an intuitive and profound teacher, capable of such generosity and sensibility than embraced and challenged me to achieve images that I had been trying for years to capture unsuccessfully. His gentle and simple way of being constantly moved and inspired me. His images left me breathless. Every day’s editing sessions refined my way of looking and lead me to recognize the poetry hidden in almost every situation of life. I learned, at last, to begin to look with my soul.
The never-ending roads of Chapada Diamantina, and our everlasting talks, opened the door to our most subtle and fragile emotions. We were welcomed by a world of simple and friendly people, whom, with all their deep beliefs, would slowly immerse us into a magic sometimes hard to believe. Meanwhile, el Vale do Patí awaited silently. Unknowingly, a path of indescribable spirituality was about to begin, and I’m certain that it will stay in our memories forever. The immense beauty of nature, and the depth of our journey opened up its own way. To overcome the fatigue and our own challenge provided us with an amazing peacefulness, rewarded at Señor Joia’s place with a delicious, authentic and simple feast prepared with love by his wife Leo. To photograph such incredible simple life was especially hard, and I think some of my most intimate images came from those moments. The trekking continued on, and in the silence of or steps, we recognized a handful of profound teachings that gave us such inner strength that allowed us to recognize happiness at the top of “El Camino del Imperio”, where the rain and the mist were the best reward to our effort.
But the acquisition of knowledge did not end there, and on our first day back at Igatú, my ego and arrogance prepared me a trap; I had forgotten Ernesto’s invaluable lesson: to look with humility and simplicity and to capture only those images that touch our heart. Outside it was still pouring down, and sadness was all over me. Once again, Ernesto, with his remarkable kindness and knowledge, was able to pull me away from my melancholy and encourage me to push forward. It was almost as if I was starting all over again, not only the workshop, but my life as a photographer. It was harder that I can tell to shoot again, but I knew that the time of the greatest gain, as Dalai Lama always says, is that of the greatest difficulty. The strength achieved in our journey to Vale do Patí was my walking stick, and little by little, I started looking at life again from the corner of my scared emotions. Ernesto’s constant guidance and the editing sessions of his stunningly beautiful, intimate and poetic photographic work put a broad smile back on my face and the road ahead suddenly seemed so much lighter.
While I’m writing this, I’m flying back home, and looking back I feel enormously moved; it amazes me how much I have learned, not only as a photographer but also as a person, in these days in Bahia. I honestly believe Ernesto cannot be truly aware of the great gift he gives to his students. I understand now, that this is only a first step of a much greater path, and that I need to rely on myself to be faithful to my inner eye whenever I’ll look at life through my camera lens. The path for me is clear now, and I’m certain that we shall cross path again, and that Ernesto’s kindness and true generosity, along with his slow walking pace and his bright smiles, will be a precious balsam on that road. Sandra Pereznieto