Jemanja Bahia Gallery
Salvador de Bahia, Brazil 2013
® Chip Swett
This was my first workshop with Ernesto. In fact, it was my first photography workshop of any kind. I was a ‘picture taker’ who appreciated good photography, but in no way was I a photographer. My goal for this workshop was to take my photography to the next level. Ernesto assured me that despite my greenhorn status, that I would learn a lot and that I would not hold back the rest of the group.
When my wife, Connie, and I arrived in Salvador, we had no idea what to expect. We were a little apprehensive imagining that Ernesto might be a stern task master and that the rest of the group would be pretty hard core. We weren’t far into the first day when we realized that this workshop was going to be a whole lot of fun and that it would move us into a whole new way of thinking about photography. Ernesto is a delightful person who made us feel at ease and would critique our photographic efforts in a constructive way that did not reduce us to tears. The rest of the group was a delight and we quickly melded into a team of friends with a common goal. Many of the other group members had taken previous workshops from Ernesto and were quite accomplished. We often learned almost as much from them as we did from Ernesto.
Ernesto lead us into many target rich environments where there were abundant photographic opportunities at every turn. Many of these were places that a tourist would never find. Some were places that a tourist wouldn’t venture into if they did find them, but we quickly learned that we could explore them confidently. The wonderful people of Bahia were most indulgent as lenses appeared before them from every angle.
The most important thing that I learned in this workshop was how to see. I had been accustomed to walking through a complex environment and taking the whole scene in, but not really seeing anything in detail. If I did take pictures, I took them from a safe distance with a zoom lens to avoid getting personally involved in what was going on around me. It soon became clear that these habits were going to have to go. I spent a lot of my time just ambling through wherever we were shooting trying to slow everything down and actually pay attention to the details of what was going on. I had to reject a lot of ‘nice pictures’ because they didn’t have magic, or mystery, or something special going on that communicated more than what met the eye. I also learned that even when I found a special moment, it was often spoiled by distracting elements in the background, or in the subject itself. I also might have shot from the wrong angle or the wrong light or the subject was looking at me. But with the gentle guidance of Ernesto and the group, these distractions became less frequent and the special pictures occurred a little more frequently. Make no mistake, those wonderful, unique, blow your socks off pictures are hard to come by, but you can find one every once in a while once you learn to see.
Did I achieve my goal? Absolutely. I have definitely taken my photography up a notch. More importantly, I have begun to see the world through new eyes. Chip Swett
® Connie Swett
Being introduced to Bahia, Brazil through Ernesto’s eyes and his perspective of life was a wonderful experience. Capturing the moment, isolating the picture, finding the correct angle, were tasks I had not given great care in the past. During the daily critiques, I slowly began to discover a new way of seeing and feeling the subjects. This being my first workshop, I was fully aware I had much to learn and was initially very intimidated by the experienced group and Ernesto’s reputation as a skilled and talented photographer. However, from day one the group was supportive as a whole to one another and Ernesto guided every attendee with kindness, constructive criticism and specific helpful instruction.
I know I will now take more interesting photographs and look at the world through my camera lens with more passion. I hear Ernesto’s voice reminding me to see and feel the beauty of life all around us. Connie Swett
® Dani Padró
For me Bahia sounded like a place very far away, a small and yet big unknown location.
During ten days Ernesto shared with us his unique Bahia, a combination of many little, intimate worlds, with his people and his culture. In these places as you prudently get close to people you are received with a smile, they share with you their daily life.
Their traditions such as the one for Yemanjà make sure that for a certain amount of time the atmosphere will be fascinating and full of emotions for the Bahianos. They show us how they live during these special celebrations. Here, everyday is a challenge where to reflect what you are experiencing. Everything is accompanied by Ernesto’s advise, his teaching and savoir faire; he’s a honest man that surprises you with his transparency and closeness.
Now, Bahia and his people are closer to me. I’ll always carry a little piece inside of me. Dani Padró
® Frank Baudino
This was a very significant workshop for me.
It was my third time with Ernesto in Bahia and I felt I was beginning to understand the people and culture a bit better. I also began to have more confidence in my judgment of the photographic moment and of the elements that could make or break my images.
Once again I was struck by the friendliness of the people here. Are all Brazilians extroverts? It would almost seem so. Everywhere I went, a smile would trigger a smile. Perhaps it was also a case of the celebration of Yemanjá with her close connections to the sea and rivers and to her provision of abundance for her people that lifted all our spirits. I have had a few experiences seeing shamans (both male and female) enter trances in California. But the sight of the women in Cachoeira entering trance and being virtually possessed by Yemanjá was something very special. Equally exciting and beautiful were the women in white garments casting flowers and gifts to Yemanjá upon the waters.
As with all of Ernesto’s workshops, there was so much to be learned from his gentle collaboration and from the viewing of other students’ images. Frank Baudino
® Heike Bartels
How fortunate I was to participate in this workshop!
It was a rewarding and enriching experience in every possible way: meeting the other students, as well as so many friendly and kind Brazilians. I only wish a had known a little Portuguese to be able to communicate with all the wonderful people I met on my photographic journey. Further, I’m truly thrilled to begin to learn a photographic field that is so new to me. I definitely got the bug now! …and I’m totally inspired to continue. Last, but not least I want to thank Ernesto, the maestro. As a tough critic, he encourages you to aim for high standards. I found his well-meaning and kindly articulated comments always productive and constructive; giving me a direction in which to develop further. Heike Bartels
® Pam Richmond
I am attaching a few words to go with my images. They are not adequate to conveying my appreciation of your genius at getting a diverse crowd through ten days of demanding photography, all happy, safe on shore and pleased with their progress. You really do put your heart, soul and energy into making the experience rewarding for all. No sitting inside by the AC for you. Your presence in the field enables us to take advantage of unanticipated opportunities as they arise. I hope you have had time for yourself and family since carnival.
Yemanjá that bountiful goddess of the sea, took care of us when we went out on the bay with a devotee to place offerings on the waves. The wind stiffened, white caps rolled in and our ancient fishing boat’s engine quit; Yemanjá, that bountiful goddess of the sea, took care of us when we went out on the bay with a devotee to place offerings on the waves. The wind stiffened, white caps rolled in and our ancient fishing boat’s engine quit; Yemanjá to the rescue! Drumming, dance and wave-induced trance made this candomblè celebration an intense experience despite thousands of inebriated celebrants. The beautiful small colonial town of Cachoiera was the scene of yet another ceremony in honor of Yemanjá and a challenging photo opportunity. We crammed into the open hold of an old wooden sailing vessel from which offerings were made on the tidal Paraguacu river. Ernesto’s well planned succession of stops in towns, small villages and an abandoned sugar factory continued our exploration of Brazilian byways rich with third world photographic material. Keeping up was a challenge for me but the supportive and congenial group kept me going. And as always participating in critiques was instructive and often inspirational. Pam Richmond
® Romain Fournier
In this workshop, I felt more than ever before the ebb and flow of the Bahian life … a life that seems to be constantly drifting from calmness to intense madness. As in the other workshops, I’ve had the possibility to learn a lot from the other students’ images and from Ernesto’s feedback. I am thankful to all of you guys for allowing this. Tchao. Romain Fournier
® Umit Okan
Another wonderful workshop with Ernesto is over ! I already miss Salvador and the welcoming people of Bahia. I just can’t wait to go back again next year .
As I always say, a workshop with Ernesto is more than photography: it’s being soaked wet of perfume on a boat with a bunch of people in trance, it’s drinking ice cold beers all day long, it’s early morning walks on the beach, it’s delicious tropical fruits, it’s being stuck in the middle of the sea on a boat for an hour, it’s well-iced caipirinhas, it’s waiting in line at a public hospital in the middle of the night with Ernesto, it’s eating delicious moqueca at candle light in an abandoned sugar mill in the middle of nowhere, it’s cockfighting, it’s a family-run circus in the countryside. These moments will remain as wonderful memories forever…
Thank you Ernesto for this great experience!. Umit Okan