Delicate Vultures Gallery
Oaxaca, Mexico 2015
® Erika Arrieta
A workshop with Ernesto it is much more than a photographic experience. It is a meditation and a connection with your soul to be able to express what one feels about life through photography. It’s an immersion to the culture creating a bond with the people that kindly let you get into their lives; it is discovering great humans and talented people who share the love for photography. Ernesto is a leader who kindly shakes you; he is committed to your growth and makes you search beyond of your comfort zone. At the end of the workshop you are not only left with memorable and meaningful images, you feel like a different person who is avid to explode one’s true self. Erika Arrieta
® Juan Pablo Ampudia
Ernesto has asked us to write some words of our feelings about the workshop, actually I do not even know where to start, too many emotions at the same time, but I should probably do it from the very first time when I discovered Ernesto´s work (Bazan Cuba). When I first opened the book I was completely fascinated by the intimacy that I felt in every one of its frames, scenes of everyday life, beautifully printed and visually captivating. From that moment I knew that in my photographic journey I needed to know him. It was not until a year and a half later that our paths finally managed to gather. Now, after experiencing the workshop I understand how these fascinating images came to life and why each of them manages to evoke wonderful feelings when you look at them before your eyes; it boils down to one word: honesty.
A good image is not only form and content, an image must go beyond and to ensure that it transcends you have to be honest with yourself and your subjects and put your heart out when photographing. It´s not enough to go outside to find the photo, one must enjoy the journey and the experiences that are even more important than the final result.
I’m still digesting all the words and advices that Ernesto shared with us and I am sure this workshop was a turning point in my way of photographing, but especially in the way that I look at photography. I am immensely grateful to Ernesto, Juan de la Cruz and the amazing photographers with whom I shared many stories in these fourteen days in Oaxaca. I know this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship in which good images will overflow us.
Finally, if anyone reading this is planning to attend any of the Ernesto’s workshops, I can say to you with the heart in my hand, do not to think it twice, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will not regret it and maybe we can hook up to join us in Bahia or Naples in 2016! Juan Pablo Ampudia
® Harald Claessen
Coming to Oaxaca from Russia was a drastic change of environment. It proved worthy to come a few days earlier to open your mind and heart to new surroundings, people and their ways, and further shape it into a beautiful experience to take back home.
The small mountain villages, which we visited, provided both, a spontaneous interaction with the locals as well as a distraction free environment to search for new levels within you.
The diversity of talented photographers giving their views on your work during daily critique sessions makes you see your own work from different perspectives, makes you realize how differently we embrace the art of photography. It’s the very self of the photographer, his experience, his feelings and emotions that are expressed through his work. As we all got to know each other better it seemed almost possible to pick a random daily photo from the group and hand it back to the person who made it, simply by matching the feeling of the photo to the personality of the photographer. Photos follow personalities.
Besides being a great pleasure, working with Ernesto made me search for new answers about my photography, my life. Where, how and why to photograph? It’s searching for the self-expression that brings inspiration. The scribbles in my notebook seem to be turning into new ideas, projects and adventures.
® Judi Babinski
It is never when it happens. It is always the memory of what happened. The moment is so wrapped up with the physicality of what is happening, up and down the hills, looking for images, never quite getting the flow, hot, out of breath, really wanting a beer, having to go to the bathroom.
It is funny. When I get back, it totally hits me in the gut as to what has happened. So, the memories are now. The physical issues and emotional hang-ups are gone. Just the memories are left of a very special journey with a wonderful group of fellow travelers.
Maybe that is what photographs are, the memories of what happened. Thank you, Ernesto! You are a very special shaman opening doors both spiritual and physical for your tribe of 11 little Indians. Judy Babinski
® Justin Meredith
Sooner or later the magic of Oaxaca pulls you in. It may not completely make sense, but if you’re paying attention, moments emerge that one cannot entirely explain. This trip allowed me to move past the surface and monotony of everyday life and carve a personal space where I was able to access my true internal voice. Sometimes I think it’s gone, and the workshops are always a welcome reminder that it is always there, waiting to be utilized.
Thank you to the (Decent) Delicate Vultures, and to Ernesto for leading the charge and pushing us all past the impossible. Justin Meredith
® Linda Omelianchuk
I came to the Oaxaca workshop to discover the traditional, authentic celebrations for Mexico’s annual Dia de los Muertos. I knew if anyone could lead a journey that would combine humanity and spirituality, it would be Ernesto. He is a special person who is touching many lives, including myself. I have been praying for a long time, asking God to direct me for my new purpose during this next phase of my life, and he gave me him as a strong, positive influence.
We traveled to the small villages built into the winding mountain roads of the Sierra Norte, where we found the beauty and warmth of Mexican people that touched our hearts. We celebrated with the local musicians, danced with the masked villagers, and ate chicken and mole together. The most beautiful moments for me were found in the cemeteries. I admired how people tenderly washed, painted, and adorned their family graves with fresh marigolds, lilies, and candles. And later, in the darkness of night, with hundreds of candles illuminating the cemetery, it was moving to see people of all ages honoring the souls of their loved ones during the all night vigils.
And of course, there were the special group of my fellow photographers, a talented, diverse and generous team, who with our Master photographer Ernesto, helped critique, edit, and make us all better observers of life. Linda Omelianchuk
® Rafael Fabres
“Certainty, skepticism, surprise, uncertainty, frustration, anxiety, vision, conviction, calm, self-awareness, humility, laughing, crying, camaraderie, fascination, understanding, learning, catharsis, gratitude and mescal. Much mezcal.
I expected to have an experience that would make me improve as a photographer, take me out of the doldrums in which I was at a creative level.
What I had instead were fourteen days of life’s lessons. Nothing less!
Of this man, Ernesto, one learns to strengthen what you previously thought were weaknesses.
To open up emotionally and let subtlety, sensitivity and poetry take charge of what one does.
To be consistent. To be consistent.
To listen to yourself and to know how to walk along your, sometimes very convoluted, path that is photography and by extension life.
To see things from the perspective of someone who knows. Who knows a lot because he has seen a lot and he doesn’t have to prove anything any longer.
Someone who lives, breathes, feels and teaches photography courses with passion.
And I know along with each and every one of my colleagues why some of them keep returning several times to his workshops.
Because the emotional roller coaster of learning, of feeling, of exposure, camaraderie and progress as a human being as well as a photographer leave markings in all his courses. Indeed, they do leave them!
A lesson on the mastery of photography.
An excellent lesson on life. Many blessings! Rafael Fabres
® Regula Tschumi
My first workshop with Ernesto in Oaxaca was an amazing experience! Ernesto was not only a great teacher, but he also made me, who had never been to Mexico before, discover the rich culture of this country, the friendly people and the beautiful Sierra de Oaxaca. Thanks to Ernesto’s personal contacts and his friends in the Sierra we students had the chance to follow
a group of musician. We were allowed to photograph them during the festival when they were singing and dancing in private houses and in some small remote mountain villages. We had also the privilege to see the shaman when he performed the main opening and closing rituals for the festival of the Dead. We spent many hours photographing the beautiful cemeteries that were richly decorated with flowers. During the two main nights of the festival the graves were illuminated with candles and many family members were the whole night there. I think we all experienced some magical moments when we were with them and photographing them!
Besides making photographs every day and often also by night we had our group
editing sessions with Ernesto. Watching together our selected photographs and listening to Ernesto’s remarks was so interesting and helpful. He also showed to all of us how difficult it is to make just one good photograph a day! Ernesto kept pushing us to give our best. He explained how a good image has to go beyond, it has to catch a magical moment, and that there must be something special in it. I understood that form and content are important, but that there must not be any distracting background. It was not easy for me and especially in the first days I was rather confused. But the editing hours finally helped me so much. I was learning and enjoying watching the other student’s works. Carefully listening to Ernesto’s and
other student’s critique I began to see in what direction to go. Besides our group editing we had the privilege to discover some of Ernesto’s unpublished work. Watching his pictures and discussing them in the group also helped me to sharpen my artistic vision.
Finally I want to thank Ernesto not only for his great teaching and for sharing so many of his favorite places and contacts with us, but also for having brought together a wonderful group of students who had come from as far as Russia, Canada, USA, Holland, Mexico, Brazil, Spain and myself from Switzerland. Our common interest and love for photography kept us together, we were all keen to learn and we all admired Ernesto’s work. We had a lot of fun together, learning and helping each other. A big thank you to Ernesto as a great group leader and a big thank you to the “delicate vultures” for the wonderful days I could spend with you. I miss you all and I hope to see Ernesto and you again in some other BPW workshops! Regula Tschumi
® Santiago Llobet
The rituals of the Night of the Dead in Mexico are a tradition that captivated me since I saw them for the first time several years ago while living in Mexico.
This year 2015, I participated in several workshops with Ernesto but I knew that
returning to Mexico, the country where I lived so many emotions, and photograph the
rituals of Oaxaca would be something that would remain in my memory forever. It was not just another workshop, it was a reencounter with Mexico.
To travel with Ernesto and his group of students always leave you a deep memory in the soul. When the trip ends you return with a photo album that goes beyond the photos you take to learn, they are pictures of a piece of your life that you shared with people who almost call “friends” from the first week, because always it appears a spontaneous affection between everyone in the group.
The photographic learning combined with companionship, with criticism, with laughter
and with all the human experiences amalgamates in a vital experience you know it will stick with you forever.
Our group came to be called “Decent Vultures” who then changed and changed and finally was called “Delicate Vultures”. We changed its name so many times because it was difficult to reach a name which satisfy the whole group. The dinners with “mescal” were the ideal scenario to discuss our name and there we discovered that Linda was really hard to please with this name thing.
Those days in the state of Oaxaca, we discovered Mexico’s profound soul, a traditional
Mexico and a friendly country, full of masks and rituals that left us all a wonderful
taste. I’m looking forward to return.
Some of us we may go back to Mexico, God willing, but I just do not know if we’ll live
it as intensely as we did being “Delicate Vultures”.Santiago Llobet
® Tanya Nezzer
I corresponded with Ernesto for a year before I met him in Oaxaca. Originally, I had signed up for his workshop in the Sacred Valley in 2014. Unfortunately, after I arrived in Peru but before the workshop began, I received word that my father was dying, and immediately flew home. In the ensuing months, Ernesto was a loving, kind, and supportive presence in my life. I will forever be grateful for his generosity.
In the Sierra Norte, Ernesto opened doors to a magical world that I never knew existed. We experienced rites and traditions that few outsiders are allowed to see. My time in Mexico was further enhanced by the presence of my fellow students – all of them talented photographers and marvelous people. It was a rare privilege to view their images; their photographs ‘went beyond’ and opened new worlds for me. They are all still alive in my mind. To quote our Maestro’s muse, Raymond Carver:
“There isn’t enough of anything
as long as we live. But at intervals
a sweetness appears and, given a chance
prevails. ”Ultramarine” Tanya Nazzer