Lost and Found in Bahia

Salvador de Bahia, Brazil 2015

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® Calvin Chen

 

Traveling along the bumpy unpaved roads of Bahia, listening to the Spanish chatter of Ernesto and Sandra. I gaze out the window, at the hills sprinkled with glaring white cows and birds that resemble angels.
I wonder if this is what heaven looks like.  Ernesto’s quote lingers in my mind ” Photography is about shooting with your heart, having your soul connected to your camera.” That’s what makes Ernesto’s workshops special for me: they transcend photography and dip into the realm of the spiritual, the magical. 

It’s with a heavy heart that I come home. I will miss Sandra’s psychotherapeutic hugs, David’s encyclopedic knowledge of just about everything, strangers that have quickly become family.  I’ll hold onto my images as reminders of  how simple and beautiful life can be. I’ve emerged a better photographer, and more importantly a better person. See you soon Ernesto.

With love, Calvin Chen

 



 

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® David Salmanowitz

 

Wow, it’s hard to write as eloquently as others have already done what a great experience this workshop was. Ernesto is full of life and passion which he is admirably able to pass onto the students and as the week progressed it was very obvious as photos kept getting stronger and stronger that everyone was taking what we had learnt and applying it to our photos. Sounds quite simple but being told many times to shoot what we feel in our heart, if we do not feel it why shoot it? Actually some of the best advice we could have been told as all great art and music comes from the heart and has passion, otherwise it is just some paint on a canvas or some musical notes thrown into the air, yet when done with passion it becomes alive.
The daily critiques were invaluable, I really valued the input of Ernesto and the others. Being told what might work, what did not, was all part of the process to enable us to search out the makings of a great photograph and hopefully grab it. The quality of the work everyone was producing was quite humbling.

That so many people return to take another workshop, and another, and …  either means they are fools or just the opposite as I see it—quite intelligent as they know of the wonderful learning experience they will be part of. They are also part of the Bazan workshop family, and I do know how lucky and privileged we all are to be part of that family.
I thoroughly enjoyed being with everyone, some real fun times and wonderful memories. There was how shall I put it, a caipirinha camaraderie—well perhaps more for some than others. hah hah 

Many special memories we shared.—understatement!

David Salmanowitz

 



 

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® Elke VanRulo

 

Lately I noticed I had started relying on things that I know work for me while photographing rather than shooting from the heart.   Looking for a class that would push my boundaries and re-inspire I came across online reviews of Ernesto’s workshops, reading each entry with growing enthusiasm.  I was amazed by the quality of his student photo galleries and decided to sign up for Ernesto’s Bahia workshop in September.  After my friends Brendan and Maarten came back from the Sicily workshop last Spring with nothing but good comments, I knew I was in for a special ride and left behind all doubts when boarding the plane for Brazil 10 days ago.
Ernesto is a good soul, who happens to be a great photographer and mentor likewise.  With a combination of Ernesto’s sweet honesty and the fact he diligently points out what works in your photographs and, well, what mostly does not work, I slowly started recognizing moments that spoke to me personally in the captivating chaos of Bahia. Opening up for what truly moves you is an ongoing process of self-reflection, focussing and re-focussing.  Capturing the essence of those moments in a subtle, poetic way takes patience.  But with hard work, faith, keeping calm and with the invaluable advice of both Ernesto and my fellow “Lost and Found” students I fell in love with photography all over again.  

Tonight I am on my way home with the precious gift of renewed inspiration.  I wonder how this first workshop with Ernesto will change my family storytelling work.  While the sky outside darkens I feel light inside and deeply thankful to so many.
Thanks David Salmanowitz for taking such good care of me.  Thank you “Lost and Found” students for sharing your amazing work with me, for editing my photos the way you did and for making the baby feel she belonged.  Thank you caipirinha friends for the long, special conversations, the occasional tears and many, many laughs and hugs we shared.  You boosted my energy level more than extra hours of sleep could ever have done.  I know our paths will cross again, for now I try to see the beauty to patience.
Thank you, Ernesto, for your thoughtful guidance, for introducing me to Bahia in such a unique, personal way and for moving me so deeply with your newest project on your family.  You are one of a kind.  I hope to attend another workshop with you in the future.  Thanks to my husband David for his love and devotion to our family and for magically managing a crazy schedule in order for me to make it to the workshop in what was basically the worst possible timing.

Elke Van Rulo

 



 

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® Frank Baudino

 

This was my third visit to Salvador de Bahia and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to return to this beautiful area and to revisit the island of Itaparica and the colonial city of Cachoeira. I was again charmed by the friendliness and openness of the Brazilian people and their ubiquitous “thumbs up” sign. People were rarely shy of being photographed, especially in rural areas. Those living in small fishing villages had so little but they were willing to share a part of their lives with us.
As in past workshops, I learned much from viewing the photographs and hearing the critiques of my fellow students. We had a wide range of different photographic visions ranging from the quite abstract to the more personal. Regardless of the differences in our approach, Ernesto comments were helpful, honest, and supportive. He helped us edit down our images to a some truly good ones. In addition we had the opportunity to view each other’s past work and that of works-in-progress by Ernesto and Juan.

I hope to visit Bahia again soon.

Frank Baudino

 



 

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® Linda Hollinger

 

Thank you Ernesto once again for an amazing workshop. The magic of Bahia inspired me to return a second time and explore more deeply a place that I had already fallen in love with.
Thank you to my fellow “lost and found” students for sharing your beautiful images and for your
constructive criticism during our editing sessions and to the “caipirinha club” for all the wonderful stories and much needed laughter!

Thank you Ernesto for your guidance and your patience teaching us to slow down and see from the heart the poetry that surrounds all of us in our everyday lives. I return home with a renewed spirit and hope to continue learning and growing.

Linda Hollinger

 



 

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® Mark Caceres

 

Sometimes the image that stays with you is one that you didn’t take. So many beautiful and moving images by so many talented photographers on this workshop. But the image that distilled the experience in Bahia isn’t one of those. Instead, it is a memory. A moment when I saw Elke arm in arm with two girls in a small village, walking down the road. It said something about the breaking down of barriers, about the universal need to give and receive love, about connecting as humans without the impediment of words. Although this image was the most powerful for me, I saw other glimpses of this same connection between strangers. Sandra tenderly kissing a girl on the cheek. Calvin laughing with some boys and then patting them on the head. Ernesto offering gifts of clothing and food to families living in the humblest of circumstances. Santi giving Polaroid prints to children, couples, even a soccer team. And I’m sure I missed other equally touching moments.
I’ll remember this workshop more for those moments than for the images created by the group, which as anyone can see are beautiful and poetic depictions of the world before us. Thank you to Ernesto and to my new friends for the gift of these moments.

Mark Caceres

 



 

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® Monica Jimenez

 

Ernesto, once again, thanks for making these workshops about much more than photography. Being around you is a daily lesson in humanity and kindness. You have a wonderful way of showing affection and making people feel appreciated. It’s easy to understand why everyone welcomes you into their hearts and homes.
I am not going to write about your qualities as a mentor, because I believe other members of our group, Lost and Found, have expressed it beautifully.  I would like to mention your team building qualities instead. I don’t know how you do it, but every group on every workshop  that I have attended, immediately develops a powerful bond and synergy. You create such a warm and humble  atmosphere. Around the editing table we wholeheartedly celebrate each and every good picture, regardless of whose camera it came from.  Completely aware of how difficult it is to capture a photograph that goes beyond, we all feel genuinely happy when someone is able to see and capture the magic of a moment.
By sharing your personal work and encouraging others to do the same, you enrich the learning experience, promote everyone’s participation and growth and in many opportunities, it was beautiful to hear the very special comments and important contributions that came up.

On a personal note, I thank you for teaching me patience and persistence, and to search for those moments that resonate within me. I have read countless times the text from your book Bazan/Cuba that talks about patience. I am no longer afraid. The summer will come…

Monica Jimenez

 



 

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® Sandra Pereznieto

 

At first, “Lost and Found” seemed a name of failure to meet up, and we were not completely convinced it would work, but as our Bahian days went by, the name started to make all the sense in the world to me. This is my fifth workshop with Ernesto and I keep on feeling so lost at times, and at some beautiful moments I feel I truly find my way through. For me it’s always been a rhythmical dance from failure to success and back to failure, or the other way around, but with Ernesto’s gentle, honest and rigorous teachings, I’ve come to realize that success only happens when I’m able to connect with myself, when images come from within, from my soul; and when they don’t, I feel lost and failure is just a consequence of my confusion.  So to me, “Lost and Found” does not only apply to photography but to life itself, and we all know that Ernesto’s Workshops are so much about life and not only photography.
Since day one, with the flow of hard working and intense critique sessions going by, I started finding so much more than I expected; I found closeness to people I know nothing of, but am able to admire through their soulful images, I found empathy for the images that, as so many of mine, don’t work, I could relate to frustration and dejection, and share genuine happiness when someone is capable of finding his true soul and touch me through his work. I found myself walking along like a teenager with my peers, enjoying life, amazement for the places and people Ernesto kindly shares with his students; I found complicity through our passion for photography, I’ve known renowned photographers of whom I have never heard of, I’ve seen landscapes that took my breath away, children’s smiles that made me want to put my camera aside for a moment and go to play with them, and most important, I found beautiful friendships through many laughs and long talks, and I know that they will last forever in my heart.

And at the end, once more, I found myself, at least for a few precious moments, when everything disappeared and I was left with my soul embracing another soul through photography. So, as I have said before, I keep on seeing Ernesto as a magician that thanks to his caring and loving personality, guides us all on a path that no one should miss. Thank you Ernesto for so much, for your generosity, for our true friendship, for our eternal talks, and thank you “Lost and Found” people, each and every one of you made a difference in this workshop. Thank you my dear caipirinha laughing gang, for the joy, the love, the hugs, the laughs and the moments that will write a very special chapter in the story of my life. We will meet again, and try again, and dance again in the rhythmical waves of life and photography. Until then I will miss you dearly.

Sandra Pereznieto

 



 

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® Santiago Llobet

 

This Bahian workshop was my second workshop in Bahia and my third with Ernesto. I really need to say that learning photography with Ernesto Bazan has changed me completely. I suddenly found a new universe to explore and not only in the places we go to, but also with the persons who were in the workshop. I found a group of people that I can travel with, feel comfortable and call them friends even if we only meet from time to time.
It is amazing how Ernesto attracts this kind of people that are passionate about photography and, at the same time, very sensitive and helpful. To get involved in these groups is always a pleasure for me and a lucky event that I can’t miss having in my life.
I didn’t feel very well those days. Some minor health issues prevented me from giving 100% of myself to the experience, but it was easy to connect with the group who seemed to be there to share every minute of these special moments that life gives you during the trip.
It was not only the contact with the friendly people of Brazil that was special, the editing sessions were also moments of discussion and growth both as a photographer and as a human being. Moments that I really appreciated and that will remain stuck with me forever. Actually the moment that some of the group realized that a shadow in a wall can mimic a person in front of the wall, was pure magic. Believe me. It was. jajaja
Ernesto is always supportive, kind and sincere, because of that, his guidance makes the trip worth every penny. He makes you point your attention where it should be and makes you forget other, more classical or less interesting approaches to the photographic creation.That’s why I will always recommend these workshops and I’ll keep returning to them to learn, to share and to celebrate life.
It’s worth mentioning that in the last dinner we had in Salvador we enjoyed very special and delicious food prepared by a unique italian chef, a master of life who kindly gave us the best closing we might ever expected of such a journey. I won’t forget “La Lupa” in Salvador. I’m sure of that.

Santiago Llobet

 



 

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® Tamara Granovsky

 

I was both fortunate to travel to Brazil and to take part in a photography workshop offered by Ernesto Bazan. He claims to be a harsh task master, but in truth he is a rigorous, competent, insightful, and generous man with high standards for his students; he knows they can reach greater levels by the time they leave him. Very quickly, it became clear that we would come out thinking about photography in a new light. He offers constructive critiques emphasizing form, content, and avoidance of distraction (his mantra), so that one element does not overcome the other; it is not just about tightening composition, or simply showing something, but adding a human/emotive element to the photograph even if a person is nary to be seen. We each worked to improve our photographic skills beyond the strictly technical and were encouraged to develop our own photographic language and natural inclinations. Most importantly, we were always reminded to photograph what talks to our hearts. Go beyond simply recording and get below the outer layer… delve deeply to the core.

Tamar Granowsky

 


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