Iquitos, Peru 2016
® Linda Hollinger
I have taken many workshops over the years but it was not until fate led me to an amazing website with soulful and spiritual images by Ernesto Bazan that something clicked. I was so inspired by the incredible images in the students’ galleries and the positive comments made by his students that I decided to take my first workshop in Salvador de Bahia, in Brazil two years ago. I am now on my 3rd workshop with Ernesto and he has not only changed my vision but life as well. Ernesto has a unique approach to teaching, he is supportive and sincere, rigorous and insightful and forces you to go beyond your comfort zone. I am now motivated to study and move forward in a positive direction.
His workshops’ go way beyond just taking photographs. It is a blessing to meet the warm and gracious families and to be invited into their home and lives. It is good to see the familiar faces of past students and meet new students as well.
Thank you Isabel, Nilo, Monica and Julia for your constructive critiques during our editing sessions and thank you Ernesto for sharing your work of seventeen years in Peru. You are an inspiration to all who attend your workshops! Linda Hollinger
® Monica Jimenez
This year without planning, I ended up doing two back-to-back workshops in Peru with Ernesto; same country, two different worlds. I have to say the rawness of Iquitos and Pebas, a remote town deep in the Amazon River, hit me at first. I had never seen such poverty and lack of opportunities within the community. The surrounding rivers represent their biggest blessing and threat, as they provide transportation, fishing and the basic commercial trade of goods, but also, during many months of the year, the water floods their homes without mercy, limiting their living space to whatever nature allows.
Once I recovered from the initial impact, I started to see and appreciate the beauty in their simple existence. I could stay for hours watching the kids playing in the river, jumping into the water from any available structure, fearlessly and happily, as dolphins swam nearby. They played in the street with anything from plastic bottle caps, old tires, paper airplanes and animal pets that you would never see elsewhere. Electricity, Internet and drinking water are of course very limited resources in the area. Yet, amongst all these shortcomings, the generosity and friendliness of the people and their willingness to let you into their homes and share their culture and traditions, was absolutely humbling! This, added to our daily day trips to different indigenous and religious communities along the river, a lovely group of photographers, their interesting personal projects and the opportunity to take another look at Ernesto’s life book “When You Grow Up…” (a tribute to his family, and a project I’ve had the fortune to see develop from its very first draft last September), turned it into another amazing photographic and life experience.
Ernesto, thanks for your wholehearted support and for all that you have allowed me to see and learn, way beyond photography. Also, for finding a delicious cake in the middle of the Amazon to celebrate my birthday! Nilo, Isabel, Julia and Linda: I enjoyed the time we spent together and learned from all of you. I hope we’ll meet again. Monica Jimenez
® Nilo Rebecchi
“This morning I went out early. I walked for forty minuets. I didn’t see anything.” “In my book there are six pictures taken in that year.” These words by Ernesto helped me. Slowly I understood that in photography the failures are the usual. The exception is to capture an image that synthesize a situation and that it conveys the emotion felt by his author. When, rarely, it happens, it provides meaning to all your failures. It’s like walking an uncertain path in the hope to reach an unknown destination.
Being aware of the difficulty of expressing yourself through photography feeds the determination. For me this has been the first lesson I learned from the five workshops with Ernesto here in the Peruvian Amazon. They have been experiences that have given me much more of what I expected. The discovery, the becoming aware of certain situations and, above all, the friendship.
We keep hearing that photography cannot be taught. I don’t know. Each one of us starts his own path pushed by the necessity to express himself. What I know is that if you feel this necessity you can make progress by confronting yourself with a master that, like Ernesto, knows how teach without having to explain and with people that share your same need. I’ve known extraordinary persons and photographers such as Linda, Isabel, Monica, and Julia that with kindness and determination immersed themselves in situations difficult at times. When I meet people that feel this necessity, I feel joy and comfort and I’ve the feeling to have known them forever. Nilo Rebecchi
® Isabel Soler
as you could see I entered my routine and I hardly have the time to look at or write in Facebook or other social medias. This doesn’t mean that I forgot my Amazonian experience, just the opposite. It is now that I begin to have a perspective of what we lived and how it influenced my photography and me.
I went to Peru looking for a personal experience that would make me get close to photography again, because photography without the living experience or the maturity needed to look around us is nothing. I wanted for photography and life to unite again.
What I discovered is something more.
For a long time I’ve been asking myself what unifies people even when being far away from one another. It’s not just photography, photography such as art or common taste, are the excuse to share, mediators that take shape as they are being shared. Sometimes you serve a beer with tapas, an Andalusian breakfast or an Amazonian dinner, but the true point of union is the energy that moves us, that makes us believes that other worlds are possible and that we can create them. In this moment, exactly in this moment, photography converts itself in a medium, in a useful and necessary tool to mediate between who we are and the place in which we find ourselves.
I had to go to Peru to understand where I’m standing photographically speaking, and now I understand how you can glance in the same fashion from Peru or Brazil or in Italy and Mexico, because our place, with the people we love, goes with us.
It’s difficult to reach to conclusions in these photographic trips, but I ask myself how you get to them. How do we unite energies to create our own images? I believe that there are three phases to it. The first is the way you give yourself to others. Give yourself, your photo album, share it and be ready to receive criticism is an act of generosity, and this very act gives you confidence to dialogue and communication. “It’s easy” a friend used to say to me – “Give and you will be given, love and you will be loved.” But frankly it’s not so easy for everyone.
The second phase is empathy. Place yourself in the place of others, observe what they do and how they do it in order to be able to talk from their perspective and offer new data. Identify with others to help is part of your empathy. Understanding in order to teach.
The third phase. Your resilience. It is the physical capacity that certain objects or materials have to regain their natural state after being subjected to pressure or adversity. Applying this to a human being is the capacity to face and overcome emotional circumstances and, therefore, reach positivity and tranquility.
So if we sum up Generosity, Empathy and Resiliency we obtain the positive energy that we are being offered.
This is the perfect ambiance to be able to explore, look at with time, to observe, feel, choose and share. For this I believe that, when the latent energy becomes patent, it becomes contagious, and through invisible threads it unifies groups that, like ours was, have known how to unite their glances and grow in such a short period of time.
And of the dialogues, advice, suggestions that among all of us we shared, and that I keep inside of me with pride, I have one in my memory that sums up the rest:
“Do not take pictures until you feel an emotion inside of you!”
Ernesto thank you for offering us a common ground where to share our emotions. Isabel Soler
® Julia Vogelweith
Taking part in a workshop with Ernesto is like swallowing a pill and having positive experiences from the whole world flowing around your head.
It gives you the opportunity to explore new worlds, to live your Life in a more complex and richer way.
It makes you grow as a human being. Julia Vogelweith