Playing Bahia Yemanja Gallery

Salvador de Bahia, Brazil 2016

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® David Saxe


Like most people, I probably had some vague preconceptions of the images and people that I would encounter during my ten days in Bahia. However I was totally unprepared for the myriad of wonderful experiences that awaited me. I have always loved surprises and this workshop with Ernesto certainly did not disappoint me. From the many beautiful people we encountered in those wonderful small remote rural villages, the Jemanya ceremonies that we immersed ourselves in, to Ernesto’s blunt, honest daily critiques of our work, it was truly a magical experience—one that was never dull or predictable. With the time slowly passing, becoming more immersed in our subjects—going where our hearts and spirits took us, and just flowing with the moment, it was as if I were in a slow dream, on a lazy river that just meandered on and on—only to wake up when I boarded my flight back to Miami. David Saxe




® Mike Holderness


Time is a funny thing and it seems astonishing that we were able to fit so much into a ten day workshop. From Salvador and the sensory overload of San Joaquin market; to wading through the waves in the paradise of Itaparica; to the rooster fighting and quilombos of Cachoeira. All of these with the drum beat, processions and ceremonies of Yemanja running through them like a spiritual river. That we were able to experience so much is wholly due of course to Ernesto; without his energy, knowledge and guidance we wouldn’t have been able to see a fraction of these unique and wonderful things.

Time is also a precious thing and the way Ernesto tends to his students with such patience, warmth, encouragement and humor is testimony to the generosity of spirit and tireless devotion of our inspiring ‘Professor’. Of course all Ernesto’s students will be aware that you don’t just get a wonderful teacher when you sign up for a BPW adventure, you also get a driver, a translator, a fixer, a guide, an authority on the local gastronomy and, above all, a friend.

Ours was a small group; just me, fellow first timer David and long-time student Romain. Thank you guys, in addition to being great company, I learned so much from talking with you and viewing your images. The way in which Ernesto affectionately refers to his students from previous workshops leaves you with the feeling that you have become part of a large family of photographers who although dispersed across the world and who may never meet, will always have the Ernesto Bazan experience to connect them.

Concerning my photography, the term that comes to mind from the workshop is “growing pains”. Ernesto is invariably honest, unpatronizing, constructive and supportive in his critique and the only useful response to this is hard work and perseverance. And gradually, with each day, each just-missed opportunity and each disappointing distracting element I knew that I was understanding more, feeling more and demanding more of myself. Ernesto inspires you to raise your own “photographic bar” and want to keep improving and to seek better images – and I believe that this is something that will stay with me for a long time. I certainly understand why so many of Ernesto’s students return for more, it seems the most natural thing in the world and I am sure that I will also be back. Mike Holderness



® Romain Fournier


This long-awaited trip in Bahia was a real treat. Having spent a year without shooting, I felt restless but also rusty and it took me some time to tune in. When I felt more at ease, with the people and with my camera, I eventually struggled with low light conditions. In the end, the pictures I remember the most, and I am very proud of, are the ones I was not able to take. The drowning of the Yemanja statue in the water at night just made my trip. I really felt privileged to have experienced such moment of grace. This situation alone makes me want to go back next year. Ernesto, un Grand Merci for sharing your dummy book about your family. A moving body of work that no one else, but you, could have crafted like you did it. No need to say more. A bientôt, Ciao Romain Fournier


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