The Answer is Yes Gallery
Cuzco, Peru 2016
® Brendan Williams
This is my second workshop with Ernesto Bazan and I’m confident that it will not be my last!
The workshop in the Sacred Valley, Peru, transcended traditional notions of a photo workshop – it was a life experience – full of fun, laughter, and learning in the beautiful Peruvian landscape. We had some wonderful hikes in the mountains and I came home a little bit fitter than when I had left!
Ernesto’s workshops always seem to attract very talented photographers wanting to study with him to help them to push the boundaries of their vision and this workshop was no exception – the high standards set by all of the students helped to open one’s eye to what can be achieved through hard work and perseverance, and a little talent of course! We got to see the wonderful on going project work of very talented photographers and students Chad Anderson, Calvin Chen and Sandra Pereznieto with the whole group participating in editing their images. Ernesto presented his beautiful photographs of on going Cantos projects in Bahia and Peru. This was one of the highlights of the workshop for me. It was also wonderful to see the excellent work of Elke, David, Milton, Monica, Jim and Daniel – I learned from each one of you.
Ernesto reviewed our images each day and the critiques helped us all to re-focus our mind’s eye and try and seek out images that “ go beyond” and transcend obvious, descriptive photos and to photograph with our hearts – and not only what we see before us. Easier said than done of course , but I think the students’ images show that he was successful in helping us to take our work to the next level! All in all it was a great trip – new friendships were formed and existing ones strengthened. What better way to learn than when also happy and laughing with Ernesto and the other wonderful students while photographing in the beautiful Sacred Valley. Thank you Ernesto. Brendan Williams
® Calvin Chen
In search of the spiritual. That’s the journey I’ve been blessed to be on with Ernesto and his workshops. Walking amongst shepherds in surreal landscapes that have been untouched by time. Observing sacred rituals that have been passed on through generations. How can one not believe in forces that are greater than us, forces that bind us? The camera seems just a simple tool to bear witness to these small but numerous miracles. The photographs, humble attempts to capture these fleeting moments. I often hear Ernesto in the back of my mind, “does this photo go beyond… does it elevate itself…” I’ve heard his critiques so many times that I can even replicate his cadence and intonation in my head, but like good photos, they mean something more, they become more complex, each time we revisit them. In no uncertain terms, I am a better photographer because of Ernesto. But what I am more grateful for are the friendships and experiences made on this incredible journey. Until next time. Calvin Chen
® Chad Anderson
Higher. 14,911 feet (4,545 m). I try climbing a nearby pinnacle, all I need is 89ft, so I can claim the 15,000 foot mark. It proves too steep and I’m seriously out of breath anyway. This year’s Peruvian adventure has taken us to new heights in this surreal landscape. The treeless peaks and fertile valleys of the Inca are, at the same time, barren and fecund. We found ourselves clinging to the mountain side as we follow a beautiful and humbling precession of the young men of Huarocondo as they pull and carry a 500 lb. cross up the highest peak above their small pueblo in hopes of being blessed with a mate in the near future. Standing at the top (14,209 ft…if you are interested) as the cross was raised was sublime. This is a land of contrasts. Capturing the essence of this land and its people is a humbling task that I have chosen. I love it. My sixth trip to Peru with Ernesto, this time with an extended family of like minded photographers. I miss them already. Hopefully our paths will cross again, maybe in Peru. Thank you once again Ernesto for your guidance, inspiration, and wisdom. Chad Anderson
® Daniel Torres
Ernesto’s workshops are not for the faint of heart. I didn’t know this when I signed up, but I quickly found out one afternoon when he said “This is the opportunity of a lifetime, will you tag along?” And I tagged along, and we climbed to an altitude of almost 4,500 meters, and nearly got lost, and shared earth-baked potatoes and home-fermented chicha, a corn drinks by the mountain side with the generous villagers of that remote and beautiful place, with whom we walked, and with whom we became brothers, and hail hit my face really hard as my heart was beating faster than I’ve ever felt it, and drums and flutes were playing as my eyes rested on the vastness of the Inca valley from the highest and most sacred vantage point; and it was equal parts beautiful, dangerous, and haunting, like all things that are relevant and worth living.
So we did not sign up for a workshop; instead we signed a contract of sorts where Ernesto took us to do the daring things only those photographers who are in the hunt for magic do. In exchange we had the obligation to live it, to live it intensely, and then he (and my fellow photographers) would tell us how well we captured that magic. You see, the group of people who come to Ernesto’s workshops share a passion for distilling the essence of things; they photograph, yet they are there mainly to grab life by the skirt and lift it to reveal the intimate mystery from where all things come. They would gaze upon a void and shout “Hello, nothingness, show me why you are beautiful!…”
And what do you learn? Very precise things: a vocabulary to express whether or not your work resonates, a network of peers that walk this world with the intention of uncovering its secrets, and also (be careful) a lifelong challenge to be like that monk who once said: “Illumination is the ability to live life a fraction of a second at a time”.
Indeed, none of us came to make pretty images -all of us are above pretty photos-, we came here to witness and record magic. And we will all do it again! Daniel Torres
® David Salmanowitz
Ernesto’s workshop is really like no other in that, as corny and sappy as it sounds, all of us involved became like family, even better like family I would want to see again! The critiques with Ernesto and the other participants were just great; that was a real learning experience. Ernesto wisely does not sugarcoat his responses to a photo, it either works or it does not, and he has no problem expressing his opinion. This was invaluable as it was real advice from the heart and this is what makes you grow as an artist. There I go sounding corny and sappy again! Just the number of returning attendees shows what a great experience it was, and to watch people’s photos get stronger daily shows me something real special was going on! David Salmanowitz
® Elke VanRulo
Unlike after my first Ernesto Bazan workshop this time I could not focus while writing my comments on the plane ride back home. I figured that if I would put my notes aside for a week things should be more in perspective. But now here I am and as everything has been so perfectly put into words by friends already, I am wondering what else there is left for me to add, an interesting exercise.
The feeling that has not left me since my return is one of deep gratitude. I feel so lucky for the opportunity I have had to experience The Sacred Valley in such a unique and personal way like we did with Ernesto. Not even 10 solo travels would have given me the access Ernesto has given me to this part of Peru and its humble and hospitable people. He has a sixth sense for recognising situations with potential in which we thankfully immersed ourselves. Without Ernesto’s guidance I would have lost myself completely trying to capture the magnificence and brutal beauty of The Sacred Valley. I noticed at some point that the altitude sickness that stayed with me for most of the trip and even the lack of oxygen were no longer working against me but were actually helping me to listen to myself and to focus on impressions I wanted to convey through my photographs.
I have been telling everyone back home that the trip would have been worthwhile even without the outstanding lessons in photography that both Ernesto and the editing sessions with the student group have taught me. And then I did not even mention the many moments I shared in those 10 magical days with special friends that will stay with me forever, all while making new friends along the way. I truly believe life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them.
Until we all meet again someday! Elke Van Rulo
® Jim Hartsen
“How small we are… A life-time of seemingly unimportant moments… Then …One look…One hand joins two…then three…then more until a group is formed. A flow of energy is passed around the circle…a feeling of flow…an hour extends…it reaches into a week…weeks into years. We do all really touch each other now…not like two sticks, cut off by boundaries…but more like soft churning energy merging in and out with formless form, constantly changing in motion…until still. The union makes one feel as though the separate parts are no longer there. Only the space filled with light remain. There is no you…nor I…nor we…it merges into all…in that still center. All is equivalent to one…unseparated. We don’t have to have ever meant, yet we are all connected and what we each do in our life, ultimately affects us all. Quote by Minor White used by Jim Hartsen
® Milton Zambrana
I have been trying to find the words…since I have been back to describe just how important this past Cusco workshop has been for me. How crucial it was to spend time with likeminded individuals whose talent has helped to reinvigorate my drive for making photographs. Ernesto’s soulful energy plays a large role in guiding the learning process that takes place during the 10 days, providing long days among surreal landscapes where we always felt welcomed by individuals who have so little in material possessions but whose hearts are filled with everything that makes humanity worthwhile. It was truly humbling. The intimate moments handed to us by life itself are central to Ernesto’s way of life and to his teaching philosophy and as a result there was no shortage of them. The editing sessions every morning were crucial to revving that creative motor which by the end of the workshop yielded true magic. I am grateful for Ernesto and for all the members of our group…you have given me more than you will ever know…I still have a lot of reflecting to do in order to absorb all the lessons that were crammed into such a short amount of time and already I look forward to feeling the cold crisp air in the mountains of Cusco once again. Milton Zambrana
® Mónica Jiménez
This was the most amazing photography, trekking and life experience! Thanks Ernesto, Calvin, Chad, Milton, Brendan, Jim, Daniel, David, Elke and Sandra for making every part of this workshop so extraordinary! Monica Jimenez
® Sandra Pereznieto
The Pachamama gift
We rely so much on our eyes, when it’s our soul that expresses through our senses, whether they are our eyes, our hands, our breath… As time passes by, I’ve come to realise that it’s only if we have an “awaken” soul that we can try to find a way to communicate what we have inside to others, and so many times it is through the connection with other human beings that we can find a path. Today I sit alone next to my window after so many days of sharing laughs and passions, fears and strengths, tiredness and hope with other twelve photographers from which I have learned, whom I have loved, and with whom I have spent countless hours looking for a way to express our souls. For ten days we have become a second family in a very special way. In the silence of my intimate time before life strikes back, I can only feel grateful for life, for friendship, for love between peers, for the good fortune of having Ernesto’s wise and loving teachings to guide us all through our own paths. I feel honoured to be a part of this bigger family that Ernesto has been creating through his dedication, love and commitment to his students. After my sixth workshop I can only say that the road is just beginning for me, a road that I hope will last forever. In my mind images of shepherds and alpacas keep running in a vast untouched land of precious mountains and cotton-like clouds as the cold wind is embracing our emotions and music from a flute is caressing our thoughts. We move as soft as we can, as if we were scared of breaking the magical balance of an overwhelming land that welcomes us with humble smiles.
The Pachamama, as the Quechua call their land, has given us all an invaluable gift, allowing us to walk her mountains and valleys in search of our own souls. Humble shepherds have been our witnesses and curious alpacas have made our way easier, and through ten incredible days, we all go back with beautiful images and great memories. Now we go home and try to process what we have learned through Ernesto’s teachings and hopefully, we will meet again in the next adventure. Until then I wish the best for each one of you my dear friends, may life be wiser than us and let us meet again soon… the answer is YES. Sandra Pereznieto