BazanPhotos
Photography by Ernesto Bazan
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Cartagena

From the 9th to the 15th of October of the year 2001, I went to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia to give a workshop sponsored by the Fundacion Iberoamericana de Nuevo Periodismo. On the plane, I was mentally organizing the structure that I would give to this new meeting with 15 photographers from all Latin America. I liked very much the idea that the photographers had been chosen by different countries like pieces of a mosaic. Another thing that made me happy was that, this time, thanks to my insistence for the last three years, the Foundation had finally agreed to give me a complete week rather than the usual and short five days of work.

Delighted about these two extra days, I was thinking how I was going to share them with my students. From the very beginning we all agreed that you could breath a distinct air, that there was an unusual chemistry, an energy that enveloped the group and that would push each one of us to take up the work ahead of us with a strong commitment. I asked of each photographer to choose a specific theme and that he or she would probe it without changes or distractions. Although some of the photographers had some initial doubts and were a bit afraid to face a single theme, since they were used to and I'd say almost forced to, at their paper to photograph many assignments on one day, they all chose their own subject without hesitation.

Rodrigo, from Costa Rica, would follow the children living on the streets; Moises, from Guatemala, would focus on juvenile soccer; Cecilia, from Peru, women boxers; Grace, from Mexico, the Nelson Mandela slum; Rafael, also from Mexico, the life of a young handicapped man; Martin, from Argentina, a restoration school; William, from Colombia, a psychiatric hospital; Manuel, also from Colombia, the stall sellers on the streets; Jenny, from Salvador, the fishermen; Ramon, from Venezuela, the Spanish walls that surround the old town; Oscar, the third Colombian, would have concentrated on photographing “famous” people on the street; while Jose and Julio, from Brazil, would document a modern dance group. Finally, Alfredo from Argentina and Javier from Mexico, chose to photograph the daily life in a women jail. Also I, fascinated by the theme. chose to photograph inside this reality behind bars.

As the contact sheets would arrive and each one of them was helping me to choose the best photos, I realized that the photographic level was pretty high and although some had had some initial difficulties every one had started putting his best energies into the work. Rodrigo disappeared for a few days in order to gain the trust of the street’s children. Javier, having won his initial fear, was telling me how much he liked to go back to the jail day after day in the attempt to capture some of the subtleties of the 45 inmates' existence.

Each night back at the hotel, we would continue our conversations on photography and photographers that had had an impact on our lives. Beautiful spontaneous discussions would give us the opportunity to get to know each other better not only as photographers but also as human beings. But the true element that gave us the opportunity to seal our friendships and our mutual respect were the very competitive water polo matches.

At the end of the workshop, we had the privilege to organize a show of the best photos taken jail inside the jail. We invited all the group and Jaime, Jose Luis and Ricardo from the Fundacion. The inmates helped us to hang the show along a corridor bathed in a very soft light.

I'll never forget poor Alfredo sweating, while sieged by a multitude of women wanting to look at the photos that he was graciously trying to distribute. Some of us played volleyball, I even danced to champeta - a contagious rhythm born in Cartagena.

The essence of what took place in these seven unforgettable days is summed up by these sweet words written by Rodrigo upon his return home to San Jose:"My wife tells me that I look strange and in reality I feel a bit different. Never would I have imagined that a photographic workshop was going to help me so much in all aspects. Many times the newspaper job can turn into a routine, and one as a professional and as a human being wishes for a change, a space that would make you stop and think carefully what are you doing and where you are heading to. Sharing so much time with people of such high professional and personal level filled me completely. Two sentences that you said during the workshop stayed with me deep inside my soul: "in order to be a good photographer, you have to be a decent human being first" and " you have to live to take photographs rather than taking pictures to make a living."

Ernesto Bazan







© Martin Acosta







© Martin Acosta







© Moises Castillo







© Moises Castillo







© Julio Cesar Cordeiro







© Julio Cesar Cordeiro







© Jenny Cruz







© Jenny Cruz







© Rafael Del Rio







© Rafael Del Rio







© Ramon Lapage







© Ramon Lapage







© Cecilia Larrabure







© Cecilia Larrabure







© Javier Lopez







© Javier Lopez







© William Martinez







© William Martinez







© Oscar Monsalve







© Oscar Monsalve







© Rodrigo Montoya







© Rodrigo Montoya







© Grace Navarro







© Grace Navarro







© Manuel Pedraza







© Manuel Pedraza







© Alfredo Srur







© Alfredo Srur







© Jose Varela







© Jose Varela






Please note that the copyright of all the images appearing in the students gallery belongs to each individual photographer. No photograph can be reproduced without the author consent.



Copyright 1973-2004 All photographs and content by Ernesto Bazan. All rights reserved.