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Photography by Ernesto Bazan
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Ramoncito

One of the most fascinating aspects of teaching the workshop in Oaxaca during the Day of the Dead celebrations is the possibility of being able to photograph at the same time life and death: the essence of our existence.

It’s quite an experience to take pictures of the long wakes where death is accepted as a fact of life without the tragic connotations that often assumes. Music is played and the relatives of the deceased who share this intimate relation with their loved ones consume food. The celebrations take place for two full days in myriad cemeteries across the city and its outlying villages. How can one forget the candle light vigil in the Atzompa cemetery that begins at dusk and last through dawn when slowly the sun’ rays start filtering through scattered clouds.

We were also welcomed in the children’s parades where toddlers looking like little devils, vampires, monsters, mummies and brides invaded the streets with their joyful shrieks and laughter.

Angie, Francesca, Rose, Kevin, Manuel and Nick were busy in their daily search of significant moments. Every night during the editing sessions, I’d try to point out how most of the images were unable to covey what we saw, what excited us, what motivated us to click the shutter. But as the days went by, also thanks to the generosity of the Goodness of Photography (who always has to be on your side), some good, special images would begin to appear, to stand out.

Towards the end of the workshop we had a very special treat, when the class and I had the privilege to photograph without any restrictions for two days inside the biggest slaughterhouse in Oaxaca.

An overwhelming sense of loss would size each one of us every time a bull would walk unwilling into the small pen where he will spend the last few seconds of his life, before a bullet will stunt his consciousness forever.

I still have vivid memories of Ramoncito, the designated killer, nearing his loaded gun to the animal’s head and firing it at close range without betraying any emotions. The bull’s legs would suddenly loose their massive strength; the weight of the body would collapse lifeless on the floor before being lifted up with a tick chain to be slaughtered. Everybody worked really hard trying to capture the uniqueness of the situation.

In the end, I feel that the strength of each student’s work relied heavily on combining so eloquently and subtlety these two profound aspects of our existence.

Once again, the fact that the participants were from different levels didn’t matter at all, because each in his/her own way was able to assimilate the lesson I gave, rise to the occasion and capture significant moments of this special time in Mexican culture.

Ramoncito was so gracious and patient with all of us that in the end it was a moral obligation to name the group after him. What makes all of us feel better is that he and his co-workers received many of the pictures that the students took of them a thank you note for having shared their daily sad but necessary killing with all of us.

Ernesto Bazan







Manuel Bravo

© Manuel Bravo






Manuel Bravo

© Manuel Bravo






Manuel Bravo

© Manuel Bravo






Manuel Bravo

© Manuel Bravo






Nick Goodey

© Nick Goodey






Nick Goodey

© Nick Goodey






Nick Goodey

© Nick Goodey






Nick Goodey

© Nick Goodey






Francesca Ritchey

© Francesca Ritchey






Francesca Ritchey

© Francesca Ritchey






Francesca Ritchey

© Francesca Ritchey






Francesca Ritchey

© Francesca Ritchey






Kevin Sweeney

© Kevin Sweeney






Kevin Sweeney

© Kevin Sweeney






Kevin Sweeney

© Kevin Sweeney






Kevin Sweeney

© Kevin Sweeney






Rose Vanderpitte

© Rose Vandepitte






Rose Vanderpitte

© Rose Vandepitte






Rose Vanderpitte

© Rose Vandepitte






Rose Vanderpitte

© Rose Vandepitte






Angie West

© Angie West






Angie West

© Angie West






Angie West

© Angie West






Angie West

© Angie West






Copyright © 1973-2013 All photographs and content by Ernesto Bazan. All rights reserved.