Photography by Ernesto Bazan
Group Cristal Clear

Earlier this year, I had said to myself that this was going to be the last time I was teaching the Ecuadorian workshop. The amazing experience that we all had proved me wrong. It is a clear signal from up above.

Before getting into a workshop, it’s always very encouraging to know that I already know all the students. Nick was at his fifth, Peter at his third, and Bob and Giorgio were at their second.

We had a good start running into a group of indigenous people in a cemetery shrouded in fog in the middle of nowhere. The day of the unforeseen car race, when we got lost (one of the best thing a street photographer can do) on a mountainous dirt road looking for Quingeo, was another memorable day.

Then the amazing bulls’ festival begun. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I realized that close relatives of last year’s hosting family were in charge of the celebrations this year. George and his family welcomed us generously as sacred guests.

We partook in the long and elaborate ceremonies, ate with them, tried to take pictures that would reveal the essence of the feast. My face, clothes, shoes and cameras got totally drenched in bull’s blood during the sacrifice. I simply wiped it off and kept on shooting. We worked really hard. We will never forget the 15-hour shooting day on Saturday.

The workshop has also been about good moments of laughter, jokes and extremely wonderful dining experiences, and above all a special gathering of good karmas.

From the very start, many different possibilities came up on how to name the group including the Jamaican Tooth Brush and Veloce. It would take too much space to tell the intriguing stories behind these odd choices. In the end, we decided to call it Cristal Clear in honor of the annihilating throat and larynx alcoholic concoctions that were constantly and generously offered to us at all time. Bob claimed that he survived drinking chicha (a fermented corn alcoholic drink) thanks to the many shots of Cristal Clear he drunk in one day. He almost lost his voice, but this is another story.

The last editing session was passionate and intense. I could see in the students’ eyes the sheer excitement of looking at the final prints. I was pleasantly surprised how critical each student was of his own work. Many early first choices simply disappeared.

Together we brought the final selection down to six images per student. I’m proud of their commitment and good results. I’ll be definitely be back next year.

Ernesto Bazan

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