Baptism of Fire


One of our students from last year had created a book of the images she took here in Cadiz. We love it, so well done Helena. You have lots of talent, so keep up the good work.

Helena Løkkeberg

Helena’s contribution had us reflecting on Luzia’s first year and especially the Sogndal Folkehøyskole course. We were running the courses in our first season with a small number of participants, spoiling them rotten with our attention, and gearing up for the full courses. The idea was to grow gradually, to fill up the 6 places on the themed courses. But life always happens when you’re busy making other plans, and when we got a request from a school in Norway to run a week’s course for their 10 students plus 2 staff, with accommodation, food, transport and everything, we knew it was going to be the big test.

The Devil is in the detail, so we planned it to the max. While Nacho took care of the logistics and most of the detail, Gry worked on a course content to suit the level of the students, who were on their first semester of the photography course. It was shaping up to be really good.

10 days before the course was to start, disaster struck. Gry took a dive from the top of a step-ladder which gave way, and landed on her back, resulting in a multi-fractured shoulder. It was like the curtain went down before the show even had started, but at no point did we consider calling it off. We adjusted our roles a bit to allow more ’mental and mentoring’ from Gry, and more physical demonstration from Nacho. We counted the days and hoped for progress…

The day came, and all 12 arrived safely and in time at Malaga airport, where Nacho waited with the hired bus. That evening, we guided everyone to their 4 flats/apartments, and had a quiet outdoor dinner at Plaza Mentidero.

We discovered very soon that our young friends from Norway were a very mixed bunch, mainly because so many of them were extremely quiet. Living in the culture of Spain, speaking one by one is unusual, let alone silence. Sivelin, the teacher, had indeed said that we would meet a very mixed group, who hadn’t yet had the time to get to know each other and ‘gel’ together. We knew that was one of our biggest challenges, to enliven the group, to bring on some communication.


We started with breakfast in the sun at HQ, getting to know everyone in a mix of English and Norwegian, before heading off to Torre Tavira, where the group had their first assignment with a birds eye view of Cadiz, and the experience of being inside the camera in the famous Camera Obscura. We then leisurely headed off through the streets to Plaza Caterdal and into El Populo where an abundant spanish lunch was served. We discovered very soon that for this group of 19-year olds from Norway, fish and seafood did not exactly fit the bill, and we realised that a quick revision of the dietary plan was necessary. Our final destination that first day was La Caleta beach and San Sebastian castle, and our Norwegian friends got their feet wet immediately and with great pleasure.

One of the highlights of the week was a trip to Bolonia Beach and Roman Ruins, and Vejer. Some students found their favourite subject in the old Roman city, whilst others climbed towards the top of the huge dune, with great joy. The rest took a swim. It was a great day out, even for Gry, who took the role of slow sweeper and theory instructor. Meanwhile, Nacho was helping the students compose evocative images and use ’photography goggles’ to discover interesting compositions. In the streets of Vejer we explored the whites, colors and bright highlight, something quite different from the Norwegian pine woods and fjords.


Another highlight was the Flamenco at La Perla, where the staff helped us give the students good placements to shoot in the busy venue. The dancers did not disappoint, and gave a cracking and authentic performance.

At Punta de Boqueron the students had another great day out, shooting movement and portraits in the landscape and seascape, and we got a sense of the group gelling socially and having fun. We had had fine and hot weather up till that day, but suddenly the threat of rain gave more interesting skies, and gave a great ambience to the group shots arranged by Nacho at the colourful ‘shantytown’ fishing village in San Fernando that afternoon.


The final day was editing and presentation day. We managed fit in all 14 of us without too much trouble at the long table, and projected the final edits from each student, with commentary and feedback. The results from these young beginners showed great promise and loads of variety, and you can see a selection of their images in the gallery. We discovered some great talent and a great time was had, as reflected in the feedback forms, where overall we scored 4 out of 5. Phew – it had been a real baptism of fire, with twice the number of people we would normally have as our max, the age group and some people language issues and some health issues… We learned that although planning is essential, flexibility is what makes it happen. And thankfully it all came together. Hope you appreciate the results here.


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