Tell us about yourself in two sentences - who are you?
My name is Ernesto Ortiz and I’m a former structural engineer now living the dream, exploring Chile's national parks and Patagonia's remote locations, as a freelance photographer.
What's the weirdest situation you've found yourself in while taking a photograph?
I was climbing, at around 5800 meters, when I visualised the perfect shot of my fellow climbing mates with the stunning landscape behind them. The terrain was very loose and I had my camera inside my backpack, so I carefully moved to the biggest rock I could find hoping it was firm enough to use as an anchor point. Turns out it wasn't, but the shot was too good to miss, so I went for it anyway. Backpack off and there I was desperately searching for my camera when I hear from above a loud and clear scream: "R O O C K". This basically means a huge rock went loose and was probably falling my way.
I took a short glimpse up and there it was, a microwave sized rock coming at full speed straight towards me. Moving quickly from my loose rock could have meant dropping my backpack and my camera gear in it but training kicked in and scared to death, I waited to the last moment. When I was about to ditch the backpack and get out of there the rock suddenly changed its course and missed me by a couple of meters.
What do you shoot on? What's your favourite set up?
I mostly shoot with an Olympus OMD EM-1 and three lenses 9-18mm f4-f5.6, 12-40mm f2.8 and a 14-150mm f4-f5.6. With the crop factor that’s a 18-36mm, 24-80mm, 28-300mm equivalent on a full frame camera. I don't have a go to setup and it really depends on what I'm doing and what type of shot I'm looking for. Every lens has its pros and cons so picking one is always a hard choice, especially when starting a climb where changing lenses isn't always easy.
What's your number one tip for an aspiring photographer?
If you want to get serious stop taking random shots without purpose. There are millions of people calling themselves photographers out there travelling to amazing locations and getting those perfect shots that look great but have no story behind them. They are just another pretty sunrise or sunset. Instead, maybe you should pick a subject that you love and shoot the hell out of it. Spend a couple of years on it, make it your own and sooner or later you will end up with something nobody else has. If it is important to you, it probably is important to others.
What's your favourite pic you've uploaded to Picfair? Tell us about it!
That's a really hard question. I'm very emotional with every photograph I take and I'm having a hard time choosing one, but a very meaningful one is "From Above". I was climbing my first 6000+ meter volcano, expedition leader and on assignment for the brand that sponsored our expedition. It was a sunny day but we had around -20 celsius with wind chill all the way to the summit. I was taking a breath when I realised a friend was close to me and looking towards the mountain we were supposed to climb in a couple of days. I was suddenly "in the moment" and all the training, all the sacrifices and the hard work came back to me. I realised I was finally there and I was enjoying and suffering every second of it. In an instinctive reaction I quickly took off my big fat gloves to get the shot. My hands got cold instantly but I was able to capture that moment. It's not the best composition, not the best light, but every time I look at it, it reminds me what I felt and why I do what I do.
And finally, what’s the one thing you love most about Picfair?
I haven't been here for more than a week but when a real person actually reaches out to you, it makes a difference. I've been in contact with Picfair staff and it is very pleasing to know there are actual people behind everything. I'm still not sure if image licensing photography sites are for me but I am having a great experience so far and hoping to get more people inspired to see and license my work.