Winner of the 2000 Edition
“Although I usually don't take part in competitions (I think that sometimes the criteria are not suitable), the Memorial María Luisa one drew my attention because of its name, as it's strange to find a competition named after somebody and I think that's what makes it different from the rest. I find it better to personalise an event like this rather than give it a more generic name such as that of the Town Hall.
The organisation is excellent: the acknowledgement of receipt, the returning of the works, the information and the web site. I feel that in addition to being well-organised, it is carried out by people who know how to give a competition with so many participants a more humane touch. I think that the fact of there being only one prize defines the personality of the competition, although I also think that it puts some people off. However, it is true that in this way those who take part really want to do so.
My mountaineering activity has been intense since 1994, when I went to the Aconcagua. From then on, I decided to climb a difficult peak every year. So, in 1995, I climbed the Kilimanjaro, the Elbrus in 1996 and McKinley in 1998; and also other peaks, lesser in height but not in difficulty: Toubkal, Tupungato, Mont Blanc, etc.
This was all very well until the year 2000, when I set up my own business (a photographic studio) and, as you can imagine, now I spend all my time exclusively there. I'm there alone with my wife and it doesn't leave me any time for mountaineering. However, this will only be for four or five years.
As the photographer of every ascent, I have managed to make up a photographic exhibition and a catalogue, which I've always had to pay for myself. My aim has been to bring the mountains closer to the kids and people who don't have the chance to know them because they live in Ciudad Real.
I have published photos and articles in Desnivel, Grandes Espacios, Escalada and the bulletins of many mountaineering clubs. The most important prize I have won is the First Prize of the International Photography Competition held in Andorra in 1996.
“A cold that fascinates" was taken on the Elbrus (Russia) in August 1996. After five days stuck in a shelter due to storms, we only had permission to stay for two more days. After that time, we had no other option than descend without having tried to get to the summit. The second last day, we set out at 2 a.m., with bad weather and rather blinded in our determination to reach the top. After a few hours it was impossible to continue under the cold, windy conditions and complete lack of visibility. Our guide had disappeared and we were pondering what to do. I took this series of pictures when the decision to turn back to the shelter was made. The disappointment of returning is reflected in the photographs without even having to look at the faces. Moments like these are what teach you to be more cautious. A member of the team suffered from frostbite in his fingers due to our persistence in going ahead.
Luckily, the next day, with lovely weather, most of us managed to get to the top. I always try to make people realise the merit of taking off your gloves, preparing the camera, framing the picture wearing wind goggles, etc. and carrying the heavy equipment.
I always take three cameras on this type of expeditions. An electronic Nikon (800-S), a mechanical one (Nikon FM), fantastic! and a compact one (Olympus).
Under the conditions which the winning photo was taken, with such low temperatures, electronic cameras don't usually work, so I took it with the Nikon FM (which I've had since 1986). The lens was a Tamron 28-200 mm and the flash a Nikon SB-23. I always work manually. I tend to use Fuji film, Velvia or Sensia depending on how much money I have. I normally also carry paper, as the difference in price and quality is enormous when I have to enlarge for exhibitions.”
David Céspedes Barroso, Ciudad Real, September 2002