He's on the alert, waiting for the roar of the rocket that heralds the day: the start of a new bull run. When the Regional Police lifts the barrier at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the longing of the crowd to get into the path where the bulls will run is palpable in the fetid gust of wind that hints at the excesses of the night before.
“I call it the stench of fear and it gives me fair warning that the rocket is about to blast off; it's a sickening smell but also a very specific one”, says Pío, whose privileged spot allows him to graphically portray frantic races.
He hardly has any photos of runners and bulls together, as the angle from which he shoots is so tight that he either catches the animal or the man. Yet, from his series of pictures, one intuits and gets the briefest glimpse of impossible mad dashes by brave runners or, mostly, reckless ones trying to dodge the spear-like horns at the last second.
From his stool he feels the rush of adrenaline every time he clutches his camera for the scant few seconds from the first bull passing in front of his shop to the last animal disappearing into the crowd.
“I still can't really believe that nothing life-threatening has ever happened on this curve. The odd scare, of course, but never anyone killed or anything really serious. People say it's because of the Saint’s cape that I have painted on the wooden rails. A lot of the runners come to my shop before the run to spend a quiet moment. Once, an American woman asked me if I was a priest”, chuckles 66-year-old Pío who began, photographing the Sanfermines fiestas in 1963.