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  1. Photographs taken from Pío´s hide Photographs taken from Pío´s hide Photographs taken from Pío´s hide Photographs taken from Pío´s hide Photographs taken from Pío´s hide Photographs taken from Pío´s hide Photographs taken from Pío´s hide

    Every day during Sanfermines week at a quarter to eight, Pío Guerendiain sits on a stool next to the door of his bathroom furniture shop. He opens the gatera, a small gap in the wooden protective rails, and uses his light meter to check the light on the most famous curve on the bull run. For fifty years he has been photographing these world-renowned festivities from this spot where, seven generations ago, his family chose to live.


    By Miriam Hernanz and Miguel Campos

    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.

  2. El Pilar's bulls
    10th July 2012
    Photos: Pío Guerendiain
  3. Fuente Ymbro´s bulls
    13th July 2009
    Photos: Pío Guerendiain
  4. His photos also capture extreme close-ups of the bulls' heads - bulls that have been separated from the rest of the herd for weeks to run in the field, ensuring they reach the big date in Pamplona in the best possible shape

    They look straight into Pío's camera, as if they were pleading for a final fair portrait just a few hours before they enter the ring.

    He shoots automatically, almost without looking through the lens. There's no time. Years of experience have taught him the perfect frame in order to ‘improvise’ good photos in the few seconds he has to fire off the shutter. Seeing him work, one gets the feeling that he's actually behind the wheel of a runaway Formula 1 car where the bulls are the curves and the camera the steering wheel he is using to escape a fatal accident. It comes as no surprise to learn that, on 11th July 2009, one of Dolores Aguirre's bulls stuck its horn into Pío's hiding place.

    When they come up against Miura bulls, there are Americans who wear a formal jacket as a show of respect to the bravery of the animals from this ranch

    • Picture taken on 7th July during the bull run.
    • Picture taken on 7th July during the bull run.
    • Picture taken on 7th July during the bull run.
    • Picture taken on 7th July during the bull run.
    • Picture taken on 7th July during the bull run.
    • Picture taken on 7th July during the bull run.
    • Picture taken on 7th July during the bull run.
    • Picture taken on 7th July during the bull run.
    • Picture of Pio
  5. ‘‘When the bull stuck its horn
    into my hiding place, I understood
    just why there are so many different ways of being gored.

    It moved its horn from side to side, as if it were a finger scratching at the wood that had got in its way.
    Photograph of the moment that one of Dolores Aguirre's bulls drove its horn into Pío's gatera, on 11th July 2009.

  6. The first time they gave him a camera he was 16 years old. He had just passed his end-of-year school exams and felt he was the king of the world with his simple leaf shutter camera. “Then, when I passed my university entrance exams, an aunt of mine who was a Dominican Order nun and lived in the Philippines sent me an Asahi Pentax. That really was as good as it got” remembers Pío, his eyes sparkling. He says he is still amazed that the old motor drives on cameras could take up to three photos a second: “In just 13 seconds you shot off the 36 photos on the roll and you didn't have time to put another one in and continue photographing the bull run”.

    Some mornings during Sanfermines, Pío takes his friend to his hiding place, the same friends that he has had dinner with every Thursday for the past 27 years at the Hilarión Eslava Gastronomic Society in Burlada. They met when they founded the first Four Wheel Drive Vehicle Club in Navarra and every Thursday they get together to plan the next weekend's route. These days they don't go out driving as often, but still wouldn't dream of missing their dinner date. Most days after the bull run Pío stops by La Mañueta, Pamplona's most authentic traditional churro bar which has been in business for the last 140 years. Now it only opens during Sanfermines and some Sundays in Autumn, when all the children of the family matriarch Paulina -now doctors, engineers and other such pillars of society- roll up their sleeves and attend to the revellers to get their share of the profits.


    During the festivities, many locals flee from this normally laid-back city which gets totally overrun from 7 to 14 July. Here they describe how they prepare for Sanfermines.

    The Sanfermines fiestas, which for many are a nightmare due to the “avalanche of people who think that everything is free” as Guerendiain puts it, has become a time when many local people flee the city. A time to leave, take a holiday, maybe even make some money by renting their homes to tourists, who will pay up to 1,000 euros for a weekend in a flat in the city centre.

    This relaxed, easy-going city, with just 200,000 inhabitants, is literally "invaded" by hordes of visitors looking to party hard. Last year, 1.2 million people passed through Pamplona in the 10 days of festivities, with over 1,300 reported thefts and a million kilos of rubbish.

    Australians, Mexicans, Germans, Paraguayans, Canadians... all come to ‘live’ in Pamplona between 6th and 14th of July. The truth is, these are no longer a local festival and for some time now have been the “Foreigners’ Fiesta”.

  7. before

    As this is city founded on tradition, these newcomers are also capable of introducing their own, to be repeated year after year. Some of these are frankly absurd, such as the in which revellers throw themselves off the Navarrería Fountain in the hope that the crowd below will catch them.

    ‘‘More than one person who had too much to drink has ended up wheelchair-bound after no-one bothered to catch them

    Pío still remembers the Sanfermines spirit of long ago: “They were always popular, but back then the fiestas attracted far less crowds. People went to the clubs more, to see the stars of the day on stage. The Club de Natación, the Club la Reina, the tennis club; we saw Massiel, Los Brincos... But everything finished at 2 in the morning and who would want to get up in the morning after all that and run with the bulls? That’s one of the reasons that far fewer people ran with the bulls back then”, says Pío, a resident member of the Casa de la Misericordia, who organise the runs.

    “We used to go in silence, with no runners, to see the ‘little run’, when the bulls were taken from Los Corrales del Gas to the holding pen at Santo Domingo, where the animals spent the night before the real run. Since back then there only used to be one protective rail, you could hear the bulls snorting right alongside you” he recalls.

  8. No-Do, 17th July 1961
  9. For many years, Pío's family lived on the first floor at 1. In 1754 Miguel Guerendiain came to Pamplona with his wife Catalina de Narváez from the Navarra village of Guerendiáin to establish himself as a wax chandler and confectioner, two professions that were traditionally linked as the honey that was left after the wax had been extracted had to be put to some use.

    Since then, six generations have kept up the business. In chronological order these were Miguel's son, Lorenzo, his grandson, Alejo, his great-grandson, Tiburcio - who changed the family business to work with asphalt and cement and brought the first washbasins and bidets over from England and France - his great-great-grandson Pablo, his great-great-great-grandson Pío - the main character in this story - and the most recent head of the Guerendiain business, Juan, Pío's nephew.

  10. In the past, the runners took to the runs wearing suits, complete with waistcoats, tie and beret, only consenting to replace dress shoes with rope-soled sandals so as not to slip over in front of a charging bull. The rope-soles did not save Pío's father, Pablo, from falling before the oncoming bulls in front of 1st Estafeta St. in 1924. This moment was caught in a photograph the author of which is still unknown, but which Pío carefully guards. On the balcony that the great bullfighter Juan Belmonte would later visit to watch a running of the bulls, a woman begged someone to help the fallen runner, unaware that it was her own son.

    This fall stuck in his memory and, along with his love of photography, took away Pío’s appetite for running with the bulls, to the great relief of his mother. “The only time I have run was when I was 18 and I took the same route my father had done, from the Plaza del Ayuntamiento up to the curve where my house is. That got it out of my system and I said to myself 'That's enough. Now it's time for what I enjoy, photography'” he says.

  11. ‘‘I want my photos
    to go a bit further than
    the pure image.
    Photograph of Francisco Rivera, ‘Paquirri’, taken by Pío at Sanfermines, 1971

  12. Pío can recognise the breeds at each run without seeing a single bull, just by looking at photos of the runners: “For example, when the Miura bulls run, lots of Americans wear a cream-coloured formal jacket, as a sign of respect to the nobility and bravery of these fine animals”.

    • San Fermín procession,1980.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • Paquirri, fighting a bull in Pamplona in 1971, a photograph for which Pío won the NEGTOR award.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • The bobble-headed kilikis who chase the children through the streets to frighten them are other traditional characters from the fiestas.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • A moment from a bullfight in 1984, another original shot from Pío's camera.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • Photo of the chupinazo, the rocket that signals the start of Sanfermines, in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, 1976.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • Bulls running in a line.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • A straggler during the running of the bulls.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • An image from the 1976 ‘little running’ of the bulls - the bulls are taken to the Santo Domingo holding pen the night before a run.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • A group of nuns watch the Gigantes y Cabezudos stilted giant parade from a balcony.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • The La Mañueta churro bar, run by the Elizalde family for the past 140 years, one of the most famous Sanfermines spots.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • A runner challenges a bull during the 1990 bull run.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • Runners in the midst of a bull run.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • Bulls take the curve during the 1992 run.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • A man dressed as Superman in the sun in the bull ring during the 1979 fiestas.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • Paquirri, in another photo from 1971, placing the banderillas.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • A bull at the entrance to the ring at the end of the 1990 run.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • The saint, flanked by members of the Municipal Corporation in 1976.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • Bulls in a 1996 run, in a photo used as the poster for an exhibition of Pío's photographs in 2006.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • Pío inspired Rafael Moneo for his poster of the 50th Anniversary of the Pamplona Bull Fair, in a photograph from the late 1970s.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiáin
    • An explosion of joy at the launch of the chupinazo rocket from Pamplona City Hall.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • A participant in the San Fermín procession in 1977.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • Bulls fall at a curve in a 2001 run.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • A runner, trapped under the bulls at the curve in 2003.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain
    • Fireworks at Yamaguchi Park in 1990.
      Photo: Pío Guerendiain

    As a young man, Pío looked forward to the fiestas so he could get his camera out and shoot photos. There were the bobble-headed kilikis chasing the children to scare them, the street parades of stilted giants, the Saint’s procession, to say nothing of the dance with sandals at the New Casino in the Plaza del Castillo or the lunches with the peñas (local Sanfermines clubs) after the running. His photos are proof that these festivities were mainly a daylight affair, far removed from the image Sanfermines has abroad of huge drunken crowds and the philosophy “anything goes”.

  13. Miura's bulls
    12th July 2009
    Photos: Pío Guerendiain
  14. He took a while to make the move over to digital photography and when he did it was because he was forced to by the industry, which stopped making the traditional materials. He's now happy with his Fuji X20, which fires off shots so quickly that he's able to capture complete series of agonising scenes in which the runners challenge the bulls on the outer edge of the Mercaderes curve. “This is the closest thing I've found to my old Leica and it's fine, nice and small and easy to handle. But I didn't start shooting Sanfermines on digital ‘till 2008”, he explains.

    He has received a number of awards for his photographs, such as the NEGTOR for a picture of Paquirri fighting a bull one afternoon in 1971. He has also exhibited his work in museums the world over, such as the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid in 2009, and for the past 11 years he has run the Contraluz Gallery in Pamplona. Nevertheless, this Sanfermines veteran feels he cannot describe his own work: “It's difficult... I want my photos to achieve fame, I don't want them to be just a snapshot of the now, some sort of sparkling trinket. Deep down, all my photographs are really just me. They all end up being self-portraits”.

  15. On 7h July, at a quarter to eight in the morning, Pío opens up his hiding place at 1st Estafeta st. to once again immortalise the fiesta. This time, however, may be the last. The building is in a bad state of repair and the shop in some danger of being closed. He will fight to ensure that this corner of Pamplona continues to belong to the Guerendiain family, but perhaps this year's photographs are the final frames from half a century of photographs of the running of the bulls taken at Sanfermines’ most emblematic curve.

    SCRIPT: Miriam Hernanz
    VIDEO PRODUCTION: Miguel Campos
    DESIGN: Ismael Recio
    COLLABORATION: Alberto Fernández and César Vallejo

    Thanks: To Pío Guerendiain and his friends
    for their photographs and their time and to Pamplona City Council
    for their kindness and help.

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