Photographer Germán Elorza was born in Vitoria in 1910. He moved to Bilbao in 1932, when the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera almost began, from the hand of his relative José María Elorza, who by then was the responsible for the management of Larrinaga prison in Bilbao, as Justice Ministry official. In the capital of Nervion he began his studies at “Escuela de Altos Estudios Mercantiles”, while living with his family in private premises for the management of the prison. It was in Larrinaga where the world of photography captivated him forever, thanks to the passion of one of the soldiers of Garellano regiment, who worked as a security guard in the prison.
He completed his studies in business school and decided to focus on photography thanks to the backing and expertise of Manuel Torcida "Lux", owner of a photo studio in the Gran Via Street of Bilbao, and a very prestigious photographer in the local press of the time. Manuel Torcida certainly was the pioneer of photography in Biscay. Although he was from Santander, he settled in Bilbao in 1893, and started to develop photography, thanks to his degree in chemical sciences. Elorza’s relationship with Torcida was short but intense as he died in 1928.
Germán Elorza began his career as a correspondent photographer for “Prensa Española” and “Prensa Gráfica de Madrid”. During the civil war he did not abandon his adopted hometown and continued his work as a reporter in local newspapers. Unfortunately, portrait images of Bilbao during the war have been lost.
In 1932 he joined the staff of “La Tarde” newspaper of Bilbao, and in 1937, once internal conflicts finished in Bilbao, he formed part of the founding editorial department of the newspaper “Hierro” until his retirement in 1974. His working life ended in 1974 as a result of an accident at work while on assignment in the Athlétic-Sporting Gijon match. He died in 1983 surrounded by the love of his family and despite the sorrow of thousands of locals.
Germán Elorza’s photographic archive is the best photographic chronicle of the history of Biscay between 1932 and 1974. Being a photographer specialized in press reports, he covered virtually all local and regional life of our province. These are the main sections of his archive:
- -Surroundings of Basilica of Begoña, Walkways, Mallona Cemetery and Tram.
- -Barge bridges in El Arenal, at the end of the civil war.
- -“Plaza Nueva” square, with its palm trees.
- -Albia Gardens and Berástegui schools (nowadays, Palace of Justice).
- -The Trolleybus in the old part, near the Cathedral.
- -Spain square, or Circular or square, and public drinking fountain.
- -The Founder of Bilbao in Achuri.
- -Abando’s old station.
- -Rivera market.
- -Trams of various lines.
- -“Plaza de los Auxiliares” square and Gayarre Cinema.
- -Ripa station and Portugalete railway.
- -Assembly of the City Hall drawbridge.
- -“Plaza Auxiliares” street market.
- -Trade Fairs, from the 1st one, organized in the courtyard of the Secondary School until the opening of the current location.
- -Political rally of Manuel Azaña, Indalecio Prieto and Ercoreca in the bullring.
- -Acts of Provincial and City Council (politics, culture, etc.).
- -Franco in A.H.V. (ironworks business) and Bilbao.
- -Visits of Prince Juan Carlos de Borbón.
- -Opening of various factories, “Bandas en Frío” from Echévarri.
- -LUBE motorcycle factory in Luchana, manufacturing process.
- -A.H.V., Several visits and furnace inaugurations.
- -Port Of Ondarroa and the estuary’s old bridge with boats.
Estuary and shipyards
- -Launchings at Euskalduna Shipyards.
- -Ruiz de Velasco (side launchings).
- -Cadagua shipyards.
- -“Naval” of Sestao
- -“Perro-Chico” bridge
- -Cargo ships between El Arenal and the City Hall
- -Sheer legs- Floating crane
- -Fishing boats in front of City Hall.
- -Bridge of Portugalete.
- -La Benedicta dock.
- -Boatmen of Uribitarte.
- -Ships of Aznar shipping company.
- Athletics. Track & Field Trials in Portugalete, San Ignacio, Amorebieta Cross, Elgoibar, and athletes like Juan Gonzalez Aranguren, Erausquin, Celeya and Cruza.
- Motor racing. Firestone Rally and mountain ascents organized by the Biker Club, the famous Biscuter.
- Boxing. Pinedo, Ibarrondo, Llorente, Lafuente, Arteche and Argote.
- Cycling. North circuits, Tour of Spain and races in the Basque Country, races in Gran Via Street, cyclists as Fermín Trueba, Delio Rodriguez, Gandara, Ocaña, etc.
- And the cyclists from Biscay Mancisidor, Loroño, Langarica, Aguirrezabal, Oñaederra and Barrutia brothers, members of KAS and Fagor teams from Vitoria. Welcome to Loroño in the City Hall as winner of the Tour of Catalonia.
- Football. Matches of the 30's, Athletic, Real Madrid, Alavés, and league and cup championships of 1940-1975 of Athletic. Fat and thin matches.
- Horse Riding. Races on Fadura, Lieutenant Colonel Nogueras on the horse "Balcamo" world champion long jump proclaimed the 09/04/1950.
- Motorcycling. Deusto races, ascents to Orduña, Urquiola, Castrejana, Santo Domingo and Circuit of Getxo. Runners from Bilbao as Oujo, Ortueta, Ripalda, Arteche and Bretes; and from Europe, Gutrie, Gottiu, Werner Gerber and Helmut Fath. All it organized by the “Real Peña Motorista de Vizcaya” biker club.
- Rowing. Regattas in the Nervion estuary and provincial and national championships.
- Sailing. Various championships of Europe and Spain in El Abra. Yachts from “Star" and "Snipe" series and World Champion J.M. Alonso Allende.
Characters from Bilbao
- -“Los Bocheros”, music band.
- -“Los Chimberos, music band.
- -Julián Echevarria "Camarón", writer.
- -Arturo Castilla, artistic and circus promoter.
- -Ángel Güenechea "Koky", clown.
- -E. Alcorta, speaker.
- -M. Orio, broadcaster and clown.
- -E. Bracamonte, speaker and singer.
- -K-Toño-Frade, draftsman.
- -Bay Sala, painter.
- -F. Ripalda, draftsman and biker.
- -Fat and Thins, charity football matches.
- -Emiliano Uruñuela "Litri", bullfighting critic.
- Vista Alegre bullring, ancient and modern.
- -Bullfights, 1940-1975.
- -Bull Club festivals.
- -“El Estudiante”
- -Goring of Luis Miguel Dominguín
- -Antonio Ordoñez and E. Hemingway in the square’s nursery.
- -“El Cordobés” as apprentice bullfighter, the day before the square was burnt.
- - Releases of comedies and various shows at Arriaga, Campos and Ayala theatres.
His intense and successful professional life was recognized by his colleagues from various professional associations.
-1930: National Animal and Plant Society award.
-1932: National best sports photography award.
-1953: Council of Madrid trophy.
-1964: Selection of one of the hundred best press photos in the world. Word Press Photo.
-1964: Merit medal and trophy of Graphical Information.
-1966: Selection of one of the hundred best press photos in the world. Word Press Photo.
-1969: Valca trophy of sports photography.
-1970: First prize in the European competition of press photos of European Press Photo
-1970: Plaque of the Delegation of Physical Education and Sports.
-1976: Plaque of the Photojournalist Association.