Oaxaca Day of the Dead Photography Expedition: Program Outline, Approach, Equipment

Program Outline and Approach

Bill Bamberger, our expedition leader, has just sent in a course update about the Oaxaca photography expedition set for this October 29-November 4. He notes that the experience will give you time to produce an extensive portfolio of images that chronicles life in Oaxaca.  During the expedition, we will concentrate on photographing city colonial-era architecture, markets, crafts, food, churches and, of course, its mystical multi-day celebration of Day of the Dead. In Teotitlan del Valle, our photographic approach will be more intimate as each participant will be paired with a local host family, traveling with them to the local cemetery to witness and photograph a personal celebration of All Souls Day.  See this LINK for program description. (Registration Open)

Bill has organized the experience so that participants can identify a theme on which to concentrate.  You can choose to focus on food, religious icons, housing, cemeteries, local artisans, family life, music, farming and agriculture, or whatever suits you.  By the end of the workshop, we will have collectively created a range of personal portfolios that reflect the diversity of life in the region.

Our daily workshop sessions will be a mix of presentations and technical demonstrations.  We will look at the examples of select regional photographers or those whose documentary style will help us expand our vision.  You have the option to bring a sample portfolio to share at the start of the workshop and show what you’ve captured throughout the week. The program will culminate with a final celebration and group show.

We expect that photographic experience will vary widely from participant to participant and we welcome all levels — from beginners to more experienced — who want to come with us on this remarkable learning adventure.

You can choose however deeply you would like to participate in the workshop.  If your principal goal is to have fun and enjoy the journey, we will work with each of you according to your interests and needs.

Feel free to email bill@billbamberger.com with any questions or requests.

Expedition Learning Schedule

Saturday, October 29 — Gather and check in at our Oaxaca city hotel.

Sunday, October 30 — After breakfast and a brief orientation, we’ll explore the city.  Later that afternoon, we will gather to talk about your photography experience and present the portfolio you brought with you to share. Presentation: Bill Bamberger will share photographs from Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory and Boys Will Be Men.  He will talk about photographing in communities away from home.

Q and A: A brief question and answer period about technical concerns and or logistical questions about photographing in Oaxaca.

Monday, October 31 — morning discussion and photography review. Presentation: Revealing Mexico, Photographs by John Mack (Powerhouse Books, 2010) Gertrud Blom: Bearing Witness (UNC Press, 1985)  Discussion: Photographing at the Day of the Dead: approach and technical considerations.  At 2:30 p.m. we will meet at our hotel to travel together to the famed Xoxocotlan cemetery for an afternoon and night-time shoot.

Tuesday, November 1 — After a leisurely morning, travel by van to Teotitlan del Valle and check-in to bed and breakfast.  After lunch, visit Federico Chavez Santiago Family Weavers.  Rest of the day on your own to wander and shoot before dinner.

Wednesday, November 2 — After breakfast Discussion: Talk through project ideas for photographing in Teotitlan.  Discuss issues related to working with hosts and photographing in the homes of local families. Brief discussion about using natural light and/or flash. Q and A: Question and answer session about photographing in the community and at the Teotitlan cemetery with host families.

Thursday, November 3 — After breakfast, Discussion: Experiences photographing in Teotitlan.  Presentation: As a group, edit and sequence the work of one or two participants.  Brief demonstration using Adobe Lightroom and/or Photoshop to edit images.  Assignment: Prepare a final portfolio of about 10-20 images to share with the class at the evening session. Bill will be available during the day for optional individual meetings to help edit your work. 7 pm. Evening Presentations: Final projects or portfolios shared with class.  Discussion about ways we might share our projects with the host families and the larger community of Teotitlan.  We may want to invite our host families to a viewing of the final projects (we can discuss and decide this earlier in the week).

*We will organize photographs as jpegs, numbered sequentially, and loaded on a memory stick or external drive.  We will project digital images via Bill’s MacBook Pro.  Please contact Bill in advance if you would prefer to show images on your laptop.

Equipment List

What you bring to photograph with is a personal choice and, in great part, dependent on your way of working.  Some of the most accomplished photographers work with a single lens using the uniformity of the fixed focal length to unify their approach, while others select a variety of lenses allowing them the option of shooting tight to focus on details or loose to capture a wide-angle scene.  This equipment checklist is a suggested starting place.  What you bring is ultimately up to you.  Your budget and your choice about how much gear you will want to carry will also influence your choice of gear.  Sometimes less is more.

Suggested photo equipment:

Digital SLR**

Lenses, bring the lens(es) you with which you are most comfortable working.  Some of you will bring a single lens  (fixed focal length or zoom) while others will bring a variety of lenses (wide angle and telephoto).

Memory cards, at least two, 2 GB or larger

DSLR batteries (two)

Battery charger

Tripod, for shooting at night

Cable release (allows you to use slow shutter speeds on the tripod)

Laptop or system for downloading and previewing images

Flash drive or portable external hard drive for backing up images

Software loaded on laptop (optional): Adobe Photoshop CS4, Adobe Bridge CS4 (or similar for editing images), Adobe Lightroom for processing RAW files

Extra DSLR camera body (optional, but it is nice to have an extra camera body when traveling).

Questions?

If you have questions about the optional equipment, please contact Bill or Norma. We will have some personal items, like tripods, available to share and experiment with.

**Let Bill know if you plan to bring a film camera or something other than a DSLR.  He tends to travel with my DSLR and a medium format film camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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