Day of the Dead 2012 Photography Expedition in Oaxaca, Mexico

7 Nights and 8 Days, Sunday, October 28 to Sunday, November 4, 2012Bill Bamberger returns in 2012 to lead this very popular expedition that gives you an intimate view of Oaxaca’s extraordinary Day of the Dead celebrations.

You get a taste of how the city and a smaller village celebrate.  Bill teaches in the Folklore Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and in the renown Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.  His approach is both creative and technical.



Travel with us to Oaxaca, Mexico where you will explore the magic and mystery of Day of the Dead through photography– a feast for the visual senses.  This seven-night, eight-day expedition is a cultural immersion experience.  Come with us to document the food, religious symbols, people, cemeteries and family celebrations both in the city and in the rural Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle.  By the end of the week, you will better use your digital SLR camera for visual storytelling and cultural discovery.

We will accept 10 participants.  Last year we filled quickly.  If this is something you’ve always dreamed of doing, don’t hesitate!

This workshop is for beginning and intermediate-level amateur photographers who want to learn more about their digital SLR cameras and move more comfortably beyond the automatic setting.  Technical topics covered include using natural light, aperture and shutter speed, using a tripod for night-time photography, using bounce flash, focusing on details, photographing people and taking the time to set up your shot.


The workshop features documentary-style photography, which involves some degree of assimilation and a greater understanding of the culture and people you are photographing.  On this journey you will photograph people in their natural settings, experience local rituals, visit family environments, all as you immerse yourself in both the city and rural life of Oaxaca.


During our week together, we will review each other’s work, give feedback, and offer supportive critiques.  The workshop includes a mix of class instruction and being out on the streets to capture the action.  We offer structured group discussion and opportunities for individual feedback with Bill during privately scheduled coaching sessions.


You will have the option to undertake an independent project during the week to document Day of the Dead family observances and rituals. Here is what 2011 participant, photographer Nick Eckert, created:

About Photographer and Educator Bill Bamberger

For two decades Bill Bamberger has been photographing people around the world and their daily lives. His photographs have appeared in ApertureDoubletakeHarper’s and the New York Times Magazine.  He has appeared as a featured guest on CBS Sunday Morning, About Books (CSPAN2), and North Carolina People with William Friday. His first book, Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory (DoubleTakeBooks/Norton, 1998), won the Mayflower Prize in Nonfiction and was a semifinalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.

Bamberger’s work explores large social issues of our time: the demise of the American factory, housing in America, adolescents coming of age.  A trademark of Bamberger’s exhibitions is that they are first shown in the community where he has chosen to photograph prior to their museum exhibition. Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory premiered in an abandoned department store a block from the closed furniture factory, while Stories of Home was first shown in a custom-designed 1,000 square foot mobile art gallery on San Antonio’s Mexican-American West Side.


Bamberger has had one-person exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery and the National Building Museum.  He was one of fifty-six American artists to take part in Artists and Communities: America Creates for the Millennium, the National Endowment for the Arts millennium project where he produced part II in an ongoing series about teenage boys coming of age.

Bill lives in Durham, North Carolina, and teaches photography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at Duke University.  He has lectured at museums and universities, and has taught classes and workshops for the public good in underserved communities across the country.  His ability to relate to people to draw them into the photographic experience as a subject is why he makes an outstanding instructor.  Website:

Preliminary Itinerary (subject to change)

Day 1, Sunday, October 28: Travel to Oaxaca and check-in to our lovely bed and breakfast close to the Zocalo.  Dinner on your own.  Overnight in Oaxaca.

Day 2, Monday, October 29:  After breakfast and a brief orientation, we’ll embark on a group walking expedition around the city, visit markets selling wild marigold, special breads, candies, and holiday ritual necessities.  After lunch we will meet for class, then enjoy free time  to capture the “magic hour” before dinner.  Options to explore  churches, street parades, public altars. Overnight Oaxaca.  Includes breakfast, lunch.

Day 3, Tuesday, October 30: After breakfast and class, we will arrange an optional guided visit to Monte Alban and the Atzompa pottery village.  Otherwise, you will have the day on your own.  We’ll meet in late afternoon to review our best of day work.  Overnight Oaxaca.  Includes breakfast.

Day 4, Wednesday, October 31:  After breakfast and class, you will have the afternoon free.  At 3:30 p.m. we will go together  to the famed Xoxocotlan cemetery for an extraordinary Day of the Dead extravaganza. This is a VERY late night, so be prepared!  We will stay until at least 12 a.m.  Overnight Oaxaca. Includes breakfast.


Day 5, Thursday, November 1:  After breakfast and a debriefing session, we will leave for the Zapotec weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle.  After lunch and check-in at our bed and breakfast posada, we’ll enjoy a village walkabout orientation.  Overnight Teotitlan del Valle.  Includes breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 6, Friday, November 2:  After breakfast and a briefing session, we will pair you with another participant and introduce you to a local host family for a cultural immersion experience.  This gives you the opportunity to meet people and share in their customs and traditions.  The families welcome you into their homes where you will share the traditional meal and go with them to the village cemetery.  We’ll see you back at our B&B after nightfall.  Overnight Teotitlan del Valle.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Day 7, Saturday, November 3:  After breakfast we will share experiences and photos of the day before in our last class session.  You’ll have the rest of the day on your own to meander or prepare your Best of Week photo exhibition and celebration supper. Includes breakfast and dinner.

Day 8, Sunday, November 4:  After breakfast leave for your home countries.


What You Should Bring

1)     Your energy and enthusiasm

2)     Digital SLR camera

3)     Laptop computer

4)     Software for organizing and presenting images (such as Lightroom)

5)     Batteries and battery charger

6)     Camera Memory card(s) and data sticks

7)     Pen and notepad

Plus, sturdy, comfortable walking shoes, sun protection, sun hat

(Upon registration, you will receive a complete packet and information guide with suggested packing list and other useful information.)


Lodging/Accommodations. To keep this experience affordable, we have selected accommodations that are clean and basic.  We will spend three nights in Oaxaca at a bed and breakfast featured in the New York Times, and three nights at a posada/hostel in Teotitlan del Valle.   If you prefer luxury accommodations, please consider a different program.

Cost:  The basic cost for the trip is $1,395. USD. This includes seven nights lodging shared occupancy with shared bath, seven breakfasts, three lunches, three dinners, transportation to the villages included in the itinerary, and all instruction.  Most travel workshops of this type and length cost more than twice as much! It does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips/gratuities, travel insurance, liquor/alcoholic beverages, some meals as specified in the itinerary, site entry fees, and transportation.

You will have the option of sharing a double room with shared bath for the base price of the trip.  Please indicate your preference.

Option 1: Double room with shared bath; $1,395. Deposit to reserve: $700.

Option 2: Double room with private bath; $1,595. Deposit to reserve: $800.

Option 3:  Single Supplement, private room with private bath;  $1,795.  Deposit to reserve: $900.

Option 4:  Add one night lodging in Oaxaca on Saturday, October 27, +$125 each.

Option 5:  Add guided visit to Monte Alban and Atzompa pottery village, $65 per person (minimum of 2 people needed).  We will arrange for one of the most knowledgeable English-speaking local guides to take you to this famed archeological site, explain its history and then take you to a great ceramics family of Atzompa.


Reservations and Cancellations

A 50% deposit is required to guarantee your spot.  The final payment for the balance due (including any supplemental costs) shall be postmarked by August 1, 2011.  Payment may be made by check or PayPal.  We will be happy to send you an itemized invoice.

Please understand that we make lodging and transportation arrangements months in advance of the program.  Deposits or payments in full are often required by our hosts.  If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email.   After August 1, no refunds are possible; however, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space or you may send a substitute.  If you cancel on or before August 1, we will refund 50% of your deposit.  We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.

To register, contact: or call (919) 274-6194.  We accept payment with PayPal only. Thank you.

This workshop is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  We reserve the right to alter the itinerary and substitute instructors without notice.
Hand-colored sand becomes sculpture depicting Day of the Dead scenes at gravesites and public spaces; by Nick Eckert.

24 responses to “Day of the Dead 2012 Photography Expedition in Oaxaca, Mexico

  1. Would like to register for the Day of the Dead workshop.

  2. I realize late request, but wondering if still availability for a single?

  3. Is there an opening left? I would be a single traveller and interested in rooming with another person.

  4. Do you still have an opening for this workship (as of Aug. 20)? I’m interested.

  5. Do you still have an opening for this workshop? I’m interested in participating. Muchos gracias, Dea

  6. Hello,

    I just emailed by regular email, also. Is this workshop still open and would it be possible to have a reduced fee if I did not stay in the hotel in the city? I live in Oaxaca. Thank you!

  7. Hi,
    Is there still a spot available in the workshop?

  8. Which hotels are you considering for this trip? Thanks…

  9. Do you still have room? Thanks…

  10. Norma, Is there still room in this workshop?

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