Oaxaca Photography Workshop Tour: Dance of the Feather, Festival & Traditions

Come to Oaxaca, explore indigenous culture, cuisine and traditions, and use your digital SLR camera to capture, record and document it all, including the amazing Dance of the Feather — Danza de la Pluma,   This is cultural immersion at its best!

July 5-13, 2014 — 8 nights, 9 days

The annual Dance of the Feather takes place in Teotitlan del Valle in July.  It is an ancient pre-Hispanic ritual rooted in Zapotec tradition.   Adapted and changed by the Spanish conquerors  to pay homage to the church, dancers today interpret the story of Cortes and the Spanish conquest of Moctezuma and Mexico.  They dance in full regalia for up to ten hours a day for several days before an audience of villagers and visitors.  They do not consider this a performance!  It is a sacred honor to dance — a commitment to church and community.  Two young women are part of the group, representing the duality of Mexican women:  La Malinche and Doña Marina.  You will see it all, along with the Parade of the Canastas and other related festivities.

Beginners to intermediate level photographers welcome.

Each day, we will meet in a morning learning session,  then go out “on location” to practice what you’ve learned.  You need little or no experience with a digital camera to take part.   What you do need is a willingness and desire to immerse yourself in the experience, and be open to exploring new ways of seeing the world.

  

You will join art photographers Tom and Sam Robbins, our husband-wife team from Columbus, Ohio, who guide our expedition.  The Robbins’ are versatile, experienced teachers and coaches whose work appears in national photography magazines.

    

Throughout the week, we give you access to private homes and artist studios to enrich and personalize your photographic experience.

  

You will take a cooking class (included) to learn more about regional indigenous foods and their preparation, plus have a tasty dining experience including the famed mole sauce and mezcal if you wish.  Photography welcomed!

The cooking class was great and it provided wonderful photo opportunities. The instructors are exceptional, and there are endless picture subjects here. I also learned the different functions of my digital camera. -Kellie Fitzgerald

  

We’ll roam the huge regional Tlacolula market where vendors sell everything from live turkeys, handmade chocolate, woven hammocks, and the kitchen sink.   On market days, people come from remote mountain villages to buy and sell dressed in traditional indigenous clothing–a feast for the photographer’s eye.

  

We’ll also visit a local archeological site where corn was first cultivated over 8,000 years ago before it spread around the world.

Most valuable for me was learning how to use the manual controls of my camera, learning about depth of field and the macro settings.  Norma’s community connections provided unusual access to artisans. –Dan O’Brien

Topics Covered:

  • Using manual camera settings
  • Understanding composition
  • Capturing light, shadow and reflection
  • Knowing more about aperture and shutter speed
  • Experimenting with black and white, and sepia
  • Exploring the essentials of landscape and portraiture
  • Using Lightroom photo editing software
  • Getting feedback for steady improvement

During the workshop, you will review each other’s work and give each other supportive feedback, with expert guidance and coaching from Tom and Sam. A group presentation at the end of the week will give you an opportunity to showcase your best work and select a theme, if you choose.

  

This is a walking expedition!  Instruction will include both formal group discussion and a learn-as-you-go organic, flexible format.

  

Preliminary Itinerary (subject to change)

Day One,  Saturday, July 5:  Teotitlan del Valle.   This is your travel day. Arrive and settle in to our village bed and breakfast. (Light supper)

Day Two, Sunday, July 6:  Breakfast and learning session. Explore the regional tianguis (outdoor) Tlacolula market. Group lunch at the market.   Afternoon on your own. Early evening “Best of the Day” show and tell.  Group dinner. (B,L,D)

Day Three, Monday, July 7: Breakfast, cooking class, lunch.  Afternoon on your own.  Group dinner.  (B, L, D)

Day Four, Tuesday, July 8:  Breakfast, learning session, best of day presentation.  Lunch on your own. Visit homes where young women prepare for the procession of the baskets. Meet in the church square and join the village procession. Group dinner.  (B, D)

Day Five, Wednesday, July 9:  Breakfast, learning session, best of day presentation. Lunch on your own.  Dance of the Feather begins. Group dinner.  (B, D)

Day Six, Thursday, July 10:  Breakfast, learning session. visit Yagul archeological site.  Dance of the Feather continues into the evening.  Group dinner.  (B, D)

Day Seven, Friday, July 11:  Breakfast.  Travel to Oaxaca city.  Afternoon on your own. Early evening learning session and best of day show. Overnight in Oaxaca. Lunch and dinner on your own. (B)

Day Eight, Saturday, July 12:  Breakfast, learning session, Oaxaca street photography. Lunch on your own.  Gala group dinner and best of week presentation.  Overnight in Oaxaca.  (B, D)

Day Nine, Sunday, July 13:  Depart. 

Optional Additional Days:  We are happy to pre-arrange lodging for you to come early and/or stay later in either Teotitlan del Valle or Oaxaca city.  See the registration form and prices for this option.

About Husband and Wife Photographers Tom and Sam Robbins, Your Expedition Guides and Workshop Leaders

Tom Robbins, a photographer for more than 40 years, retired as professor of architecture at Columbus (Ohio) State Community College.  His careers in architecture and education have deepened his love for, and understanding of design, composition and visual impact.  Tom and his wife, Sam, have exhibited widely and their work is published in “Black and White Magazine.”  In the last five years, Tom and Sam have made Mexico the primary subject of their photography and have visited Oaxaca and the surrounding villages many times.

A serious photographer for over 20 years, Sam Robbins calls herself a “photographic hunter.”  Like her husband, Tom, she is most comfortable walking and wandering with her camera at the ready. While she has done studio portrait work, she is happiest allowing photographs to present themselves.  Before retirement, Sam taught art, English and photography.  Sharing her passion for photography with others is one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.  Though most of her work has been with a 35 mm SLR, she also has shot with medium format and really enjoys using a plastic, toy camera.  Recently, Sam taught and exhibited at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, where English and Spanish-speaking participants applauded her thoughtful, supportive style.  See their work at   www.robbinsx2.com

  

Dance of the Feather, Danza de la Pluma

What You Should Bring

1)     Your energy and enthusiasm

2)     Digital SLR camera

3)     Laptop computer

4)     Lightroom on your computer ready for photo editing

5)     Batteries and battery charger

6)     Memory card(s) and card reader

7)     Pen and notepad

8)    Memory stick/jump drive

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 are basic, clean and simple in the village.  In Oaxaca city we will stay at a well-known, highly rated bed and breakfast.

Cost:  The base cost for the trip is $1,795.00 USD.  This is for a shared room and shared bath.  Add on $300 per person for single room and private bath.

What the Workshop Includes

  • 8 nights lodging double occupancy
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 2 lunches
  • 7 dinners
  • Cooking class with famed local chef
  • Transportation to market towns
  • Transportation and admission to archeological sites
  • All instruction

It does NOT include airfare, taxes,  gratuities, travel insurance, liquor and alcoholic beverages, some meals and some transportation.

Costs, 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 May 1, 2014.  We request Payment with PayPal.  When you email us and tell us you are ready to register, we will send you a PayPal  invoice.

If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email.   After May 1, no refunds are possible.  However, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space.  If you cancel before May 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 or for questions, contact:  normahawthorne@mac.com

This workshop is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  For more information, see:  http://oaxacaculture.com

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