Tag Archives: portraits

Oaxaca Portraits: Photography by Barbara Tili

Here is the Best of the Week from Barbara Tili, who was born and raised near Milan, Italy, moved to London, and has lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for the last four years where she practices architecture.

During the Oaxaca Faces Portrait Photography Workshop in Teotitlan del Valle with photojournalist instructor Matt Nager, Barbara switched completely to manual mode from using the automatic setting on her camera.  Manual mode gives the photographer total control over making the photograph.

You get the soul of a person when they are looking at you, Barbara said.

Barbara Tili, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Barbara became more comfortable approaching people for photographs. She learned to spend more time with each subject, ask them to change expression, look in a different direction, and move locations to achieve a fresh effect.

.Blue wall 3-lr Little girl-lr Man at the church-lr   Pink background-lr Woman 1-lr Red bench-lr Soledad1-lr Woman at the market 1-lr Policia-lr Woman 2-lr

Matt explains that the difference between street photography and portrait photography is how you interact with the subject. On the street you are taking photos on the fly, finding candids and the details of the scene to compose a nice picture.  Portrait photography requires dedicated time with your subject, attending to lighting, depth of field, aperture and shutter speed. It is seeing eye to eye.

Do you want a Day of the Dead 2015 photography workshop this October? We are hiring a new instructor! If yes, send me an email.

Oaxaca Portraits: Photography by Luvia Lazo Gutierrez

This Oaxaca Faces Portrait Photography Workshop with Matt Nager was much more than taking candid photos of people we might see on the street. We depended on Teotiteca Luvia Lazo Gutierrez, who assisted me at the last photo workshop, to help connect us with local families. She speaks Spanish, Zapotec and English, so Luvia could talk to elders in their native language, since so many only know a smattering of Español. An English teacher, Luvia hopes to go to graduate school in photography — maybe in the USA.

A talented photographer in her own right, Luvia’s portrait of her grandmother Candelaria is part of a Oaxaca exhibition at 411 Espacio Fotographia that opened on Saturday night. The show will be up for a month. The gallery is at Eduardo Vasconcelos #411, close to the baseball stadium.

Luvia Lazo Gutierrez, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca 

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The portrait photography workshop gave us an intimate experience with local people who were so generous with their time. This cultural immersion offered an unparalleled, in-depth approach to photography. You can see the results for yourself! Thank you, Luvia!

If you want to join our next Day of the Dead photography workshop, let us know — send an email to Norma Hawthorne Shafer.

Oaxaca Portraits: Photography by Barbara Szombatfalvy

Our 2015 People of Oaxaca Portrait Photography Workshop ended with a Best of Week show and fiesta dinner following it. We invited the Teotitlan del Valle families to the presentation who welcomed us into their homes to take their pictures. Each participant selected twenty from hundreds of photos they shot during the week to show at the fiesta. For the next few days, I will publish their work here.

Barbara Szombatfalvy, Durham, North Carolina

This is Barbara’s second workshop with us. When she first came to Oaxaca two years ago for the Day of the Dead Photography Expedition, she was most comfortable using automatic settings and taking photographs of animals.  Now, it’s manual settings and connecting with the subject! Thanks to instructor Matt Nager, photojournalist from Denver, Colorado.

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Barbara says that what she learned was invaluable: how to use natural light, how to approach people and engage them, how to use editing software to make a great photo even better.

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Thank you, Barbara, for giving us these spectacular photographs.

If you want to join our next photography workshop, contact Norma Hawthorne.

Day 4: Portraits in Oaxaca Artist Studios

Our Oaxaca portrait photography workshop group spent yesterday up and down Macedonio Alcala with our cameras, and then sent off for a portrait session at Boulanc bakery that is top ranked on Trip Advisor.

Alan Altamirano, La Chicharra, Oaxaca, Mexico

After a fine lunch at Cabuche on Hidalgo between Reforma and Xicotencatl, we made a stop at La Chicharra graphics arts studio where we had an appointment to visit artist Alan Altamirano.


Then, we visited the graphic arts studio of Fernando Sandoval who does the printmaking for Francisco Toledo, Sergio Hernandez and Fernando Olivera to name just a few.


The studio was active yesterday with two artists from Spain who are working with Sandoval to create etchings that are on exhibition at the Museum of Oaxacan Painters.

Day4_Best8-8Above, Maestro Sandoval is working on a copper plate to get it ready for the printing press, a precise and delicate process.

Day4_Best8-2 Day4_Best8 Day4_Best8-3 Working with natural light, we adjust the shutter speed, exposure and “film speed” on our digital cameras to get excellent shots in what many might call obscure environments. Rarely will we use the flash of our cameras, which tends to result in photo glare.

Moment of Jest, Oaxaca, Mexico Even in times of serious creativity, there are moments of jest!


Day 3: Portraits of the Lupita Lazo Family

Today, our portrait photography workshop participants visited three families in Teotitlan del Valle who had graciously accepted our request to take their photographs. One of these is the family of Lupita Lazo.

Lupita, Hugo, Cristobal and Danny Portrait of Lupita

Several months ago I wrote about Lupita Lazo’s diagnosis of breast cancer (a growing problem in Mexico) and her need for financial help. So many of you responded with gifts of all sizes and we were able to raise over two thousand dollars to help to cover a mastectomy, early chemotherapy treatments and pain medications.

Lupita is hopeful. So is her doctor and her many friends. She has completed four rounds of chemo, with the fifth and most powerful dosage coming up on February 10.  There will be three more rounds after that.

Three Brothers, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico Lupita Lazo, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

The doctor says she is strong. Lupita has changed her diet. She is eating mostly chicken and no red meat, no dairy and lots of fresh fruits and raw vegetables. She tells me that a regular tonic is a mix of beet, carrot, parsley and orange juice. Since she is now unable to work, Lupita’s oldest son Hugo has quit university and is working to help with household expenses. Hugo is twenty years old. Danny is sixteen and Cristobal is ten. Lupe is a widow.


It was a wonderful experience to be with the family today. Lupita is joyful and positive. Her three boys are loving and giving her lots of care, as are her many friends. It meant a lot to us to share this time with them in their home.


For the photographs, some of us are using iPhones and some of us are using digital cameras.  In low lighting, we are learning about using the reflector to take advantage of natural light coming into dimly lit interiors. We are not using flash or any artificial lighting, adjusting the settings on our cameras to accommodate each situation.