Oaxaca Portrait Photography Workshop: Added Blessings

This is Day Six of our program! Between Good Friday and Easter Sunday was Saturday, a day of rest and reflection for the pueblo of Teotitlan del Valle.  There was only one five o’clock mass and no processions.  That meant we could leisurely edit the hundreds of photographs we had taken in the days before and get ready for an afternoon portrait photo shoot with Carina Santiago Bautista and her daughters Diana (below left) and Alicia.  Diana is in medical school and Alicia is almost fifteen.

This is Semana Santa vacation week and the daughters were in the kitchen helping their mom with food preparations for the Restaurante Tierra Antigua that Cari operates from the front of the family home and rug gallery on Av. Benito Juarez #70.  It is a busy weekend.  Our scheduled photo shoot was postponed so that Cari could prepare lunches for a steady stream of visitors who came to Teotitlan de Valle for the day.


We sat down ourselves, ordered a pitcher of agua de sandia (puree of watermelon, water, sugar to taste, a tad of lime juice) and some quesadillas stuffed with quesillo cheese, a smear of black bean paste and flor de calabasa.  We then started to wander the gallery to scout suitable locations for the portraits.  This way we could experiment with the camera settings to make sure we were taking advantage of the natural lighting that flooded the spaces because of the high ceilings.  Matt suggests starting first with the light meter on sunlight, the ISO at 400, and to look for layering opportunities in the composition.

I meandered into the kitchen to see what was going on.  Then, to practice, I took a shot of Cari’s niece, Jessica Santiago Bautista (below), a photographer and poet, who was assisting us for the day.

Matt Nager, our instructor, started to wander as we waited for the hungry customers to be sated.  Next door, he found another perfect photo opportunity and a great diversion. The man, below, works for a weaving family as a dyer of wool for hand-woven rugs.


Now, it was late afternoon and between hungry customers we were able to get Cari and her daughters back together to pose.  We knew that it was important for them to serve their restaurant clients first.  There are very few ways that women can earn income independently from their husbands.  This is one acceptable way that  is supported by the community.


Now, they could take their aprons off, take a breather, and become our beautiful models for the afternoon!  After that, we sat down to order a great lunch (by this time it was five o’clock in the afternoon, so it was really bordering on dinner).  My favorite at this restaurant is garbanzo bean soup.  Cari toasts her own garbanzo beans and takes them to the molina (community grinding center) where they crush the dry beans.  This is then reconstituted into soup seasoned with yerba santa.  Yummy.

Upcoming photo workshops in Oaxaca:  Summer 2012 Market Towns and Artisan Villages, then October 2012 Day of the Dead Photography Expedition.


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