2013 Day of the Dead Photography Expedition in Oaxaca, Mexico

7 Nights and 8 Days, Arrive Monday, October 28, leave Monday, November 4, 2013.  For the fourth year we offer you an extraordinary photography workshop opportunity to experience, document, and immerse yourself in Oaxaca’s famed Day of the Dead rituals– a feast for the visual senses.  This workshop is led by Frank Hunter, noted documentary photographer whose work is in museum collections throughout the world.  Frank is on the faculty of the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies in Durham, North Carolina and represented by Thomas Deans Fine Arts gallery in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also a photographer on the Bull City Summer project documenting the 25th anniversary of the film, Bull Durham, about minor league baseball.

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Frank says, “I will introduce beginners to the basic concepts of exposure, focus and framing, and coach more experienced photographers to further master their craft.  It’s my hope that by the end of our time together, you will be making photographs you never thought to make, revealing things unseen until then.”

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Our photography workshops are designed to teach you creative approaches and expand your technical knowledge.  Beginners and experienced photographers are welcome.  Small groups limited to 10 people cater to individual skill levels and needs.

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This cultural immersion travel photography experience offers insights into 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.

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

Past participants have included accomplished professionals who want portfolio feedback AND beginners who are new to digital photography and want to get off of using automatic!  Individual projects are designed to meet the needs of all.

dt6 by Deby Thomas 13_PanteonJungle by Norma Hawthorne

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 optional private coaching sessions with Frank.

Technical topics covered include using natural light, aperture and shutter speed, using a tripod for night-time photography, focusing on details, photographing people and taking the time to set up your shot.   Frank says he uses just enough technique to express a visual idea.

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The workshop features documentary-style photography, which involves some degree of assimilation, and a greater understanding of the culture and people you are photographing.  All the photographs on this post represent the work of 2012 Day of the Dead Documentary Photography Expedition participants!  

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About Frank Hunter, grew up in the American southwest and spent his early years photographing people and landscapes of Mexico.  He has taught at the university level for more than 20 years.  Frank is a virtuoso photographer, as adept at digital photography as he is with creating 19th century style platinum/palladium prints.  Don’t be intimated!  Frank also teaches fundamentals of photography at Duke University. You can read more about him here:

And, if you want more, just Google Frank Hunter.  You will get pages of citations!

Notes from the art gallery representing Frank Hunter:  In a career spanning more than three decades, Frank Hunter has published nearly 400 images, of which we show only a small selection here. All reflect Hunter’s unique combination of technical virtuosity and aesthetic profundity.

BELLA2 by Bella Jacque BELLA6 11_FedericoChavezSosaPreliminary Itinerary (subject to change) and Optional Add-Ons

Day 1, Monday, 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, Tuesday, 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, Wednesday, October 30: After breakfast and class, we will arrange an optional visit to Monte Alban and the Atzompa pottery village for an added cost of $75 per person (2 person minimum).  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.

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Day 4, Thursday, 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 late night, so be prepared!  We will stay until at least 11 p.m.   Overnight Oaxaca. Includes breakfast.

Day 5, Friday, November 1:  After breakfast and a debriefing session, you will have the afternoon on your own.  Then, later that afternoon we arrive at the Zapotec weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle.  Overnight Teotitlan del Valle.  Includes breakfast, dinner.

Day 6, Saturday, 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.

Doug_08 Calavera by Doug Mayfield OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day 7, Sunday, 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. Some of you may want to go to the regional tianguis at Tlacolula.  Includes breakfast and dinner.

Day 8, Monday, November 4:  After breakfast, depart for your home countries.

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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 or Photoshop)

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.)

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Lodging/Accommodations. To keep this experience affordable, we have selected accommodations that are clean and basic.  We will spend four nights in Oaxaca and three nights at a posada/hostel in Teotitlan del Valle.

Cost:  The basic cost for the trip is $1,495. USD. This includes seven nights lodging shared occupancy with shared bath, seven breakfasts, two 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.

Base Cost: Double room with shared bath; $1,495. Deposit to reserve: $750.

Option 1: Double room with private bath; $1,695. Deposit to reserve: $850.

Option 2:  Single Supplement, private room with private bath;  $1,895.  Deposit to reserve: $950.

Add-on 1:  Add additional nights lodging in Oaxaca on Saturday and/or Sunday, October  26 and or October 27, +$135 per night.

Add-on 2:  Add visit to Monte Alban and Atzompa pottery village, $75 per person (minimum of 2 people needed).  We will take you in a private vehicle to this famed archeological site and then take you to visit a great ceramics family of Atzompa.  Includes lunch.  Leave at 9 a.m. and return at 5 p.m.


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, 2013.  Payment may be made by 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, email us at  normahawthorne@mac.com.  If you have questions, we can arrange a Skype call. 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.


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