Oaxaca, Mexico, is the place to be for Day of the Dead and you will capture it with your camera: parades, cemeteries, family traditions, special food and decor, markets, fiestas and faces. Follow the copal incense and marigold trail. Starts Sunday morning, October 30 and ends Thursday night, November 3.
Cost: $995 per person. Price includes all instruction, feedback sessions, personal coaching and transportation to and from Xoxocotlan and Teotitlan del Valle cemeteries. Does not include food or lodging. We will provide you with a list of hotels and B&B’s to choose the level of accommodation you prefer after you register. Then, make your own reservations directly. Come early or stay later, too. We will recommend sightseeing and other activities!
- Limited to 10 participants. Small Group. Personal Attention.
- Beginners and more experienced photographers welcome.
- Bring any camera: DSLR, iPhone or Point and Shoot!
- Registration is now open!
This is a hands-on photography workshop for learning and improving technique while you experience Oaxaca’s famed Day of the Dead rituals. By the end of the week, you will better use your camera for visual storytelling, photojournalism, portraiture and cultural discovery.
Your Workshop Leader is Matt Nager
Matt Nager is a Denver, Colorado, based portrait and editorial photographer. We invited him back to teach this workshop after rave reviews for teaching the People of Oaxaca Portrait Photography Workshop.
His clients include: DISCOVER Magazine, Fast Company Magazine, Mother Jones Magazine, The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. Matt speaks English and Spanish. His work is at: www.mattnager.com
His love for nature and the outdoors, as well as his interest in people and culture, is central to his photography. Before starting his own photography business, Matt worked with the Dallas Morning News and the Rocky Mountain News.
In addition to photography, Matt also regularly shoots video and recently completed his first documentary titled: Campania In-Felix (Unhappy Country) which looks into the rise of health issues in Southern Italy as a result of illegal waste disposal.
This cultural immersion workshop tour offers you a deeper appreciation for the food, religious symbols, rituals and family celebrations both in Oaxaca city and in the rural Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle.
You will learn to:
- Use natural light and respond to different lighting situations
- Include portraits in your travel photography
- Direct your subject through varying body positions
- Identify your own photographic style
- Find and execute portraits “on the fly”
- Practice street photography
- Use skills you learn through daily assignments
- Learn more with one-on-one coaching sessions with Matt
- Contribute to a gift for subject families — included in your workshop fee
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.
Technical topics covered include natural light, exposure, manual camera settings and night photography. We will offer optional editing sessions using Lightroom photo editing software.
Preliminary Itinerary (subject to change)
Day of the Dead Workshop Expedition 2015
Day 1, Saturday, October 30: Meet after breakfast at a central location in Oaxaca City where we will have a welcome and learning session, with a review of camera settings, exposure and using natural light. Then, we’ll hit the streets and local markets! Option is to meet up for a group dinner at your own expense.
Day 2, Sunday, October 31: We meet after breakfast. After showing your best work of Day 1, with review and feedback, we will have a learning session on night photography. At 3:30 p.m. we depart for the famed Xoxocotlan cemetery for an extraordinary Day of the Dead extravaganza. Matt is with us every step of the way for coaching and technical support. This could be a late night, so be prepared! We will stay until at least 10 p.m., maybe later! Includes transportation to/from Xoxocotlan.
Day 3, Monday, November 1: You will have the morning on your own to prepare your best of the Xoxocotlan cemetery. We will meet midday to share our work with a feedback and learning session, then get back on the streets to catch the calendas and other processions. Some may want to share an optional taxi to San Pablo Villa de Mitla for their Day of the Dead festivities that start mid-afternoon
Day 4, Tuesday, November 2: We leave for an afternoon and evening in Teotitlan del Valle after our morning learning and photo feedback session. You are paired with another workshop participant to share a traditional meal with a local host family and go with them to the village cemetery. To be embedded with a local family is an amazing cultural immersion experience to learn more about indigenous customs and traditions. We return to Oaxaca city mid-evening. Includes transportation and lunch.
Day 5, Wednesday, November 3: We meet after breakfast to share experiences and photos of the day. You’ll have the rest of the day on your own to meander and prepare your Best of Week photo presentation. We get together in early evening for a Best of Week photo presentation followed by goodbyes. Please feel free to invite guests! Then, we’ll meet for an optional group supper (expense on your own).
What You Should Bring
- Camera, either Digital SLR camera with lens(es) — wide angle, zoom, and/or fixed focal point 50mm, or iPhone or Point and Shoot
- Optional tripod for night photography
- Laptop computer for photo editing
- External hard drive
- External card reader
- Extra batteries (2) and battery charger
- Memory cards (at least 2) and jump drive
- Pen and notepad
- Sturdy, comfortable walking shoes, sun protection, sun hat
(Before the workshop starts, we will send you a complete packet and information guide with suggested packing list, and other useful information.)
Cost: $995 USD. Deposit to reserve your space is $500. Workshop includes:
- All instruction and coaching
- 1 lunch as specified in the itinerary
- Transportation to villages included in the itinerary
- Gift to local Teotitlan del Valle host family
- Comprehensive pre-trip planning packet (via email)
Not Included: The expedition does NOT include lodging, meals that are not specified in the itinerary, airfare, taxes, tips/gratuities, travel insurance, liquor/alcoholic beverages and optional transportation.
About Recommended Accommodations: We will be based in Oaxaca city for this workshop. We will recommend several outstanding hotels and B&B’s where you may choose to stay, complete with contact information and estimated pricing. You can also check TripAdvisor and BookingDotCom. All reservations for lodging will be made and paid for by you directly with the hotel. You are free to choose any accommodation you prefer, from luxury to basic hostel. We will send you a list of recommended hotels after you register and make your deposit.
Reservations and Cancellations
A 50% deposit will reserve your space. The final payment for the balance due shall be made on or before August 1, 2014. We accept PayPal for payment only. We will send you an invoice for your deposit to reserve when you tell us you are ready to register.
If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email. After August 1, no refunds are possible; however, we will make every 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 require that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, and at least $50,000 USD of emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip. We know unforeseen circumstances are possible.
To register, email us at email@example.com We accept payment with PayPal only. Thank you.
This workshop is produced by Norma H-Shafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary and substitute instructors without notice.
Don’t let this workshop pass you by!
Aye, My Aching Back! Keep the DSLR or Opt for Lighter Camera?
For the past three weeks I’ve been traveling in buses, airplanes, vans, taxis and collectivos in Mexico City, and the States of Mexico and Michoacan to discover more of Mexico. I’ve walked a fair piece over cobblestones and uneven pathways. I’ve climbed pre-Hispanic archeological pyramids with steps that are taller than me. All the while, hauling my wonderful Nikon D7000 (now getting a little beat up) and the big honker Nikkor 17-55mm photojournalist lens. I get great photos from this equipment, but I’m tired and can feel the weight in my back and shoulders. Is it time to give up this camera and lens?
I asked Italian photographer Alex (Alessio) Coghe, who lives in Mexico City, why he uses a lighter-weight mirrorless camera. Here is what he said. Perhaps this will interest you as you consider how much you want to schlepp around, too! All advice welcome.
My Choice by Alex Coghe
Many times people ask why I moved to mirrorless and compact cameras for my photography. As a commercial photographer, this has been my choice since 2010. In 2009, I spent two months in Mexico. It was my first visit and during it I never used my Nikon equipment, preferring to use an high-end compact camera: the Panasonic Lumix LX3.
When I returned to Italy with a plan to get back to Mexico, I decided to sell all my Nikon gear to buy an Olympus E-P1 with its 17mm pancake lens which is equivalent to a 34mm in full frame. I can remember many friends saying I was crazy.
Well, now I use one camera and one lens and became a converted professional photographer with no remorse. Today, I see many photographers who decide to switch from DSLRs to mirrorless. In particular, I have colleagues who are choosing Fujifilm X series cameras, mostly X100 and XPRO.
Now I need to clarify that I never particularly loved digital reflex. I come from analog photography and I always preferred point & shoot cameras. I never liked the design and the approach of a DSLR, hiding my face behind a black plastic piece simply doesn’t work for what I do in the street.
Moreover, I always preferred to see what my eyes are seeing and not a reflection of the mirror system through the lens. This is an important part of my choice: I prefer to frame through an optical viewfinder. I do not fear the parallax error: Is it not the way the masters have photographed for almost a century?
As of this moment, I work with a Leica X2, a Fujifilm X100S, a Fujifilm X30 and sometimes I still use film cameras.
I am a commercial photographer, mostly working with models. I am into fashion and and street photography. Small compact cameras allow me to have visual contact with the subjects. This is very important for my kind of approach and way to work because the psychological aspect is very important.
As a street photographer, I need compact, light cameras that allow me to work all day in the street. I also need the discretion and the “invisibility” offered by a small camera. For this reason I think the new rangefinder cameras are perfect for my work. Most of the cameras like this have a fantastic pre-set focus system, so I usually use full manual and zone focus when it comes to street photography.
A camera should not be an obstacle but something that can be an extension of my arm, just to satisfy my approach and get close to my vision. My choice with the cameras is perfect for me and my work.
Norma’s Note: Thanks so much, Alex for contributing to Oaxaca Cultural Navigator. Now, I have some direction about what I may choose next. So hard to give up what you are used to. But, that’s true in almost anything that requires change, verdad?
Check out Alex’s website for 2015 Day of the Dead photo workshop in Oaxaca!
Faces & Festivals Photography Workshop in Chiapas, early January with Denver photographer Matt Nager. Discounts for 2 people. Budget options.
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Photography
Tagged advice, buying, Camera, compact, DSLR, equipment, light weight, mirrorless, photography, rangefinder, review, shopping, tour, what to buy, workshop