Tag Archives: Holy Week Semana Santa

Oaxaca Portrait Photography Workshop: Connecting with Your Subject

Arrive Monday, April 2 and depart Monday, April 9, 2012 — Semana Santa, Holy Week in Oaxaca, Mexico — 8 Days, 7 Nights  

Creating a great portrait requires a combination of recognizing good light, applying technical skill and aesthetic judgment, and communicating with your subject. Here in Oaxaca, Mexico, we will gather on location with photographer/instructor Matt Nager to build upon the basics behind conceiving, developing, and creating powerful portraits.  We offer a particularly rich visual experience since our program is held during Holy Week or Semana Santa just before Easter.

Using an ethnographic approach, participants will photograph local subjects to create natural and expressive images.  This cultural immersion travel photography experience brings you in contact with indigenous people in their own communities who are celebrating centuries old traditions.

Portrait photography doesn’t need to be complicated and often will create lasting memories for both the photographer and the person being photographed. This workshop will teach you all the skills needed to simplify the portrait process and make it fun!

Who should attend?  The workshop is for amateurs as well as intermediate and advanced photographers who are new to portraiture and who want to know more about lighting.  Our approach demystifies the portrait by simplifying both natural and artificial lighting situations. We strip down often overly complicated conditions to bring the photographer face-to-face with the subject.

Workshop Topics:

  • Practicing your portraiture skills through daily assignments
  • Using natural light and responding to different lighting situations
  • Directing your subject through varying body positions
  • Orchestrating on-location lighting setups
  • Identifying your own photographic style
  • Finding and executing portraits “on the fly”
  • Marketing and developing your business to build a clientele
  • Coaching sessions one-on-one with the instructor

Each day we will discuss different techniques and review the images you have shot.  There will be plenty of time for discussion, feedback, and sharing of ideas and experiences.  We will address topics such as: How do you stay inspired?  What do you say and do to sustain authentic connection with your subject?  How do you prepare yourself to stay open, interested, and flexible?

We will devote one session to marketing and creating a successful portrait photography business. Matt will share his methods for reaching potential clients and marketing photography.  Business development strategies will include how to create effective websites, email campaigns, stock sales, and developing a marketing calendar.

At the end of our week together, we will select our best portraits and hold a group show and reception, inviting local guests.  It is an extraordinary gift and cultural exchange.

A complete itinerary and daily schedule will be provided after you register.

A word about equipment and experience:  We will offer a list of “what to bring” after you register! All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced.  The techniques learned in this workshop can be applied to any camera and format.  However, for the best experience, we suggest that each participant bring a digital SLR camera and laptop computer or iPad for editing images, and an external flash.

Students should know how to use their cameras beyond the automatic setting (we are happy to send you resources on request) and be able to import photos onto a computer. Our class will focus on subject interaction and lighting and not on basic camera use. Of course, Matt will be available for any technical questions about camera use and lighting equipment. If you have any questions about your skill level, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss this with you, offering support to get you ready to participate with us.

Your Workshop Leader is Matt Nager

Matt Nager is a Denver, Colorado, based portrait and editorial photographer. His love for nature and the outdoors, as well as his interest in people and culture, is central to his photography. Matt has over 10 years of photography experience. Before starting his own photography business, Matt worked with several newspapers including 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.  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, and is learning Italian.  His work is at: www.mattnager.com


Workshop Includes:

  • 7 nights lodging
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 4 group lunches
  • 3 group dinners
  • group transportation when part of itinerary
  • guided visits to local markets, artisan workshops
  • 18+ hours of instruction
  • one 45-minute personal coaching session

Lodging/Accommodations and Cost

We will spend the first three nights in Oaxaca City and the last four nights in the Zapotec rug weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle. To keep this program affordable, we have selected clean and basic accommodations in Oaxaca City and in Teotitlan del Valle.  In Teotitlan, you will stay at a bed and breakfast inn that is part of the family compound.  We offer you delicious local meals made from scratch.  If you desire upscale accommodations in Oaxaca City, let me know and we can arrange this for a premium.  No luxury lodging is available in the village.

Base Cost: $1395 per person double occupancy with shared bath facilities.  Single rooms are available with a single supplement. A limited number of double occupancy rooms with private bath, and single occupancy with private bath are available. Please indicate your preference below.

[  ]  Option 1: I will share a room, double occupancy with shared bath, $1395 per person.

[  ]  Option 2:  I prefer a single room with shared bath for a total of $1495 per person.

[  ]  Optional 3:  I will share a room, double occupancy, with private bath for a total of $1495.

[  ]  Option 4:  I prefer a single room with private bath for a total of $1695.

[  ]  Option A:  5-hour Zapotec cooking class, includes local market shopping tour and lunch, on April 9.  Add $110 (includes class, three meals, one night lodging on April 9, departing on Tuesday, April 10).

[   ] Option B:  Arrive Sunday, April 1 — add-on $150 (one extra night, includes breakfast), with meals on your own

[  ] Option C:  Arrive Saturday, March 30 — add-on $300 (two extra nights, includes 2 breakfasts), with meals on your own

Most travel workshops of this type and length cost more than twice as much!

The trip does NOT include airfare, taxes, gratuities, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation to and from Oaxaca city.

Reservations and Cancellations

A 50% deposit based on your preferred options is required to guarantee your spot.  The final payment for the balance due (including any additional costs) shall be postmarked by January 1, 2012.  We prefer payment with PayPal.  We will be send you an itemized invoice upon receipt of your registration form.

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 get your questions answered and to register, contact: normahawthorne@mac.com

This retreat is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.