Tag Archives: iPhone

2015 Day of the Dead Photography Workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico

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. 6_Zapotecs-7

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

Xoxocotlan2014-30 Xoxocotlan2014-7 Xoxocotlan2014-23

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.  13_Sunset@Xoxo1a Xoxocotlan2014-14

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. 2014DOTDTeoti-28

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

.3a_ForSale flowers (1 of 1)

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

  1. Camera, either Digital SLR camera with lens(es) — wide angle, zoom, and/or fixed focal point 50mm, or iPhone or Point and Shoot
  2. Optional tripod for night photography
  3. Laptop computer for photo editing
  4. External hard drive
  5. External card reader
  6. Extra batteries (2) and battery charger
  7. Memory cards (at least 2) and jump drive
  8. Pen and notepad
  9. 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)

red shawl

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.

127  manos

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.

2_Chocolate Shop 263

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 oaxacaculture@me.com  We accept payment with PayPal only. Thank you.

street beg red umbrella

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!



People of Oaxaca: Portrait Photography Workshop

Arrive Friday, January 30 and leave Friday, February 6, 2015. Options to arrive earlier and stay longer! You and any camera you have are welcome!

Creating a great photographic portrait means how to connect with your subject, source natural light, and apply aesthetic judgment. Whether you are taking amateur photographs of family, friends, or interesting people you meet on your travels, or you are more adept at using a professional-type camera, we can teach you how to capture stunning images. Making great visual art also depends more on the intersection of heart, mind and eye than it does on using the “best” camera. 

NagerPhotos-3 DyeWorkshopJan_Group-65 Fe2

You are welcome to use any camera you are comfortable with: basic point-and-shoot to iPhone to professional DSLR.  Our emphasis is on the photographer-subject relationship and good composition, finding the best subject and knowing how to interact with them. We offer you an amazing ethnographic travel photography experience.

Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, photo by Matt Nager

Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, photo by Matt Nager

We are based in the indigenous Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, where we introduce you to people whose faces show an 8,000 year old pre-Hispanic culture. This is an opportunity to get up close and personal with people you may otherwise not meet on your own!  We are on location here with photographer/instructor Matt Nager to create powerful portraits.  Our daily schedule takes you into people’s homes and workshops, and on day trips to local markets, and Oaxaca City.

Here are four photos by Matt Nager that give you an example of who you will meet, like Porfirio Santiago and his wife Gloria, 87-year-old weaver Secundino, and a man dyeing wool who we met along the way.

0319Weavers10 0319Weavers3 0319Weavers9 0319Weavers4

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

DSC_0656 DSC_0079 DSC_0268

Who should attend?  The workshop is for amateurs, as well as intermediate and advanced photographers who are new to portrait photography. We strip down often overly complicated conditions to bring the photographer face-to-face with the subject. We will practice both impromptu, street photography and classic pre-arranged portrait sessions.

The Workshop:

  • 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 and the community museum — included in your workshop fee

Each day we will discuss different techniques and review best of day images.  There will be plenty of time for discussion, feedback, and sharing.  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? How do you get people to relax, be natural, and not be afraid of the camera?


At the end of our week together, we will select our best portraits and hold a group show and reception, inviting local guests. This is an extraordinary gift and cultural exchange. We will send you a complete itinerary and daily schedule after you register.

A word about equipment and experience:  We will send 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. You will want to bring a USB cord to download your photos to your computer for editing images and sharing them. Optional: If you use a DSLR, you may want to bring a tripod, extra memory cards, an extra battery, battery charger, a portrait lens,  Photo editing software such as Lightroom is very helpful. We use Dropbox to share and show photos, and we will send you an invitation to join for free after you register. It’s easy!

DSC_0004 NagerPhotos-2

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 12 years of photography experience. 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. 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

DSC_0269 DyeWorkshopJan_Group-3

Workshop Includes:

  • 7 nights lodging
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 2 group lunches
  • 6 group dinners
  • group transportation when part of itinerary
  • guided visits to local markets, artisan workshops
  • 18+ hours of instruction
  • one-hour private coaching and feedback session

Alejandrina Rios and Tito Mendoza Ruiz by Norma Hawthorne

Preliminary Itinerary:

Day One, Friday, January 30: Travel to Oaxaca and check-in to our B&B (D)

Day Two, Saturday, January 31: Learning Session, village walkabout orientation, street photography assignment, portrait session with local family (B, D)

Day Three, Sunday, February 1: Learning Session, Tlacolula Market excursion, photography on the fly (B, L, D)

Day Four, Monday, February 2: Learning Session, photo review/feedback, portrait session with local family (B, D)

Day Five, Tuesday, February 3:  Learning Session, photo review/feedback, Oaxaca City photo excursion  (B)

Day Six, Wednesday, February 4: Learning Session, photo review/feedback, archeological backdrops, Yagul and Mitla field trip (B, L, D)

Day Seven, Thursday, February 5: Learning Session, photo review/feedback, prepare for final best of week portfolio (B, D)

Day Eight, Friday, February 6: Depart

DSC_0492 DSC_0358

Lodging/Accommodations and Cost

We are based in the Zapotec rug weaving and textile village of Teotitlan del Valle. To keep this program affordable, we have selected clean and basic accommodations at a local, women owned and operated bed and breakfast posada that is part of a family compound.  We offer you delicious homemade meals made with locally grown, organic ingredients.

Registration Options:

  1. Base Cost: $1,195 per person double occupancy with shared bath (sleeps two)
  2. Single Supplement: $1,495 single room with private bath (sleeps one)
  3. Take a Zapotec Oaxaca Cooking Class on February 6, $70, learn to make Oaxaca mole
  4. Come early or stay later in either Oaxaca ($125 night) or Teotitlan del Valle ($45 night) per person

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

The trip does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and transportation to and from Teotitlan del Valle.

DSC_0817 Portraits_Nager

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 add-ons costs) is November 15, 2014. We request payment with PayPal only.  Tell us you are ready to register and we will send you an invoice to secure your registration.  After November 15,  refunds are not possible.  You may send a substitute in your place.  If you cancel before November 15, we will refund 50% of your deposit.

Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance:  We require that you carry international accident/health/emergency evacuation insurance.  Proof of insurance must be sent at least two weeks before departure.  If you do not wish to do this, we ask you email a PDF of a notarized waiver of responsibility, holding harmless Norma Hawthorne and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  Unforeseen circumstances happen!

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

This program is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  We reserve the right to modify the itinerary as necessary.


Tips for Traveling with Technology: Get a Back Up Battery

PowerDuo Reserve - AC charger, car charger, and rechargeable backup battery

Griffin Technology gives mobile a boost

Trust me!  I am not getting paid to plug this.  Stephen just ordered two — one for him and one for me, and it came yesterday.  He’s a sweetheart.  The deal is — this  is a portable battery that charges either from the wall charger (on the right) or car charger (on the left).  So, when you hop on the plane you have a spare external back-up battery to power your iPhone or iPod or iPad (yes, I tested it — it works on my iPad) should your battery run down.  It’s made by Griffin Technology out of Nashville, TN, and you can order online.

David Pogue of the NY Times writes about how to keep your music player, computer, and e-book fully charged during travel, especially during long flights.  This one wasn’t mentioned in his last article, so I’m adding it here as a Norma’s Travel Tip when you depend on technology.


Technology on the Fly: Travel With Your Computer

Here is a handy New York Times technology blog about tech tips for travel. Travel life is now more than taking your laptop — it’s about iPad, Droid, iPhone, BlackBerry and Kindle (more?).

My travel life includes schlepping my MacBookPro, iPhone, iPad, portable LCD projector, Mexican cell phone, Nikon D40X camera and two huge lenses, extra batteries for each device, chargers for each device, data sticks, connectors, adapters, portable external hard-drive for back-up, and now I can’t think of what else, but there must be more!  With my back-pack full, I make my way through airport security and then down the concourse onto the plane like an overburdened mule.

Technology Daydreaming: I can’t wait for the day when Apple makes a laptop that looks/feels like an iPad, has an expandable telescoping screen, comes with 4G (maybe 10G) and a cell phone fits into a slot that can be activated by voice and connected by earbuds.  Or some such configuration.  Then,  all my devices can be integrated.  MobileMe and the soon to be iCloud are not enough!

Here are my tips that coincide with those put forth by David Pogue:

1.  Keep your cell phone and laptop chargers, ear buds, and other necessary devices always packed and handy to reach in your carry-on luggage.  Charge up full before you get on the plane!

2.  Download any documents attached to emails that you want to work on while you are traveling before you leave home.  You don’t know whether you will have airport Wi-Fi access, if it will be free or available for a cost, or if there will even be time to get the document before your plane boards and takes off.

P.S.  There is no free Wi-Fi in RDU or in Houston.  There IS free Wi-Fi in San Jose, California (of course) and Mexico City. I’ve never had it on any Continental flight I’ve been on.  I did have it on an American flight from ORD to SJC recently.)

3.  Use your record locator as your flight record to access the information.  Put this into your handheld in your calendar.  The record locator can then be punched into the airport kiosk quickly to get the printed boarding passes.

4.  I always confirm my flights 24-hours in advance via email and pre-pay baggage fees, saving time and a few dollars.  I have my boarding passes emailed to me, but find the airport personnel are still used to the printed document and always ask me to check in at the kiosk first.  This is how they print out the luggage tags, too.

5.  Because I’ve been traveling to Oaxaca so much this year and last, I have reached Silver Elite on Continental.  I’ll get bumped up to first class if its a light load.  What a treat!  Do I feel guilty?  Yes, a little bit, because my bags come off the plane first and I’m in the upfront cabin which guarantees a fast exit.  This is the benefit of being a loyalty traveler — using only one airline as your preferred carrier.  I’m not certain I’ll be able to sustain this level, but I’m certainly enjoying it while I have it.

6.  Do I track whether my flight leaves late and arrives on time, and do I care?  No.  There is nothing I can do about it.  Once I enter the realm of air travel, they have captured me and I am theirs body and soul.  All I want is my music, my computer and my iPad to read my “book” in peace.





Oaxaca Travel: iPhone Apps = The Bad and the Ugly

We are preparing for the next trip to Oaxaca in early March.  Over the last year, I have migrated most of my travel information from paper to e-information.  My resolution for 2011 was to adapt to my iPhone calendar which syncs with my computer — reluctantly giving up the handwritten word which I deeply love.

My quest this morning was to research the App Store and get a good Oaxaca map and travel information loaded up to my iPhone — on the ready.  (Although I know Oaxaca like the back of my hand.) Last March, I navigated my way independently through the narrow, cobbled backstreets of London relying solely on my iPhone.  I did not get lost and managed to find everything I wanted, needed, and much more!  My London iPhone folder had six apps filed there and I’m waiting to go back to this fantastic city.

On to Oaxaca!  There are ONLY TWO iPhone Apps for Oaxaca.  Both reference the CITY of Oaxaca, not the STATE of Oaxaca.  Looks like we still need to rely on Moon’s Oaxaca Handbook to get solid information.

Here are my reviews, ranked in order of preference.  You’ll notice there is no “Good.”

  1. The Bad:      Oaxaca Travel World.  Cost: $0.99.  Developer: Tan Feng.  Posted March 4, 2010.  I give it a 2 Star (out of 5) This App is decent but has skimpy information, much of it outdated.  It looks like they did online research based on 2007 information and made up a travel site.  Mexicana airlines is out of business., which they cite as the best way to get to Oaxaca.  Today, January 15, 2011, the only service to Oaxaca is via ADO bus or AeroMexico from Mexico City or Continental from Houston.  Shopping recommendations are poor and only feature large commercial shopping mall department stores.  There are no galleries or boutiques listed.  Choices for lodging name one or two locations.  Fewer than 5 restaurants are recommended, although they are good ones!  This site could benefit from more content and a good editor.  Oaxaca is filled with great lodging and restaurant choices.
  2. The Ugly–Thumbs Down: Oaxaca Genius Map.  Cost: $0.99.  Developer:  Cui Gang, NiceTrip 2010.  This was posted on May 17, 2010. Don’t bother with this App.  This is a total waste of money and it is deceptive.  I have asked for my money back on principal of being sucked in.  This is just a map, and a poor one at that.  It denotes landmarks and historical sites by color on the map but there are no written references.  Two restaurants are named on the map; these are obscure and out of the tourist area.   The App Store indicates there are no ratings for this App, so I bought without tapping the ratings button.

I have to fault iPhone and Apple for not screening content for quality, but I guess it’s  caveat emptor, “let the buyer beware.”  Apple has also not kept up with posting the ratings for Apps as they get written and posted.  I hope the environment improves.