THIS WORKSHOP IS CANCELLED!
Arrive January 18 and depart January 25, 2016.
To make this workshop tour affordable, we are organizing it to include only instruction, on-the-hoof, coaching, feedback and photo review sessions, bi-lingual tour guide and all transportation. It does not include lodging or meals.
Cost is $1,295 per person. We need 6 people to hold this workshop. Bring a friend and you both get a 10% discount.
There are many wonderful places to stay in San Cristobal — our base. They range from luxurious to budget. We can recommend a few, including La Joya Hotel, Bela’s B&B, Posada del Abuelito and Na Bolom. You can find them on Trip Advisor.
The historic 16th Century colonial mountain town, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, is our base for making great photographs. Here in southern Mexico close to the Guatemala border, the Maya people hold on to a strong, proud and ancient past. Many on-going rituals and celebrations combine Spanish Catholicism with pre-conquest indigenous mysticism. Traditional hand-woven and embroidered Maya dress is still daily street wear. Before too long, you, too can name villages that people call home by the traje they wear.
During the week we will take part in village festivals that happen only this time of year, meet indigenous Maya families who are back strap loom weavers and embroiderers, visit historic sites, markets, folk healers and mystics. We offer you an amazing ethnographic travel photography experience that is centered in this compact, magical town where wide avenues are for pedestrians only. Our out-of-town travels take us to San Lorenzo Zinacantan, Chiapa de Corso for the Parachicos Festival and San Juan Chamula.
We are on location with photographer/instructor Matt Nager to create powerful photographs. You are welcome to use any camera you are comfortable with: basic point-and-shoot, mirrorless, iPhone or DSLR. Our emphasis is on the photographer-subject relationship and good composition, finding the best subject and knowing how to interact with them, capturing a sense of place with interest and an innovative eye. We also cover some DSLR camera basics, how to use manual settings, and offer optional coaching on photo editing using Lightroom.
Who should attend? The workshop is for all levels of photographers including beginners. We strip down often overly complicated conditions to bring the photographer face-to-face with the subject. We practice both impromptu street photography and classic pre-arranged portrait sessions. We will also cover landscape, architecture and general travel photography.
The Workshop Covers:
- Using natural light and responding to different lighting situations
- Moving from automatic to manual settings (for DSLR cameras)
- Directing your subject through varying body positions
- Identifying your own photographic style
- Finding and executing photographs “on the fly”
- Night photography and using a tripod
- Capturing a scene or historical site
- Learning more with one-on-one coaching sessions with Matt
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? How and when do you ask permission to take a stranger’s photograph? How do you get people to relax, be natural, and not be afraid of the camera? How do you transform the mundane into an interesting photo?
At the end of our week together, we will select our best photographs of the week and hold a group show followed by a celebratory supper, included in the fee.
About Your Instructor 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.
This is going to be a fantastic workshop and I encourage any level photographer to sign up. I recently had a class with Matt Nager and he is an excellent teacher and a fun person. You will not get a class this good for twice the price! –Barbara Szombatfalvy, Durham, NC
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 Denver Post 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
Equipment: Please bring your camera, your computer or tablet, a cable to connect your camera to your device to upload and edit your photos, a jump drive, extra batteries, battery charger, memory cards, optional tripod for night photography. If you use a DSLR camera, you may wish to bring a portrait lens (50mm) and a longer zoom lens. We will send a complete list of “what to bring” after you register!
Preliminary Itinerary (subject to change)
Mon. Jan. 18 – Arrive and check-in to your hotel/hostal. (D on your own)
Tues. Jan. 19 – We will meet in a historic center location. Our workshop starts with a learning session, welcome and orientation. We’ll go on a town walkabout, market stroll, capture photos on the fly, and end with a portrait session with well-known humanitarian folk healer. We will have lunch and dinner together as a group, at your own expense.
Wed. Jan. 20 – Learning session and photo review. Depart for Zinacantan for Dia de San Sebastian. This is the most important celebration for this community, with rituals, ceremonies, a horse race, masses, traditional native dances and processions. We have arranged a private portrait session with Zinacantan family. We will have lunch together as a group, at your own expense. (Dinner on your own.)
Thurs. Jan. 21 – Learning session and photo review. Portrait session with women’s weaving cooperative who come from their village wearing traditional Maya dress. We’ll have an exposition of their textiles, too. We will have lunch and together as a group, at your own expense. (Dinner on your own.)
Fri. Jan. 22 – Learning session and photo review. Today it’s all about food. We go to the local food market to meet and photograph vendors and see all the locally grown food. Then we meet one of San Cristobal’s great chefs for a photo shoot in the restaurant kitchen followed by lunch. We will have lunch together as a group, at your own expense. (Dinner on your own.)
Sat. Jan. 23 – Learning session and photo review. Parachicos of Chiapa de Corzo, The Great Feast celebration that honors the patron saints Our Lord of Esquipulas, Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Sebastian includes fabulous masked dancers, rattles, parades, a carnival, and opportunity for night photography. We will have lunch and dinner together as a group, at your own expense.
Sun. Jan. 24 – On our last day, we will visit the church at San Juan Chamula, then prepare for the last presentation and Best of Week Show. We will have lunch and celebratory group dinner together. Lunch will be at your own expense. Dinner is included in your workshop fee.
Jan. 25 – Depart
You are welcome to come early and stay later. You might want to go on to Tonina, Palenque, Bonampak or Yaxchilan to explore Maya archeology, or go further and cross the border into Guatemala or Villahermosa, Tabasco. We can recommend archeologist-led tour guides who can help facilitate customized travel plans at your own expense. We can also recommend where you can enroll in a San Cristobal de Las Casas cooking class that features local indigenous meals.
The workshop includes all instruction and personal coaching, transportation to three villages, cultural guide services and celebratory buffet supper at the end of our Best of Week Show. Plus you receive a comprehensive packet of information about our location, shopping, restaurants, and itinerary sent by email before the workshop begins.
The workshop does not include airfare, lodging, meals, admission to museums and archeological sites, alcoholic beverages, tips, travel insurance, optional transportation and incidentals.
Accommodations: You can check TripAdvisor and BookingDotCom or other online resources for best prices and levels of accommodations. All reservations for lodging will be made and paid for by you directly with the lodging provider. You are free to choose any accommodation you prefer, from luxury to basic hostel.
Reservations and Cancellations: A 50% deposit will reserve your space. The final payment for the balance due shall be made on or before November 1, 2015. We accept PayPal for payment only. We will send you an invoice for your deposit to reserve when you tell us by email that you are ready to register.
If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email. After November 1, 2015, no refunds are possible. However, we will make every effort to fill your reserved space or you may send a substitute. If you cancel before November 1, 2015, we will refund 50% of your deposit.
About Travel to San Cristobal de Las Casas: The Tuxtla Gutierrez (TGZ) airport is the gateway city, about one-hour from San Cris. You can fly there from Mexico City on Aeromexico or Interjet. From the USA, Delta Airlines has a codeshare with Aeromexico. Both airlines are located in Mexico City Terminal 2. United Airlines flies between Houston and Oaxaca and does not serve TGZ. UA is located in Mexico City Terminal 1. There is taxi and shuttle van service from TGZ airport to San Cris starting at about 700 pesos. You can also take an ADO overnight bus from Oaxaca to San Cristobal. If you book your stay at La Joya Hotel, we will arrange taxi airport pick-up and delivery for you at your own expense.
International Travel Insurance Required. We require that you purchase trip cancellation, baggage loss and at least $50,000 of emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip. We will ask for documentation. We know unforeseen circumstances are possible.
To register, email us at email@example.com We accept payment with PayPal only. Thank you.
Evaristo Borboa, Tenancingo, Mexico Rebozos on the Backstrap Loom
Evaristo Borboa Casas is an 89 year old weaver from Tenancingo de Degollado in the Estado de Mexico (state of Mexico). I met him on Saturday during a whirlwind visit to four rebozo makers, most of whom work on the flying shuttle loom. Except for Evaristo! He said when he was a six-year old boy learning to weave there were over 240 back-strap loom weavers in the village. Now there are only two or three.
Evaristo is a Grand Master of Mexico Folk Art. His work is recognized and collected throughout the world. Most consider him the best and the last of the traditional jaspe weavers in Mexico. Jaspe, or ikat, is a laborious process that requires a month of yarn tying and dyeing preparation before it can be put on the loom. Putting it on the loom takes another week. Then, it can take a month or two to weave the rebozo.An intricate rebozo can sell for 12,000 to 20,000 pesos. When you convert that to dollars, a top-notch weaver might make $900 at today’s current exchange rate for the finest handmade shawl. The best rebozo weavers in Tenancingo use fine cotton thread made and dyed in Puebla, Mexico.
Evaristo does this for love, for culture and for commitment to the cloth as do the other weavers we met on our first day traveling with Los Amigos del Arte Popular de Mexico: Fermin Escobar, Fito Garcia Diaz and Jesus Zarate.
Process to Make Ikat in Tenancingo
Evaristo tells us there are fourteen steps he uses to making a fine rebozo. I’m not sure I captured all that he explained, but I will do my best here. First he mounts the thread on a warping board and decides the length and width of the piece of cloth. Then, he separates the threads, called pepinado, with his fingers, tying each section.
Maestro Evaristo then soaks them in atole de masa (corn paste) so the threads dry to a secure hardness. He then draws the ikat (jaspe) design he wants to use on the thread. He ties and dyes the threads at the markings. With a smooth stone, he beats the threads in water to rinse out the atole paste. As each section loosens he dunks it in water 30 times.
Then, he unties the knots with a special knife and removes them from the cloth. He ties knots on the back strap loom to keep the loom threads even so they don’t move. This keeps the pattern registered, even. When on the loom, he fist makes the base and then starts the field design.
Evaristo uses 5,400 threads for the width of the rebozo. They are very fine! This is the highest number I heard during our visits to the four masters on the first day. It takes him five weeks to weave one rebozo.
Then, the cloth goes to the puntadora who ties the elaborates fringes. The more costly the cloth, the longer and finer quality the punta (fringe). Making the fringe can take two to four more months of work. A punta represents about 30% of the cost of the rebozo.
Los Amigos board member John Waddell organized this study trip. Members propose their travel idea to the board who approves the plan and a budget. The members organize trips as a membership benefit. Travelers fund their own cost to get to the destination, most meals, lodging and incidentals. The fee to LADAP includes a donation to help support Mexico’s folk artisans and special in-country projects.
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Textiles, Tapestries & Weaving, Travel & Tourism
Tagged backstrap loom, Evaristo Borboa Casas, Ikat, jaspe, Los Amigos del Arte Popular de Mexico, Mexico, photography, portrait, Tenancingo, weaving