Oct. 29 to Nov. 3, 2019 - Day of the Dead, Oaxaca

Day of the Dead - Oaxaca

October 29 to November 3, 2019

$1000. / person, limited to six people

One of the most magical times to visit Mexico, and Oaxaca in particular, is at the end of October and into early November to take in the vast celebrations of Dia de Muertos, when Mexicans gather to celebrate the lives and memories of loved ones who have died. 

Taught by SEEK founder and New York Times contributor Andrew Sullivan, who has led workshops in New York City, Mexico, and Guatemala since 2008, this will be a fun and fascinating workshop, with lots of time spent photographing on location, followed by in-depth critiques of student work. Assisting Andrew in the course is Romina Hierro, a photographer from Oaxaca who has photographed six books, including one about the life and work of reknowned Oaxacan artist Francisco Toledo.

This is a workshop, and in addition to our group activities, you will be expected to explore on your own, photographing and creating the story of your experience. We provide transportation, local knowledge, teaching, and critical expertise, but you must provide your own creativity. You don't need to be an expert photographer, but a basic understanding of your camera and exposure will enable you to make the most of your time on the ground in the very dynamic environment of Oaxaca. Have no fear, we run friendly workshops intended to help you develop your photographic skills within lyrical documentary and street photography. Andrew and Romina will be with you each day to help with any struggles, whether they be cultural or language issues, or technical, artistic or theoretical aspects of the photography of daily life.

The most important aspect of this workshop is to enjoy it and to make some good photographs.

Tuesday, October 29

We'll gather for drinks and snacks to get to know one another and to go over plans for the workshop.

Wednesday, October 30

We'll see the delivery of truckloads of Aztec marigolds, called "flores de cempazuchitl" in the indigenous Nahuatl language, as they arrive in the teeming markets of Oaxaca - Benito Juarez, 20 de Noviembre, and Central de Abastos. The flowers, bursting in orange and magenta, arrive from the countryside for use in altars families assemble at home and in cemeteries.

After photographing in the morning, we'll break for lunch, download images, and begin editing and individual critiques.

In the late afternoon and evening, we'll photograph a "comparsa," a musical parade through the city in which the revelers dress in costumes and elaborate skull make-up.

Thursday, October 31

In the morning, we'll travel outside of Oaxaca city to visit the market town of Zaachila, where preparations will be underway as the townspeople rush to the market to buy flowers, sugar skulls, and countless other items to decorate the graves of their loved ones.

After several hours photographing in Zaachila, we'll return to Oaxaca for lunch, editing, and critiques.

We'll have some free time to rest before a late night in the cemeteries of Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán and Atzompa, two towns on the periphery of Oaxaca, each with distinct traditions and rituals. We'll be working graveside by candlelight, meeting families, and making interesting pictures of a beautiful tradition.

Friday, November 1

After a good night's rest, we'll visit a family home in Oaxaca to see the intricate altar they will have created to honor their loved ones. In the afternoon, we'll edit and critique work again before heading back into the night to photograph. We'll visit the Panteon General in Oaxaca City and see various comparsas in the neighborhoods we walk through, including the quaint and beautifully preserved barrio of Jalatlaco, on the edge of centro. We'll cross town to visit the neighborhood of Xochimilco and its local cemetery as well.

We'll stop for coffee and hot chocolate to energize ourselves for the night, which will include a brief drive to San Agustin Etla to photograph the Muerteada, the surreal parade of the dead, which is akin to a trip to the underworld itself. Demons of every imaginable type, ghosts, diablos and perhaps a few angels as well will dance before your camera. It's an experience not to be missed for any lover of street photography or Mexican culture.

Saturday, November 2

We'll have a free morning to rest up again before editing at mid-day and then traveling to the villages of Teotitlan del Valle and the archaeological site Mitla, the mythological city of the dead, to cap off a fascinating cultural experience that will bring you incredible photographs and perhaps a sense of life-affirming inspiration.

Sunday, November 3

We'll have another critique in the late morning, followed by our final audio slideshow and farewell fiesta in the late afternoon.

What's Included

-All instruction

-Ground transportation to our locations during the workshop

-Snacks and drinks during our welcoming night and our farewell fiesta

Add To Cart
February 23-29, 2020, Oaxaca - The Photographic Life with Amy Touchette & Andrew Sullivan

For the third consecutive year, we return to Oaxaca to teach this special workshop!

$600.US deposit to reserve space in workshop. Balance of $1250.US due Jan. 1, 2020

$1850.US workshop fee includes instruction, six nights lodging (private room and bath) in the city center at The Oaxaca Inn, ground transportation to and from Oaxaca International Airport, excursions out of the city, welcome dinner on Sunday and farewell fiesta Friday night.

Some of the topics this workshop will cover are:

  • Methodologies photographers have used in the past to capture life on the street, so you can determine the approach that works best for you.

  • How to gain people’s trust—both through conversation and wordlessly, using just your presence.

  • Techniques for blending into the background and “breaking the ice” with a complete stranger.

  • What to do and say when photographing a person or place upsets someone: how to calm them while staying calm yourself.

  • How your decisions and behavior set the stage for the photographs that result: the very real relationship between cause and effect and between mind and body.

  • We will also look at the photographs you make as the week progresses and discuss the experiences you’re having while photographing in Oaxaca. 

Below is our planned itinerary. We may have to change items listed below due to unforeseen circumstances. The items listed below will be our main points of focus during the trip. Each day will include chances for one-on-one work with Amy, Andrew, and the workshop team. Life is full of surprises. We can’t predict what spontaneous magic we will encounter- we only know that we will indeed encounter it every day in beautiful Oaxaca.

You will be working independently for much of the workshop. We will have two optional group outings, but the majority of your time photographing will be spent following your own project ideas. This is a course about personal vision. That can be developed only by the intuitive and thoughtful consideration of one's own interests.

Sunday, February 23 - Check-in to The Oaxaca Inn. Meet for our welcoming night dinner and presentation on what to expect during the week. After dinner, we'll look at print portfolios. Please bring 20 prints of your most meaningful work; pictures that represent who you are as a photographer. Also bring lots of questions. We are here to answer every question or doubt you might have.

Monday, February 24 - Start early! We recommend that you hit the streets at sunrise to see the city awaken slowly in beautiful light, and to start generating ideas for the body of work that you'll complete during the workshop. At 10 a.m., we'll meet at IAGO, the Institute of Graphic Arts for presentations addressing the creation of photo essays, street photography, and candid portraiture. By mid-afternoon, all students will be working on their projects.

Tuesday, February 25 - We'll leave the city early for our second optional group trip. Prepare yourself for one of the most unusual and exciting cultural events you will ever see. It's Carnaval, the last day before Lent, and we will be in the middle of bedlam in San Martin Tilcajete, a small town outside the city where the men and boys daub themselves with black or red grease and bedevil the streets and squares. The event is unlike anything you will have ever seen - it is exciting, funny, mysterious, and non-stop action. We'll spend most of the day in San Martin Tilcajete, photographing as the day unfolds, and absorbing the culture of this spirited town.

Wednesday, February 26 - We'll meet after breakfast for group edits and critiques at the Institute of Graphic Arts. After lunch, we'll start to hold individual meetings to assure that you get attention aimed at developing your personal vision. From mid-afternoon onward, you'll be photographing your project.

Thursday, February 27 - There will be an optional  trip to photograph the Pre-Columbian pyramids outside the city at Monte Alban. Those who choose not to visit Monte Alban will photograph their individual projects. The group will return to the city for discussions and critiques of student work at the Institute of Graphic Arts in downtown Oaxaca. And again, you'll be out in the late afternoon and evening light to photograph.

Friday, February 28 - We hope (and let's be honest, we expect), that you're still getting up early, taking advantage of some of the world's best light, and making compelling pictures. We'll meet at IAGO at 10 for a group edit. The group will break for lunch before  continuing individual meetings. This afternoon and evening will be the final opportunity to take photographs for your completed photo essay that we will project Saturday night.

Saturday, February 29 -  Please sleep in today!! We'll meet again for one last group edit at 10. After the group edit ends, students will make final edits to sequence and prepare their images. After lunch together, we'll check and double check your edits to prepare for the slide show. After your images are ready, celebrate a little! We'll get together in the evening for our final slide show of your photographic essays, and then we'll host our farewell fiesta.

Oaxaca is an exciting, art-filled, beautiful blend of the ancient and modern. It is a bustling city nestled in the rugged mountain range Sierra Madre del Oaxaca, and at times feels like a small town in many places. From El Zocalo, the city's central plaza, street life radiates outward toward nearby cultural hotspots such as the Centro Fotografico Manuel Alvarez Bravo , the library of the Instituto de Artes Graficas de Oaxaca, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Textile Museum of Oaxaca, to name just a few of the inspiring gems within walking distance from our headquarters at The Oaxaca Inn Centro.

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