Itinerary for Antigua & Atitlan in March with Eric Mencher & Andrew Sullivan

Photos by Eric Mencher

Photos by Eric Mencher

March 18-27: From the Cobblestones to the Lakeshore - Antigua & Atitlan, Guatemala with Eric Mencher, Andrew Sullivan & Rene Torres

Explore and enjoy three nights in the Spanish Colonial city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua, Guatemala. Then travel through the hills to spend six nights in a lakeside inn at one of Latin America's most beautiful places - Santiago Atitlan.

Workshop tuition includes all instruction and mentoring, airport transfers, three nights accommodation in Antigua at Hotel Aurora, entrance fees to sites, round trip shuttle service to Santiago Atitlan, six nights lodging at Posada de Santiago, all meals during our time at the lake, boat transport to our locations around Atitlan, and the farewell dinner.

***Eric will be teaching the Antigua portion of the workshop, and Andrew will lead the Atitlan portion.

Our workshop schedule is below. We will follow this itinerary as closely as possible while providing flexibility to take advantage of spontaneous opportunities. 

Monday, March 18

¡Bienvenidos! Workshop participants arrive in Antigua. We will gather for dinner near our hotel in downtown Antigua.  Introductory session to discuss the workshop, address questions and concerns, talk about our individual and collective goals, and view slideshow. 

Tuesday, March 19

Early! (6:30 or 7am) We'll rise early to photograph the city's streets in spectacular crystalline light. Spend the morning photographing, perhaps pausing to have some of the world's best coffee (grown locally on the hillsides surrounding Antigua). This day will be a good introduction to the sites of Antigua, from the iconic Arco de Santa Catalina to the ruins of the 16th Century cathedral, destroyed by earthquake in 1773 and only partially rebuilt. In the afternoon, we'll set up individual meetings with Eric for portfolio reviews. As the sun goes down, we'll head back out in to the streets for low-light photography tutorials.

Wednesday, March 20

Early (again)! We'll keep working on our street photography, refining our sense of composition and light. Visits today will include the market, the Tanque La Union, and the Antiguo Colegio de la Compania de Jesus. Antigua's architecture fascinates the eye, and provides ample material for photographic studies of ancient details or wider storytelling perspectives. Explore ruins and amble the cobblestone streets to find captivating moments of daily life. We'll have another session of portfolio reviews in the afternoon, before meeting for dinner to say farewell to Eric.

Thursday, March 21

9am: Group leaves Antigua in our private shuttle, arrives Posada de Santiago in Santiago Atitlán, approximately noon

12:30pm: Group welcome lunch at the Posada

2:00pm: Orientation talk to discuss itinerary and goals for our time at the lake

3:00-5:00pm:  Relax!

5:00pm: Photograph by the lake or walk into town with Andrew and Rene to become acquainted with Santiago

7:30ish: Dinner and discussion and instruction of various apps to improve your iPhone photography

Friday, March 22

Early! (6:30 or 7am): Meet by the Posada’s dock to photograph as the sunrise illuminates the volcano across the water

8:00am: Quick breakfast at the Posada

9:00am: Walk (or take tuk-tuk!) into town to photograph Market Day in Santiago with Andrew and Rene

12:30-3: Lunch, free time to photograph, enjoy the lake or swimming pool, or meet with instructors

4:30pm: Photograph around Santiago, download and edit pictures, or one-on-one critiques with instructors

7:00 Dinner and discussion 

Santa Catarina Palopo. Photo by Andrew Sullivan

Santa Catarina Palopo. Photo by Andrew Sullivan

Saturday, March 23 Experience the Magic of Lake Atitlán // Experiment with New Tools

Early breakfast

8:00am: Leave on lancha (boat) for daytrip across the lake to Santa Catarina and San Antonio Palopó 

6:00pm: Return to Posada de Santiago

7:00: Dinner and discussion

After dinner: Edit

Sunday, March 24 Moments - In the Towns of the Saints  

7:00am: Breakfast

8:30am: Meet at the Posada dock for lancha to San Marcos, San Juan, and San Pedro

12pm: Lunch

6:00pm: Return to Santiago
7:00pm: Dinner and discussion

San Pedro, photo by Andrew Sullivan

San Pedro, photo by Andrew Sullivan

Monday, March 26

8:00am: Breakfast

9:00am: Critiques and editing to prepare for final slideshow

1:00pm: Critiques continue

3:00pm: Free time or walk into town 

5:00pm: Lakeside cocktail hour with informal conversation and exchange of thoughts, ideas, experiences

6:00pm: Group slideshow

7:00 Farewell dinner with live music

Tuesday, March 27

Early breakfast
8:30am: Pack 

10:00am: Depart for the airport

We hope that you leave energized--not exhausted--having made new friends and supporters, well on your way to refining your personal vision.

The workshop costs $3500 per person and includes instruction, three nights at Hotel Aurora in Antigua, six nights at Posada de Santiago in Atitlan, airport transfers, ground transportation to and from Lake Atitlan, all meals at Lake Atitlan, and boat transportation to our locations around the lake. 


Itinerary for Oaxaca Workshop in March 2019 & Interview with Amy Touchette

Photo by Amy Touchette

Photo by Amy Touchette

We are happy to return to Oaxaca in March 2019 for our second annual workshop there with Amy Touchette. We’ve shifted our itinerary a little bit to be able to visit the indigenous market at Tlacolula, where Zapotec people from distant villages travel to barter for all sorts of goods, from spices to live turkeys to textiles and much more. Our planned schedule is here:

Thursday, March 7 - Arrival, check-in to The Oaxaca Inn, and welcome dinner in downtown Oaxaca.

Friday, March 8 - Head outside the city to photograph Ocotlan, a town that transforms into a dynamic market every Friday. We went in March of this year on the last day and it was one of the highlights - an amazing place. Then head to Santa Catarina Minas to visit a mezcal maker who uses traditional techniques.

Saturday, March 9 - Street photography and portraiture in downtown Oaxaca, with lunch at Mercado 20 de Enero, one of the iconic sites in the city. Work at the Manuel Alvarez Bravo Photographic Center, a workshop and gallery space named after the famous Mexican photographer. Photograph the Zocalo, Santo Domingo, and the Botanic Garden.

Sunday, March 10 - Leave the city again to visit the indigenous market at Tlacolula, where barter is one of the main forms of commerce. Lunch with a Zapotec family at Teotitlan del Valle, and a visit to the women's weaving collective, where they make rugs and blankets with natural dyes they create themselves from plants and insects.

Monday, March 11 - Visit the pyramids outside the city at Monte Alban. Work at the Institute of Graphic Arts in downtown Oaxaca.

Tuesday, March 12 - Photograph Central de Abastos on the outskirts of downtown Oaxaca, a labyrinth of commerce - it's the spot where produce, meat, fish, and literally anything else you could possibly imagine wanting comes into Oaxaca. It's a stimulating macrocosm of daily life.

Wednesday, March 13 - Checkout of the Oaxaca Inn and bid farewell.

I’ve hesitated posting itineraries on past workshops for fear of “spoiling the surprise.” The reality is that each day in our workshops we encounter many unexpected “gifts from the photo gods,” and beyond the structure of an itinerary is where the magic of photography lives. We’ve found that no matter how strong an itinerary might be, even as it’s filled with spectacular locations and adventurous experiences, it’s the people we meet and photograph are what our workshops remarkable and unforgettable - from Don Pedro, who showed us secrets of Monte Alban, to Pastora Gutierrez demonstrating how she makes natural dyes for her handmade rugs, to the anonymous everyday people who share a smile or prepare a tlayuda for our lunch.

Amy was recently interviewed by photographer Timothy Frazier for his online magazine The Photographic Bandwidth. Please take a look. Amy’s insights into her work are always revealing and will make you think about how to look at photography, and life, a little bit differently and with more sensitivity. Great interview, and thanks to Timothy.

I began photographing people who I felt somehow embodied singularity, being alone. And what I saw in all of them was this beautiful marriage of vulnerability and liberation, a sort of calm, honest, susceptible strength.

And if you’d like to join us in Oaxaca for an unforgettable photographic experience (not to mention that we will eat some of the best food in the world….), please check out the workshop listing here to sign up:

You won’t be disappointed.

Finding Your Best Photographs

“Amy Touchette is a master of street photography in the busiest of all concrete jungles,
New York City.”—BuzzFeed

New York City street photographer Amy Touchette’s workshop, “Photographing People & Life in Oaxaca, Mexico,”
takes place March 11-16, 2018.

Story and photos by Amy Touchette

Lady B looking at polaroid outtakes from her Diana

Lady B looking at polaroid outtakes from her Diana

Even though it’s easier than ever today to operate a camera and produce a picture, it’s no easier to recognize the most compelling images among your outtakes and to make collective sense of them. In fact, it might be even harder; because digital technology lets us produce so much, there’s more to choose from—more pictures to confuse us, more pictures to get in the way of us uncovering a theme or narrative in the pictures we make. 

However, being able to find the best pictures among a group of images and understand what links them is one of the key skills that distinguishes photographers from people who take pictures.

Finding our most compelling images is an elusive task, but as my mentor, Karen Marshall, Acting Chair of the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism program at the International Center of Photography, puts it, “it is a muscle you can strengthen just like any other.” 

Exercising those muscles starts before a picture is even produced. You begin by setting an intention, having a goal, because that reveals what you care about, and maybe more importantly, why. 

Later, that intention can be abandoned or revised if it doesn’t work out, but it’s important to have a jumping off point, to make a conscious decision about where you are headed when you set out to photograph. 

From there, you let your photographs respond. Marshall, who has taught personal vision courses for over 20 years, likens it to a conversation. You say something by setting an intention, and the photographs you produce as a result of that intention say something back. You make more pictures in response, extending the conversation, and again your photos reply to you. And this conversation goes on and on.

As you look at your outtakes, put aside your intention and your backstory. It’s easy to think an image is compelling because we had a compelling experience making it, but often none of the details of our experience are evident to viewers. Likewise, we can cling so strongly to our reason for making an image that we can’t see what is really developing through the lens. 

At home editing for my exhibition next month at Cal Poly University Art Gallery, February 22-March 16, where I’ll be debuting The Young Series, portraits of teenagers in New York City, O’ahu, and Tokyo

At home editing for my exhibition next month at Cal Poly University Art Gallery, February 22-March 16, where I’ll be debuting The Young Series, portraits of teenagers in New York City, O’ahu, and Tokyo

So, to a large extent, becoming a good editor is about holding on loosely: being open and patient—but also playful. Placing the images you like the most into categories or piles based on similarities is a great way to start listening to what your images are saying, as well as what they say about each other when they are in a certain sequence. The point is to start making associations, and casting a really wide net when you do so, so that you can jostle yourself out of your own thoughts and make room for new, novel ones to occur to you.

It’s not enough to make successful or compelling pictures. You have to be able to recognize them, or else it’s like they don’t exist. To learn more ways to sharpen your editing skills, read the article I wrote for Envato Tuts+, or better yet, join me in Oaxaca, Mexico, March 11-16 for my workshop “Photographing People & Life.” I would love to meet you!





Photographing Strangers When There Is a Language Barrier

Arles, France, July 2017

Arles, France, July 2017

Story and photos by Amy Touchette

“Amy Touchette is a master of street photography in the busiest of all concrete jungles, New York City.”—BuzzFeed

New York City street photographer Amy Touchette’s workshop, “Photographing People & Life in Oaxaca, Mexico,” takes place March 11-16, 2018.

Last July, I had the pleasure of attending Les Rencontres d’Arles, a photography festival held annually in Arles, France. While attending the festival, I took over LensCulture’s Instagram feed, posting candid pictures of people I encountered on the streets of Arles in between portfolio review meetings. 

As was the case when I photographed in Vietnam, Macao, Japan, Malaysia, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, I was not fluent in the country’s language (in this case, French). And as was also the case when I travelled to the aforementioned countries, I learned that photographing in a foreign land is no more difficult than photographing in a setting in which you do know the language. 

Arles, France, July 2017 -- This was the first photo I made when I arrived in Arles, an exceptionally warm, spirited town in the south of France. I fell in love with it almost immediately. Landing during magic hour certainly didn’t hurt!

Arles, France, July 2017 -- This was the first photo I made when I arrived in Arles, an exceptionally warm, spirited town in the south of France. I fell in love with it almost immediately. Landing during magic hour certainly didn’t hurt!

The facts are, people assess you firstly and primarily on nonverbal cues anyway. People make what social psychologists call “spontaneous trait inferences” within less than a second based on your facial features, revealing language to be a comparatively minor means of communication. 

For a street photographer, then, it’s of the utmost concern to project physically, emotionally, in your stance, and in the tone of your voice, a way of being that shows you are trustworthy to people who have never met you before, so that you gain as much access as possible to street life. And the only way to really do that successfully is to actually be a trustworthy person. The main rule is to respect the space of others on the street by being gentle and communicative when interactions arise. 

Sometimes you have to ask permission to photograph beforehand; other times you can make photographs without having to be formally involved. Every situation is unique and it’s up to you to suss it out. The key is not to deny your own presence on the street, but to embrace it, to really know you belong there, too—even with your camera—because the only way to melt into the background of the street is to feel you are a genuine part of it.