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.

Mexico and the Space to Think

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, January 4, 2017

The Flyers of Papantla visit San Miguel de Allende

The Flyers of Papantla visit San Miguel de Allende

Living in the highlands of central Mexico for the past year and a half while building SEEK Workshops with Elizabeth Watt and Andres Carnalla has helped me imagine possibilities, and to feel the moments of each day rather than rushing to get things done or simply struggling to find a parking space. What's essential to a creative life becomes clear- friends, conversations with enthusiastic colleagues, good food, exercise, and time. We do need more than those five things, but over and over I'm reminded that they provide the mental clarity upon which meaningful work can be built.

San Miguel is a place where you can catch your breath and consider that you can make something of value. It's a place where art, artists, and creativity are celebrated. People respond with enthusiasm upon hearing that I'm a photographer. Drivers stop to not obstruct my view as I take a picture, there's less aggression in the supermarket, and more friendly greetings from strangers as I step across the cobblestone streets of this 16th Century Spanish Colonial city and UNESCO World Heritage Site.  And when an exhibit opens, curious visitors gather around the pictures just to look, just to see another point of view.

Expats often speak of the "mañana" philosophy that you encounter in Mexico, the idea that there's no rush. You can finish tomorrow, or another day. Some hate it, some laugh along with it in resignation, and others, myself included, embrace it. After years of daily newspaper deadlines, it feels luxurious to slow down to think, to let an idea germinate, to feel a place, to enjoy your friends, to take more time to finish a project so it's done the way you want it. But it's not a luxury- it's essential to give yourself that time. At SEEK we often talk about trusting the process- that delving into your work to savor the experience of working and creating rather than looking to the end result. In Mexico, the culture supports the process.

People visit San Miguel de Allende for many reasons - the architecture, the climate, the food, the cost of living. For us at SEEK, it's the place where we are building on our ideas of doing things differently. Of taking time, of finding flow within a project as we frame images with our cameras, of taking a hike in the countryside with or without a camera, of believing that good work comes out of simple concepts given room to breathe. That space inside our heads can be so cluttered with details and deadlines. Slow down, recognize that manaña will be here soon enough, and give yourself time to create or reflect. If your environment doesn't provide enough of that for you, join us sometime in San Miguel. 

We Agree with Conde Nast Traveler - San Miguel de Allende is the Best City in the World

It's old news to many, but in 2013 a Conde Nast Traveler poll named San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, the base for many of our workshops, "The Best City in the World." High praise indeed - and accurate!
Conde Nast Traveler wrote, "great atmosphere, excellent restaurants, culture and ambiance galore." Few street lights and billboards enhance the city's historic beauty, and the city itself offers a "traditional feeling of a small town in the heart of Mexico. An amazing place to be."

Colectadores at Finca Santa Rosa

Finca Santa Rosa in Teocelo, Veracruz, Mexico, where collectors move from grove to grove to gather fresh coffee cherries from varieties of trees such as Mundo Novo, Bourbon, and Caturra. A spate of the fungus called Roya has damaged thousands of trees and threatened the livelihoods of many who work in the coffee industry. Many farmers in Mexico are experimenting with planting different varietals of coffee to find those most resistant to the leaf rust disease.