Oaxaca Within The Frame

In Travel, Without The Frame, Workshops and Events by David15 Comments

Join Jeffrey Chapman and I in Oaxaca, Mexico for a one-week photographic adventure a little closer to home than the workshops I’ve done until now. Focused on the Day of the Dead festivities, this workshop will sell out quickly. We usually sell-out within a day or two, and most of our workshops are much further away, so this one will go even faster.

I’m on the road in Oregon right now and internet time is sparse and used for more personal updates on the trip with Jessie, but if you want more on this fantastic workshop, and the last one I’ll be leading in 2011, then follow this link HERE, or click the image above.

Dates are October 29 – November 5, 2011. The rough itinerary is below and all other details are on the website linked above. See you there!

The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is an important traditional holiday in Mexico. Family and friends gather to remember, pray for and celebrate friends and family members who have died. Traditions connected with the holiday include building elaborate alters honoring the deceased, using sugar skulls, marigolds and other favorite foods and beverages of the departed. The intent is is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and comments of the living directed to them. The modern version of this celebration dates its origins to the indigenous observances of thousands of years ago and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, who was depicted with a skull-like face on may artifacts. In Aztec mythology, she is Queen of the Underworld and keeps watch over the bones of the dead.

We will photograph in the markets as people make their purchases for all that is needed for the decoration of the altars of the dead and the corresponding festivities, which are both serious as well as jovial. We will photograph in several cemeteries as well as the parades (comparsas). We will also photograph the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Oaxaca’s historic center and the archeological site of Monte Albán.

This photographic adventure is in the spirit of the best-selling Within The Frame. It is a tour about the passionate discovery and photography of people, place and culture, with emphasis given to going deep not wide, and pursuing that most elusive of photographic necessities—our vision.

Day One — Oaxaca
Arrive in Oaxaca, meet-and-greet dinner, orientation and prepare to begin the photo expedition the following morning.

After breakfast we will head to the town of Tlacolula for one of the Oaxaca Valley’s oldest and largest markets. We will also visit the town’s main church, the Parroquia de la Virgen de la Asunción, which dates from 1531. From Tlacolula we will head to Mitla, an archeological and UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once home to approximately 10,000 during its peak around 1350. Mitla means “Place of the Dead” and was the principal ceremonial center of the Zapotecs. On our way back to Oaxaca, we will stop in the village of Teotitlán del Valle, where nearly every family is involved in weaving wool on traditional hand looms, a tradition that dates to pre-Hispanic times.

We will spend the day exploring the historic center of Oaxaca and the impromptu Day of the Dead celebrations, with live bands, that invariably meander their way through the streets of Oaxaca. In the evening we will visit the Old Cemetery of Xoxocotlán, where many of the Day of the Dead altars are decorated with the same items that were used on the ancient Zapotec tombs in Monte Alban. If we feel like moving on to another cemetery, then we will go to the village of Atzompa, where residents hold candlelight vigil in the cemetery from around 11pm until dawn.

The daytime will be devoted to exploring more of historic Oaxaca. In the evening we will visit the Day of the Dead parade in San Agustín and then Oaxaca’s San Miguel Cemetery.

In the morning, we’ll visit Monte Albán, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Oaxaca Valley that was the capital of the Zapotecs from around 500 BCE to 750 CE. In the evening we will visit the San Filipe del Agua cemetery.

Every Thursday, thousands of Zapotec-speaking villagers stream into Zaachila to sell, buy and socialize at the weekly market. After spending some time enjoying the market we’ll visit the unfinished Ex-Convento de Santiago in Cuilapan de Guerrero.

Day Seven — Oaxaca
On our last full day in Oaxaca we will return to the Mercado Juárez and many of the beautiful colonial buildings, including the Catedral de Oaxaca (on the Zócalo), the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad and the Templo de Santo Domingo.

Day Eight — Oaxaca
The morning can be spent exploring more of Oaxaca’s historic center before its time to say our goodbyes to this beautiful city.


  1. Author

    Matea – My Spanish is just fine. Yo quiero Taco Bell y donde es el bando, por favor, hermana? See? 🙂

  2. Oaxac(a). You have a little typo in the title. Sorry to be that guy.

  3. David, I do agree with Matea: first there is no Taco Bell in Oaxaca, and hopefully it won’t, and second, you were asking for a band, not the bathroom as I infer that’s what you would be looking for. 😉 I live in Mexico and I’m seriously considering to rob a bank or something to attend, this would be my dreamt workshop because of the location, the instructors. And I would be pleased to be translating for you. Cheers!

  4. I live here, nice place, nice dates, drop me a email for details. And its Oaxaca ( the place of guajes )

  5. Wonderful that you have these travels. While never to Oaxaca yet, my wife and I were in Cuernavaca for a week last year (July) studying Spanish and Mexican history and culture at Universidad Internacional and traveled to Taxco and other surrounding areas south of Mexico City. Quite an experience and excellent photo opportunities.

  6. I’m signed up and ready to go (almost). Almost done with Level 1 Spanish on Rosetta Stone. I think I can finish all the levels by October.

  7. Maybe you need more information about Oaxaca, There its a lot of nice place close to Oaxaca city, like tule or ocotlan, and handcraft like black pottery or alebrijes and of course the mezcal, and please don’t try to eat taco bell (don’t exists) in the other hand you must eat tlayudas, I would like to help.

  8. David,
    if you haven’t already arranged your full itinerary, I would strongly recommend a meal at Caso Crespo (google for website details) – just a minute from the stunning church of Santo Domingo (I’ve linked one of my pics to my name, above). The ingredients are locally sourced on the day and Oscar is a great host. The cooking classes are first rate (but it looks like your days are already full!). If you go, tell him I sent you … I had a wonderful time there last Summer. Paul

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