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Santa Fe Photographic Workshops Returns for Fall Season and Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

By Carrie McCarthy & Jennifer Posner

Since 1990, more than 18,000 participants and hundreds of world-renowned instructors have pursued their passion for photography with Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, which is celebrating its 25th year of operation. Its San Miguel de Allende program is on the horizon, with tantalizing workshops on everything from iPhone photography to capturing the uniqueness of Día de los Muertos. Here are some highlights of the cutting edge workshops and esteemed instructors for the fall workshops that run from October 19 to November 7.

Arthur Meyerson, one of the most in-demand instructors, leads “The Color of Mexico,” October 19–24. Mexico is an explosion of color, and San Miguel is the perfect place to explore photography and color; magenta bougainvillea cascades down lime green walls, freshly washed cobblestone streets turn lovely hues of yellow and blue in the early morning light, and bright red chills hang against azure skies. This workshop is designed for both amateur and advanced amateur photographers wishing to take their understanding and appreciation of color to a higher level.

Keith Carter is bringing back one of his classic workshops, “Mundo Raro (Rare World),” also being offered on October 19-24. Keith has spent more than 25 years photographing in and around San Miguel and he has found that not a day goes by in this charming pueblito without something to delight the eye, tantalize the senses, or expand the consciousness. San Miguel is the perfect catalyst for creating expressive portraits, landscapes, still lifes, or architectural images. This workshop is designed both to elevate your sense of personal aesthetics and strengthen your technical skills.

Join Jock Sturges for an exploration of the technical and psychological challenges of working with models in the process of creating exceptional portraits and figure studies. Paramount to the goals of Jock’s workshop, “The Portrait and the Nude,” October 19–24, will be a close examination of the relationships between photographers and their models, with an emphasis on learning to accept (rather than “direct”) poses. Jock introduces a rapid, intuitive use of the camera that liberates you from deliberate methodology and pushes you toward creative spontaneity.

Jennifer Spelman returns with her popular workshop “Photographing the People and Culture of San Miguel de Allende,” October 26–31. Light, composition, and subject matter shift rapidly and demand a sense of technical fluidity. Relationships and opinions have to be formed quickly and translated effectively into impressions that can be captured with a camera. This workshop focuses on teaching you to responding confidently with your camera and to capture the authentic in a variety of different settings and lighting conditions.

Elizabeth Opalenik has been leading workshops in San Miguel for years and is ready to help participants explore their “Imagination and Dreams” in her workshop, October 26-31. Elizabeth has never forgotten that exciting moment, some 30 years ago, when she realized that she could convey her innermost feelings and thoughts through her photographs. From portraits to landscapes, her images are stepping-stones that trace where her mind has been, expressing the unique vision that she carries through her life. This workshop is about searching for, and finding, those exciting moments.

Renie Haiduk was among the intrepid group that pioneered Santa Fe Workshops’ first-ever San Miguel workshops back in 2001. Now, Renie is leading her first-ever workshop in San Miguel, “Day of the Dead in Colonial Mexico,” October 29–November 3. Renie’s workshop will provide unique opportunities to experience the authentic traditions of Día de los Muertos from a far more intimate perspective, including preparation of altars in homes and cemeteries, than merely attending the celebrations found on San Miguel’s main plaza.

Globetrotting photojournalist Bob Sacha shares his gift for storytelling in “Travel Photography: San Miguel,” November 2–7. Bob will help elevate your images far beyond the usual vacation snapshot by teaching you how to enhance the quality of your images and create a compelling story of a place. You’ll work on your own travel story, focusing on a theme that interests you. Whether it’s a series of street portraits, an exploration of local cuisine, a study of architecture, or a comparison of gardens, you will be working with an experienced National Geographic photographer.

Karen Divine decided to give her young children a different experience when they were entering elementary school, so they moved to San Miguel. Karen knows San Miguel very well, so it’s no surprise she’s leading her “Creative iPhone Photography, The Next Step” workshop, November 2–7. Moving you past the basics of iPhone compositing, she will push you further to express imagery that is both personal and transformative. Each day, Karen will give you exercises to enable you to quiet the mind and detach from your thoughts, move you out of your comfort zone, expand your perspectives, and establish a sense of playfulness.

Not only do you have eight phenomenal workshops to choose from, but San Miguel residents will also enjoy special resident pricing with US$400 off any workshop with your proof of residency. Just ask for the San Miguel resident price when registering.

And locals and visitors alike can enjoy the ever-popular instructor presentations on Monday nights. So mark your calendars for October 20, 27 and November 3 to attend these inspiring evenings at the Teatro Ángela Peralta. Stay tuned for more details on these lectures coming soon.

For more information about registering for a workshop and specific pricing, visit


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