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Photo Workshop: Oaxaca

  • Trip Type: Photography
  • 7 Days | Round-trip Oaxaca
  • Group Size: Max 25

Expedition Details


Capture the spirit of Oaxaca during the Day of the Dead festival, known as Día de los Muertos. Document the macabre spirit of this festival, with its costume parades, seas of flickering candles, and iconic skeleton and skull decor—joyful tributes to the souls of the departed. We’ll intersperse our festival photo shoots with field assignments to nearby artisan villages and fascinating Zapotec archaeology sites.

This workshop is led by a National Geographic photographer and a professional instructor and are designed for amateurs who are interested in improving their digital photography. All participants must bring a digital SLR or mirrorless camera, a laptop computer, and software for organizing and presenting images. The workshops are limited to 25 participants.

Trip Highlights

  • Benefit from daily instruction and critiques of your photographs provided by a top National Geographic photographer.
  • Document graveyards carpeted in flowers during the Day of the Dead festival.
  • Set out on field assignments to photograph ancient Zapotec ruins, vibrant markets, and traditional artisan villages.

Itinerary - 7 Days

Day 1 — Oaxaca, Mexico

Arrive in Oaxaca and settle into our charming colonial-style hotel, located steps from the Zócalo—the city’s stunning central plaza. Gather this evening for a welcome reception, followed by dinner with your workshop instructors.
Parador del Alcalá (D)

Day 2 — Mitla/Tlacolula/Oaxaca

Explore the remarkable ruins of Mitla this morning. Mitla, or "world of the dead" was an important ceremonial center built by the Zapotec. Photograph the site’s elaborate stone mosaics before heading to Tlacolula to take pictures of the bustling open-air market. Back in Oaxaca, meet in the classroom to learn how a National Geographic photographer approaches photo assignments. Later, set out on a walking tour of the city to capture images of its arcaded avenues and colorful colonial architecture.
Parador del Alcalá (B)

Day 3 — Teotitlan del Valle

Meet in the classroom this morning for an edit-and-critique session of the previous day’s images. Following lunch, travel to Teotitlan del Valle, a Zapotec village where the local livelihood centers on hand-loomed wool weavings in striking traditional and contemporary designs. Area families have been involved in this craft since wooden pedal looms were introduced here in the 16th century. Make portraits of artisans at work, and zoom in on the colorful textiles they create. This evening, document Day of the Dead festivities.
Parador del Alcalá (B,L)

Day 4 — Monte Albán

This morning, attend an edit-and-critique session, followed by a demonstration from our instructor. After lunch, depart for Monte Albán, the religious, political, and commercial center of the Zapotec culture for more than 1,200 years. On a photo shoot, explore the archeological site, including the grassy Great Plaza, ball court, building of the dancers, and maze of temples and tombs. Photograph Day of the Dead festivities again tonight.
Parador del Alcalá (B,L)

Day 5 — Oaxaca

Meet in the classroom this morning for an edit-and-critique session of the previous day’s images. The remainder of the day will be spent photographing festival events for Day of the Dead. Document the holiday’s joyful tributes to the souls of the departed, from parades of costumed children to street dancers donning skeleton masks and expressive painted faces. After sunset, venture into nearby graveyards to photograph seas of flickering candles and graves adorned with marigold flower arches—a symbolic gateway to the underworld.
Parador del Alcalá (B)

Day 6 — Zaachila

Spend the morning at the bustling Zaachila Market, where goats, pigs, sheep, and oxen are traded and sold. Capture images of the timeless ritual where merchants and buyers haggle over sale prices, using the vibrant Mexican marketplace as your backdrop. This afternoon, we’ll return to Oaxaca and gather in the classroom for an edit-and-critique session, followed by an instructor-led presentation. Celebrate our week together at a farewell dinner tonight.
Parador del Alcalá (B,D)

Day 7 — Oaxaca

Meet this morning for a workshop wrap-up and an image presentation of the week’s best photographs. The workshop ends at noon.

Related Trips

National Geographic Expert

Matt Moyer

Matt MoyerNational Geographic photographer Matt Moyer has traveled the globe photographing many of the world's most amazing cultures and places. He is known for his in-depth and intimate storytelling and believes the best way to explore the world is with a camera. Matt has photographed multiple stories for National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines, including his story on Namibia’s Brandberg mountain recently published in the December 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveler. Matt also covered the conflict in Iraq for National Geographic as well as for The New York Times. His photography has been recognized for numerous international awards and appeared in several books including The Best of Photojournalism series, Report From Ground Zero, and Witness to War. His work has also been featured in numerous exhibits around the world. Matt is a passionate teacher, who is devoted to passing on his insights and love of photography to others. He regularly teaches for National Geographic Photo Camps, a program that uses photography to help young adults and children in underserved communities around the world to develop their own voices and tell their stories. Matt has enjoyed photographing in Mexico, including during an epic six-week drive from the United States to Guatemala and back. He is excited to return to Oaxaca and looks forward to helping you see and capture this vibrant country through the lens of your camera.

Matt will join the following departure:

Oct 29 - Nov 04, 2017


  • Oct 29 - Nov 04, 2017 (waitlist only)

Expedition Cost



Workshop prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $480.

Meals noted in the itinerary (two dinners, two lunches, and breakfast each day) are included.

Airfare from/to your home city is not included in the workshop cost.

Activity Level


Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.

What To Expect

This workshop is led by a National Geographic photographer and a professional instructor and is designed for amateurs who are interested in improving their digital photography.

All participants must bring a digital SLR or mirrorless camera, a laptop computer, and software for organizing and presenting images. The workshop is limited to 25 participants.