The simple concepts of Composition…the vast array of visual delights to be found in Oaxaca City and the surrounding countryside…and 12 dynamic woman. What an adventure it was. I couldn’t have asked for a better group. Everyone got along and enjoyed the ride. From the time we met up in Mexico City to when we said good bye in the morning 10 days later, it was definitely a learning experience for us all. They learned about compositional elements that would make their images better, whether they were a professional wanting to reignite their skills after a 35 year hiatus of husband and children or a beginner who wasn’t sure they could grasp the concepts, or myself, on a journey to do my first international teaching gig, we all took home with us a since of accomplishment…and new friendships….perhaps even a bit of Mexico’s heritage, of their Day of the Dead celebration, their cuisine and their passion for life. For some, it was their first time in Mexico, for others it was their 50th time…yet we all felt the power and magic that comes from a new adventure. My friend and guide, Laura, gave us a good mix of sites to see and free time to enjoy whatever it was that turned us on…shopping, eating, exploring the galleries and museums or visiting friends new and old.
I know for me that I had to face some fears of failure and uncertainties of whether I’d be good enough to teach the people that had already the skills and the beginners-to give them the concepts in as easy a way as possible so as not to overwhelm them. We didn’t have a good meeting room at the hotel, so when it came time to project our work to share and learn from each other, our room had to suffice…it was so Mexican! Using a bench for the projector and the rough wall (not always the best to see detail but at least it was white and better then the sheet over a board I had brought just in case)…sometimes we met at a local restaurant down the street for breakfast meetings, but that tended to be a bit noisy due to the buses that were constantly going by and the flock of birds kept in the back room that constantly squawked their greetings to the mornings guests. Yet, when on the road, you must make due with what you have and plunge ahead! I used the van some mornings to discuss concepts and show tear sheets from magazines so they could clearly see the compositional elements at work while we drove out to one of the neighboring villages to see pottery, weavers and dying techniques used for painting wooden animal sculptures by Mexican artist Jocoba. The biggest technical problem came when trying to view apple devices on pc platforms….I will have to work that out before the next classes. It was frustrating to not always be able to share with the class what each student was doing.
In the end I felt good about my teaching and the work the women were doing. The improvements they made in their images and the excitement they felt about photography. I really can’t describe the wonderful feeling I had each time one of the women said they would never look at photography or art in the same way as before…so I’ll be planning more adventures and classes…and looking forward to making new friends, learning new things about myself and helping more women see the excitement of photography through the “viewfinder” of their chosen device. What a lucky gal I am, indeed!