Upcoming Class – Understanding Your Practice – The Photo Project

I have a class coming up from March 4 to April 29, Understanding Your Practice – The Photo Project, at Glen Echo Photoworks. This course is about thinking about how we approach and execute photographic projects. The foundational text for the class is Photo Work: Forty Photographers on Process and Practice., edited by Sasha Wolf. The book consists of interviews with forty different photographers who work in long-term projects, asking each of them the same twelve questions.

We will use the text as a guide to introspection into our own process of working on projects – how we come up with projects, how we shoot those projects, how we decide when they’re done, how we edit those projects, and how we think of them as a body of work – will they be prints on a wall, a book, a website, or some combination thereof.

We will execute our own mini-project over the duration of the class, using the ideas we discuss to help us guide our project and get a better understanding of our own working methods. There are no “right” answers here – this is just an exercise to help bring clarity to your own working techniques, to refine them and hopefully bring success to your ongoing long-term projects (or help you get started on them!).

The images following here are illustrations from my ongoing project about The Day of the Dead in Mexico City. Day of the Dead is a far-reaching cultural institution across not just Mexico but much of Latin America. It has regional and even local variations – Mexico City was, until very recently, somewhat blasé about the event, with celebrations being held more on the personal level. Thanks to the 2015 James Bond film Spectre, Mexico City decided that they needed to have the big public parade (desfile in Spanish) depicted in the film.

The event has its roots in traditions predating the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, which were co-opted by the Catholic church. Today, the tradition adapts with the times and competes with Halloween (and its Hollywood inspirations), but also serves as a mirror of contemporary cultural and political events.

Papier-mache skeletons for sale from a street vendor.
More papier-mache skeletons for sale on the sidewalk in Coyoacan, an historic neighborhood in Mexico City
Businesses getting into the spirit – El Moro Churreria, one of the most famous churro shops in Mexico City, has their own mesero (waiter) ready to serve the spirits of the dead!
Muertitos – pastry for day of the dead in the shape of boy and girl dead.
a typical offend altar set up outside a bar in the Zona Rosa
Even the Mexico City metro system gets into the spirit. Turnstiles decorated with the traditional orange cempasuchitl (marigolds).
The avenue of Alebrijes (fantastical spirit animals) along Reforma, each one commemorating a person who has passed on. These Alebrijes line both sides of Avenida Reforma for over a mile.
The cultural is political – an Alebrije on Avenida Reforma reminding us that plastic can create and it can destroy.
A memorial altar or ofrenda at the front wall of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City in memory of migrants who died fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.
Traditional Aztec dancer performing on the plaza in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral
A painted Catrina accompanied by the abuelita Coco from the Disney movie of the same name.
Young woman with face painted.
Mariachi and friend in the Cielito Querido Cafe on Avenida Reforma.
The traditional meets pop culture meets artistic expression. Full body paint that shows not only the huesos (bones) of a skeleton to remind us we are all mortal, but interconnected with the little boy and his dog from Coco, the Disney movie.

To sign up for the course, click on the link below. Tuition is $350 for 8 sessions. No class will be held on April 1.

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