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Festival for Virgin de Guadalupe
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Festival for Virgin de Guadalupe

offered by supplier M06013 (read about supplier)

Key Information:
Class Size: 4 - 6 people
Destination: Mexico  
Category: Photography and Film Workshops
Specialty: Architecture, Darkroom, Other  
Season: December
Courses Per Year: flexible
Course Level: All levels
Min Price: 1000 US Dollar (USD) per person
Max Price: 1000 US Dollar (USD) per person

The Virgin of Guadalupe, worshiped and venerated by the vast majority of Mexicans, is the most important and loved Santa of the indigenous and campesinos of Mexico. The festival of the Virgin de Guadalupe is a lively, colorful and photographic festival in San Cristóbal, with parades, night time vigils, food and game booths and general merriment.

The Iglesia de Guadalupe is considered one of the most beautiful and sacred churches in all of southern Mexico, resting high on Tepeyac hill, with panoramic views of San Cristóbal, where we will center many of our activities for this course. People from all over Chiapas and southern Mexico will run to San Cristóbal arriving on December 12 to pay homage to the Virgin.

Young and old will enter San Cristóbal wearing the traditional clothing of Juan Diego, who had a vision of the Virgin in 1531, on Tepeyac Hill outside of Mexico City. Their uniform is a headscarf, white shirt and long white pants; others will wear a painting of the Virgin on their chest or back. Some of the runners are barefoot as Juan Diego, a poor farmer, who did not own shoes. The leader of the runners will be carrying a lighted torch, thus the name of the runners “antorchas.

The torch has two significant meanings, one as a way to light the path while the runners pass throughout the nights and two as a memory of their homes and as a method of sharing with the Virgin their love and the respect and devotion of those in the communities who could not be a part of the blessings to the Virgin de Guadalupe on her feast day.”

The photographic opportunities during this festival are grand, with color and black and white film being ideal to capture the passion, the joy, the traditional dress of the indigenous people and the colors of the festival. One will have ample occasion to practice shooting under a variety of conditions. We will work hard in the darkroom to produce a show of our images to display on the church wall in Barrio de Cerrillo to share with San Cristóbal our work during the week.

The story of the Virgin is now told briefly.

In the winter of 1531, Quauhtlatohua, an Aztec Indian, baptized as Juan Diego, 58 years old, was walking barefoot over Tepeyac Hill on his way to mass in the small village of Tlatelaco, when suddenly he was surprised by a dark skinned apparition of the Virgin who instructed him to visit the Bishop of Mexico City, ten miles away, and ask him to construct a church in her honor on Tepeyac Hill. Juan Diego, who, being a poor farmer, was unable to gain an audience with the bishop, Juan Zumarraga.

The second day, as Juan Diego once again crossed the hill, the Virgin asked him to once again attempt to see the Bishop. This time Juan Diego was successful but the Bishop demanded concrete proof that the Virgin did indeed speak directly to him. Juan Diego visited the hill daily until on the 12th of December, the Virgin once again appeared to him and instructed him to climb the barren slopes of Tepeyac Hill to collect the roses growing there.

Even though roses had never been known to grow on the rocky slopes and it was the dead of winter when roses would not flower, Juan Diego found the hill covered with blood red roses and returned to the Virgin with his arms overflowing. The Virgin, who smiled down on him, filled his cape with the roses and bid him to visit the Bishop. Juan Diego was admitted to the inner sanctum of the church and in the presence of the Bishop, he unfolded his cape, amazing all in attendance for instead of roses tumbling to the ground, a beautiful painting had been miraculously painted on his cape.

The Bishop and his associates were astounded and immediately admitted a miracle had taken place. The intricate and stunningly detailed painting was placed in the cathedral of Mexico City until a suitable church could be built on Tepeyac Hill. In 1532, the church was completed and the image was transferred to the holy shrine.

The image of the Virgin on Juan Diego’s cape was dark of skin and with Indian features. Because of these details the Virgin was easily accepted by the indigenous peoples of Mexico, easing significantly their conversion to Christianity.

In 1754, the Virgin of Guadalupe was recognized by a Papal bull, allowing the Virgin to become the Patroness of Mexico and her cult subsequently grew into the most popular and powerful in Mexico. An interesting note is that the apparition of the Virgin on Tepeyac Hill is the exact location where an Aztec shrine stood to the goddess, Tonanatzin, the MOTHER OF GOD.

Our group will be limited to only six students so each will have individual attention. Road trip to run with and photograph the “antorchas”. Nighttime exercises: photography of the festivals and the church of Virgin de Guadalupe.

Faculty Information:
Cisco's work spans many facets of the photography world, from art to commercial. After earning his BA from the UCLA School of Motion Picture & TV, he opened his Los Angeles studio and quickly gained an excellent reputation for celebrity portraits and album covers. He began focusing on art photography in 1978 when, one late and hazy night in his studio, he accidentally discovered the technique now known as Polaroid Transfer.

Cisco subsequently explored this new realm with grants from The Polaroid Corporation. His work from this period now hangs in The San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art, The New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Polaroid National and International Collections.

Cisco's return to commercial photography coincided with a move from Los Angeles to New Orleans in 1984. Clients, including Freeport MacMoRan and Tulane University, occasionally lure Cisco back to the States for special projects. His love of teaching dates from 1978, when he began instructing at UCLA. In 1985, he started the photo department at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA).

Cisco's teaching method, in his own words, "centers on finding out where the student's skills are most fragile, and gently but firmly exploring those areas until, with practice and support, those weaknesses transform into strengths."

Of course, a great part of the Aper tour experience comes from spending a week in the gracious house on Calle Tonala with Cisco. A Chiapaneco for seven years, Cisco's depth of knowledge and love of San Cristóbal and its surroundings are an enormous benefit to students. The home reflects Cisco's fun, relaxed and eclectic personality.

The courtyards are filled with rare wild orchids (Cisco's second passion), herb gardens and fruit trees. Most of all, students are made warmly welcome, with many lessons ending in good conversation around the fireplace in the evening. Cisco is proud to say that, "The best thing about running this school is that the great majority who come here as students leave as friends."

Other Activities:
Tuesday is a free day and one well deserved, as we will have worked non-stop since Sunday. Students can choose to work in the darkroom developing and printing the work from the past days. A visit to Chamula and Zinacantan, two indigenous communities close to San Cristóbal. In the afternoon we will begin to assemble our images for our upcoming show.

A visit to Chamula and Zinacantan, two indigenous communities close to San Cristóbal. In the afternoon we will begin to assemble our images for our upcoming show.

Facility Information:
We will work in the darkroom to produce a photographic show that we will present on the church wall of Iglesia de Guadalupe the next day, Sunday. This will be an excellent opportunity for each photographer to demonstrate their abilities and excellence and most importantly for the people of San Cristóbal to see their friends and magic of photographic image.


Two rooms are generally available at Sol y Luna, a branch of us. The fee is $300pesos ($30 US) single $450pesos ($45 US) double occupancy.

Land based cost at Aper Tours is $1,000.00 per person, per week.

Price Includes:

- Instruction by Cisco,
- Full time access to complete black and white darkroom with chemicals on premises of school,
- Breakfast.

Price Excludes:

- Accommodations,
- Lunch,
- Dinners,
- Film and photographic paper,
- Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls,
- Transportation to and from San Cristóbal,
- Insurance of any kind (Traveler's insurance is strongly recommended),
- Alcoholic beverages and bottled water.

About This Supplier
Photos: Next »
Location: Mexico
Joined InfoHub: Nov 2005
Client Request Served: 5

The world's most laid back photo workshop is open year-round in Mexico. San Cristóbal is in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state. Few places on earth rival the region for pure dramatic beauty. San Cristóbal itself offers myriad wonders for the photographer. For centuries, this has been...

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