In the theater, “find your light,” refers to the actor’s finding that space on the stage where he or she must stand to be properly lit.  Photographers must also find their light, physically and metaphorically.  The raw material of photography is light. Photographers must move towards that space and moment in time where the light illuminates what they want to describe.  We must also find the light in our lives, which motivates us to make photographs.  We will talk about this process, and I’ll show my work to illustrate how it has played out in my life.


Students who come to Oaxaca can continue shooting on long-term projects or find their subject matter there. We’ll meet together the first day, to share our work and to talk about what we each think we want from the workshop.


Shooting begins the next day. Students who have specific projects will go to their sites. For those without a project in mind, we will brainstorm together, based on your portfolio review, interests and potential areas of improvement. Our staff has worked extensively in Oaxaca for the past 8 years and has many ideas, projects and accesses that will provide you with very unique learning opportunities targeted to making you a much stronger photographer.


You may choose what you want to photograph as this workshop evolves. In fact, this way of working closely resembles my own process so I can help you create a loose structure in which to make photographs.


We will meet every day, at first individually, sometimes as a group, to review the previous day’s shoot. Classes and individual appointments will be held at the beautiful Manuel Alvarez Bravo Photography Center, in downtown Oaxaca City.


I like to see all the pictures students take, at least early in the workshop. Photographers often take wonderful pictures they don’t value when editing. This happens for all sorts of reasons and we’ll talk at length about it. This issue gets magnified at many workshops because of time limitations imposed on the speed of editing. The longer the time between the moments of exposure and when you edit, the better off you are. When shooting, we often feel a moment was special and project that feeling on to the photographs that emerge from the experience. Rarely do the photographs match the intensity we felt in the moment. On the other hand, many great pictures come from moments that don’t seem pregnant with promise. We must recognize them as well.


I ask each student to do an A edit, and then I look at their outtakes to see if they missed anything. The more you recognize which pictures are truly yours when editing, the more you’ll see them while photographing. This workshop is designed to help students to see their own pictures while editing as much as while shooting. One feeds the other.


The last day of the workshop we’ll put together a sequence of the pictures each student made over the 10-day class. I find students are often surprised, and encouraged, by what they see. Sequencing a week, or 10 days’ work, allows students to see the connections and rhythms in their pictures. These images will be publicly showed at the Manuel Alvarez Bravo Photography Center on the last day of the class.


My goal as a teacher is to help the student go visually and emotionally deeper in their photographs, no matter their subject matter.


Photo Xpeditions has been producing workshops in Oaxaca for the past 8 years, initially for National Geographic Expeditions and then for our beloved Mary Ellen Mark. During this time we have had the opportunity to establish and solidify important relationships and work on making many potential assignments to make them available for our students as they work on becoming stronger photographers: Boxing gyms, swimming pools, circuses, families, slaughter houses, festivals, and elder house, and orphanage… and much more that we will present to all students as possible projects to help them become much stronger photographers.


As a student of Photo Xpeditions, you will work on honing your photographic skills and abilities while we focus on getting you you the stories and the accesses, so you don’t have to spend time on that.




Participants should bring a selection of their own photographic work to review as a class the first day. Bring an example of what you consider to be your best (or favorite) images. The remaining days will be spent shooting and coming to meet individually and as a group with Jeff. If participants are working on longer term projects, please bring them for Jeff to review.




This class is for photographers of all levels.




Participants must own their own camera equipment, including laptop for digital shooters, a backup drive, memory stick and sufficient memory cards and batteries to shoot for an entire day. Film shooters must bring their own film since film is difficult and expensive to purchase in Oaxaca. Black and white film shooters must bring their own photographic paper for work prints and contact sheets.




The workshop starts the evening of Sunday,  June 18th and ends in the evening of Sunday,  June 26th. Oaxaca, Mexico is served by Aeromexico and Continental Airlines, among other local airlines like Viva Aerobus. Connection through Mexico City, Cancun, Houston, or Atlanta is usually required.

For more information, please call
1-888-741-3974 or email us at:

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  • June 19 – 26, 2016


Jeff Jacobson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1946. After working as an ACLU lawyer in the American South, he turned to photography in 1974. He pioneered the now common technique of open flash in the 1970s. Jacobson joined Magnum Photos in 1978. He later left Magnum and joined Archive Pictures, later becoming a full partner and president.


Jeff has published three books, My Fellow Americans, University of New Mexico Press, in 1991, Melting Point, Nazraeli Press, 2006, and The Last Roll, Daylight Books, 2013, all shot on Kodachrome film. He is hard at work on the fourth, working title, The Little Guy, shot on a small point-and-shoot digital camera.



TRIP GALLERY - Jeff Jacobson's Oaxaca Workshop