SFW On Location

Discovering La Sierra Gorda

with Paul Ratje

October 22 – 27, 2021

  • Package Price $2290.00
  • International Deposit $1000.00

Online registration for this program has closed. To check availability or if you would like further information, please call 505-983-1400 ext. 111.

COVID-19 Update: For all in-person workshops and trips in 2022, Santa Fe Workshops requires that all participants attending be fully vaccinated (per definition of the CDC) and provide proof of vaccination. This requirement applies to students, staff, and instructors.

Course Description

Live, breathe, and photograph one of Mexico’s most unique cultural and bio-diverse regions, the Sierra Gorda Biosphere, located in the states of Queretaro and San Luis Potosí. Disconnect from Mexico’s mainstream tourism routes and learn the nuance of connecting to the people and landscape of this area with documentary photographer Paul Ratje as your guide. Paul’s goal is to help you fully experience and engage with the people and sights you visit together, while making memorable photographs.

We travel for four days in a small group, with the intention of making photos by connecting ourselves to our subjects in villages and in nature. Each evening, Paul leads casual Image review sessions before and after dinner, where we gather around each other’s laptops to view our daily selects. At the end of the workshop, Paul will put together a slideshow of the best images that will be shared with everyone in the class as a memoir of our experience.

Meeting in the city of Queretaro, we get to know each other over dinner in the city center followed by a short nighttime photo walk. The following day, we travel to the misty mountain town of Pinal de Amoles where we photograph street scenes into the sunset hours.

On day two, we visit the Mirador Cuatro Palos at dawn to view the breathtaking Cerro De La Media Luna. From there we travel to the town of Jalpan de Serra, where we can explore with our cameras the life of the town at night.

On our third day, we travel to the surrealistic Las Pozas Sculpture Garden of Edward James. This incredible array of sculptures is located in a subtropical rainforest, with rivers flowing through it. We hone our photographic senses on the still-life scenes of this lush and mystical place.

On day four, we end our trip in the town of Pena de Bernal, a colonial Mexican town overshadowed by a 433 meter rock monolith—one of the world’s largest. After making images in the village and enjoying a final dinner there, we head back to Querétaro where we say our farewells.

Photographers with intermediate to advanced skill levels are encouraged to join this fast paced, on-the-road workshop. We are on the move for most of the workshop, requiring lots of walking and energy. It is recommended to pack lightly and to refine your camera kit for street and landscape photography. We have gone to great lengths to get the highest quality accommodations possible in these remote towns. Our focus is to develop as photographers, and to take advantage of the mostly untouched jewels in this area.

Additional Information

Advanced Amateurs
What You Should Know:

All camera formats are welcome. Participants must be able to download, select, and transfer images to their own jump drive for class each day.

Special Notes:

Enrollment for this special workshop is limited to 10 participants.

View updated Payment, Refund, Withdrawal, and Transfer Policies for this 2021 International Program.


View Payment, Refund, Withdrawal, and Transfer Policies for this International Program.

Package Price INFO:

$2,290 (USD) includes tuition, single accommodations, opening and closing dinners, and local transportation as applicable to the class. Couples attending or friends traveling together and wanting to stay in the same room will receive a $200 discount.

Nature & Landscape, Portraiture, Storytelling, Travel Photography
© Paul Ratje
Paul Ratje

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This workshop is currently full. Use this form to sign up for the waitlist, and SFW will reach out if a seat becomes available.

Image © Paul Ratje