The Workshop Experience

© Paul Ratje

For over 30 years, Santa Fe Workshops has been one of the pre-eminent places to learn the art and craft of photography and writing. We offer in-person workshops on our campuses in Santa Fe and San Miguel de Allende as well as year-round online programs. In addition, we offer destination travel programs to Cuba, Morocco, Romania, Japan, and India — to name a few of our favorite locations. Regardless of place or theme, all our programs offer memorable and sometimes life-changing experiences.

Those are the connections that last a lifetime--connecting to one another through creativity and a hunger to explore what we do not know.

There is a blue tag on my luggage. It straps around the silver handle and then fastens back to itself on the other side, bearing my name, address, phone number, email.

I got the tag in Havana, Cuba. Or perhaps maybe, it was given to me at the Miami Airport hotel where we gathered on the eve of my very first trip with Santa Fe Workshops. I had no idea when I sealed that Santa Fe tag to my luggage that it would become more than just a blue luggage tag airport officials would use in case my bag went missing. I had no idea that when I sealed that tag to my luggage, it would come to symbolize my association to the Santa Fe Workshops.

It was Cuba that led me to Santa Fe, though now I think I could phrase this the other way around. I had travelled to Cuba over a dozen times before I discovered Santa Fe and, you travel to Cuba enough and you sort of think you have a surface understanding of the island and you travel to Cuba enough and you think you know exactly what you want to create and how you want to write or photograph it.

But then you travel to Cuba with Santa Fe Workshops and all of your expectations, all of your preconceived notions and ideas and biases are left right there at an airport hotel. Because Santa Fe Workshops provide a new lens through which you see the world and as an artist, that new lens is a treasure.

I have travelled to Cuba twice with Santa Fe. In Havana, I was guided by our workshop instructor to find my voice in an ever musical and bustling city and in Baracoa and Santiago, the “unplugged” instructors made it safe for me to wander outside my comfort zone. When I travel with Santa Fe Workshops, I grow in ways I never thought possible and that growth has molded and shaped my art.

It also led me to become an instructor at The Workshops.

I watched communities take shape in those workshops. I witnessed poignant conversations among my students over Zoom, I witnessed artists taking risks and I witnessed the care and respect with which every person in the workshop spoke. I also witnessed the ongoing connections that were born because of that workshop environment. Those are the connections that last a lifetime–connecting to one another through creativity and a hunger to explore what we do not know.

Santa Fe Workshops facilitate those human connections and provide that sacred space where we can take the deep dives down within ourselves and then return to the collective to share our art and what we’ve found. The Workshops are a journey each and every time– even when we cannot leave our homes, even when our suitcases and luggage tags are not required.

– Kate Oberdorfer

Kate Oberdorfer is a writer out of the Tampa Bay area. She has attended programs with Santa Fe Workshops and taught workshops with SFW Online.

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