On Location

Discovering La Sierra Gorda

with Paul Ratje

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.

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

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