Santa Fe Photography Workshops
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Uvita-Bahia Ballena, Osa

Leslie Alsheimer Photography

Photography & Change in Costa Rica
Humanitarian Documentary Workshops & Service by the Sea

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photos Fundacion KETO

EXCLUSIVE: Small Group Workshops
Santa Fe Digital Darkroom will be teaming with local community leaders in Uvita-Bahia Ballena,Osa, Costa Rica to offer an intimate opportunity to document grassroots community projects with a focus on marine conservation. Participants will work directly with local humanitarian aid organizations to create narrative photo essays and imagery that portrays the issues facing everyday people within the challenges of this developing nation. The images created will be used to help promote the extraordinary miracles these organizations have implemented with their outreach efforts and the challenges they face in their daily endeavors.

Service by the Sea
Relax and immerse yourself in the tranquil flow of life in the friendly Tico beach town of Bahia Ballena. Stunning sunsets, palm-fringed beaches, and clear blue water will create a stunning backdrop for a week of photography, service and exploration in Costa Rica’s diverse marine and coastal environments.The village of Bahia Ballena is a small coastal community that embraces a laid-back lifestyle reminiscent of the vibe in Costa Rica’s beach towns 20 years ago. You will work closely with the people in Bahia Ballena and the nearby communities that will help you get to know the area.

This program is for experienced and emerging photographers who want to document developmental, environmental and relief projects in Costa Rica while learning how to connect with, cover and contribute to the work of grassroots comunity projects in rural villages.

Students will learn to tell stories with images. This is not only an intensive hands-on workshop in photography, but an opportunity to complete a personal body of work for a portfolio, learn how to work with and for NGO's and learn respectful techniques for photographing people across cultures --while contributing to the relief efforts with your stories.

This Costa Rica Workshop is an exclusive, small group, customized photography workshop, designed to connect you with the people and culture of Costa Rica while broadening your photographic skills and vision. This is a photography workshop for photographers. While we will cover some digital photography techniques, this workshop is mostly about making images in the field and gaining a greater awareness of effective story telling in a cross cultural environment.

This exciting workshop will provide a unique photography workshop experience, allowing each participant to experience and learn ethnographic photography, receive one-on one feedback and critique, and learn to connect to people as photographic subjects in a different way. Participants will explore a wide variety of techniques that allow each picture to tell a story, learn to bring out the emotion and unique-ness of a place and its people through the use of the camera. Participants will also explore their own, individual place within an image as the creator and photographer.

  • The Program:

    Partner with grassroots community organizations and local NGOs to cover their stories and events.  Enjoy documenting strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats through face-to-face hands on encounters with stakeholders in a multi-cultural environment.  With a mix of classroom and field instruction, in the coastal village of Uvita-Bahia Ballena, the Santa Fe Team will teach you to make better, more personally satisfying images that express your unique vision, and help you explore more deeply your own way of seeing the world while helping organizations complete their mission.

    We will help you develop documentary stories and projects working with indigenous populations andorganizations. We will have identified and contacted grassroots community organizations, and local and national NGOs to work with ahead of time, but it is you who will be making the real contact and developing the relationship with community members once you are in Uvita-Bahia Ballena, Osa, Costa Rica. There will be some formal classes and lectures, but the value of this experience is having the opportunity to help out in Uvita-Bahia Ballena, meeting the people, conducting research, covering stories, making images, and building your portfolio along with the feedback from your instructor on your process and images.  We will guide you, provide technical advice, and critique your work as you progress. Critiques are held in our small group as well as privately. You may schedule reviews with Leslie and join her on short field trips out of town if you so desire.  Our staff will help facilitate community integration, provide access, arrange guides, organize field outings and help you with transportation.

    One of the most important aspects of this workshop is the opportunity to work with grassroots community based organizations, as well as local and national NGOs.  By working alongside these organizations you will learn how they operate, identify their needs, and build a strong relationship with them.

  • Explanation of workshops:

    Each day of the workshop will be divided between shooting, one-on-one instruction and critiquing images shot the previous day. While experiencing environments ranging from tropical rainforest to marine national parks to urban development you will learn how professional photographers un- obtrusively enter foreign environments and return with images that  are intimate and personal.

This intensive workshop is a dynamic and exciting blend of lectures, discussions, and outdoor assignments in which participants tackle the challenges of photographing in the field in a foreign environment. We discuss ways to approach and photograph people, cross-cultural considerations in foreign countries, tips on equipment and digital concerns in different travel and outdoor environments. This workshop includes group and individual critiques, personal assignments, and one-on-one mentoring meetings with the instructor.

The emphasis is on expanding your creative vision in the realm of documentary and travel photography.

  • Daily one-on-one editing with the instructor to develop a logistical and photographic plan to document a working NGO in an area of need.
  • Gain rare access to programs and associations while developing and forging relationships to last into the future.
  • Benefit NGO's in their need to publicize and promote their activities to new audiences.
  • Explore, discuss, and examine the different types of outreach and aid programs in a given region.
  • Work one-on-one with a photographic mentor to relate the experience to your own personal mission and develop a new approaches for your work.
  • Students will enhance their ability to craft a rich and moving visual narrative about a socially relevant and important topic.

If you want to do more with your own photography, have ever thought about working either alongside or in the employ of an NGO to assist in their mission, or are already working as a professional or citizen journalist and want to take that work to the next level, in a region and country out of your comfort zone-- then the Costa Rica will be your ideal workshop!

Participants will work directly with one of our NGO partner's in a real world, extended documentary environment. Workshop attendees will be assisted in connecting with an NGO that has a mission complementary to the photographer’s own goals for their work. Each student then covers the daily activities of the organization. Your visual product will be provided to the organization as a thank you for allowing access to their programs and will be used to further the cause of NGO’s in areas such as HIV/AIDS outreach, vocational training, orphanages and general health care.

The Costa Rica Workshop will help train you to work with non profits on a professional level. Many participants will return home with work that will be published and of exhibition quality. In addition, attendees will have the benefit of logistical support, editing, instruction, and personal mentoring during this process of creation. Finally, photographers who come on this great adventure will have refined their own craft while benefiting organizations that need visual help. Images created during this workshop will be used to aid and document the work of NGO’s in the region, and the people who work so hard to make a difference.

The program will help local communities to:

  • Inspire creative solutions.
  • Build local capacity.
  • Empower coastal youth as integral agents of change for marine conservation.

The program will help you:

  • Increase photographic knowledge.
  • Polish techniques and skills.
  • Improve your ability to work in a multicultural environment with different community based organizations.
  • Build a solid portfolio aimed at helping organizations complete their missions.

About Your Instructor

Leslie Alsheimer, a Masters level social worker, has received numerous awards for her deeper perspective documentary essays. Her work was recently awarded the Photojornalist Award of Distinction at FOTOweek DC 2010, published in National Geographic Traveler and PDN Magazines, earned her a Spotlight Portfolio Award in Black & White Magazine as well as four Honorable Mention LUCIE Awards at the 2008 and 2009 International Photography Awards. Leslie Alsheimer's work can be viewed at:

Black and White Magazine SPOTLIGHT FEATURE
B&W Magazine, Issue 71, December 2009
Click image to read full article
Digital Photographer Magazine feature

Digital Photographer Magazine
In-Depth Feature Special:
Out of the Shadows Interview and Photo essay

"Leslie Alsheimer’s behind-the-camera photographic expertise and her in-front-of-the-computer mastery of all things Photoshop combined with her training and experience as a social worker and social documentarian make the workshop experience offered by Santa Fe Digital Darkroom unique among workshop offerings available today. I cannot say enough about the quality of my experience from both a photographic and a humanitarian perspective. After completing a recent workshop with Leslie in Uganda, I feel I am not only a better photographer but a better person as well. What more could one ask from a two-week workshop. " Stephen K. Hall

Operations Director

Jamie Baldonado is our Operations Director and Project Manager and will be our logistics coordinator and full time group assistant. Jamie is a life-long world traveler who has extensive third world travel experience leading adventure sports expeditions for extreme athletes in small groups to locations as far as South East Asia, Central America, South America, Burma, North Africa, Egypt and the Middle East. Jamie is also a musician, artist/sculptor and fine woodworking craftsman in northern New Mexico. Jamie has an eye for the art and adventure of travel off the beaten path, but don’t take anything he says too seriously!

Costa Rica staff:

Travis Bays

As the Director of all programs for Siempre Unidos para Reforzar nuestro Futuro (SURF), Travis brings 5 years of international experience developing creative grassroots community economic development programs in Costa Rica.  He holds dual degrees, in Economics and Cultural Anthropology from the University of San Diego, where he graduated with Deans List First Honors, and was recognized as a James & Stella Eagen Endowed Scholar.  Travis served as a Peace Corps Micro-Enterprise Development Volunteer in Uvita-Bahia Ballena from 2005-07 and then spent one year as a coordinator working in Peace Corps Costa Rica  central offices. Certified in Micro Credit Community Banking, Project Design and Management, Best Practices for Sustainable Tourism, Travis'  work capacity is extensive and broad ranging.   In 2008, Travis became Director of Micro Credit Community Banking in Osa, Costa Rica for the Fundacion Integral Campesina (FINCA), where he led a 9 month intensive project in the Area of Conservation of Osa, in strategic alliance with the CRUSA Foundation (Costa Rica-USA Foundation) and MarViva Foundation.  He currently works as a part-time consultant for the CRUSA Foundation and part-time business development consultant for Bahia Aventuras while directing all programs for SURF.

Pilar Salazar:

For More Information

Please email our offices for information about this workshop at, or call 707-SEE-FOTO.

We look forward to working with you on this life-changing workshop experience!

* * Important Note:
This workshop requires a working photographic knowledge base and skill level due to the nature of the close work with the partner non-profits. The conditions on this workshop can be difficult due to the nature of developing world accommodations. While accommodations are upscale for Costa Rica, there will still be issues with electricity, rain and mud, limited access to the internet, and Costa Rican culture does not ever run on clocks or schedules. This is not a luxury trip nor travel oriented. However, it will most likely change your least that is what most participants report.

This course is designed for people who have working knowledge of the photo mechanical process and working photo storytelling skills. The instructor will work with each photographer to find the right fit with a local NGO partner upon registration. This will not be a Photoshop course.

Click here for A SPECIAL note about The Costa Rica Workshop, and our other Photographic Workshops, Tours and Mentoring programs.

Course Details

As each of our workshops is customized to accommodate the interests of each of the participants attending, the itinerary will be sent 30 days
prior to the workshop.

$2595 Class size is limited. Small group Only.
$1,000 deposit required to secure your seat in this extremely popular workshop. Visit this link for cancellation policies.
Please visit this link for more information concerning this workshop.

Tuition includes
• accommodations for workshop dates only (does not include airport accommodations pre or post workshop)
• some in-country transportation during the workshop
• breakfast each day during the workshop

Additional 3 & 5 day extension travel packages also available

To register for a workshop, contact us by phone 707.SEE.FOTO (707.733.3686) or by email us at

Work / Study Scholarship
We do understand that the cost for this workshop can be prohibitive for many. We offer one Work /Study position for each workshop to help students on a tighter budget. This position offers half price tuition in exchange for assistance with odd chores, errands and tasks. The Work /Study student will still be responsible for their own airfare and meals. The Deadline for applications is: April 1, 2010. We do encourage Work/ Study to apply early, as these positions are highly coveted.

To Apply for Work / Study Scholarship
Please Send a CD by mail including
• Resume
• Letter of Recommendation
• Portfolio or Sample of Photography
• Short essay as describing why you would like participate in this workshop

Please DO NOT SEND ORIGINALS. Items will not be returned

Please do not e-mail submission. E-mail submissions will not be considered.

Mail to: Santa Fe Digital Darkroom
ATTN: Costa Rica Scholarship Committee
551 W. Cordova Rd. Suite 155
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505

Santa Fe Digital Darkroom Photography Workshops & Photo Tours
707.SEE.FOTO | 707.733.3686 | info@santafedigitaldarkroom.comJoin Mailing list l 410 Old Santa Fe Trail, Ste H Santa Fe, NM 87504
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