There are a lot of reasons I went back to the workshop this year, and a lot of reasons I felt like it went so well. At the workshop in 2010 I met one of my dearest friends and a photographer who constantly inspires me Phil. Having the Oaxaca connection continue in Melbourne has been invaluable. That's the thing about the workshop, no matter where the people doing the course are from you all love photography so it's kind of the ultimate summer camp experience. You get to see so many talented photographers work grow even more over the 10 days and that is as valuable as the work you do yourself.

This time around I had the great pleasure of spending time with Yael Martinez- an intimidatingly talented artist and lovely guy. He and the equally talented and sweet Karina Juarez shared a space at the Centro Fotografico Manuel Alverez Bravo which is a gallery space dedicated to photography in the city. The centre is also the classroom for the workshop so you are constantly in and out looking at the images on the wall. Both Karina and Yael were past students of Mary Ellen's.

On the first day I walked into the space where Yael's work was hanging and actually had a physical reaction to his work. Big, beautiful colour images of a woman I now know is his grandmother in the months before her death were on the wall. Tears started when I looked at the images, a reaction I have to all work that moves me now days, thinking they had been taken at the old people's home. The images stuck with me but I found it hard to enter the room where they were shown again for the first few days, preferring to look at Yael's haunting images of his daughter.

The class were treated to an artists talk by both Karina and Yael a few nights into the course, with Mary Ellen introducing them both with high praise.

Karina's work is like a diary laid bare, beautiful and private. Hearing her talk about what brought her to create the work was almost uncomfortable for lack of a better word. Her images and story are stunning and made you think so much about the artist who created them. Being so young and having such a quiet confidence in her work was incredible.

When we walked into Yael's part of the gallery, we learnt the photos were actually of his grandmother before she died, with the other images of his daughter taken in her empty house after she had passed. I wish I could find some of the images to re-post so you could get a feel for what the work is like. I have never seen a photographer show the indignity of a modern death like he did- in some of the shots it seemed like his Grandmother was the only organic, live part of an artificial world. And then to see the images of his daughter, so alive in a house that really looked dead gave the work another dimension. To photograph your family like that is true artistry, the images were not at all cold but not sentimental either.

Both artists created such different, but such beautiful and sophisticated work. Getting to meet them both was a reminder of what can happen when the drive to create surpasses everything else. Hopefully that connection, inspiration and friendship will carry on.
One of Yael's images from the exhibition

One of Karina's images from the exhibition.

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