I don’t know why it  has taken me this long to write a post about my trip to mexico with a group of film enthusiasts, learners and lovers. I thought I did, but it is nowhere to be found. I must have been dreaming.

I heard about a wonderfully happy film shooter that goes by the name of Jonathan Canlas about 6 months prior to this trip. I bought his book, read it right before I got married and fell in love with it. I was dreaming in film, exploring all of the possibilities of a medium that I thought was dead. But I was wrong. Film. Is. Not. Dead.

At that time, I had recently purchased a medium format camera from one of my good friends and went crazy NOT shooting. Because it was way too expensive. I mean, I was a newly married (still am) man, saving for our future, how could I be spending money of film? I heard about the workshop by following Jonathan on twitter, or facebook, don’t remember which social network. He mentioned he had two spots left for FINDMexico. I thought, “Mexico?”, I don’t know where my passport is and I can’t speak spanish fluently enough to order a burrito with no cheese. “Yo quiero un burrito con no queso?” Is that right? Maybe I had a little bit of it in me.

So, I talked with Megan about it, really thought it over and asked myself if it was a good investment. I didn’t know who this guy was, was he just trying to get people to pay for his vacations all over the world? I’ve never been to a workshop before, so I didn’t know how these things worked. But I threw away my negative thoughts and purchased the workshop and a ticket to Mexico.

Two weeks before I was supposed to leave I started looking for my passport. I was freaking out. Seriously. I might have said a few words that wouldn’t make my momma proud, but if you can’t find your passport with only 14 days left before you travel to a country you’ve never been to, I think you might be in my same boat. My parents had a storage unit so I went there and searched and searched. Nothing. Went to my parents house and looked through my long-lost belongings. Zilch. Went back to my apartment and looked in a folder right next to my computer. Oh there it is. All good.

I packed my bags, my camera(s) and some flippy floppy’s and hit the road.

I arrived around 11.30 at night in a city that I don’t remember the name of, got in a cab with a guy who didn’t speak any English and drove 1.5 hours through the back roads of Mexico. I thought to myself, “Am I in the right car? Was this all set up correctly? Am I gonna die?”. I didn’t have cell phone service or a warm jacket. You’d think that being in Mexico it was gonna be super hot and warm, but it was probably 60 degrees. “Tomorrow will for sure be nice and warm”.

I was the last one to arrive at the Hacienda, everyone had pretty much gone to sleep, so I didn’t have that team bonding time. One thing about me is that I can’t sleep without a fan. I just can’t. It’s been embedded into my DNA that I must have a fan on whilst sleeping. I actually bought a fan for this trip, and stuffed it into my bag. When I got to my bed, there was a beautiful stand-up fan right by my bedside. It was wonderful.

I woke up the next morning and met everyone. We had an incredible breakfast and it was there I met Mr. Canlas. I had talked to him before via e-mail, but never in person. He was like a celebrity to me. I went to shake his hand but he hugged me! I LIKE THIS GUY! We got along awesomely. We talked about TV shows and life in general. He watches Downton Abbey. He recommended it to me. I still have not watched it. Sorry.

That day we got right to it. We started our class time and I took a ton of notes. I was excited just to shoot some stuff. Class time ended and we all went outside to shoot some pictures. I was still waiting for the sun to come out because it was 60 degrees and I had no jacket. I was pretty cold. No pants, no jacket and no good shoes. Bring some good clothes when you go to Mexico.

We learned a ton about technical details and just framing of shots. Jonathan is an open book and was happy to answer any questions we had. Some of the people in the group were just starting out with film, and some had been doing it for a while. We were all in different walks of life and everyone had their own story to tell of why they wanted to shoot film.

The people in the group were amazing and so much fun to be around, and everyone was incredibly talented. We fed off of each other and gave feedback to one another, it really was an awesome group of people. When we were out shooting, we walked around the Hacienda and below are some pictures from that. I can caption on a few of them because I am getting tired of writing and I doubt anyone is reading this far.


There were a few horses that were owned by the people at the Hacienda, there were also some donkey’s there (I liked the donkeys more.)This dog was just chilling outside the walls in a teeeeny tiny town right outside of the place we were staying. That VW bug doesn’t go with this picture because it was in San Miguel but just keep scrolling.The place had beautiful flowers and incredible doorways.This little idiot tried to bite me.A passageway into the other part of the Hacienda.No, maybe this idiot tried to bite me.The second day we shot some portraits of couples and families. These two were awesome and they had a beautiful little girl with them. Luckily we had Jill as our translator to help with telling them posing and whatnot.Loved the lighting underneath the tree branches.Jonathan set up the bike shot. It was awesome.The cacti looked friggin sweet. Adding people next to them=friggin sweeter.Another sweet-a cactus.Don’t know why I put these two pictures together. Maybe those horses were dating, too.Backlit hugs and kisses.I think the little girl got kind of bored and sat at a table by herself.These two had some cute boys who ate lots of candy.See, there is the candy.Loved this guy’s style. Hats are hard to pull off (not literally) but this guy did it.Here we are in San Miguel. It was a beautiful city. Just wow. Wow. So much detail and architecture. For some reason, my film had some soft parts to it from moisture, I think it makes it a little cool. Oh and the light leaks were sweet also. Those are real, not photoshopped. The Elderly and The Youtherly
We walked to the top of the city and had an amazing view.Building architecture and a huge castle-church.Kids on lunchtime break.This family was waving to us while we were walking on the street. They brought us into their home and showed us some interesting paintings. That guy had taken cereal boxes and made it into art. That’s San Miguel for ya.Gate man walking.Here is some black and white stuff, this is where my film got soft. I think I was shooting Tri-X or Acros 100. I don’t remember.Dog walker. Oh, and these kids were play fighting.Castle church.Back to the hacienda.Hacienda.And a San Miguel Elektro Roller moped rider. I can’t explain how much these little machines can elevate your travel experience, get one where ever you go and stay for more than 2 weeks.


So my friends. That is all the FILM I have to show you. There is just something so soft and warm and real about film. It is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye because it is a real chemical reaction. There aren’t any digital photons or whatever technical name you want to choose. It is real and tangible.

Overall my thoughts on the workshop is this: if you are truly interested in shooting film and want to know if it is for you, then you need to go to it. As I mentioned before, I was on the fence about it, but took the plunge. I think it was extremely worth it. Not only do you get to meet some amazing people, but you learn so much from 3 to 4 days of being with a true film professional. Jonathan is a one-of-a-kind teacher that really wants you to learn. He wants you to be successful in a format that he wants to stay alive. I think film should be around forever and hopefully more people will strive to shoot film. I would do it all over again if I could. Shooting film is an incredibly beautiful art form that will always have a certain “look” that will be extremely hard to achieve with digital cameras.


That being said, below are some DSLR (digital) behind-the-scenes pictures that I also took. I am pretty sure I was the only one with a digital camera, but I was also taking video so I kind of had to. Check it out below.

Curious donkey and a little benched eating area.BurrrrrrosThis guy was hanging out in my room. Fruit (?) tree on the right.Here was my bedroom, see the fan!!!! The Hacienda courtyard right outside my room.Here is a room that we met in, the light was gorgeous.Meeting area.Front of the Hacienda, and a church right in front of where we were staying.Some architecture of the Hacienda. I am going to call it “our place” from now.Hay area and our place’s fountain in another courtyard.
Cool window frame and a church mural.Awesome door. They had hammocks through out our place all around the courtyard.
Some buildings outside in the little town we were in.
Wagon shadow and a horse gateway thingy.The group shootin film.More film shooters.Learning.Smoochin’ on the table.
Jonathan with the cute little girl.Catherine always had interesting stances when she shot.Sassypants.
She was a little bored.Who rides an ATV in a city? This old white guy.San MiguelWe shot a lot of doorways.More doorways.Bike riders on the stone.

And the awesome castle church in the middle of the city.

FILM IS NOT DEAD video I made:


February 25, 2014 - 1:56 PM

John - These are so good! I miss that place and everyone from the workshop. FINDMexico reunion at the hacienda? Eh?

March 19, 2014 - 10:42 AM

Kristen M. - Love the vintage and rustic shots. Great place as well. Very relaxing..

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