Faces of the American West
Portraits of the Cowboy and the Native American

• A Boutique Workshop - Limited to 6 Participants •


"Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can. The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity the photographer must act or lose his prize."⁣

~Yousuf Karsh, photographer⁣

The Old West is peopled with legends, but our West is full of vibrant and arresting people who are working and living under a glorious Western sky. New Mexican faces reflect both the intimate beauty and rough grandeur of this incredible land.

In this boutique workshop in Santa Fe you will photograph Native Americans dressed in authentic regalia and working cowboys in dusters and chaps, all chosen to allow participants the opportunity to capture emotionally powerful and artistic photographs. These portrait subjects, photographed in inspiring locations, bring the days of the old west to life. 

Located on the historic Santa Fe Trail that bears its name, Santa Fe, New Mexico, home of Eloquent Light, is a 400-year old city filled with history and fascinating cultures. In the old days the trail brought together the Native American, Spanish and Euro-American pioneers who often lived in harmony and sometimes in conflict at this place where new ideas at times collided with ancient beliefs.

In this workshop you will learn lighting and camera techniques along with model direction and composition under the guidance of master photographer Craig Varjabedian. In order to provide premier one-on-one instruction this workshop is limited to six participants. 

This workshop is a terrific for all digital photographers who are essentially familiar with their cameras. You should be able to download, edit and manage images on your laptop computer. You need to be able to carry your own camera gear and tripod and be capable of walking and light hiking on trails of varied terrain. You will need to know, before you get here, how to set and use auto bracketing on your camera, if your camera has this feature.

1. Bring your laptop computer loaded with your favorite image editing software to work on your images. We do not provide computers or monitors. Bring removable media like a hard drive to back up your images.

2. Bring ten of your images to share with the group. We can look at images in any form: prints, reproductions, electronic slideshows. Prints or individual electronic files that can be browsed in Adobe Bridge are ideal for portfolio reviews. Most people bring images as jpegs (1024x768pixels) on a jump drive.

3. Bring your digital camera with lenses, a tripod and polarizing filter. We recommend a camera backpack which works well for field workshops.

4. Bring something to take notes with. For some a computer keyboard works well. Others use pen and paper and/or audio recorders.

5. Write down a a one-sentence statement about what you would like to accomplish during the workshop.

6. Expect to meet interesting photographers, who share similar passions and interests, who will see things from new and different perspectives.

7. Come with an open mind. This is probably the MOST important thing to bring to any workshop.

8. It is our wish that this workshop will exceed your expectations and that you will leave us feeling more focused, confident and inspired.

All photographic instruction in the studio, in the field and in the classroom, model and location fees and last night celebration meal. All of our models will have model releases on file with us.

1. You will utilize the quality and direction of natural light, plus learn how to use reflectors and translucent panels to enhance the portraits.

2. We will provide the models, locations and assistants, so you can focus on photographing the great faces of cowboys, cowgirls, and Native Americans who have been chosen for their authenticity.

3. We will be photographing at inspiring locations and in the studio to make your images. Participants will have time in the evenings to work on their own to download their images and edit them, clean camera and lenses and charge batteries.

4. We highly recommend you purchase travel/trip insurance just in case. There are several companies and credit card companies that provide this service. We recommend Roam Right for trip insurance.

Have any questions, suggestions or concerns? Feel free to contact us any time—we will be more than happy to help! Call Workshop Manager and Director of Karmic Activity Cindy at (505) 983-2934 or email

Craig Varjabedian is an award-winning photographer who explores the back roads of the American West, making pictures of the unique and quintessential. He shares awe-inspiring stories of the land and the people who live on it—one photograph at a time.

WORKSHOP DIARIES | In the Face of It All: Making My First Portraits by Elizabeth Beall
Surprisingly, I had absolutely fallen in love with portrait photography. I found I loved all aspects of the process and can easily say the “Faces of the West” workshop was the most enjoyable photography class I have taken . . . “ 
Read Elizabeth Beall’s delightful account of her experience in this workshop.


May 6-10, 2019


Santa Fe, New Mexico

Class Size

6 participants


Craig Varjabedian


$3995. (see below)