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Preparation - Pre-Journey report 

Before heading to Guatemala and conducting the workshop we have to plan and research meticulously to ensure that the workshops are to be a success. This is especially important as camera workshops obviously include lots of technical elements and rely on certain equipment working and/or being available. In San Mateo near Chichicastenango (Xela) Guatemala, there is some equipment available due to it being a radio station, but computers are not as high spec as would be ideal and electricity will be run from a cable down a hill from the main house to the workshop rooms.

Because of this, it is important that we teach on cameras that are capable of recording in standard definition (SD) and this has limited the types of cameras we would normally use.

We have decided to use Canon FS308’s as they are easy to use, compact for travel, have decent image quality and enough manual controls to be able to be used in a creative way.   In this instance, we decided to use Magix Pro editing software. Although not industry standard, it works in a similar way to other industry packages and doesn’t restrict creativity in editing like some of the really simple editing packages do. We think it is really important that, even if we don’t teach advanced editing or camera work, we leave information there so that the participants can experiment further and progress.

Alongside technical elements, other things to consider include booking rooms, meals, organising media and participation consent, translators, technical and theoretical guides, accommodation, travel, cultural considerations and identifying participants.  Cultural considerations are especially important as when teaching in differing cultures and countries, you must be open to the various issues and practices that could be misconstrued by a different value system. Guatemala is predominately a Roman Catholic culture and religion defines many aspects of everyday life, yet we will be teaching Mayan people who have their own unique religion and customs.  These cultural difference define our pre-research into the communities we will work with, and the conduct and behaviour that is culturally accepted and not. This is always a massive challenge, as even criticism in certain cultures has to be framed in set codes within discussion. What would be accepted in England, could be perceived in another culture and offensive. Once demonstrated to a community that the tutors are culturally aware, a massive barrier is crossed and a mutual respect is developed, this seems like a policy that should be widely accepted, yet too often  is neglected by external visitors.                     

 

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