How To Make Day of the Dead,Cemetery Photos, Oaxaca, Mexico   
Photographing the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca
The Day of the Dead Festival is a three day October 31 to November 2  holiday when families prepare the tombs for the return of the spirits.  During this time you can photograph the preparations of decorating the tombs at the cemeteries and the building offering tables in the city and villages.
Families build elaborate decorations as the budget allows as they leave offerings of food and drink for the spirits in the home and at the cemetery.
Cemetery Photos, Day of the Dead Oaxaca
Thousands of candles light the gravesites but otherwise there is limited light.  A tripod is acceptable as most photos will be taken with a slow shutter speed. 
Marigolds and cockscomb flowers  decorate the tombs along with candles. Each village celebrates at different times and in different style but most villages use candles and flowers as the families come to the graveyards to sit by the tombs and wait for the spirits to return.
Photos are allowed in the cemetery and most families are proud when you admire their tomb decorations.
It is polite to ask permission to make a photograph and in most cases welcome.
Flowers and candles make the cemeteries mysterious places during the November vigil for the spirits. Your visit is welcome, photos welcome, just ask.
On occasion someone will say no, just move on, there are hundreds of candle lit tombs and grave sitesn to photograph.  
By asking you have shown the same respect that you would like shown you in your own cemetery visit at home  

One tip is not to use flash as it will momentarily blind everybody.
In the family-oriented villages all members will spend the day decorating the tomb. At the plaza in the village of XoXo a huge altar decorated with candles and flowers, fruit and candy was a community effort.
A visit to the cemetery in the late afternoon will produce photos of the preparations.
In the cemetery of XoXo Cotlon, families prepare the tombs by cleaning and decorating them with candles and flowers. They sit by the tombs in a night vigil of waiting for the spirits of loved ones to return
In the town of Tlalixtac south east of Oaxaca City the families sit by the decorated tombs while brass bands move through the cemetery
In the Etla Valley north of Oaxaca City, villagers stage a play in which they visit houses and on this one night, possessed by the spirits,  they can insult even the highest officials.
Competition for the best offering (ofrenda) or sand painting attracts visitors to Oaxaca's village of XoXo.
Competition for the best altar at Oaxaca's,Main cemetery.
Use these guides to making Photos of the  Day Of The Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico and make photos that are something special.
Making photos in the cemetery under not much more than candlelight can be difficult.
This "how to" describes making photos in the cemetery in the dark of night, lit only by thousands of candles.  The people of the village sit by the gravestones in a night vigil as the men gather and chant while the scent of copal incense and the perfume of marigold flowers fills the air.
The people welcome your visit and are proud of their decorations.  Tripod use is acceptable.

It starts in the afternoon of the last day in October when the families go to the cemetery to clean and decorate the tombs.
The afternoon preparations can deliver good photos.
Most families don't object to your making of photos but it is polite to ask first.
Oaxaca's hotels, restaurants and shops on the pedestrian-only streets.  decorate their entryways with marigold in a friendly competition.  These decorations can make interesting photos.  
Day of the Dead Oaxaca Mexico
Schedule of Oaxaca Day of the Dead of Cemetery Visits
October, 31
Xoxocotlan. This town a few miles southwest of Oaxaca City  has two Cemeteries, Cementario Viejo, and the new Cementario Nuevo.
October 31, the village of Atzompa holds a later cemetery vigil starting around 11 pm.

Day of the Dead November 1
Oaxaca City Cemetery, Panteon General on the east side of the city
Tlaixtac de Cabrera, six miles south east of Oaxaca City

San Felipe del Agua, north of Oaxaca City November 2,
Village of San Antonino Castillo Velasco  A flower growing village that celebrates a week after the others
Making cemetery photos during the Day of the Dead Festival in Oaxaca can be difficult because of the limited light in a candle-lit cemetery, but with a tripod and slow shutter speed, interesting photos can result.   
Where is Oaxaca and how do you get there:  Oaxaca Resources
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Day of the Dead Oaxaca Mexico
  • Day Of The Dead,  Cemetery visits Transportation  
The Day of the Dead Cemetery visit transportation is available from Oaxaca city by bus, taxi, or auto.  
Cemetery visits occur on October 31, November 1 and Nov. 2nd within a few miles of the city.  
  • Guided Cemetery Tours
First time visitors are best off with one of the many Oaxaca Tour Agencies such as Borroco Tours located on Garcia Vigil  (street)  They arrange small or large group van and bus tours for visitors to the villages.  They guide you in the cemetery, help you make photos, and provide local information about the event.
  • Self Guided Tour
Visitors can also reach the cemeteries by taxi, collective taxi, or bus.   Arrange for your return with the driver or determine the loading place for the taxis and collective taxis at the village when you arrive.  It could be difficult to find later in the evening.  Bus service will end around ten pm for some locations.  
How To Reach the Day of the Dead Oaxaca Mexico Cemeteries for Visits
Day of the Dead Photos
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Day of the Dead Oaxaca
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Day of the Dead Oaxaca

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