Travelers interested in exploring a destination in depth and through the lens of a camera—be it a smartphone, point-and-shoot, or DSLR—will find this unique cultural journey a fascinating opportunity. Discover Santa Fe and northern New Mexico, with its storied past and current-day allure, with your camera as your passport.

Starting at: $3,795 Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Santa Fe still life  Old Chapel at Taos. Credit: Dan Monakil  Landscape near Ghost Ranch  Landscape near Abiquiu  Church at Chimayo  Symbols of America. Credit: Alyssa Bowers  Portraits on the range in black and white. Credit: Jennifer Spelman, Smithsonian Journeys Photography Expert  Cowboy still life. Credit: James Kalupa  Photographing at sunset. Credit: Julia Martin  Capturing the moment. Credit: Diane Hemingway  Landscape in black and white. Credit: Carlan Tapp, Smithsonian Journeys Photography Expert  Red rock at sunrise. Credit: Romeo Durscher  On the spot photography instruction. Credit: Jake Rutherford  Practicing new skills on smartphones. Credit: Kevin Bond

Smithsonian Photo Journey: Focus on Santa Fe

6 days from $3,795

Travelers interested in exploring a destination in depth and through the lens of a camera—be it a smartphone, point-and-shoot, or DSLR—will find this unique cultural journey a fascinating opportunity. Discover Santa Fe and northern New Mexico, with its storied past and current-day allure, with your camera as your passport.

or Call 855-330-1542


Please note: New lower solo traveler price. Save $160 as reflected in the updated price.


The distinctive light and red-hued landscapes of Santa Fe, Taos, and Abiquiu once brought Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams to the region. Photographers, artists, authors, and general visitors continue to be drawn here not only for the special light, but also for the cultural richness, lively arts scene, and ideal climate. Join Smithsonian Journeys for a one-week immersion in historic Santa Fe and breathtaking northern New Mexico to experience all this and more up close—through the creative lens of your camera.

Our new Smithsonian Photo Journey is for people with a special interest in photographing their travels—and in expanding their photography skills. You’ll explore the many faces of the region in depth and see it more intimately as you frame your images.

Highlights Include

  • Photography: Geared to all skill levels and all types of cameras (DSLR, point and shoot, and smartphones), our photo journey features daily photography sessions (and optional image review sessions) throughout the week to improve your technical abilities and creative eye. And our photography expert is accompanied by an assistant to ensure everyone receives some individual instruction.
  • Santa Fe: Learn about the city’s rich history, vibrant arts scene, and unique architecture through guest lectures. You’ll also enjoy curator-led museum tours and private visits to galleries and artists’ studios. And of course, attend walking tours with cameras in hand to capture your own creative expression.
  • Taos and Abiquiu: Photograph the dramatic landscapes that inspired Ansel Adams as you tour the area north of Santa Fe and visit the villages of Chimayo and Taos. Plus, make a pilgrimage to the home of Georgia O’Keeffe at Ghost Ranch where many of her iconic paintings were created.
  • Cowboy Culture: Learn about the past and present realities of cowboy life in the American West by visiting a ranch where you’ll meet the owners and staff. Then further explore the ranch and cowboy culture with your camera and expert Smithsonian photographer by your side.

Activity Level 1: Easy


Day 1 — Arrive in Santa Fe

Arrive in Santa Fe by late afternoon and check-in at your historic hotel, the Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza, housed in a 300-year-old hacienda. Tonight gather for a welcome reception and opening dinner. After dinner and a short orientation meeting, watch an inspirational photographic presentation and then listen to a storyteller weave a few local yarns. (R,D)

Day 2 — Santa Fe

After breakfast, gather for a session on what makes a good photograph from both a technical and an aesthetic perspective. A local historian presents a fascinating talk on the history of Santa Fe, the oldest city west of the Mississippi. Then our local scholar focuses on the many unique aspects of the city's architecture. After lunch, take a guided tour of the Indian Arts Research Center. The Center's collection of Southwest Native art, including pottery, jewelry, textiles and clothing, paintings, basketry, and drums is considered by many to be one of the most remarkable assemblages in the world. Then take a guided walking tour around the Historic Plaza area to admire the graceful architecture and take photographs as light and shadows play on adobe walls. During your walk, visit numerous art galleries to learn about their artists and the contemporary art scene in Santa Fe. Tonight is at leisure to sample the city's fine cuisine or edit your pictures from today. (B,L)

Day 3 — Santa Fe and O’Keeffe Country

Rise early and join your Smithsonian Journeys Expert photographer on a short walk at first light through the recently renovated Railyard District to the bustling Santa Fe Farmer’s Market. Here local vendors are setting up their stalls with colorful produce. Talk with the farmers and learn about their lives, which often leads to making interesting portraits. After breakfast and a short presentation on photographing the landscape, listen to an O’Keeffe scholar reveal the intriguing story of Georgia O’Keeffe’s life in New Mexico, complete with old photographs of O’Keeffe and examples of her iconic paintings made in the unique New Mexico light. After lunch, travel north of Santa Fe, along the Chama River, and past Abiquiu for a private tour of Ghost Ranch and O’Keeffe’s home there. Pause to stand where O'Keeffe made some of her greatest works of art and make your own interpretations of the fabled Southwestern landscape with your cameras. Return to Santa Fe and enjoy dinner on your own, leaving time to edit your photographs if you wish. (B,L) 

Day 4 — Santa Fe and Cowboy Country

After breakfast, gain valuable insights from a lively and gentle review of your five best photographs from the first two days in a group Image Review led by your expert photographer. See the unique photographs your fellow travelers made in the same locations and expand your photography vocabulary in this enlightening session. A fun presentation on the history of cowboy culture of the American West follows. After lunch, visit an expansive ranch just south of Santa Fe. The ranch owner explains the history of the property, then you can move freely around the ranch, and amid the cowboys and horses, with cameras in hand to explore the place photographically. Tonight is a free evening to sample one of the many great restaurants in Santa Fe or reivew your pictures from today. (B,L)

Day 5 — Santa Fe, Chimayo, Taos

Compare stories of your evening culinary adventures at breakfast, and then enjoy your second group Image Review. A photography talk about light and composition, the two essential building blocks of all good images, completes the morning. After lunch, travel the famed High Road to Taos, stopping along the way to make photographs of the breathtaking landscape. You'll visit Chimayo and its famous church, the Santuario de Chimayo. Known as a healing site where believers claim that dirt from a back room of the church can heal physical and spiritual ills, it has become known as the "Lourdes of America." The artist colony of Taos is your final destination. Here you'll enjoy a private tour of the Mable Dodge Luhan House, where D.H. Lawrence, Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Martha Graham stayed during their trips to New Mexico. On your way back to Santa Fe, stop just north of town for a thirst-quenching margarita and traditional Mexican cuisine at Gabriel’s Restaurant. (B,L,R,D)

Day 6 — Depart Santa Fe

After breakfast, review your photographs from yesterday, followed by a question and answer session with our photographic team. To conclude your sessions on Southwest culture, a staff member of the famed Santa Fe Opera shares the fascinating history and an insider’s view of this internationally known 60-year old company that has been described as “a miracle in the desert.” Finally, a delightful final image presentation of each traveler’s best photographs from the week, put to music, brings your time together to a close. By noon you'll return to the hotel and then depart Santa Fe with fresh eyes on the world, new friends, and full hearts. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)