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San Miguel de Allende: a great place to make pictures

San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende

Secret of Great Photography Revealed

“ Today I’m going to share with you the number one bit of advice for making good photographs,” Reid Callanan, the Sante Fe Photography Workshop founder and class leader announced on the third day of a six day workshop I enjoyed in October.

“Oh my gosh, I thought. “The best tip ever? Is that possible?”

Since I was in San Miguel de Allende with the goal of improving my photography skills, I held my breath and listened intently.

Reid continued, “I got this tip from Jim Richardson, a superb and experienced National Geographic photographer.”

Whoa! Wait a minute.  With that news I leaned forward in my chair.

I met Jim on a National Geographic trip to Norway five years ago and have since followed his work. “Oh my,” I thought. “He’s a phenomenal photographer so this is going to be good.”

“Jim says to stand in front of something interesting,” Reid pronounced and grinned.

We all laughed, but, my, my, he’s right. An interesting subject really helps.

Of course you can make fabulous images of every day life at home, but there’s nothing like something unusual or beautiful or quirky in front of you to make a great photograph.

And that’s why we were in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico for this class. So much to see and photograph in this visually inspiring World Heritage site.

Last week I wrote about the colorful back grounds of this San Miguel de Allende, often referred to as the Disneyland of Mexico. The colors. The light. The cobblestone streets. The people. All good. All visual.

It’s also a very creative city. Established during the silver mining days, a tradition of arts and crafts developed here and is nourished today with an Art School, a plethora of art galleries and plenty of subject matter.

In lobby of San Miguel hotel
In lobby of San Miguel hotel
Ceiling of the shop in the library in San Miguel de Allende
Ceiling of the shop in the library in San Miguel de Allende

I enjoyed touring the Fabrica La Aurora on my free day when the workshop was over, a former textile factory, chockablock full of galleries.

Fabrica La Aurora
Fabrica La Aurora
Fabrica La Aurora
Fabrica La Aurora

It was also fun to explore La Esquina Toy Museum in San Miquel de Allende for a blast of colorful playtime.  The creative spirit abounds in local restaurants as well.

La Esquina Toy Museum
My favorite restaurant in San Miguel–Cafe Rama–near our hotel.

The cathedral in the middle of town communicates the town’s creative spirit. It is quite fanciful in design and attracts all kinds of activities–traditional and otherwise.

During the workshop we ventured to a Hacienda Las Trancas, a 450 year old Hacienda, now a hotel, spa and resort. It provided wonderful material for a day of photography. We took models along with us to learn our portrait skills in a glorious setting.

 

Hacienda Las Trancas
Hacienda Las Trancas
dining room
dining room
Hacienda Las Trancas
Hacienda Las Trancas
Hacienda Las Trancas
Hacienda Las Trancas
Hacienda Las Trancas
Hacienda Las Trancas

I relished the challenge of the daily assignment to shoot a self portrait. Here are a couple of efforts. I wonder if Jim Richardson would approve.

self portrait assignment
self portrait assignment
self portrait
self portrait
self portrait
self portrait
self portrait
self portrait
Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

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