photography, San Miguel de Allende

Opening soon: City Market Photo Galleria – Mart for art’s sake

Plus: The 10 Commandments for successfully shooting City Market

Also, how Prince Valiant’s graphic art layout can help tell your story

Congratulations, San Miguel Facebookeers! You are creating a new photography genre — City Market Art. Your orgasmic uploading of scores of images from the newly opened high-end supermarket “experience” has been a visual feast worthy of the artfully displayed departments of bread, fish, wine, vegetables, chocolates, and meats.

This is commercial exhibitionism at its finest.

Because you are all so good — and prolific — I am proud to announce the first-ever open invitational online gallery of the year’s best City Market images. I will create a gallery page for your very best images and keep posting new ones through the end of the year.

By which time we should all feel we’ve fairly well exhausted the subject …

Don’t let your best images languish on a single Facebook post, only to disappear in the relentless and voracious feed cycle. Let me offer you a slice of immortality!

Send images to robertj.hawkins2012@gmail.com — and be sure to include your name (for credit) and a little something about each image. Sorry, this is all for the glory. There is no compensation, honorarium, prizes, or lecture chairs to be gained. The images remain yours and yours alone. I promise to put your name in bold face type.

They will be lovingly posted and curated in the order in which they arrive, on a timely basis.

Be selective. Send your favorites. Volume is not art. And I am only one guy. Send a few at a time, or only the one you really really like!

Be creative. Edit. Photoshop. Play with images. Create compositions. Express yourself through your images. Be irreverent. Be ironic. Be playful. Make a statement. Have some fun. Get serious. Make art. Make commerce.

Maybe there will be artistic or psycho-sociological revelations to be had by the end of the year. Who knows until we try, eh?

City Market Photo Galleria will open when enough images arrive. It will only take a few to launch

Meanwhile …

The 10 Commandments — urgent suggestions, mostly — for getting the best out of your City Market photo shoot.

Pro-tips for the several thousand San Miguelians photographing the new City Market with your cell phones and posting on Facebook:


1. Occasionally incorporate foreground objects for perspective.

2. Compose your picture within the frame before you shoot. Crop before you publish.

3. Create a composition that tells a story: Isolate your subject — say, the wine cellar, or the chocolatier, or the fish monger’s. Then compose three shots — a closeup (detail), a middle-ground, and a panoramic. (Think of the “Prince Valiant” Sunday comics spread. See some examples at the bottom of the page.).

4. Vary the perspective — sometimes you need to get down on one knee or raise the camera above your head, or get your nose into that school of sea bass swimming in a bed of ice. Don’t always shoot straight down into the cold shrimp.

5. Look for interesting patterns, artful combinations, playful images. City Market begs you to be ironic.

6. Volume is information but it is not art.

7. It is not all food porn, but it doesn’t hurt to “think sexy” when you shoot. City Market is commercial exhibitionism at its best. Roll with it.

8. Your cell phone has amazing photo editing capabilities. Yes, yours. Sit down and order a coffee and play with your pictures before posting.

9. Put people into your images. So far, most images have looked like the store is a lovely sexy empty mausoleum.

10. Keep those photos coming!

And here’s some old Prince Valiant Sunday comics that I promise. Harold Foster was famous for using the three visual elements — closeup/detail, middle ground, and panoramic — to tell a whole story in one page. Newspaper photographers have used that same technique for decades.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized, Writings

A little Sunday morning walk to the Presa clears your head, raises your spirits, and revives your senses

Fields of mustard seed brighten the walk to the Presa along Camino a San Miguel Viejo.

Sometimes you just have to get out there and walk. Anywhere will do. Just walk.

Most mornings, that’s me walking Moppit, struggling for control over the master/pet dynamic with a willful and intelligent opponent.

I want to go left, she wants to go right. We both freeze in our tracks and engage in a game of blink, staring into each other’s eyes with fiercely competitive stares. It is Moppit who decides when she’s had enough of this walking nonsense and communicates her desire by sitting firmly on her tush. It is Moppit who sets the pace, decides what needs to be sniffed or peed upon. For my every step forward, she executes a complex zigzag pattern worthy of her genetic heritage.

She is a sniffer, a searcher, a chaser, a marker of vast territory.

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Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Poor souls, lost their marbles on the cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende

When I walk the cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende, usually early mornings with Moppit the philosopher dog, I find things.

It is not that I am scouring between the cracks and crannies. It is just that cobblestones can be treacherous and if you are not attentive to your footsteps, well, you can fall.

There is a joke about the number of ex-pats who walk around this hilly town with canes — but I forget how it goes.

Cobblestone streets are the tide pools of very old cities. They tend to trap small and delicate things in the spaces between rocks, much the same way that tide pools trap small fish, snails, squid and pirates’s treasure. Especially after it rains.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende

Crazy, man! The Dia de los Locos returns to San Miguel de Allende — smaller but just as lively — and crazy as ever. See the photos!

It pays to walk the dog on a Sunday morning, even if you don’t feel like it.

Today, Moppit and I arrived at the Ancha around 8:30 a.m. to see a police car blocking the normally busy thoroughfare.

In the distance I could hear a familiar sound — the frentic beat of trance-dance music so beloved by killer clowns, life-size Disney characters and scarry looking mass-murderers (in costume only).

Yes! The popular Dias de los Locos Parade is back!

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Where you been, bro? It has been a year, yeah?

Sure sign that tourism is back — hot-air balloons dot the early morning sky in Colonia San Antonio, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

So here we are now at 6,200 feet enjoying incredibly mild weather yearlong, a severe drought and growing water shortage, unrestrained development, and a once-exuberant city that has almost withered away under the relentless grind of Covid restrictions. 

Signs of life are returning to San Miguel de Allende.

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photography, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Social media-loving D.C. rioters are finding there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide

Interesting question raised by a former newspaper colleague and a Poynter institute column: “Should journalists play a role in identifying rioters?”

That’s the headline and based on it alone, the answer is, of course. Media goes after the facts and a big chunk of the facts from last week’s Washington riot answers the question: Who the hell were these people?

The more-specific and thornier question is: “Should the media turn over unpublished documentation, especially photographs, to law enforcement upon request?”

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Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende

‘Hit ’em! Hit ’em! Hit the sons of bitches! Hit ’em!’

I stare at this photograph that I took in — when was it? — 1970? 1971? I stare and I wonder, how many of my fellow Vietnam War protesters were part of the thuggery that took place this week at the Capitol?

Some, for sure. They would be in their very late-60s and mid-70s now. I was 21 when I snapped these photos.

A friend who just saw them asked, “Did you and your fellow hippies storm the Capitol?”

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Memoirs -- fact and fiction, photography, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

These are a few of my favorite things, Part I: Salvaging love and beauty from 2020

Well, thank god that’s over. The year, I mean. 2020.

I’ve had just about enough of it and I suspect you have too. Not that 2021 will start off so terribly different. Well, there is the regime change, an inauguration, and the eradication of four years of shitty people running the country.

It will take time, lots of vaccinations, still more wine than we should be consuming, and a Democratic majority in Congress — up to you, Georgia.

Was 2020 really all that bad? Yes. Yes, it was.

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Starry and bright: All is quiet on Christmas Eve in San Miguel de Allende

Merry Christmas from beautiful San Miguel de Allende, a city that is no more beautiful than on Christmas Eve.

The city has been decorated for weeks but we waited until this evening to walk through historic Centro. A perfect night for it — the temperature dropped suddenly, the wind picked up slightly, and there were ever so few people out and about.

This is just a brisk tour through the center of this magical city. I took some photos while Rose handed out tangerines and caps that she’d knitted to a few people. Moppit just sniffed the curbs and wondered why we kept stopping to take in the beauty of it all.

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Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized, Writings

Defund cops? Some are saying, “Defund the media crime beats”

Nieman Lab’s “Predictions for Journalism 2021,” asks a pretty provocative question: Is it time to defund the crime beat?

Read the essay here.

The authors reach some conclusions that are bound to hurt dedicated, hard-working crime-beat reporters and their editors:

“This should be the year where we finally abolish the crime beat. Study after study shows how the media’s overemphasis on crime makes people feel less safe than they really are and negatively shapes public policy around the criminal–legal system. And study after study shows that it’s racist and inhumane.”

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