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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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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Uncategorized

These are a few of my favorite things, Part II: Finishing off 2020 with dignity and grace

Electric Jesus.

Confinement. Isolation. Sequestration. Lock down. Quarantine.

Of all the words to describe this peculiar existence we are in today, I have the most trouble with “quarantine.” I simply can not recall this word when describing how we are living these days.

It is blocked from my memory. Unlike the actual quarantine which we live minute by minute in our homes.

Ah well, I’m not here to summarize 2020 — nor analyze. I can offer no grand insights, survival tip, recipes, bromides, earned wisdom, nor life lessons. It happened. It ran over us and didn’t even honk the horn or stomp on the brakes. There were no skid marks. We just took the full brunt of its force.

And here we are. Hello, 2021. Show us what you’ve got.

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

The cabbie’s life: One night in Toronto

Back in the day — before Uber & Lyft, before Google street maps, before the Internet — there was a thing known as The Thomas Guide. It was a spiral-bound book of maps and street indexes for many of the major West Coast cities in the U.S.

It was a godsend for journalists and taxicab drivers alike.

Toronto had a similar book, as I discovered one night when I arrived to cover the Toronto Film Festival for my California newspaper.

“Where to, eh?

“Sutton Place,please.”

“Good, good. Is that cab in front of us going there, too?”

“No, they’re going to another hotel.”

“Good, good. OK. Sutton Place. That’s not far. Do you know where it is?”

“No. Don’t you?”

“Yeah. Well, no. Well, sort of. I usually work the West End. Don’t get up here that much.”

“Um … Bay Street. I think it is on Bay Street.”

“Bay Street? Good. Good. Bay Street. Bay Street. Right you are.”

“I think it is a main thoroughfare here. North and south.Turn here on University. You’re bound to cross it.”

“OK. Yeah. Right you are. Here, look in this book, page four. Got to be on page four or near it. Look on four.”

“There’s no map on four.”

“What do you mean? No! Index. Look at the index. You read; I’ll drive.”

“I can’t find a map. Look here, there’s Bay Street! If you turn here, we ought to find Sutton Place.”

“I can’t turn. See the sign? It says ‘No left turn.’ You really ought to learn how to read that book. You can get anywhere with in this city with that book, you can. Ah, I’ll turn anyway.”

“Why do I need to read this book? I’ll be leaving Toronto in two days. You live here. You learn it.”

“Sure, but what if you come back? You really ought to learn.”

You ought to learn. You live here, you drive the cab!”

“Right you are!”

“Look, there’s the Sutton. Just drop me off behind that car.”

“Right! The old Sutton! There you are! I got you here, didn’t I? You really ought to get one of these books. Invaluable! Fare’s $4.25. Told you I’d get you here. Well, have a good evening then.”

“Right. Keep the change.”

True story.

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Up against the wall: 10 San Miguel de Allende murals with a message to mask up

A pandemic of new murals all over San Miguel de Allende, many with iconic images from pop culture and high art, carry a simple message: Put on a mask.

If Frida, Vincent van Gogh, Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” Klimt’s stylish “Lady in Gold,” and da Vinci’s mysterious “Mona Lisa” and her Botero-esque alter-ego can put on masks — and look fabulous — so can we.

That’s the hope, anyway, of the city’s Directorate for Culture and Tradition which has sponsored the creation of the 10 murals.

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