celebrations in ajijic are festive. whether a carnival in town, a parade or celebration of a feast day, there is always music and color. evenings on the plaza are anticipated and the buzz of the community gathering is melodic. while mariachis assemble and don their fitted and tailored suits, families gather on benches to stake a spot for the evening. tubas and trumpets are warming up and coronas are kept icy cold in nearby buckets. multiple generations are all gathered together in expectation of music, gossip and laughter. the plaza is the village’s outdoor living room, where the town congregates to greet neighbors and share stories. sultry teenagers exist on the perimeter, primping and taking selfies. the air is fragrant with the smell of chicharones and churros. couples, young and old, will dance on the mosaic walkways around the historic gazebo. street dogs make the circuit, traveling in small packs, looking for scraps and attention. but the children are having the best time. they are seeking out the most colorful cascarones, which are sold in clear plastic bags by local vendors. parents are begged for pesos, so the kids can purchase the brightly colored egg shells which have been emptied, cleaned, dried and then painted. the eggs are filled with confetti and then sealed with a piece of tissue paper. and the fun begins. children chase each other, darting through the dense crowd, between friends and neighbors, and cracking eggs over each other’s heads. confetti bursts from the shells, spilling bits of color everywhere. sharp barber shop fades, perfectly-coiled ringlets and intricately-patterned long braids become adorned with glittery bits of pastel paper. their dark eyes trimmed with fabulous lashes twinkle as they feign surprise upon being christened. shrieks of laughter ensue and then the chase continues. parents and abuelas watch from a distance, keeping an eye on the little ones. after many hours of music and pageantry the children begin to tire. families eventually disperse, leaving the all-night revelry to the young people. it is guaranteed that distinctive banda music will be heard until wee hours throughout the surrounding neighborhoods. initially the polka-like back beat and repetitive compositions would keep me awake, but now they lull me to sleep like a brusque mexican lullaby. margarita-fueled late nights on the plaza are often followed by my need for strong coffee and a warm plate of chilaquiles. a quiet, morning walk through town in search of nourishment will reveal a patchwork of confetti and broken egg shells, dappling the cobble-stoned streets with bits of color. remnants of a proper celebration in our charming little town.
this is one of my favorite photos. however, it does not seem to be a fan favorite. occasionally a viewer at one of the art shows will scrutinize the image and understand what it is. but, i think most people glance at it and move on pretty quickly. in the photography workshop i took in santa fe, i was challenged to take five photos of a subject. whatever has caught my eye, i should study it from five different perspectives. chances are, the first photo will not be the best photo. taking the time to slow down, breathe, consider, move the camera around and move my body to experience the subject in a new way is key to getting the right shot. it is difficult to remember this tactic, when something shiny or quirky has caught my attention. my trusty canon is always in my bag and with me. so, my instinct is to reach for my camera or my phone and snap a quick photo and move on. but, my instructor, brandon, was right. taking just a few extra moments to really consider the scene is crucial. first photo is usually at the height of my eyes, right? not always the best angle for viewing. shots two and three could be from a lower perspective or maybe just off-center. by the fourth or fifth click, i have stepped back, contemplated the additional textures and objects in the direct vicinity of the subject. it is safe to assume i have found a more interesting way to capture the subject and the composition of the final few photos is more compelling. this photo, taken in tlaqupaque, is a perfect example. directly above this sidewalk was a canopy of colorful umbrellas. the natural instinct is to shoot the brightly hued umbrellas against the skyscape or the storefronts, painted in complementary colors. in a rare moment with light foot traffic, i noticed the shadows of the umbrellas that were cast on the pedestrian walkway. i took several photos from the opposite side and then decided to cross the walk, as the eight-pronged shadow was what had caught my eye. i had a better chance of framing it properly from the far side of the walkway. propped up against a short post, i specifically waited for the right moment. a break in traffic followed by impending shoppers and tourists gives some clarity to the photo. the inclusion of their flip flops and sneakered feet, informs your mind that it is a walkway with shadows from above. if someone has taken the time to study this image, they will eventually see my octagonally-spiked fixation. it always makes my day when a potential buyer comments on it.