6 days of Photography Exploration & Learning with Merrill Images
January 27 – February 1, 2023
Join travel and social impact photographer Lisa Merrill and a small group of kindred spirits for a 6-day San Miguel de Allende photo exploration and learning experience. This will be a fun week of creativity, inspiration, and connection.
- Immersive week of mindful photography (with any camera, including a phone) with abundant opportunities to strengthen your ability to tell compelling visual stories of the places you explore and the people you meet
- Daily excursions to hidden and unique locations around SMA
- On-the-spot photo coaching
- Photo reviews (private and small group)
- 2-hours preparatory Photo Workshop via Zoom
- Small group (max 10) of photogaphers from the US and SMA residents
- Includes all transportation, entrance fees, and daily lunch or dinner
San Miguel Photo Adventure Itinerary
Photography instruction on this adventure is optional and informal. If you’d like to take advantage of her expertise, Lisa will offer on-the-spot guidance and encouragement. She’ll help you harness the transformative power of light, compose for impact, and intentionally make, versus take, photos. As needed, she’ll demystify your camera’s features and settings. Through experimentation you’ll discover new ways of seeing and photographing.
There will be opportunities to capture majestic cityscapes and intricate architecture, create portraits of people at work and play, and dive into food and abstract photography. Image reviews will be a source of feedback, support and inspiration. Lisa will share tips to expand your visual toolbox so you can create high-impact images with a strong sense of place, and combine them into compelling visual stories.
The photo adventure was designed to foster transformative travel, with a mix of group experiences and unstructured time to explore, reflect and relax on your own. Highlights include visits to a “mojiganga” giant puppet workshop, a street mural tour, lunch in an indigenous community, and a day trip to the abandoned silver mining town of Pozos.
*This adventure has been designed to include curated group experiences along with ample time to explore San Miguel on your own or in small groups.
*Meals and group experiences which are included in trip price are in black below.
Suggested optional activities (not included in trip price) are highlighted below. In addition, Lisa and Rebecca are available to facilitate the pursuit of special interests.
Note: activities may change or be rescheduled, so it’s important to be flexible. This tour is moderately strenuous and requires good mobility. Navigating the streets of San Miguel can be difficult. There are steep hills, including the street where the program B&B is located, which is approximately 3 blocks uphill. All streets in Centro are cobblestoned, and sidewalks are narrow, uneven and can be slick. Buildings can be centuries-old with high thresholds to step over, may lack customary US safety controls such as hand railings and protective barriers, and may have steep and/or narrow stairways to climb with no elevator access. Excursions outside of San Miguel are in rural areas with dirt roads and require the ability to walk on uneven surfaces.
Friday, January 27, 2023
WELCOME DINNER AT CASA DE LA CUESTA
Optional activity: Yoga for Photographers on the patio of Casa de la Cuesta – learn and practice stretches and poses which help maintain the balance needed for interesting perspectives and the strength to carry and use our gear. If this is of interest, we’ll schedule an afternoon class ahead of time, at participants’ expense. ($300 pesos)
Capture the sunset from the hills overlooking San Miguel with a welcome margarita on the picturesque rooftop of Casa de la Cuesta at sunset. We’ll get to know each other over a delicious dinner “at home,” catered by local chef, Magda Pablos, formerly of El Vergel. Lisa and her local partner Rebecca Eichler will provide an overview of the week ahead. In addition, we’ll have the opportunity to talk with our chef about Mexican cuisine, and those with an interest can dive into food photography.
Saturday, January 28, 2023
HIDDEN CORNERS OF SAN MIGUEL
As the city wakes up, Lisa and Isabel will lead an early morning photo walk exploring a few of their favorite gems. Beyond the oft-snapped Parroquia church and the iconic cobblestones of Calle Aldama lie alleys and corners waiting to be enjoyed. Step off the beaten path in the early morning light with on-the-spot photo coaching from Lisa and local insights from Isabel.
We’ll go together to the Colonia Guadalupe Arts District for a guided walking tour. The walls of this neighborhood are covered with elaborate murals. Many feature Mexican themes, while others are abstract or reflect the multicultural origins of San Miguel de Allende’s population. We’ll also enjoy a visit to Solo Burros, an unusual shop/gallery filled with eclectic antiques and art.
We end our day with a group dinner with The Grazing Table, a food-sharing experience of gourmet delicacies by Lisa’s friend Sarah Fetzer, at Casa de la Cuesta.
Sunday, January 29, 2023
INDIGENOUS VILLAGE VISIT
Lisa will lead an optional early morning photo walk.
In the late morning, we’ll visit the sprawling folk art complex of Mexico Lindo en route to the indigenous village of La Cuadrilla, where our local partner Rebecca has developed strong relationships. Get an authentic peek into rural life, hear about the history of revolution and resilience along Mexico’s Silver Route, learn about the villagers’ micro-enterprises of embroidery, tote bags and botanical products, and enjoy a lunch prepared by the señoras of this small community.
Optional: We’ll reserve a table at the Rosewood Hotel’s Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar for a no-host happy hour with spectacular city views at sunset, and you’re welcome to stay for dinner.
Monday, January 30, 2023
MINERAL DE POZOS, “ABANDONED” MINING TOWN
We’ll depart late morning via private transportation for the “ghost town” of Mineral de Pozos, where we’ll explore atmospheric streets of abandoned and decaying buildings draped in agave plants, visit workshops of artisans crafting pre-Hispanic instruments, and enjoy a leisurely lunch at a local spot. We will then head to the remnants of a Hacienda and then visit the long-cooled ovens of the Santa Brigida silver mines for the late afternoon golden hour, before heading back to San Miguel.
Dinner is on your own – we can reserve a rooftop with a city view.
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Lisa will lead an optional early morning photo walk.
Mid-morning we’ll embark on a truly local experience: taking the city bus to “El Tianguis de Martes,” the sprawling open air Tuesday Market. We’ll wander the aisles heaped with a cacophony of goods – everything from used clothes and shoes, counterfeit electronics, bulk candy and herbal remedies, the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables, incense, hand-carved wooden furniture, baby bunnies, fresh fish, and a wide range of food stalls. Photo opportunities abound, and those who want to can sample tacos al pastor, huaraches, and gorditas.
Optional: In the afternoon, dance instructor Fernando joins us at Casa de la Cuesta for a salsa class on its large terrace. If this is of interest, we’ll schedule the class ahead of time, at participants’ expense.
We’ll dine as a group at Restaurant SӒM and enjoy a special 6-course Mexican/European fusion experience created by a Mexican chef who has worked at top restaurants around the world.
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
GIANT PUPPETS AND WINERY VISIT
Lisa will lead an optional early morning photo walk.
Mid-morning, we’ll visit the workshop of Hermes Arroyo, a master of the craft of the mojiganga, giant papIer mâche puppets, present at every celebration in San Miguel. Learn the history of art and get a behind-the-scenes (and under the skirts) peek at these iconic characters.
In the afternoon, you can join Lisa for a final photowalk or photo review session. In the late afternoon, we will visit a local winery to learn about their process of natural winemaking, photograph the former hacienda grounds and wine cellars, and sit down to a wine tasting with charcuterie pairing.
Our final meal will be no-host at Merken, a farm-to-table chef-owned restaurant, considered by a local food & drink guide as the best in San Miguel.
Meal: Wine & charcuterie
Thursday February 2, 2023
Lisa will lead an optional morning photo walk to the El Charco del Ingenio botanical garden
Here are a few of the experiences you might choose to have during “on your own” time.
Note: this adventure has been designed to include curated group experiences along with ample time to explore San Miguel on your own or in small groups. Rebecca will help make transportation arrangements or reservations for optional activities and non-group meals.
- Mercado de Artesanias (handicrafts market)
- Ignacio Ramirez food market
- Fabrica la Aurora – art and design center in former textile factory
- Art galleries
- Shopping for clothing, jewelry, handicrafts and home decor
- Spa treatments
- Cooking class
- Art class (many media)
- Yoga or pilates class, or a workout at a fitness center
- Horseback riding
- Guided hikes or mountain bike rides
- Temazcal traditional healing ceremony
- Organic farm
- El Charco del Ingenio botanical garden and nature preserve
- Photograph egrets building nests from the roof of Kouyin restaurant
- Use your photo skills for good via a volunteer project at Casita Linda or another NGO
Who are we?
Photo Adventure Leader – Lisa Merrill of Merrill Images
Lisa creates images to evoke wonder, inspire action and strengthen communities. She and her husband John founded Merrill Images in 1996, and their work is used by travel destinations, outdoor adventure companies, and non-profits, and featured in books and magazines around the world. The Merrills nurture photographic creativity through online coaching, Pacific Northwest photowalks, workshops and photo adventures. They’re members of the North American Nature Photographer’s Association and a Transformative Travel Council Ally. Photography is a lifelong journey of connection and expression for Lisa, and she’s grateful for opportunities to learn from the people and places she photographs.
Host in San Miguel de Allende – Rebecca Eichler of Language Adventure ProsRebecca Eichler is a lifelong traveler who has lived, studied, and worked in nine countries on four continents. From 2015-2016, she and her husband Paul lived the van life in a 30-year old VW Westfalia with their two kids. Their journey is chronicled in the memoir, “The Year We Ruined Our Lives: A Family Road Trip Through Mexico and Central America.” In 2018 Rebecca and her family moved to San Miguel de Allende, where she founded Language Adventure Pros, providing curated linguistic and cultural experiences for professionals, families, and adventurers of all ages. Rebecca is the subject of the feature-length documentary, “Las Abogadas: Attorneys on the Front Lines of the Migrant Crisis,” and believes that travel is the answer to world peace.