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Photo Tips 4 - San Miguel & the West Coast
C.J. Gustafson, Freelance Writer and Photographer

Taking pictures in town can be a bit of a challenge because there is usually so much activity. But that's what makes it so interesting. From the scenes of boat traffic along the waterfront, to the throngs of people window shopping and filling the streets, to the friendly and interesting local residents, there are endless opportunities to capture the essence of this quaint, but busy town. And all along the west coast there are places to shoot sandy beaches and coral outcrops, palm trees and aqua blue seas, tall, modern hotels and rustic, thatch covered palapas. The list of possible subjects is endless so keep your camera handy. Keep in mind that good lighting will come from the east in the morning and from the west in the afternoon.
Tips for taking pictures in town and on the west coast

Keep it simple
Unless you want to convey the hustle and chaos of San Miguel when it's full of tourists, try to pick a subject and focus in on it. Maybe it's the huge, white cruise ship dominating the skyline. It could be the collection of brightly colored pottery covering a wall in the oceanfront shop, or the charming, local woman rolling cigars by hand. Whatever you choose, fill the viewfinder with your subject and make sure you don't have distractions like a person's arm or a corner of a sign poking in around the edges.

Get back off the water a few blocks
I admit I always take a few shots right on the waterfront. Who can resist all that activity? But some of my most unique and memorable shots come from back in the pueblo. And after all, this is where you find the REAL San Miguel. Spend a morning or afternoon walking through the pueblo, taking pictures. Be sure to stop at a local mom & pop store or luncheria for a cold drink and a snack before heading off again. You want to do this before 11:00 a.m. or after about 1:30 in the afternoon because the sun is too harsh during that time (unless it's cloudy) and there is little activity since many people still take siestas. These walking tours of the pueblo are fun with or without a camera and give you a true feel for the way of life on the island. The architecture and rich colors will amaze you. Over the past two years, I have been working on a collection of different doorways and entrances throughout the pueblo. Maybe you will come up with an idea for a collection of your own. (Add door 1, 2, 3,& 4 pictures here)

People pictures
Nothing captures the feel of a place better than its people. I think shots of island residents going about their daily lives provide some of the most interesting Cozumel photos. An elderly man peddling his tricycle cart piled full of fresh fruit, a young mother with a baby on her hip, hanging out laundry, or a fisherman bringing in his catch at the end of the day all provide delightful photos that tell the story of the island. Of course, you are more likely to find these real scenes further back in the pueblo, but the waterfront has its own form of personal interaction that can be fascinating. Black and white film can add another interesting aspect to people pics. Note: If the person is not in a public place and you plan to sell the photos or display them publicly, you need to get permission to take their picture. Otherwise, it's up to you to decide if you're going to ask before snapping the shot. My general rule of thumb is if the person will be easily recognizable in the photo, I ask permission, even if I am only using the photo in my scrapbook.

Look for something interesting to make the shot unique
When I look out over the beaches and reefs of Cozumel, I forget that I am not the only one to have been attracted to the wonderful view of the pier or the temple ruins. Hundreds, if not thousands of other people have stood in the exact same place and taken a very similar picture. There are some shots that show up in every Cozumel album: the divers' sculpture just north of the main plaza, Mirador rock formations on the east coast, and the ferry pier, to name just a few. While it's great to get these classic shots, you can personalize them by adding something to make it unique. Put your family members or other travel companions in the picture, preferably doing something instead of posing. Or wait for the fishing boat to make its way into the frame. Interesting cloud formations or a bird in the sky can add just the right touch to any scenic photo. Whatever it might be, find that extra something that brings the shot to life and adds meaning for you.

Embrace the light!

Other Interesting Perspectives and Tips by CJ you might Enjoy!
 Spicy Travels - Introduction
Romance, adventure, good food, hot dancing, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences on the island of Cozumel!
 Spicy Travels 1 - The Iguana Adventure
He's little, he's cute, he doesn't bite me, and he eats mosquitoes and other bugs. I'm on a Caribbean island with no worries. Let it go. It is all part of the adventure - but what an experience!
 Spicy Travels 2 - Moonlight Dance Adventure
These are the times in your life where you have to tell yourself that times like these seldom come along in life and you can't let them slip by because you're embarrassed or nervous or afraid.
 Spicy Travels 3 - Language Learning Adventure
My adventure reminded me that there is common ground when it comes to language on Cozumel, with both tourists and locals wanting to learn how to better communicate.
 Spicy Travels 4 - Barracuda Adventure
Suddenly I saw a large shadow move across the ocean floor and I looked over expecting to see another snorkeler swimming alongside.
 Travel Tip 1 - Cozumel is a State of Mind
There's something about a Caribbean island that is just fundamentally different from the rest of the world. This definitely true of Cozumel!
 Travel Tip 2 - Always Bring Music
I've learned through my travels that music can set the tone and enhance the enjoyment of almost any activity on the island.
 Travel Tip 3 - Learn Spanish
Although many people on the island speak English quite well, there have been numerous instances where I was glad to know some Spanish.
 Travel Tip 4 Ė Explore Cozumelís Underwater World
Donít let fear of the unknown keep you from experiencing Cozumel's beautiful underwater world. This truly is one of the most unforgettable aspects of the island and there is more than one way to experience this!
 Photo Tips - Introduction
The endless supply of subjects, the beautiful lighting, and constant activity make photograhing Cozumel basically effortless
 Photo Tips 1 - Cozumel Sunsets
Cozumel has some of the most beautiful sunsets to be found on earth. Here are some tips on capturing them!
 Photo Tips 2 - Hit the Tourist Spots
Don't avoid the tourist spots completely because they provide some good photo opportunities as well as fun activities - all in one location!
 Photo Tips 3 - Walk Don't Ride (At Least Part of the Way)
It has been my experience that very rarely do you get good Cozumel pictures riding in the back seat of a taxi cab.

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