Tag Archives: Architecture

La Huamanga Turistica

For those of you that caught my previous posting, today I’m going to walk along the sunny side of the street. Our days typically revolve around scheduling interviews with volunteers and their beneficiaries, and the rest of the time is ours. My priority, after finishing our interviews, is always to download the flash cards to my Epson P5000 Viewer then to my laptop, process my images using Lightroom and finally generate a backup onto a small 2.5 External Hard Drive. That gives me three copies of the photos, which means that other then when I’m travelling between communities, there is always a copy somewhere that I’m not, with an extra level of redundancy for safe measure.Nothing would be worse than to spend all this time, effort and money and have the images, either stolen or lost, due a technical malfunction with any one of those three devices. So, after taking care to secure my work, I’m free to stroll the streets, soak in the sounds and of course photograph whatever catches my fancy.

It was while strolling the streets of Huamanga, Peru that I was approached by a young man, who upon seeing my rather large Nikon camera, cozyed up to talk photography. I had been warned about people approaching on one side to distract me, while another would sneak-in on the blind side to liberate anything of value, so I casually secured my bag and tripod and politely answered his questions, but it quickly became obvious that he had a sincere interest, without any ulterior motives.

It turns out that John – ya I know but it isn’t that uncommon for people to have English names because parents will name their children after well known movie and TV actors, and as it turns out his full Given Name, is Johnn Rhys – who at only eighteen and with a high school diploma, rents a small office in the beautifully restored Centro Turistico Cultural San Cristobal,where he has a small graphic design business, producing signage, brochures and restaurant menus for local businesses.

Most of the architecture in Huamanga, and the Centro Turistico is no exception, follows the southern Spanish formula of an austere fa’ade facing the street, with a very large, solid door through which one passes into a sun-drenched Andalucian courtyard. It’s like stepping into another, secret world where lazy cats stretch out on cool stones and the trickling water from a simple fountain sooth the commotion just steps away.

John’s space although on the dark side, has just what you would expect to see in any similar business back in Canada a desk for his computer, monitor, printer and book-case to store reference materials and office supplies. He also has enough room for a small studio to photograph table-top product or portraits. I’d be tickled pink to have his space as a studio / office. I’m viscerally inspired by well designed spaces and beautiful architecture and just being on the second floor of this cloistered courtyard, made my head spin.

Although John does have competition, when I asked him how he manages, he emphasized the importance of Customer Service, noting that it’s not a concept that is ingrained in to the Peruvian culture, but that helps distinguish him. What ever it takes. Not a bad philosophy for everything in life.

We spent around three hours together talking and walking around with our cameras, taking photographs and comparing notes, after which we returned to one of the handful of little patios in that beautiful Andalucian courtyard, where I invited him to lunch. Although not nearly as poor as Bolivia, the exchange rate in Peru is around one Canadian Dollar to two and half Soles, making it very inexpensive to travel here. I of course am not travelling with Canadian Dollars but rather with Soles, just as every other CUSO Volunteer, but we none-the-less, both had a wonderful home cooked meal, and by that I mean that it didn’t come out of a bucket or re-heated frozen package, for approximately $3.00 CDN each, while sitting in that priceless, beautiful courtyard.

Annie and I stayed in Huamanga for three days and three nights, in yet another beautifully restored building, come the Santa Maria Hotel. Nothing luxurious, but quaint and appropriate under the circumstances in any location. We arrived on the Wednesday before Palm Sunday and everywhere we went we could see that preparations for Holy Week, were in full swing. Soon there wouldn’t be a vacant room for rent, anywhere in town and beginning on the Thursday, small processions leading up to the big event on Good Friday, began to meander through the narrow streets, at some point passing through the main square, La Plaza de Armas.

However, there was another nationally significant event scheduled for Friday night that no one could ignore, a FIFA World Cup qualifying game being played in Lima, between Peru and their arch rivals Chile. Annie and I arranged to meetup with a few other volunteers in the central square and then made our way to a local watering hole, Restaurante Nino, to catch the game. I didn’t have a favourite team in the contest, but I thought it prudent to cheeeeeer and ohhhhh in tune with my hosts. However, it wasn’t long before I too was infected by the ebb and flow of the game and grimacing at the near misses in favour, and sighing in relief at the close calls against. The final score was Peru 1 Chile 0 and everyone went home happy.

In the three short days that we were there, Huamanga grew on me and Saturday rolled around way to soon. I became familiar with the streets around La Plaza de Armas, had been charmed by a handful of the townsfolk and wanted desperately to spend more time photographing the architecture and street scenes.

Saturday, woke up warm and sunny and since our flight didn’t leave until mid-afternoon, I hurried back outside for one last walkabout. I wasn’t disappointed. Along all the balconies surrounding the main square, were hung intricately, handmade, palm-leaf motifs in anticipation of Holy Week and the plaza had definitely taken on a festive mood. Walking about were hawkers selling everything from balloons to religious trinkets, and sunglasses to windup flying-birds-of-paradise. An overdose of sights and sounds, but what caught my attention most, was a line of woman in traditional folk dress, strung along the west side of the plaza making fresh ice-cream… by hand. What a send off. I couldn’t resist, so after discreetly photographing some of the woman, I shuffled over to try some for myself. It was delicious.

Till we meet again.

Bolivia – Places

We’ve all listened to the comic who laughs at their own jokes, and on one level it might seem kind of odd, sort of like well don’t they think they’re funny On the other hand their laughter and knowing smile, a la Seth Myers, can be quite contagious, further adding to the humour.

I don’t share my photographs often enough, but it’s not because I’m not proud of them. In fact there are occasions such as this, when I go back through images that I haven’t seen in a while, and my jaw drops, I get goose bumps and sometimes even tears well up. Some bring back fond memories, but others, and I won’t apologies if this sounds self delusional, are simply beautiful.

It’s awesome what one sees if one takes the time to raise the line of sight from the pavement below our feet or away from the obstruction immediately before us. Next time you find yourself, either in the thick of a busy city or on the edge of a seemingly quiet meadow, try standing back and listening, and I don’t mean hearing, I mean listening. Feel the world that surrounds you, all 360. Doing this may remind you of one of the those endorphin induced moments when everything from how a simple thought in your brain can instruct your index finger to bend, to questions about the vastness of the universe, and become too much to grasp, as they should.

There’s no denying that in our little Western bubble, we are bombarded, daily, with stimuli of every kind: sound, touch, taste, smell and oh ya! visual. Yet, despite this rich texture of sensations, we are too often insensitive to our surroundings. It’s a clear example of sensory overload.

When they were young, I remember reading some of the creative writing my children were instructed to produce for school, and offering this one bit of advice Don’t be in a hurry to get to the end of the story. Whether it’s writing a descriptive narrative, telling a good joke or making love, it’s all the little details in-between that keep your audience captivated. The pauses are just as important, if not more so, than the punch line.

As promised, I’ve added a Gallery of images in my Photo Essays that I’ve given the Title: Bolivia Places. These are some of my favourite Place Photos from my volunteer posting for CUSO International in the fall of 2011 that I think, illustrate what you’ll find when you look, I don’t mean see, but really look.Some of the images maybe familiar from my Blog Posts while in the field, but regardless, they are worth gathering together for a second look. Enjoy and don’t hesitate to provide any feedback: good, bad or ugly.



Street scenes in La Paz, Bolivia as Photographed by Miguel Hortiguela of Photography By Miguel, Toronto Photographer serving Toronto, GTA, Southern Ontario, with valid Canadian and E.U. passports.




Allan Gardens & Conservatory

It’s been a while, since I posted anything, but I’ve been dedicating more time to the Art Of Photography and it’s time to share. We all derive inspiration in different ways and from different, sometimes, unexpected places. I’ve yet to find my muse, but while I await her arrival, I know enough to pick myself up, push myself out the door and soak in the sights around me. Hey, you know, there might be a tune in there.

A number of years ago, I was stopped on the street by a young woman with a clipboard, with the task of gathering a list of names of people to play as extras in a movie that was to be filmed in Toronto. After the usual contact details, she asked, although I didn’t understand why, where I’d gone to High School, to which I replied David & Mary Thompson. She already knew I lived in Scarborough, and wondered out loud, why it was that so many of the Schools in Scarborough, were named after people. I remarked that it wasn’t that unusual and being curious, asked where she’d gone to school, to which she replied Jarvis Collegiate… like the street. Well ya! but the street was named after Samuel Jarvis, the Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Upper Canada (1837-1845), and a member of the Family Compact.

All this to say that these photographs were produced at Allan Gardens and Conservatory, located on Jarvis Street, which is a wonderful throwback to the Victorian period in Toronto’s history. The Buildings still conjure up the sensation of the period, but the grounds could use a little tender-loving-care. Want to see more photographs from Allan Gardens, or visit my Photo Essays to see other collections


Architectural Accreditation

I’ve been an active member of the Professional Photographers of Canada – Ontario (PPOC), for over fifteen years. As a self-employed freelance photographer, working mostly on my own, it isn’t often that one has the opportunity to bounce ideas off of other’s in the industry, unless one belongs to an association of Professionals. This was certainly more so the case, pre internet, but still, nothing beats the face to face for comparing notes and sharing of techniques.

In addition to the camaraderie, membership opens the door to picking up the critical, but sadly ignored, Business Practices necessary for running a healthy business. All too often, many of us take the leap of faith into photography as a profession, spurred on by a love for the art form, and without a great deal of fore-thought focused on how to earn a living, from our passion.

Another very important benefit from membership in a Professional Association is the encouragement that we receive and share with our fellow members. Image Competitions provide an opportunity to submit our work, and receive constructive criticism, within a structured format that recognizes technical skill and creative merit in equal doses.

Accreditation in a specific category of photography, is the first elevation above the general membership level, and is achieved by submitting samples of the applicant’s photography to a PPOC Board of Review for Accreditation. Accreditation demonstrates that the photographer is capable of delivering above average quality photography in a chosen category. In assessing Accreditation Submissions, the judges consider the following criteria: Impact, Creativity, Style, Composition, Presentation, Colour Balance, Centre of Interest, Lighting, Subject Matter, Image file quality, Technique and Story Telling.

As a Professional Photographer, I believe that I should be sufficiently skilled to tackle a variety of assignments. However, for the purposes of marketing, it is both time and cost effective to identify our fortes. As chance would have it, I’ve dedicated much of my commercial work to photographing Architectural Interiors. Beginning with assignments for Canadian Homes and Cottages, over fifteen years ago, to photographing Luxury Homes for Custom Home Builders, I’ve found a niche that I enjoy and have a unique interest in.

This past June 11th, I received my Accreditation in Architecture from the PPOC and hope to add Accreditations in other categories in the near future. Now, all I need to do is identify other categories, and dedicate the time to pour over the thousands of images to select ten exceptional images that will match or exceed the high standards set forth by the PPOC.

French Provencal in Southern Ontario