Interviews from our community: the photographers who love to shoot Mexico

© Tanya Murchie

There are thousands of people who receive this newsletter – and more who connect with us in other ways through our facebook group, workshops and online courses.

People from all over the world, of all different ages, backgrounds, lifestyles, jobs – it’s very cool to see the diversity and creativity of people spanning the world. 

It always feels like such a gift to get to know people in our community better and hear about their interests and passions in photography.

© Chuck Rubin

So we thought what would be ultra cool is if we started sharing some of the stories and photos from people we meet. 

Today we are offering the first in an occasional series of interviews and conversations with two such people, Chuck Rubin and Tanya Murchie, who live in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.

They have both lived in the city for many years, and are both originally from Canada.

© Tanya Murchie 

Mexico is a country that I have loved since my first trip there a few decades ago. I love the diverse landscapes and culture – and of course the food. It’s my favourite food on earth.

So I was eager to hear more about their experiences of shooting Mexico, and of how they came to love photography. 

So, Tanya and Chuck, how long have you been taking photos?

Tanya: I remember picking up a camera that my parents had, perhaps an old Brownie or similar.  I must have been 8 or 9 years old; I was allowed to buy one roll of film and had NO idea what I was doing.  However, I was fascinated that this thing could capture moments in time.  

Last year my younger sister passed away and I found a box of her photos.  There was a photo of her and I in a baby crib, she must have been 2 and me 3.  She was holding a doll and I was holding a camera! The seed was planted.

Some years I have not dabbled in photography at all but I have always LOVED it.  These past 8 years it’s been pretty constant and I try to shoot at least 4 – 5x a week.  I carry my camera with me most of the time. 

Chuck: …when I was about 11 years old. A friend and I shared a darkroom and we used to develop our own films and print them. 

© Chuck Rubin 

What drew you to photography?

Tanya: The idea of capturing a moment, ideally with people.  I am a loner and photography just allows me to do my own thing.  

Chuck: Jeez, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast and you’re asking me to remember my state of mind 50 years ago?  Does an 11 year old even have a state of mind? I think at the time I liked the technical aspects of photography. 

I was intrigued by all the things you had to master in order to make a photograph work.  Anyone who has printed their own photographs never forgets the first time they see the image become visible in the developing tank.  It’s quite a thrill!

© Tanya Murchie

What do you like to photograph?

Tanya: People, people, abstract, reflections and more people.  I am a street-urban photographer, whatever that may entail?  So for me ‘street-portraits’ are what make me happy.  

Sometimes I will speak with the people I photograph and other times not.  I used to be extremely shy and now I have no problem asking someone for their portrait.  I am sure being an older female helps, I certainly get away with a lot!

Chuck: To be quite honest what I like to photograph has really changed since I took Anthony’s course.  I see life all around me, more vividly because now I’m always looking as a photographer. 

And I want to photograph what I see in a way that communicates what I see, so that those looking at my photographs see what I saw when I took the photo.  No small feat that! I fully expect I’ll be trying to master this for the rest of my time as a photographer.

© Chuck Rubin 

What does photography bring to your life?

Tanya: PURE joy, creativity, growth, trying new ideas, being in the moment and even frustration.  When Chuck and I began our photo group, we had no idea if anyone would be interested. We have a small, committed, creative core group that is so inspirational.  

Chuck: Taking pictures brings an artistic expression to my life that I’ve never really had before. I’ve lead a very creative life; I was a radio producer then a director of television & theatre, and I always worked with teams of creative people, leading them towards a final end goal. 

 Now I work alone. I have a creative vision that I alone understand and that I alone am responsible for achieving. I really enjoy that.

© Tanya Murchie 

What subjects/places/or times inspire you the most?

Tanya: Inspiration can be tough sometimes and I find I need to GET OUT and walk-walk-walk. Meditation also helps a lot, to be in the moment, aware of what’s around me.  

Subjects: this would be people, vintage cars, and I am beginning to experiment with macro.  Steel-wool photography is something I am going to work on this next month, really cool stuff with that. Anywhere, I just need to get out by myself and walk – however Mexico and Italy are beautiful.  

I would LOVE to visit Istanbul, Morocco and Prague.  This November I am going to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris. If I can’t be inspired there then all is lost!

Times:  when my head is clear especially after meditation; I like early morning and evening, you know when the light is so beautiful.

Chuck: What inspires me has also changed since I “met” Anthony.  Now, it’s light that inspires me. I see light differently than I used to.  I see it as an entity in and of itself, not just the things it illuminates.  

Whereas in the past, I would try and shoot at golden hour in the afternoon, now I see the light at any point in the day as something unique and I try to capture it. This is a difficult concept to articulate, and frankly, a difficult concept to render in images, but that’s what I’m trying to do. 

© Tanya Murchie

What do you like about photography in San Miguel?

Tanya: San Miguel is full of colour-culture-music-art-food and creative people.  I am surrounded by interesting things each and every day. The Mexican culture is so full of life and love!

I really enjoy that people are not in a hurry, they take time to enjoy life. 

Chuck: San Miguel is a very unique place, especially when it comes to light.  It’s why so many artists come here to live and work. The light here has unique properties that combine with the colours.

© Chuck Rubin 

What drew you to the city to live?

Tanya: My husband and I had been living/working in 2 previous cities, including Mexico City.  We would visit San Miguel and joke about how cool it would be to live here. Well, one day, I found an agent and then we bought a house, the rest is history.  San Miguel is magical – ask anyone who lives here and anything is possible here!

Chuck: I first came to San Miguel on vacation, more than a decade ago.  We bought a house after only a week. When this place speaks to you, it speaks loudly. Mexicans are the most wonderful, emotionally honest, giving people you could ever hope to meet. 

© Tanya Murchie

What is the most exciting thing about shooting in Mexico?

Tanya: The amazing light –  golden warm, rich light.  Colours – San Miguel is so full of vibrant colours especially the bougainvillea.  The people, and Mexican culture is fascinating and I get to be part of this.

Chuck: Combine that with the colonial architecture here in San Miguel, the reverence for history, the importance of this city in the history of Mexico and the War of Independence from Spain, and that only scratches the surface of what makes this place so special.

How often do you shoot?  

Tanya: I usually carry my camera with me wherever I go.  My husband probably doesn’t like it but after 32 years he is used to it, thank goodness!  I would feel that something is missing if I didn’t have a camera.  

I have my Fuji XT3 / XT1 and a small X70 with mostly prime lenses and 2 zooms.  I shoot with Fuji because they are pretty inconspicuous cameras and they look “old-school”, and people always ask if I am shooting film.

Chuck: I try to go out everyday to shoot images.  Tanya and I are best photo buds; we even sign our emails to each other Y.B.  for Your Bud.  We send each other a photo a day.  And because we both have such respect for the others’ talents and forms of expression, these daily submissions are a challenge, one to the other, to be creative, be expressive, and get out there and make images.

© Chuck Rubin 

Who is your favourite photographer?  

Tanya: I don’t have any favourites per se but Robert Frank and Diane Arbus are truly an inspiration for me. I really like Bruce Gilden’s photos but I do not appreciate his abrupt work style.

I also love: Nick Turpin,Trent Parke, Alexey Titarenko and Jeff Mermelstein. I follow other photographers on Instagram – there is a lot of really cool work out there – Sean Tucker, Romina Hierro, Bruce Critchley.

Chuck: My favourite photographers are André Kertész, Gordon Parks, Henri Cartier Bresson and Ernst Haas.

Chuck’s photo, inspired by Kertész:

 © Chuck Rubin 

Thank you Tanya and Chuck for sharing your photos and thoughts about photography. That was brilliant.

We both particularly loved the idea about taking a photo a day and sharing it with your photo buddy. Totally recommend that tip! 

If you’d like to share your feedback and thoughts on Tanya and Chuck’s interview and photos, please comment below. It’ll be wonderful for them to hear from you. 

© Tanya Murchie

And if you’d like to join me, Chuck and Tanya in San Miguel de Allende this coming February – I will be teaching a fantastic new workshop here from February 15th – 22nd. 

I am very excited to be working with a wonderful group of passionate photographers – as we soak up the beauty, culture and light of San Miguel, and I help you take your photography to the next level.

Happy photographing,

Anthony and Diana