Tag Archives: featured

Chiapas Photo Tour

day of the dead photos

There are many options for great photo tours and workshops in Mexico. The reason we offer the Chiapas Photo Tour is simple. We think Chiapas is one of the most interesting places in Mexico. Our Day of the Dead photo tour will not only be a great opportunity to improve your photography skills, but it will also be an unforgettable cultural experience – one for both amateur and advanced photographers.

Why do we love San Cristóbal de las Casas and Chiapas? In the southernmost state in Mexico, you will find amazing scenery, wonderful people, interesting cultural events, a mild climate, and markets loaded with fresh produce, crafts, art and coffee. Chiapas is a destination that you won’t soon forget and one that you, like us, will find yourself returning to frequently.

chiapas photo tour

day of the dead photo tour

day of the dead

Why should you attend our Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) photo tour? First of all, it will be a real experience, not one that is created for tourists. Even more importantly, the observances in small neighboring towns have not become crowded with tourists unlike the Day of the Dead celebrations in Oaxaca or Michoacan. We are going to visit small villages where people take great pride in bringing food and flowers to the graves of their departed family and celebrating their lives.

chiapas photo tour

Here is another good reason why travel is good for you. It’s good for your health. Click here to read why. After working for more than 35 years, visiting more than 45 countries, all of the Canadian provinces and all 50 U.S. states as a professional photographer, I can affirm that travel is good for you mentally and physically. I’m still excited to pack my bags and cameras and leave for the next adventure.

Growing up in a small town, I remember devouring every National Geographic magazine that arrived in the mail. Like many photographers, I always dreamed of working for National Geographic. The real dream began in 1995 when I got the call from NatGeo. Eventually, I would photograph five books for National Geographic in the U.S., Canada and in eight African countries.

day of the dead photo tour

On our travel tours, we will introduce you to the people and places that excite us and keep us returning.

We are offering a discount on early booking for the Day of the Dead photo tour in Chiapas, Mexico. Book by July 1 and get $200 off the regular price. You can see details at: Magical Light Adventures

Best Wedding Photographers Riviera Maya

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Here is the thousand(s) dollar question that brides who demand quality are asking:

“Who is the best wedding photographer in the Riviera Maya?”

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The easy answer – it’s M & J Photography! M & J is Michael and Jennifer Lewis, professional photographers who moved to the area in 2010, had a destination wedding, then fell in love with photographing destination weddings.

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Here is where we come clean, we (the writers) are M & J! This is why we think we are the best:

  • We meet every couple before we book the wedding and make sure that we have a connection with them. We are passionate about what we do and we want to help make the wedding day the best day ever. That is nearly impossible to do without an honest connection.
  • We bust our butts to make photos that tug your heart strings, bring tears to your parent’s eyes and make your friends envious.
  • With more than 30 years of experience as professional photographers and with photo assignments all over the world (including National Geographic), we are calm and flexible on your wedding day.
  • We photograph every wedding together, which means we miss nothing, we capture different angles of the same moment, and you’ll have a collaboration of two pros with different styles, but with one goal. To capture amazing images for you!
  • We love what we do and we love meeting new people. Don’t just take our word for it. Read what our past couples have said here.
  • We have searched for the best photo lab and the best album company in the world, which means you will have beautiful prints (giclee, canvas, metal, acrylic, etc) at reasonable prices and an album hand made in Italy.
  • We work from a place of honesty. For us to produce brilliant work, we must like you and you must like us. It’s not enough to simply like our images and think they are cool. We don’t want to be hired hands, we want to become your friends. It’s the only way that “amazing” happens.

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The Riviera Maya is home to talented photographers with many styles, different personalities and different ways to approach and document the wedding day.

How do you determine who is right for you? Meet the photographers who interest you and see if you connect.

Contact us, schedule a video call and see if we are right for you.

 

Hartwood in Tulum

On a recent trip to Tulum we celebrated Jennifer’s birthday at one of the most popular restaurants in the area, Hartwood. Traveling for M&J Photography, means we get to take advantage of local restaurants. Usually, we try something we can’t get at home. Hartwood is no exception. Pretty safe to say there is no place like it on Cozumel.mandjfoto.02

We had tried to visit a year earlier with our friends, Pawel and Emily, but we were there on a night when they were closed. We also had heard about how popular the restaurant had become and followed the advice of getting there before opening at 6:00 to snag a table. At 5:50 there was a line of about 14 people for the 20 – 30 seat restaurant.

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Chef Eric Werner and his wife opened this very cool space a couple of years ago after paying dues in NYC restaurants. Like many hotels and restaurants along this stretch of Tulum’s beach road, the only source of electricity is solar, all of the cooking is done over a wood-fired grill or in a wood-burning oven. The seafood, meat and produce are all sourced locally. Consequently, the menu changes daily.

The food was terrific. We had a whole roasted hogfish (boquinete) stuffed with spinach and roasted radishes, a grouper filet with jalapeños, lime and white beans and a side dish of roasted beets with an avocado sauce. If there had been a chocolate item for dessert, Jennifer would have ordered it, but we passed on the different flavored ice creams.

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The young couple from Mexico City at the table next to us ordered the ribs which they raved about. The grilled meats looked pretty darn good, too. The low lighting and the open air dining contributed to a friendly, backyard atmosphere, the service was attentive and the wine by the glass reasonable. Since it was early November and we were on the jungle side of the road, employees came by a couple of times swinginging a smoking pot on a chain (think Greek Orthodox Church) to chase off the mosquitos. An extra measure of caution, which we didn’t need (we sprayed ourselves before arriving).

It’s a bit of a splurge ($80 usd for two), but it was one of the best meals we have had in Mexico.

Returning to our room that night on the outskirts of Tulum was the beginning of a peaceful two-night stay. Posada Yum Kin is one of those places that has been added onto for the last ten years, each addition adding a little more style and class. This ten-room inn is built around trees, and features wonderful gardens, comfortable rooms, a nice pool and great breakfast.

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New Mexico & Colorado

Both Colorado and New Mexico were once part of Mexico. The latin culture is still particularly strong in New Mexico, Southern Colorado and Denver. From the festivals, to the cuisine, to the towns with names like Salida, Buena Vista and San Luis, Colorado (spanish for red) still can feel very latino.

Jennifer and I met in the small, former silver mining town of Creede near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. We were there during the Labor Day balloon festival.

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Driving upriver, we saw where some of last summer’s wildfires scorched beetle-killed pines below the Rio Grande Reservoir. The vegetation was already starting to come back from the fire. The area above the reservoir was not touched by the fires and remains as beautiful as ever.

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In the small town of Corrales, NM we stayed in one of the original adobe homes, built near the historic Church of San Ysidro, less than a mile from the river. Both the church and the house were built around 1868, but destroyed in a massive flood of the Rio Grande that same year. The house and church were rebuilt after the flood with adobe bricks made of clay, straw and sand. The walls are three feet thick, providing stability and insulation against the elements.

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While we love our home in Mexico, we love returning to our US base in August and the fall months. To us, it’s one of the finest places in the US.

Hope you enjoy the photos.

Great Stops near Mexico City

Driving through Mexico this summer took us to an old favorite in the state of Veracruz, Fortin de las Flores and the wonderful Hotel Posada Loma. (see October 2010 blog post). The hotel has been in the same family for more than 50 years, features incredible gardens loaded with orchids and one of the best breakfasts in the area.

We were headed back to the US to do some M & J Photo shoots and to sell our car. But, that’s another blog post.

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The short drive (about 2.5 hours) over the mountains to Puebla took us past amazingly clear views of Mexico’s tallest peak, snow-capped Pico de Orizaba (5,611m).

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Pulling into Puebla, we were treated to views of volcano Popocatépetl spewing a huge plum of ash. Neither one of us had seen a volcanic eruption like that and we were mesmerized. Even though we were 43 kilometers (28 miles) away, it looked very close and threatening.

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Walking around Puebla on a pleasant Saturday afternoon was relaxing, and we stopped for lunch at the well-known Mesón Sacristia de la Compañía. Even though it was chiles en nogada season in Mexico, I passed on that dish. Though it is the “national dish” of Mexico, I think it is over-priced ($240 pesos in a nice place) and it is definitely too rich for my taste.

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The restaurant, like the city, is known for mole. I went for the plate with four different types of mole over chicken. I loved them all: mole poblano, red and green pipian, and one made from chipotle. The eclectic hotel and courtyard is loaded with what some people call antiques and art and with what some people call “stuff”. As they say, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

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The centro historico is dominated by the cathedral, just south of the zócalo. Begun in 1550, it was completed in the 1640s and features the tallest cathedral towers in Mexico (69m). The  around surrounding centro is lined with antique shops, cafes, small taverns, markets and shops selling talavera (the real stuff). Many of the buildings use the tiles as exterior accents and the effect is wonderful.

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The NH Hotel was really comfortable, with warm service and free parking. The constant car alarms in a nearby parking garage certainly wasn’t fault of the hotel, but it kept the stay from being perfect. $77 a night for a city hotel with parking is not bad.

We both look forward to our next visit to Puebla and Fortin de las Flores.

Cuba’s Dive Sites

For years we have been hearing about the amazing, pristine diving in Cuba. No pollution and not many divers should mean coral reefs that rank among the world’s best. Last May, we decided to see for ourselves.