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New Book Shows Unusual San Miguel Perspective

Carlos

By Patricia Arceo

Connecticut native Michael J. Snyder is an unusual photographer who lived in San Miguel from 1975 to 1990. He is the author of the recently published “San Miguel de Allende in Black-and-White,” a collection of 125 photographs taken in San Miguel beginning in 1975. “The book,” he said, “is for sanmiguelenses by reason of birth, adoption, osmosis or allegory. It’s for photographers; it is for my extended family; the soccoristas I worked with in 1984-85, some of whose images appear; and a few good friends.”

Although Mr. Snyder is degreed in photojournalism, he admits refusing to work on anything involving photography he found uninteresting, preferring to work short-term jobs including bartender, truck driver, liquor store clerk, tour guide, and “boiler-room” telemarketer to support his photographic freedom. “I would shoot myself before I would photograph a wedding, or take those grip-and-grin, firing squad, ribbon cutting, groundbreaking shots the chamber of commerce wants in Sunday’s paper.”

Asked to describe his book, Mr. Snyder chuckled. Many of the negatives had never been printed, and he was seeing some for the first time, others for the first time in nearly 30 years. “A couple years ago I showed an artsy acquaintance of mine a few of the photos I had printed. Her immediate reply was “It’s been done before.” I knew she was referring to the style, but it’s what I like. Because Richard Avedon printed full frame, the practice stopped? If it has a Weegee tabloid appearance I throw it away? Diane Arbus has the copyright on freaks and odd-looking people? I’ve probably been influenced by hundreds of photographers, and I hope it shows. I guess that means they are not all pretty pictures, and that’s okay.”

“Recent residents in San Miguel can get a less romantic view of what it was like,” he added. “I think the photos cover an emotional spectrum. That’s just the way it was.”

 

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