Miami: My Photographic Portraits
Miami is hot and spicy, with a popularity that has endured for more than a century. Its heat inspires waves of visitors and new residents, drawn by visions of sugary beaches and palm trees, convertibles and swimming pools, swanky hotels and nightclubs. It all glitters under the wide dome of a pastel sky that surrenders to the Atlantic Ocean to the east and a vast saw grass prairie to the west. I find a poetic history embodied in an architectural legacy both ancient and post-modern. I look closer at the fantastic shapes and colours of unique plant life thriving in its tropical habitat and embrace the creative spirit on extravagant display at an extraordinary number of arts centres and explored cultural heritage in the neighbourhoods of Little Havana and Miami Beaches. I marvelled at the downtown skyline of America’s southernmost metropolis, where dealmakers transact big business with the world.
The highlight of my trip is a 150-mile coach drive from Miami to Key West is one of the great American road trips, whisking me off the mainland and through the fabled Florida Keys for my Photography trip to an island city that has been a refuge to writers, Cubans and presidents.
Somewhere near Marathon near Key West I thought I saw a UFO! The coach was driving down the Florida Keys archipelago, and high in the sky spotted something motionless and metallic, like a disembodied robot eye. I couldn’t make sense of it, but later someone told me about ‘Fat Albert’, a radar aerostat that the US Drug Enforcement Administration uses to keep an eye on shipping hereabouts. In the Upper Keys I passed a temporary sign at the side of the road; it was diamond-shaped, made of pink canvas, and read: ‘State Prisoners at Work’, to which I photographed at the last minute. A quarter of a mile on, there they were: four men indolently clearing the undergrowth from the verge and throwing it into the back of a truck. I was half-expecting them to be in some kind of prison uniform, boiler suits the same orange as the road sign. They weren’t, and that made me wonder why the sign had to announce that they were convicts at all!
My visit to the Florida Keys is a road trip in the grand American tradition: it’s not just about where I headed, it’s also about what happens along the way.
I did absolutely love the Gator Park Everglades! Tour guides were funny yet sensible and made my time an extra special one. We were given ear plugs, not that I need it because I was Deaf! and then we were taken to our boat which went really fast in some parts of the journey! Afterwards, I went to the benches where another friendly tour guide talked me through some fantastic wildlife facts and shown me some alligators and wildlife, especially the scorpion which made me cringed as it was on my hand!
I was in awe the whole time and also brave to savour the fried Gator sandwich!
There’s not much of a tourist draw for this one specific trip, but it is nonetheless a pretty neat attraction in Little Havana. I did some photography at the Domino Park, because this is where people come to play dominoes, just as they did in Cuba. Of course, there are more than just Cubans here now, although the general rule appears to be that you must be above the age of 65 to sit at one of the tables! The Domino Park is typically Calle Ocho: there’s a large mural, a bronze bust and lots of old Cubans talking loudly in Spanish and playing dominoes. It’s a great introduction to Cuban-American stereotypes (of the more positive kind) and one of the most explicit and obvious displays of the preservation of Cuban culture in Miami, and most of the people were very obliging in posing for my pictures, unlike in Real Havana in Cuba where they begged for my monies!
I did get to meet the American Deaf people and they were very nice, especially a deaf professor named Jose, the head programmer for the Deaf communication training at Miami University, who drives me around in Miami to see places and Fort Lauderdale Deaf Club. I was lucky also to meet another Deaf person by the name of Jesse, who saved me getting the wrong sort of communication with the deaf people as I could not understand ASL (American Sign Language) as I was relying on my BSL (British), he excelled at my preferred language!
So in all, I enjoyed my photography holiday in Miami and will be coming back again in the not so distance future when I make another saving!
I have made numerous photographs whilst on the island but sadly some of my rolls did not come good due to pitch black on my negatives, according to my Scan/developer and realised the mistake I did when I put 400iso films inside the camera (Contax 645) whilst the 160iso dial was still set on my camera!
Contax645 & Leica M6
Portra 160 & 400, Fuji 400h & Kodak 400tmx