South Beach & the Jetsons……


I am so fired up. I love getting out to photograph the beach at dawn. We were out of town over the New Year’s break so it had been a few weeks since my last trip down to the beach and I was really excited. I hardly slept the night before.

I love these lifeguard stands. They are fun, they are bright, they are unique!

My photo series of them is coming together, bit by bit.

As for technique – I am shooting them with long shutter speeds for a few reasons:

I want to get rid of the distraction of people on the beach. The long shutter speed also smooths the sea out, getting rid of the rough texture of the peaks and troughs of the waves. It also turns the clouds into smooth brush strokes rather than puffy marshmallows.

The end result is a feeling of solitude, peace and tranquility – a zen like state if you will.

I can’t help but be a bit intrigued and a uplifted when i think of these structures. Someone, possibly sitting in another interminable meeting, gave a crap. Instead of opting to line the beach with purely functional boxes for the Lifeguards, sticking to budgets and other office type stuff someone said “f@#k it” – why can’t they be functional and funky?

A win for whimsy, aesthetics and non-conformity.

The lifeguard stand at 10th street is my favorite so far. Known as “the Bed”, this circular lifeguard tower was commissioned by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records and owner of The Tides and The Marlin hotels on South Beach.

It is so “the Jetsons” in neon. The antenna is straight off Elroy’s little cap! Check out the YouTube clip.

I got down to the beach, parked and climbed the dunes to get my first glimpse of the beach. It was pretty crowded. From those who had yet to go home from a large party night, to the early risers out jogging or taking pictures of the sunrise. Everyone just there to enjoy the beach and the ocean.

At 6th street the tower was full of people sitting in the tower, around the tower, and I knew that no matter how long my exposure I would not get the clean picture I was looking for.

I walked further up the beach. the 8th street tower already had a guy photographing it, using flash as a fill light to light the tower with the sun rise in the background. I would love to see how those pix turned out.

The 8th street tower is pretty cool too. I will make a note to get back to it.

I then walked onto 10th street where I found the “Jetsons” tower!

Relatively empty of people but beach furniture everywhere! Piles of rental beach loungers stacked seemingly at random. And the beach was a mess! Plastic cups, towels and all sorts of other stuff all over the sand.

No matter – I will get the angle and a lot of this stuff I can pick up – I thought to myself. So I set about picking up a bunch of plastic cups and other junk and threw them in the bin which was no more than 20 meters away.

“Real” sunrise was delayed a little because of the clouds on the horizon blocking the sun – but it gave me a little extra time to set up.

The series so far has a super clean blue sky as a backdrop. And of course I want to keep it consistent – but the clouds were just so beautiful this morning!

When the series has filled out more I will look at it as a whole and figure out if the clouds work within the series, wether it is jarring in it’s inconsistency. Maybe it will turn out that blue sky turns out to be the anomaly. Maybe it won’t matter. Time will tell.

You can see how the series is coming together on my website: