Paradise — I’ve always been fascinated with my home state of Florida. Although it has a surplus of natural beauty, there’s a lot of banality within the state — undeveloped swamps, cookie-cutter housing developments, and strip malls upon strip malls. Since I’ve discovered photography, I’ve been attracted to these scenes. A large part of my work comes out of that fascination with discovering unfamiliar spaces within a place that I recognize as my home.
For Paradise, I photographed around South and Central Florida. At first, it started simply as away to curb boredom when I would visit my family. After moving to New York I missed the act of discovery in which I would drive around to find these hidden gems. As I began to collect more images, I started to notice my work having a constant thread of isolation. Visiting home is usually a quiet, secluded time and through this imagery I feel I am subconsciously pushing those emotions to the surface.
In addition, Florida is a very lonely place. The state truly owns the idea of someone just wanting to get away from it all. It doesn’t have much of an identity besides palm trees, beaches, and Spring Break. Communities don’t feel very connected with some small exceptions. People just want to be left alone.
Paradise will be an ongoing project for me. My home state is huge, 65,000 square miles to be exact, and it’s all very diverse. South Florida is a mix of tourists, retirees, and Cuban immigrants (my family included.) Central Florida has Disney and countless tourist traps that have either been abandoned or have a cult following like the Weeki Wachee Mermaids. And finally, Northern Florida feels a lot more like it’s neighboring states Georgia and Alabama than the rest of Florida. Every part of Florida can bring you to a new world.