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Disappearing Florida

While I was growing up in Michigan, spending long winters with snow up to my knees, my grandparents were wintering in Florida. They would send postcards showing lush green palm trees, beautiful beaches, clear blue water and colorful motels and restaurants, many constructed in the 40s and 50s. My dream was to one day visit this beautiful state and find some of the places depicted on those postcards. My dream came true ten years ago when I became a Florida resident.

 

This happened just before the massive housing boom began. I immediately began seeking out some of the old family owned hotels of the 40s, 50s and 60s and found that, at a surprising pace, they were being demolished to make room for huge condo and hotel complexes. The "Old Florida" I loved from the postcards was quickly disappearing. I decided then to dedicate myself to preserving these icons through photography.

 

As I was documenting these images I learned of a new process called "High Dynamic Range" photography, a process allowing my photographs to take on an illustrative quality reminiscent of the postcards I treasured as a child. Since my move to Florida, I am constantly aware of the fact that I am often just one step ahead of the wrecking ball. The old days of strolling Clearwater Beach past small hotels, restaurants and open views of the ocean have almost completely disappeared.

 

Sadly, they are being replaced by condos, hotels and strip malls. My hope is that my photography will be a permanent reminder of what Florida "was" and what it will never be again.

Plastic Beauty a look through the storefront window

How do we define beauty? Is it what we see on TV, the movies or the images in print and advertising? Different cultures express their ideas of beauty in ways that Westerners don't understand or may even find this tasteful. We use fiberglass and plastic posed in seductive and suggested ways to impersonate flawless beauty for our idyllic world.

 

You will find in the following photographs that I have taken the ever present form of idyllic beauty found in mannequins and strip them down to their most basic form by using black and white images. I then added back color to emphasize that coverings we place on ourselves attempting to imitate the beauty we see in storefront windows.

 

In photographing mannequins I have substituted the human element and replace it with a hard unfeeling plastic shell yet still attempted to convey a sense of astonishment and respect for the human form. This is not to say that you shouldn't find many of these images humorous just like the beauty of humanity many of them are. 

Email randy@rvdphotography.com       Studio 727-542-3024       St. Petersburg - Tampa - Florida

© 2015 Randy Van Duinen Photography