Explore Florida Through the Lens of Your Camera
Original story written on Medium in November 2021
It isn’t supposed to get cold in Florida until February, but here we are in November wearing warm boots instead of cool sandals. It’s rained two days straight creating a cold breeze that when it brushes upon your cheek it feels like a slap of cold air to the face. This weather would discourage anyone from coming outside but I stayed inside all summer to escape the blistering heat. I’d rather catch the cold nippy air than faint from heatstroke walking about so here I am patrolling my town with my umbrella in hand, warm boots, and my digital camera.
Nothing interesting ever happens in my town, Ocala, besides an occasional car accident. However, I haven’t seen one of those in months, thank God, so I just take a stroll freely expecting the unexpected. I wonder who I’d meet on the street for a casual conversation of the changing seasons, a new friend perhaps or an acquaintance who already knows someone I know. This is a small town so the possibility isn’t impossible. I’m surprised on occasion how small the world is and take to myself when meeting someone new. However, sometimes I’d meet someone interesting in the same career field as me and want to absorb every ounce of inspiration and creativity that I can.
Wherever I go and whoever I’d meet in the day, I like to take my camera with me to document my town whenever I can. Maybe I’d see an interesting character on the other side of the street, unaware of their peculiarity, I still find their story newsworthy, at least for myself, and take a candid shot for the memory. However, all you ever really see here are folks in cowboy boots and jeans with an occasional skater boy sporting his vans cruising past on his skateboard.
When there is nothing left to capture, I like to capture the nature and the details that make this town unique. Sometimes you might capture something you hadn’t seen the day before. Like an interesting leaf that had fallen on its side a certain way or the changing seasons transitioned in the trees every quarter. There’s always some detail you might find if you look hard enough. Sometimes those details might find you without you even trying to look that’s when I pick up my camera to take the decisive moment and capture something meaningful in my eyes worth telling.
Like this one time, I went street photographing and captured a candid shot of what looked to be a lawyer on his phone. The seriousness behind the phone call was apparent in his body language as he leaned in towards the street cuffing the phone with his hand as if to tell someone an important secret. Whatever the conversation was about must have been serious but we would never know. I mean, he could have even been talking to his mother — I’m just speculating, lol. Assuming he was a professional, whatever it was he was talking about certainly must have been important.
Other times I captured the welcoming bridge that travelers enter into Ocala. You can see the sights from high above the hill descending down into the curve that paints a picture of the cloudy blue skies that welcome Ocala from its skyline. It’s impressive when you see the whole town from up above because this street takes you all the way down Silver Springs Boulevard, through the Downtown Square, the Historical District, and all the way to Silver Springs State Park. It’s interesting how far it takes you and where it will end up leading you. If you follow it all the way it will take you to Daytona Beach but that’s another 1.5-hour drive you’d have to commit to if you’d want to make it all that way. Still, it is a welcoming view all the way from up above taking you into this small town that has grown so much.
Other times, you’d come across mysterious details like this bicycle on a bike rack. It begs you to wonder to whom it belongs. A student maybe? Someone who doesn’t have the money for a car just yet and pedals all the way to the library with his books in his backpack. With the hope of one day becoming something great changing his current situation in life through an education that demands a few years of his commitment. Or maybe the bike belongs to a retired gentleman seeking to find entertainment in the month-old magazines at the back of the library’s building. He might sit at one of the public computers for hours playing bingo online. Or even searching for new employment to help him pass the time that he doesn’t want to waste at home alone. It could belong to anyone and they have a story to tell.
So when the weather permits, like a chilly day today in Florida. I always take my camera with me to document the details of my town. Focusing on small stories that I could tell in hopes of meeting an interesting character who’d let me interview them to find out more about where they came from and where they’re going. I’d like to see where else my camera would take me but that’s a story for another day.