Our home for the past summer was Port Charlotte, FL. It’s located just an hour south of Sarasota, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. I had never visited Florida before and was excited to stay for a few months. Rebecca and I were both looking forward to get away from the tourists in Maine, and I was planning to shoot for my book, write, and most of all spend time with my family.
Many of our friends from New England had warned us about practically everything down there: torrential rainfalls, scorching heat, tropical humidity, mosquitoes, alligators, and most importantly – the Floridians. It’s true that Florida is a very colorful and interesting state, and we really liked that a lot. One of the things that surprised me most was that Florida did not feel like the South to me at all. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia all feel completely different. I couldn’t completely pin the culture down, but I really enjoyed the Cuban influence.
We spent a lot of our free time on Gasparilla Island, which was just a short drive from our house, and fell in love with Boca Grande, a small village on the island which is known for its beautiful historic downtown, sugar sand beaches and crystal clear water. The small number of year-round residents of Boca Grande are famously protective of their island’s natural resources and the island is a nature preserve for wildlife, birds and marine animals. Unlike many other places in Florida, you won’t find any condos or large hotels crowding the waterfront.
When we first went to the beach, I couldn’t believe how many beautiful exotic looking shells there were everywhere and how warm the water was. It felt like stepping into a bath tub, I had never experienced anything like that before. We spent many days on the beach swimming, snorkeling and relaxing. I think one of the highlights of our stay for me was meeting a manatee in real life. It just swam over, observed us for a little while and then left again – completely peacefully.
The light and the color palette in Florida are astounding. The quality of the light reminded me a lot of California, but the colors were a lot more lush and vivid. I have never seen sunsets like that before in my life. I also loved the bleached out pastels most of the buildings are painted in. Rebecca and I spent so many evenings just walking on the beach, talking and watching the sun dipping into the sea. I already miss the warmth – but I’m happy to be home for the winter.
All images below were taken with the Hasselblad 503CW and the Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2.8/80 on Kodak Portra 400. All images scanned and processed by Richard Photo Lab in California: