When I was nine years old, I went on an overnight school field trip to Naples, FL, which included visiting the Edison and Ford winter estate, the smallest post office in the U.S., and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. It was my first time travelling without my family, and I remember being so excited to be on my own. While there were many special moments about that trip, none left as profound and enduring of an impression on me as the visit to Corkscrew Swamp. Having grown up in the concrete jungle that is urban Hialeah, FL, a densely populated subset of Miami, I had never experienced a nature preserve before. In my mind’s eye, parks consisted of jungle gyms and baseball fields. This was my first sense of what wilderness was like.
I was instantly enchanted as we stepped off the school bus, and the park ranger pointed out a red shouldered hawk flying above us. I was more likely to see pigeons in my backyard in Hialeah so the hawk sighting was nothing short of magical. As we walked along the two-mile boardwalk, learning about native Florida plants and fauna, I became more captivated. It was like seeing for the first time. Everything was teeming with life: under every leaf, on the forest floor, at the tops of the trees. Life was all around us, and I had never noticed it before or been given the tools to see it. I can still remember the fresh scent of rain soaked ground and slash pines from that morning. I honestly can’t remember feeling more alive and happy at any point in my young life than I did on that first walk in the woods, where I first recognized the intrinsic, primitive beauty that can only be found in nature.
That trip planted a seed in my heart: a love of nature and wildlife that eventually grew into a passion for conservation. I realized how important it is that these places continue to exist and that every parcel of land doesn’t need a shopping center or a condominium built on it. It also helped me understand the significance that these places remain just as they are; just as they were hundreds of years ago, thousands of years ago: wild, unkempt, untouched, and unencumbered by humans.
Years later it was a visit to St. Augustine, FL that inspired my love of photography. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., and one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever visited. Spanish architecture abounds and Spanish moss dangles off of every tree like tinsel. With a simple point and shoot camera, I must have taken over a thousand photos that week. It wasn’t an immediate or apparent connection, but that trip inspired more trips like it. With each trip I wanted to go further into the woods, the swamp, and photograph as many trails, trees, and animals as I could.
My enthusiasm for photography was born from my desire to communicate the beauty I saw in the unkempt landscape and wild creatures I came across. I became determined to tell the story of these places that remain untouched; places that do not need to be tamed.
My images offer a glimpse into the primitive pieces of paradise that still exist. I’ve done my job as an artist if my photos inspire the same passion and excitement I feel when I’m out in the woods discovering a new trail or identifying a bird I’ve never seen before. I’ve accomplished my goal if I convey the importance of preservation and conservation of these lands and protection of these animals. My art speaks on their behalf.
Though I also enjoy other types of photography such as architectural, product, and food photography, I’m never as happy as I am when I’m out in nature. My home is in the woods and my heart longs to return again and again. Every trail has its own secrets, its own creatures, its own beauty. From the tiniest mushroom to the mighty redwood, there’s magic waiting for you if you know how to look.