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South Beach in Black & White

South Beach in Black & White



Editor’s Note:  This video interview is part of The Esther Paster & Rick Grossman ArtSpeak Photography Series.


I first came to South Beach in the early 1990s when the old Art Deco hotels were being restored, and the vibe changed from aged to hip. It wasn’t the place to visit grandma anymore.

The action was infectious and there were plenty of subjects to photograph. I was still using film then, and I was fascinated by the pastel colors of Ocean Drive, the glorious sunrises, sunsets, palm trees, and beaches.

Then digital photography arrived and my shutter finger got a serious workout. Within a few years, Miami Beach, especially South Beach, changed drastically and my vision of the area changed as well.

My wife and I rented an apartment in 1998, and bought a condo two years later in the area called South of Fifth – SOFI — best known for Joe’s Stone Crab and not much more at the time. We moved in two years later.

Since then I’ve taken thousands of photos in the South Beach area. From my terrace, the views change every minute of every day. On the ground, the action is never ending.

For this photo essay, I chose only black and white photos to present the images in a more graphic, tonal way. In my early years as a photographer, I always shot black and white film. The gritty, noir feel of the images told a different story.

This is South Beach in black and white.

Eliot Hess – 2019