Think of Miami and its crystalline ocean, and vibrant beach huts that line the coast will be way up there, along with the glitz, glamour and grime from America’s number one vice city. One photographer saw a real beauty in this hotchpotch collection of lifeguard huts that are so synonymous with the area.
Andrew left 65 dead and resulted in becoming the costliest hurricane in United States history
Oddly enough, the retro feel that is conjured in your mind when viewing these gregarious 80s throwbacks are in fact a 90s child and is the result of the 1992 Hurricane Andrew – one of the worst natural disasters to hit the area for many decades. In its trail of destruction Andrew left 65 dead and resulted in becoming the costliest hurricane in United States history.
In the days and months that followed, local architect William Lane wanted to put some fun and colour back into the decimated area, so he designed and produced the replacement huts free of charge. During the renovation process each shelter was brightly decorated to reintroduce a fun, artsy vibe to the beaches. Many more have been added since by different designers and many have been painted and repainted by the lifeguards themselves, but the original idea and what it embodied carries on today.
Drift spoke exclusively to Léo Caillard the photographer and mastermind behind these photos and many other truly fantastic images.
It seems that the inspiration for the photos was merely an offshoot from his journey to another job
It was 5 am in the morning and the beach was empty. It was so very beautiful, only these colourful shapes in front of the ocean
“I was working on a commercial in Miami and was on my way to my hotel when I spotted all of the little beach houses along the ocean drive. It was 5 am in the morning and the beach was empty. It was so very beautiful, only these colourful shapes in front of the ocean, that I decided to go back there the next morning with all my equipment. I wanted to let them be the subject of my pictures, I didn’t want to interact with this beautiful landscape. So I decided to do the exact same composition for each of them, in order to have a strong series where the beach huts are number one.”
Léo’s work is famed for transcending time, mixing old with the new, but the simplicity of the beach huts was something that also appealed.
“Photography is all about ‘Space & time’. When you take a picture, you fix a bit of time on a piece of paper and then you can look at it few years later.
I think it’s something I like from my childhood, not exactly the photography but this feeling about time.”
“I decided to follow that in my photography, colliding some bigger representations of time into my pictures. Mixing classical portraits with modern objects in order to make people think about the period we are living in.”
“The idea came organically when I started to think what I would like to do as an artist photographer with no boundaries or limits.”
Another collection of photographs where Léo pushed the boundaries was his cleverly comical ‘Hipsters in Stone’ series where trendy kids clothes are fused seamlessly with ancient statues. A feat, we imagine, not easily created.
“I tried to dress them up but soon realised it was going to be pretty much impossible. That said, I do have an upcoming exhibition where we succeeded in doing this, but it is such a complicated process! For the original photos, I decided to choose the digital route because it gives a better realism between the statues and real humans and that’s what I wanted to express.”
“I had this idea when I was visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris. I was looking at people looking at the statues… Most of the time, they looked pretty much the same, the only difference was the clothing.”
I set to work on it as soon as possible as I knew it would make a really nice visual idea.
Léo works for all manner of magazines, newspapers and agencies across the world but he doesn’t like to rest on his laurels and you can expect a lot more interesting work in the forthcoming year
“There is an exhibition of my work in Paris in March and a new photo project on different subjects is coming soon, but I can’t tell you everything yet!” Léo said
If you want to find out more about Caillard’s work then visit his website www.leocaillard.com