It all started a few years ago when I was driving up U.S. 27 in Florida. In the town of South Bay there sits the ruins of the old Everglades Gatorland attraction. Once upon a time it was a popular tourist trap complete with live animals and alligators as well as a small diner and gift shop. As the theme parks gradually took over and regulations for the handling of animals became stricter (and rightfully so), the attraction gradually became obsolete. In the early 90’s after struggling for many years, the attraction finally closed and the land was later sold. As I drove by I felt compelled to stop and get a picture. I remember my parents taking me there when we first moved to Florida in 1968 and I felt sad for the once thriving attraction.
A couple of years later when I first started experimenting with light painting, I knew that this had to be the first place to try it on. I began the hour long drive to South Bay all the while nervous as to whether or not it would still be there. As I pulled up I breathed a sigh of relief…it was still there! But not for long. There was a big “For Sale” sign in the front and I knew that this structure was on borrowed time. Throughout the course of the next two hours I worked, taking exposure after exposure and painting different areas of the structure each time. I illuminated it from the inside out and then whispered a quick “thank you” and was on my way.
When I finished with the editing I was amazed at the transformation. This building was beautiful again and seemed….happy. I haven’t been back since and to tell you the truth, I don’t want to know if it’s still there or not. It exists forever in my memory and now will live on in not just my photo, but in the many photos people have taken over the years while passing through.
I have since photographed other abandoned structures the same way. Abandoned buildings have a story tell, many of them are rich with history and you can almost hear the whispering echoes of the people who once lived, worked, and worshipped in them. I still whisper “thank you” whenever I’m finished…they deserve at least that much.
More info: markandrewthomas.com
Everglades Gatorland – A once thriving attraction off U.S. 27 in Florida
Photographed during the drive two years before that gave me the inspiration
An old photograph of Everglades Gatorland in it’s 1960’s heyday
“The Abandoned” – An abandoned church in rural North Florida
“Hallowed” – The Old Sheldon Church ruins in Yemassee, S.C. I’ve been here many times and it’s one of my favorite places
I’ve even used light painting on a Man O’ War
An abandoned gas station in Florida gets the light painting treatment
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