20/07/2015

Sera Lindsey’s Miami

  • Field Notes

Sera Lindsey is a Los Angeles-based photographer, but while that statement is 100% true, it’s also 100% reductive. You can talk for hours with Sera about who she is and what she loves and photography will actually never come into it, of course apart from the constant snapping of her camera which she keeps with her at all times. Sera’s eye looks beyond the perfect photo and deep into the context, the humor, the humanity, the bigger story of what she’s shooting, as if photography is only one step in her overall goal. With this endless curiosity and ever-seeking spirit, we sent Sera to Miami to see what she would see.

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When I first arrived at the AC Hotel, I took a moment to go out onto the balcony and take in the salty Miami air. It felt like I was outside of America, palm fronds to my right, and the ocean to my left. I suddenly was dragged back down to Earth after hearing high-pitched shrieks, belonging to a few girls being chased across the street by a man in an electric wheelchair. They all laughed as they ran in baby steps as best as they could in their seven-inch heels. This felt like a great introduction to the neighborhood.

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While walking through Buena Vista, a historically protected neighborhood stacked with incredible preserved homes and teeming with fruit and palm trees, I happened upon a dramatic, cube shaped building, reading “EXISTENCE” on the top. I tried to look up what it may have once been but found no information. In a way, it’s a little better with the mystery.

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Sweat Records!! I don’t really trust a place unless it has a good record store. I already knew that Miami and I were going to be great friends, but this sorta sealed the deal. The store was covered in colors, with a sunlight-filled storefront and a back performance space hidden away. It’s part coffee shop too which means it’s the perfect place to get hopped up on coffee and make some impulse purchases.

“Keep Calm and Listen to Sade” is a personal belief that I hold very close to my heart. The entire wall was covered in little details telling you exactly where you were, what the staff was going to be like, and what they might expect in their clientele. I like a space that’s not afraid to have a little personality written on the wall.

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You’d probably recognize the work of Kashink without even knowing it. I was happy to see some of her giant multi-eyed street people roaming throughout Wynwood, the much-fancier-than-it-used-to-be Arts District of Miami. If you haven’t already, look this gal up. She’s not only an incredible artist with lots of work to see, but she also wears a tiny John Waters moustache that really works on her.

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The green and white stripes distinguished the local “Take a Book Leave a Book” – something I’m so pleased to see happening on a wider scale across America. Even in a dirty neighborhood, things suddenly feel fresher knowing that there’s this sort of human interaction happening through something as beautiful and simple as a book.

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Authentic, local fare is often harder to find than you’d think. Puerto Sagua offers the real deal – Cuban comfort food that may as well be made in Cuba. The bar offers cigarettes and curios along with the menu, and the restaurant, illuminated by buzzing orange lights, was full of lovers fueling for their nightly dancing spree, or groups of friends likely doing the same. No matter what you get, you’ll leave satisfied. And if you’re willing to try the array of hot sauces, you’ll also walk out with a souvenir sweat.

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Tiffany. I love this girl. Wandering alone on my last day in Miami, I happened upon an outdoor bar at a place I’d never heard of – Clevelander. I soon found out that this bar was the reason that many, many tourists go to Miami in the first place. I planned for a margarita on the go – I stayed for two, plus some samples of her favorite drinks. We talked for a long while – she told me about coming to Miami from England to professionally pole dance, and about the nightclub she managed between bartending insane hours. In case you’ve never seen one, this is what a modern Renaissance Woman looks like.

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Mango’s Tropical Cafe isn’t really a cafe at all, but more of a multi-stage nightclub. It seems to serve as South Beach’s tramp stamp, which actually looks great on such a tan body. What impressed me the most about this place was the people. Sitting at one table you’d see a wealthy Miami couple dripping in jewelry, and dancing next to them a crew of ladies in their 40s fresh off of their shift with moves you could only dream of having.

The bartenders also doubled as performers – one minute they’d be making your drink, the next they’d be up on the stage dancing and singing together. I’m curious what takes longer to learn – the drinks or the routines.

A couple of dancers performed while the music they danced to was played on a separate stage in the back of the club. In order to see both, you’d have to stand somewhere in the middle, but only temporarily. Blocking people’s walk/danceway is bad club form!

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There were a number of people walking along the boardwalk (spanning the entirety of South Beach) that you could automatically assume to be long time locals. Elderly ladies and gents chatting about who knows what, or solo swimmers making their way to the serene water, all engaging in their daily activity. A routine they’ve had for weeks. Months. Years.

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Crandon Park was one of my favorite places in Miami. Besides containing one of the most beautiful and secluded beaches, it also is home to thousands of native birds, and various wildlife- including lizards (large and small alike), crocodile, cranes, and peacocks. The animals live freely within an abandoned zoo, still branded by animal paintings and weather worn cages.

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The boutique AC Hotel, originating in Spain, and spanning throughout Europe, certainly brings a more subdued and elegant flare to the local variety of resorts. I was pleased to find the necessities blended comfortably with minimal but rich advancements and amenities, such as fresh local fruits at breakfast. There seemed to be a focus on the “less is more” mindset, not trying to distract, but allow a better view of what’s already there. I enjoyed this spot a ton and can’t wait for my next stay.

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Thanks to AC Hotel Miami Beach for hosting us while we explored your new home!

See more of Sera Lindsey’s work here.

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