Mary Beth Koeth's Photography Captures Miami Men
After studying and working in various places around the world such as Texas, Italy, Kansas, and England, Koeth found that she wanted to document all her experiences with her camera.
"All I want to do is shoot. Anywhere I go, my little camera goes with me. Shooting my everyday environment and the people that bring it to life is a must," she explains.
With Miami being one of her favorite cities to capture because of its color and texture, Koeth notes her soft spot for places such as Little Havana and Ocean Drive. The latter, according to Koeth, due in part to it being a free "freak show." And while Koeth has seen her fair share of faces and places, she thinks "it's something in the coffee" that Miami residents stand out from any other city.
Koeth is attracted to working with film and developing it using dark room procedures, but she also embraces digital photography noting that it is a "beautiful thing" and its obvious advantages in the cost and production areas.
Whether digital or film, Koeth's results reveal an awareness to the importance of color and texture in her environment. Her photographs often incorporate saturated, bright colors but evoke and ethereal softness giving them the effect of a painting.
"I have a sensitive eye for color, lighting, and composition. If I see something that feels right, or even a color palette that I want to remember, I shoot it," she explains. Whether photographs of Little Havana cigar shops or steel car diners, Koeth's attention to detail points to all that is sacred and strange in Miami's dreamy paradise.
"Miami Boyfriends," an ongoing project currently at 85 photographs, initially began with a school assignment where Koeth found herself photographing old men playing dominos in Little Havana. And old men just happen to be one of Koeth's favorite subjects. She claims to "prefer them to babies." But the photographer doesn't discriminate. Her "Miami Boyfriends" include everyone from a bum on the beach to a restaurant chef.
A recent addition to the Miami Boyfriends is a waiter from one of Miami most Cuban establishments, Versailles Restaurant. Uninspired by how most Cuban dishes were "lacking in color," Koeth set out to portray just the opposite with her photograph of the waiter. Marked by soft lighting, a complementary color palette, and a charming smile from the subject, Koeth reveals her ability to turn a mundane instance into an expressive one through drawing inspiration from everyday individuals.
Koeth states that she "loved the reaction from men," and has befriended many of the men whose picture she has taken. One man that she is particularly fond of is Sam, who Koeth shot on Miami Beach during a conversation with the elderly man and his wife, Charlotte. The photograph, which portrays a sweet moment between the couple, lead Koeth on a goose chase around Miami Beach. Wanting to gift the couple with their printed photograph, Koeth searched high and low for Sam, finally finding him with the help of another couple.
As for future plans, Koeth hopes to shoot new places and people such as food trucks, Miss Miami Broward Carnival Pageant, and Calle Ocho nightlife. And though Koeth doesn't have her work up in galleries yet, at the end of her two year program she will organize her own gallery exhibit. In the meantime, you can check out her photographs from her Etsy store.
Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami