New York-based photographer Tommy Kwak has been documenting the lifeguard towers of Miami since 2019.
He first came upon the pink tower on 17th Street and has since photographed all 30+ towers along the 8.5-mile stretch of Miami Beach.
In his photography series, Kwak captures each and every tower he has come across, showcasing their vibrant colors and structural idiosyncrasies. Set against minimalist beachy backdrops, the colorful towers become characters, each with its own personality and flair, leaping off the pages of the photobook.
ELECTRIC COLORS POP AGAINST MINIMAL BACKDROPS
After the destruction of Hurricane Andrew on Miami Beach in 1992, the lifeguard towers were redesigned in a vibrant fashion to uplift the spirits of the town. In the tradition of the Becher’s water tower series, this photography book methodically examines the iconic towers that have become symbols of South Florida’s revitalization.
In this award-winning series of photographs, Tommy Kwak utilizes similar framing and long exposures to produce minimal sky and sea backdrops in order to highlight the traits of each tower, inviting the reader to appreciate and compare the electric color palettes and eccentric forms. ‘My ideal condition was an overcast and drizzly day,’ the photographer shares, ‘so the backdrop of sea and sky were as minimal as possible for the towers to stand out.’
FAMILIAR AND OTHERWORLDLY PHOTOGRAPHY
This body of work shows Kwak’s distinct approach recognizable by the composition of the pictures, sophisticated usage of the angles, and manipulation of light, shadow, and colors. His photography style celebrates a kind of ephemeral beauty, and at the same time transforms these entities into more graphic forms, bringing a fresh perspective on the lifeguard towers of Miami Beach. The resulting images are at once familiar and otherworldly.
The hardcover photobook, featuring 42 photographs of the iconic Miami Beach towers, is currently running a Kickstarter to fund its printing and distribution.