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  • American Studies
  • Michael Carlebach (bio)

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Holy Joe, Miami Beach, 1976.

In my long love affair with photography, or more precisely with photojournalism, I never developed much affection for the dramatic events that newspapers and magazines feed on for an instant, or the incendiary personalities who elbow their way into our consciousness. I have, to be sure, made plenty of pictures of news events, and of the glittery people in their midst, but I am happiest when I can sneak away and find what has been or will be forgotten or neglected or overlooked. That means at football games I pretty much ignore the celebrity quarterbacks and wide receivers, preferring instead to look at the folks on the sidelines, the cheerleaders, and the curious people who inhabit mascot outfits.

In Florida, where I lived for many years, and elsewhere in America, dramatic vistas are commonplace, and the clangor of the unknown for their promised fifteen minutes of fame, and the already famous for an extra fifteen minutes, assures a steady supply of eager and sometimes even photogenic subjects. Many years ago I concluded that for me truth and beauty, and perhaps wit and wisdom as well, is more likely to reside in what is ordinary and seemingly insignificant than in the supercharged personae whose incessant bluster and self-promotion guarantees attention but delivers little except noise and more noise. So I usually look outside the media glare, outside the alluring limelight, for images. This is, perhaps, a sideways look at America and American culture, but it is one that can produce moments that are quietly decisive and memorable, moments that describe us all—but without makeup and bereft of a spokesperson. [End Page 24]


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Everglades target practice, 1981.

[End Page 25]


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Key West, 1971.

[End Page 26]


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Dade County youth fair, 1971.

[End Page 27]


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Demolition Derby drivers, Hialeah, 1982.

[End Page 28]


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Dinner Key Flea Market, 1978.

[End Page 29]


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South Beach pier, 1977.

[End Page 30]


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University of Miami mascot, Orange Bowl, 1975.

[End Page 31]


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Burnsville, North Carolina.

[End Page 32]


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Miami Beach, 1995.

[End Page 33]


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South Beach, 1988.

[End Page 34]


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Savannah, Georgia.

[End Page 35]


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North Key Largo, 1980.

Michael Carlebach

Michael Carlebach lived and photographed in south Florida for over three and a half decades. As a professor at the University of Miami, he taught classes in photojournalism, American studies, and art history. His publications include The Origins of Photojournalism in America (1992), American Photojournalism Comes of Age (1998), and Working Stiffs: Occupational Portraits in the Age of Tintypes (2002), all published by the Smithsonian Institution Press. He now lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Footnotes

Editor’s Note: A selection of these images was previously published in Michael Carlebach’s Sunny Land: Pictures from Paradise (Safe Harbor Books, 2010). [End Page 36]

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 24-36
Launched on MUSE
2011-05-27
Open Access
No
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