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florida documentary photographer

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Working the Day Away

Photo © CRAIG LITTEN / All Rights Reserved

Photo © CRAIG LITTEN / All Rights Reserved

Happy Labor Day

The supreme accomplishment is to blur the lines between work and play.
— Arnold J. Toynbee

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Surfing Cristobal

Photo © CRAIG LITTEN / All Rights Reserved

Waiting for the Moment

Sometimes photography is just like surfing: You must be a keen observer, you must be ready when the moment is right, but most of all, you must be patient. I was drawn to this scene because everything seemed to fall together all at the right time; the slight tilt of the umbrella, the warm, late afternoon sunlight, the unusual (for summer in Florida) cloud formations as its backdrop, and the wonderful colors. I always keep my camera set to shoot both RAW & JPEG, and the vast majority of the time I have the jpegs set for monochrome--it helps me visualize the scene better, plus I prefer B&W. But when I came upon this scene, I changed the camera settings to color so that I could better see what I was getting in-camera. I immediately recognized that what I was seeing was all about the color. I shot a few photos, changed the f-stop, and then shot a few more. I looked around to see what may be coming 'through' my frame, waited, shot a few frames, waited again, then shot a few more. At this point, I thought I may have a decent photo, but since nothing had changed within the scene in front of me (the light, backdrop, etc.), I waited a bit longer. Finally, the man with the red, yellow and orange surfboard approached--bingo--now I was sure I had a photograph. I shot several frames, and then anticipated that he would walk across the scene along the shoreline, on the opposite side of the umbrella, just like everyone else was doing. He suddenly turned and was heading straight towards me. I shifted my position, and my focus (I was manually focusing), and shot as he was passing by. I liked what I saw on my camera’s rear LCD screen, and felt that I had gotten "the" shot of the day. This photograph made my few hours at the beach worthwhile...not that time on the beach photographing surfers riding Hurricane Cristobal's wake was a real hardship.


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I Dream of Cristobal

Photo © CRAIG LITTEN / All Rights Reserved

Cocoa Beach

I spent the weekend leading a street photography workshop on the beaches of Daytona. The sun was scorching and the ocean was calm and crystal clear all weekend. But when I woke up this morning, it was a different story; Cristobal's wake was being felt. I had already planned on driving down the coastal highway, Florida's State Road A1A, and stopping at as many different beaches as I could to continue working on my “Life’s a Florida Beach” project, but didn't check the weather report—I never check the weather report actually. I decided to skip New Smyrna Beach and the National Seashore, so I headed down I-95 for the first hour landing in Cape Canaveral on A1A just north of Cocoa Beach. When I arrived at the Cocoa Beach fishing pier, I was a little surprised. At first I thought that the surf was just rougher in Cocoa Beach, being that it's Florida's surfing capital, but then I quickly recognized the telltale signs of a tropical storm. From what I hear though, Tropical Storm Cristobal wasn't going to be hitting Florida, so the high winds and large waves today are most likely the end of him. Just passing through, thank you.

It didn’t turn out to be great day for shooting though, as most every beach was like a western ghost town—mostly deserted. But it was however, a pretty good day for surfing--at least in Cocoa Beach.


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Cat and the Hat

Photo © CRAIG LITTEN / All Rights Reserved

World's Laziest Cat

Frisco is his name, and he's not as fat as he is lazy, but he is fat. He's not "balloon-with-fur" fat like my mother-in-law's cat named Sugar Pie or Sugar Plumb (I just call him Sugar-Fat), but he's fat enough. My back patio, where he spends most of his time, has a six-foot fence around it. Someone asked me once, "Can Frisco get over the fence?" I fell on the concrete laughing so hard that I almost passed out, and then said, "No, he can't even get on my bed!" Normal cats can easily get over a 6-foot fence though, and I know this for a fact because my neighbor's cat has come over it and in to the patio. On this particular afternoon, my wife's sun hat was drying out from her beach excursion, and Frisco, in all his slothful robustness, was doing what he does best and that's soaking up the sun while in his usual inactive state. I liked the scene, so I shot a few frames of it. He's not just a fat cat, but he's also photogenic.


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Twistee Treat

Photo © Craig Litten / All Rights Reserved

Out of Sight

If you look carefully at the above photograph, you will see the spiral rooftop of a Twistee Treat ice cream shop. It resembles a giant soft-serve ice cream cone. These buildings are iconic in Central Florida. Some are vanilla, some are strawberry and some are topped with a cherry--all are eye-catching to a photographer. But how does one photograph it in an interesting way? The white “out’ sign against the azure sky caught my attention first—I love to shoot signs—but then upon closer inspection, I noticed the helical rooftop. I also liked how the square sign and the round mirror were juxtaposed to one another, as well as the pattern of the cottony clouds. This wasn't an assignment, but rather a fun day with my wife and son exploring Lake County, Fla., which at one time was the heart of Florida's citrus industry. Beautiful orange groves used to span the horizon in this area for miles and miles, but that’s all forgotten now after several freezes in the 1980s. Now the region is booming with housing developments, shopping centers, strip malls and a Twistee Treat or two.


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Merry Christmas

Down on the Farms

Christmas at The Farms, Jupiter, Fla.


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The Best of 2013

The Year of the X

That is: Fuji-X. This past spring I said good-bye to my DSLR's for good by selling all of my gear and buying two Fuji X-Pro 1 bodies, the tiny Fuji 28mm f/2 (equiv.), the stunning 50mm f/1.4 (equiv.) and the amazing 28-85mm f/2.8-4 (equiv.) zoom, and I couldn't be happier about my decision. My knees thank me. My back thanks me. My wallet thanks me. And most of all, the Fuji's make photography fun again. They not only produce beautiful files, but they also turn out the most amazing color I've ever seen from a digital camera (Hmm, I think Fuji's decades of making the best film in the world might have helped with that). Most of the 27 shots in the gallery below were shot with either the Fuji X-Pro 1 or the Fuji X100s. One color shot (man in water) came out of the Leica M9, and the rest were created using the always-reliable Nikon V1.


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CULTURE OF LEISURE

Ongoing Book Project

These photos represent a small snippet from my book project of the same name. This project, which I am still working on (you can see a few of the photos above in my Best of 2013 post), began in May of 2006. Since then, I've traveled to and shot on every known beach in Florida (at least all the beaches I could find). More to come!


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