By Luis Falcon
My appreciation for the environment was not something I grew up with. Rather, I only began going into the outdoors once I got my first car at 18. Before that, I had lived most of my life within the confines of the City of Miami. My exposure to nature was mainly in my biology class, pictures and driving past it on road trips. However, once I got a car the first place I went to was Big Cypress National Preserve. No, I didn’t go deep into some Cypress Dome but rather somewhere easily accessible, Loop Road.
That was enough to spark something within me that I would later find out was a passion for the natural world. I began to spend more time exploring these areas literally and figuratively dipping my foot in the water. I slowly began to demystify the lore that people created around these natural spaces. I began to realize that these areas whilst they might produce feelings of uneasiness coming from the potentially dangerous wildlife or dense forests they are also filled with insurmountable beauty.
From the early morning light that just illuminates a Cypress Dome and brings it out of the darkness to the resilience of life coming back from a scorching wildfire in the Pine Rocklands. Experiencing these scenes motivated me to pick up a camera and share it with others who may have never seen anything like that before. This eventually became a single-minded focus that evolved into changing my major to Environmental Studies and pursuing photography in a way that could have an impact on preserving these natural spaces that I grew to love.
Photography gave me an outlet to share visually impactful images that conveyed this amazement I have to others who I hope will think about our environment in different and positive perspectives. Especially, to inner-city people like myself who never had accessibility to the outdoors growing up. Now, I cannot fathom living without knowing there’s a place where one can still go and bask in the rawness of the natural world and it’s spontaneous and remarkable processes.