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Arts and Entertainment Thursday, Sep. 3, 2015 4 years ago

Off the Beaten Path: Exploring Old Florida with Matt Allison

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by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

Local photographer Matt Allison's idea of a relaxing day might stress most people out. When he wants to unwind, he'll jump in his car, drive somewhere remote and get lost on the winding, unmarked roads.

"I'll just pick an area and drive," he says. "That's half the fun for me. When you start seeing rusted tin roofs, you know you're in the right spot."

Allison discovered his passion for photography 10 years ago by exploring and documenting Florida's back roads and sharing what he found with friends.

"I had just moved here from Chicago, and I wanted to start taking photography more seriously," he says. "So I went to Red Barn Flea Market, where this guy was selling tons of old cameras, and I asked for the most manual one he had."

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It didn't take long before he was hooked. What began as a way to document his adventures turned into a serious creative outlet and the perfect way to learn about his new home.

"My fiancé is from Bradenton," he says. "I used to take her on these photo-adventure dates, and she had no idea these places even existed. And she's lived here her whole life."

Experimenting with infrared coloring, light-painting and other creative techniques, much of Allison's work reflects his attraction to abandoned buildings, isolated landscapes and nature's effect on man-made things.

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"We create these perfect things, and then nature just takes them back," he says. "I love the random way it happens, and I like to explore the textures and patterns. Florida is really unique in the way it does that. The weather here is so harsh; things just don't last."

Over the years, Allison has assembled a close-knit group of likeminded photographers, and he enjoys going on group shoots and continuing to explore Old Florida.

"Photography is my favorite thing in the world," he says. "I just want to share it with other people."

howey mansion matt allison

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