If you’ve never been to Florida your perceptions of the southernmost state might be shaped by cliched images of strip clubs, senior citizens and Florida Man memes. If you have visited, your impressions might be limited to the beach, warm weather or theme parks. Florida seems to constantly receive national attention, whether from alligator sightings or politicians.
But for photojournalism students Sydney Walsh and Arielle Bader, thoughts of home conjure feelings and images that transcend the expected.
Aiming to change the conversation, they set out to capture Florida the way they see it, creating Pocketful of the Sunshine State, a short book of photographs, as well as an Instagram account dedicated to Florida photos.
Pocketful’s work captures the often overlooked aspects of daily Florida living. The expected is there. There are the beaches and the sunsets, a house’s yard in the suburbs, covered in pink plastic flamingos, but the images present these familiar scenes with a sentimentality, prompting a considerable second look.
“These past four years have been a strange time for our state. Pocketful of the Sunshine State contains pictures of Florida from the years 2016-2020. The people here, the quirky details in daily life, the perpetual humidity and even the way light shines is distinctive to this place,” Walsh and Bader said in an artist statement.
“This is where we grew up. This is a collective portrait of how we see our home.”
The photo zine Pocketful of the Sunshine State is self-published by Arielle Bader and Sydney Walsh, who both hail from Florida but are studying photojournalism at Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington University.
Bader will be joining the Tampa Bay Times’ photo staff in 2021 for a summer internship.