Updated: Jan 8
As of today, I have lived in Orlando since August 16 (I think) of 2014. that's almost 6 years. It's weird to reflect on my time in here and realize I have residing in Orlando for some truly pivotal moments in the city's history. I grew up coming to Disney since I was one and within the 6 years of living here, my perspective on this city has changed.
When I was a child and visited Disney, we only stayed on property. Yes, we visited Universal but, we didn't leave property unless it was needed (i.e. CVS for medication). My memories of Orlando, were quite different than the reality I live today. Please understand, my family had worked for Disney since the opening year when two of my Aunts were employed by Eastern Airlines (shoutout to the real ones out there who know what airline this is).
Okay, I'm getting to my point.
All in all, living in Orlando is different than my 10 year old knowledge of Orlando. This city has become part of my identity, where I was able to start my career, and a place I have made life long friendships. In the 27+ years of living and visiting here I cannot remember another time this city was as desolate as I view it today.
Disney World has closed 4 times, in my 5.5 years of living here. Prior to working here, Disney had only recorded closing 4 other times due to Hurricanes and once for 9-11. It's hard to fathom a the city which Magic is built around not having any. While we are not a 24-7 city like NYC we still have regular operating hours which create a sense of comfort.
Everyone knows, when Disney closes it's SERIOUS!
With the closure of WDW it was similar to when you finally kill the big boss you have sought after in your favorite video game. Having my full time job close after the countless losses from freelance work (SXSW, MMW, Coachella, and numerous portrait sessions/events) really hurt hard. It wasn't just financially but also mentally.
The next few days was an emotional rollercoaster & I spent most of the time like this:
Eventually, I put on my big girl panties thanks to my boyfriend listening to me cry, freak out about not getting paid, and be there to help. Well, to help get me back on track I needed to get outside and take photos. YES, call me crazy but, when I started my path to being a photographer, street photography was my main calling. I would spend hours, both day and night roaming around Chicago (probably not the best choice as a 20 year old college woman but, I did it), take photos of people, places, and objects that I found interesting.
Well, fast forward to 2020 and empty cities are SCREAMING to have photos taken of them. So that's exactly what I did!
I spent one night (before this curfew was enacted) and a few hours prior to sunset shooting around the city. Now, let me preface this by saying I have been out and about in Downtown Orlando at peak hours. I have photographed Braxton Goes to Church, see fights break out when bar stools were thrown through club windows, and have closed down Church or Wall Street many times.
While our city may be small, we are mighty and wild. Seeing areas that are constantly buzzing with a service industry crowd or farmers market be desolate is eerie. Some areas still see a presence, like Lake Eola but, its mostly those who have no where else to go or the few trying to not go stir crazy.
It's officially Day 7 of Quarantine for me and I'm making the best of the situation. Everything in our world has been turned upside and we are unsure of what the new norm will be. We're all nervous, praying, and hoping for the best but, we are resilient as humans. This was a small but odd escape for me to showcase my passion, my second city, and photograph something that will become memories (good or bad).
This has been the first personal project I have done in a while and am VERY PROUD of the result. Some images are bright & bold while others are dark & moody. All the photos encompass the various sides to Orlando with my style. I LOVE sun flares and here the light is meant to be the our end of the tunnel. These are strange times we live in but, I wanted to capture it for everyone to see.
Here is: "Abandoned Orlando" (with Kyle reprising his role as a model)