Center for the Arts

Vero Beach, FL



Florida Majesty: Photographs by Steve Karafyllakis


The Schumann Florida Gallery presents Florida Majesty: Photographs by Steve Karafyllakis, black and white photographs of Florida's landscape at its most magical. The show will be on view to the public through December 31, 2000.

Steve Karafyllakis of West Palm Beach makes his living as an architectural photographer, an occupation that allows him time to create fine art landscape photography as well. And what landscapes! Karafyllakis has a penchant for powerful composition, vivid contrast and a tangible atmosphere in his work. Sometimes the atmosphere is exciting, as in one of his most popular images, "Lightening Strike - Jupiter Farms." That photograph stops a lightening bolt in its path between ominous, boiling clouds and grassy Florida pastureland. Sometimes the drama is quiet but no less compelling, as in his "Drowning Trees, Suwannee River," which shows bent, moss-draped trees rising glassy dark waters. (left: Lightening Strike - Jupiter Farms, 1997, silver gel photo, 16 x 20 inches)

In all the exhibition will feature twenty-one photographs of places across the state of Florida, including Pal Mal Reserve, Singer Island, Hillsborough River, Zepherhills, and Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Residents of Vero Beach will recognize McKee Gardens in a photograph taken in 1996, before clean-up and renovation of the historic tourist attraction began. "Wild Vines, McKee Gardens" shows a dense forest where vines carpet the trees and the ground. Taken with infrared film, the picture shows the leaves of the palmettos and vines not in dark tones of gray but in shining light ones. The effect is of a jungle lit from within. (left: Overgrown Vines, McKee Gardens, 1995, silver gel photo, 20 x 24 inches)

Karafyllakis was born in Rhodes, Greece to an academically trained painter and his wife. When he was a few months old, his family followed a wave of Greek immigration to Australia, where the elder Karafyllakis found some success with his painting. The family eventually found its way to Nassau in the Bahamas, where they remained for two years before settling in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. During his teenage years, photography was just a hobby for Karafyllakis. He entered college in the hope of becoming an electronics engineer, but decided against that career after only one semester. He changed schools and majors and when into fine art photography at Ohio University. (left: Sunrise at Palm Mal Preserve, 1996, silver gel photo, 20 x 24 inches)

After graduation he worked his way up from darkroom duty in a Washington, D.C. studio to photographing business conventions. Later, he photographed political notables on Capitol Hill, including Ted Kennedy and Bob Dole, for magazines such as Congressional Quarterly. An opportunity arose for Karafyllakis to move to Florida, where he began to work in architectural photography. He found that taking technically proficient
photographs of buildings for architects and construction companies suited him temperamentally. Eventually he had enough freelance employment to start thinking about doing fine art again in the down-time between jobs.

Karafyllakis better appreciated the genius of the great 20th century landscape photographer Ansel Adams when he began to take his own landscape photographs. How was he to photograph the natural environment without resorting to cliche? And how to get interesting landscapes out of the unrelenting flatness of South Florida?

For Karafyllakis, the answer lay in giving Florida's ever-changing sky a major role in his compositions. Translating the drama of Florida's spectacular atmospheric effects into the photographic medium is the defining element of his art.

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/27/11

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