Book Review: Miami Beach 1988-1995
Neon police lights illuminate city streets as a crime scene photographer snaps a shot of a body surrounded by white powder. Detectives pace back and forth trying to piece together what had happened. Miami Beach in the ‘80s was a beautiful city marred by sin and debauchery. By day, an ideal spring break location for Americans from around the country. By night, a den of thieves veiled in secrecy within the shadows of this town. The residents of Miami Beach, who saw both sides, had plenty of stories waiting to be told. So chemistry-teacher-turned-photographer Barry Lewis told them in Miami Beach 1988-1995, a photo collection that reveals the everyday lives of the residents of Miami Beach.
The book consists mostly of portraiture giving faces to the places creating a personal connection between the viewer and the photographs. The late ‘80s and early ‘90s were chaotic and exciting times in Miami Beach. Despite the clear drug epidemic plaguing the city, the eccentric people there were still able to have fun, as shown by photos of competitive bodybuilder E.J. Pence on South Beach and the Susanne Bartsch party.
Lewis’s black and white photography of both wild parties and everyday lives tell the story of Miami Beach through narrators from all different walks of life. Leafing through these lively pages, the reader is provided a glimpse of Miami Beach in its heyday. Serving as a documentarian and a historian, Lewis captures the city of Miami Beach during this time of transition from the ‘80s to the ‘90s.
Change is inevitable and natural, and Lewis’s images give life to change. Although they are shot in black and white, his images provide a gateway into the viewer’s imagination in full color, a time capsule forever preserved. Within the pages of this book exists a whole world—a community and sense of camaraderie shown through images of the Saturday evening boardwalk dancing and more.
Lewis shows how these individuals lived their lives like every day was their last and leaves you wanting more. His photography captures the rich colors of Miami and its inhabitants during a period of corruption, violence, and partying, bringing the city to life and drawing his viewers into a crafted world of eternal memories.