The Look: The Vivid World of Miami Street Style
“A lot of Miami still has its original look intact,” Mr. Michaels, who is know as @jokemichaels to his Instagram followers, said. “There are not a lot of new buildings, and there is not a lot of overwhelming advertising. So I think it was interesting to see the past be present.”
He takes a measured approach to street photography. He often waits for a precise moment to snap a photograph, stalling in front of a wall or scene for the right person to walk by. “I think essentially when people think of street photography, it’s almost this chaotic, shoot-from-the-hip, instantaneous moment,” he said. “I feel like my photographs are taking a step back and almost reviewing the scene before taking the photograph.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Colorful backdrops are one of Mr. Michaels’s themes. In this case, it was an artist’s mural wall in the Wynwood area, which is often used as a background for selfies and staged social media photos, he said. “I try to find the in-between moments that are not necessarily set up,” he said. “It’s very interesting to see how people want to present themselves and how you are able to photograph them without them being aware.”
Mr. Michaels was initially drawn to this woman in South Beach for her boots and asked to take her portrait. “As I was taking her photograph, I noticed how brightly colored her nails were,” he said. “The ring on her finger says her name.”
This photograph was taken in Little Havana. Mr. Michaels wanted to capture the barber’s concentration. “I like the details in the hairstyles, especially with this kid” getting a fade, he said. “I also really like that he had the Cuban flag as the cover.”
“I really was attracted to this girl’s glasses,” Mr. Michaels said of this woman who was at a restaurant in Little Havana called Puerto Sagua. “I thought the way they sat on her face was really beautiful.”
This photograph was taken on Ocean Drive in South Beach, which the photographer described as a “fashion catwalk.”
Right off Calle Ocho in Little Havana at Maximo Gomez Park, also known as Domino Park, men gather for hours to play dominoes. Despite the tourists taking photos, Mr. Michaels wanted to get very close to this man so that it felt as though he was at the table with him. “Everything about him seemed very finessed, from the gold ring on his finger to his gold eyeglasses,” he said.
“Some of my favorite photos are photos I never take because I’ll never be able to photograph what I actually see in my head,” Mr. Michaels said of this woman in South Beach. “But this time I was actually able to. It almost looks like a painting to me.”
“To me, this was essential Miami,” Mr. Michaels said of a man in a sparkly jacket walking down Ocean Drive in South Beach.
This photograph was taken on Collins Avenue, the street that luxury hotels like the Delano line. “It is usually this expressway of people showing off their automobiles or motorcycles,” Mr. Michaels said. “Everyone is blasting music or doing wheelies on their motorcycles or revving their engines. But I just thought it was kind of funny that there was this quiet moment in the loudness that is Collins Avenue.”
This photo was taken at Muscle Beach. “I think it was funny that the guy had this perfect sunset shirt and then in the background is an overcast day,” Mr. Michaels said. “I liked the juxtaposition, the slight humor that was involved in that scene.”