A Wild Ride Through Miami

The Lyon-born, Berlin-based photographer Maxime Ballesteros has been said to sleep with his camera by his side.

“The streets are full of pick up trucks in a rush and Lamborghinis slowing down.”With a client base encompassing the likes of Louis Vuitton, Style.com and Monocle, Ballesteros’ personal work focusses on situations wrapped in hedonism, love and debauchery. For his latest series, we follow him to Miami, where his lens discovers the city for the first time. He takes us on a wild ride in the series and text below.

“I’ve never been to Miami, Florida. It seems gigantic, but I would only be introduced to a tiny portion of it. Walking up and down Mid- and South Beach, crossing the Bay to Wynwood or Downtown. The buses and sidewalks seem empty, and the streets are full of pick up trucks in a rush and Lamborghinis slowing down.

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The smell of gasoline in the heat fights against the salty breeze of the ocean. The air-conditioned world of the insides contrast amazingly with the reality of the outside. The luxurious hotels stand still in the heat, the rain and the strongest wind.

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We can look at the waves raging on the beach from a balcony with a glass of exquisite whisky, forgetting about the sounds of the V12s purring in circles behind, on Collins Ave. And an elevator down away, scrub out eyes from the sand kicking in our faces, bewitched by the warmth and suddenly sublime taste of the wind, a paper bag from the liquor store in hand.

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I’m amazed by the surrealism of the multicolor papier-mache-like architecture that stands so high, and somehow so still, on the grey asphalt. So much that one could easily entirely forget about the oil spills and dead palm tree leaves on the tar, invisible from the beachfront terrace of a 37th floor. It almost feels like if parallel worlds would have been shaken up, forced and sealed into a little glass soda bottle.

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At dusk, like cooling down with the humid air, the streets would start smiling. The aggressive and incessant honks would be replaced by a melody of high heels clicking and bypassers’ conversations, punctuated with laughter and transported by the wind. The artificial lights would cover up the cracks of the not-so-old facades, and the eyes would adapt to the moonlight brushing the beach.

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Running from black tie parties to dive bars, to psychedelic tour busses to empty wooden cabins on the beach, we try to inhale as much smell as a sleepless night will allow us. And I fall asleep with a smile, under a light blanket. It’s freezing and I don’t know how to stop the air conditioning, but I wrap myself in this warmth that the people we shared our night with left inside me.”

"I wrap myself in this warmth that the people we shared our night with left inside me."

All images © Maxime Ballesteros

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