MasterMinds 2014 Honorable Mention: Michael Malka

Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This year, we received more than 100 submissions, which our staff narrowed to an elite group of 30. We'll be profiling those honorable mentions, and eventually the finalists, in the weeks to come. This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 28 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.

Michael Malka is a Miami man, born and raised. From shooting hidden locales like the shuttered RC Cola plant, to capturing the brilliance of Mother Nature via the Everglades, this photographer's lens has captured a lot of the 305.

From black & white to color splashed to distorted images, his striking imagery comes in many incarnations.

"I try to go out and show everyone what's out there -- through my eyes," Malka says.

He cites his family as one of his biggest inspirations -- and supporters.

"They're my backbone. They keep pushing, they keep my eyes open. They inspire me and help me see everything that I couldn't see on my own."

We spoke to the family-oriented shutterbug on Shabbat cuisine, Space Invaders and personal perspective.

Cultist: I understand you still have weekly family dinners. What do y'all eat?

Michael Malka: My mom's Cuban, and my dad's Israeli, so it's mainly a mixture of that. It always has to be Kosher. There's always a Hispanic and Jewish spin to our dinners. We do get a little loud -- it's our way to show how much we love each other. We meet once a week mainly on Fridays. Our family, my dad and my mom, they're pretty religious, and Friday is Shabbat so we keep the holiday. It's nice to meet with your family and discuss what's going on. When you're back's against the wall, stuck on a piece, ran out of ideas, family is always there to help you out. Last Friday, I went to Shabbat. My dad pulls me aside. I was reading this article. There was this picture. He gave it to me. I thought that was very nice of him.

If you could live anywhere besides Miami, where would it be?

People have asked me that, and I've asked myself that, but I don't know. People have told me that they see me in Los Angeles. I've never been. I would love to check it out. I don't know - maybe it's because I haven't lived anywhere else, but I always see Miami as my home. I definitely would venture off but I always saw myself coming back here. I could move somewhere for a little bit but Miami is always going to be my home.

Where's your favorite place in Miami to shoot?

If I don't have anywhere else to take pictures, I like to look for different Space Invaders.

It's this graffiti artist -- he's been to Paris, he's been to Miami and lots of other places. I enjoy that. When you go looking for those, you bump into so many other things.

You talked about sharing the vision of what you see through your camera lens -- how would you describe that to people?

People would see my experience through the pictures. Not necessarily the picture but what I went through -- what I was thinking the moment I took the picture. Let's just say I try to find a spot that I have a connection to, and people would see the connection and not just the picture.

Wanna see more MasterMinds? At Artopia, sponsored by Miracle Mile and Downtown Coral Gables, you can check out work by 2014's ten MasterMind award finalists and watch as the three Mastermind Award winners are announced. And that's just the beginning. Artopia will also include live entertainment by Bottle & Bottega, CircX, and Flamenco Puro; local art by Tesoro Carolina, Trek 6, 8 Bit Lexicon, Hec One Love, Ivan Roque, and Jay Bellicchi; and DJ sets by Main Event Productions, Phaxas, Golden San, Skinny Hendrix, and DJ Supersede. Other sponsors include Rums of Puerto Rico (Official Rum sponsor), Car2Go, El Palacios de los Jugos, Beck's (official beer sponsor), and Vero Water (official water sponsor). Early bird tickets are available through Feb. 2. Visit the official Artopia website.

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