Stefano Lemon spends most nights on the streets. His day starts at about 7 p.m., and if he's lucky, he gets to bed just before the sun rises. He's not a DJ or a club promoter; Lemon is a street photographer working on a series titled "All the Animals Come Out at Night, So Am I." The photos document raw, untouched moments of everyday-Miami life. The photographer explains he's trying to capture the people and things that are otherwise invisible behind mega-hotels, five-star restaurants, and a world-renown nightlife scene on South Beach.
"I came here to explore in a different way," he says. "This project shows there's more to Miami than going out to clubs. There's real life happening on these streets."
Lemon's first trip to Miami was in February 2014 for a quick weekend of beach-going, partying, and boozing. He says that was when he realized there was something more to the city, beyond its postcard image, which later inspired his return this past September and his latest photo series.
"I realized there's a lot that goes on in Miami that most people don't see," he said. "You think palm trees, mojitos, and parties, but there's something much more beyond that." Since September, Lemon has spent almost every night on the streets. He likes to leave between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. because he can "catch the change in environment... The lights, the clouds, and especially the people are totally different at 7 or 8 than much later on," he says.
Most of his shots have come from Washington Avenue between 11th and 15th Streets. He believes the people he has photographed are a much bigger part of the environment than "the tourists on Ocean Drive."
"Between the deco lights, shops and restaurants, and the people, it's a real jungle to focus on. [The photo series] is an homage to those who still live their dreams in Miami. And the deeper you go, the better pictures you take."
Lemon has a list of places beyond South Beach he wants to shoot before he returns to his home in Brooklyn. "There are so many neighborhoods in Miami," he adds. "I want to go west like Liberty City, Little Havana, and Hialeah. My primary focus is to grow this project."
The Italian-born, Brooklyn-based 31-year-old said he has always felt most alive roaming city streets with his camera. He's spent the last five years exploring New York City and Brooklyn and dreams of visiting more cities in the future. "Streets are like a human jungle, and something that I love as a street photographer is you don't have time to set up a camera or even react, it's all really real."
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With this specific series, Lemon's biggest hope is to challenge the belief that "Miami is actually like the tropical postcards people see. Many people think Miami is a playground, and they don't want to focus on anything else," says Lemon. "They're blind to the environment surrounding it."
For now, he plans to continue working in Miami through the beginning of December, giving him a chance to experience Art Basel.
Lemon's series will be showcased at SWGR Gallery in Wynwood during Art Basel Miami Beach with limited edition prints available. To view Lemon's series, visit soullemon.com.