In mid-January, my wife Bonnie and I traveled to Florida for a 3-day workshop on “The Art of Seeing” with photographers Les Saucier and Janet Garrity. We went to fabulous locations from our base at the Tween Waters Inn on Captiva Island.

On our trip to Captiva, we explored the Atlantic Coast near Flagler. My favorite spot was the coquina rocks at the River to Sea Preserve just south of Marineland. It’s the first image for this post.

There are plenty of great places to see and photograph in the Flagler area! But let’s get back to the main subject of my post…

Boca Grande, Florida – Away from the madding crowd

Located on Gasparilla Island south of Ft. Myers, Boca Grande has no gas stations and many residents get around by golf cart. There are no retail chains on the island, so it has become a go-to destination for tourists who wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan living.

Our group of 6 photographers spent about 6 hours in Boca Grande, including a fabulous lunch at “The Temptation” restaurant. I practiced my skills at street photography, as well as intimate Nature scenes with the ancient banyan trees.

A sense of place

But I was especially drawn to photograph “Our Lady of Mercy” Catholic church at the  end of Boca Grande’s Park Avenue. The church was built in 1950 with part of the exterior made of coquina rock.

I spent over an hour in and around the church to capture its spirit through the lens of my color and infrared cameras. My love of black & white film photography, and the quality of light inspired me to convert the images to B&W.

My goal was to convey a sense of place, as well as the feelings of peace created by the silence in the church. The play of light in the simple architectural symmetries added to the feeling of spiritual connection.

I was consciously working with one of the workshop themes to “see beyond the labels”. I wanted to convey something more than documentary images of the church.

The experience brought back childhood and early teen memories from my family’s membership in a small town Episcopal church in Dade City Florida. For me that was the beginning of a spiritual connection that has always transcended religious doctrine.

I hope these images inspire similar feelings for my readers of inner peace and a sense of place from Boca Grande Florida.