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Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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USF student photographer captures forgotten Tampa at night

TAMPA — Christopher Serrano, 20, said he hopes his photography reminds people of their surroundings in a time when many are glued to their smartphones.

Serrano, who will share his street photography at his first solo show at the Bamboozle Tea Lounge Art Show March 6 through April 3, said he is a traditionally trained photographer. He worked in the dark room, learning the old-fashioned techniques.

“A lot of people see these places and aren’t looking around and taking in their environment,” he said, adding he isolates a scene and draws people in by shooting at night. “I find there is a lot in Tampa that is visually interesting — a lot of abandoned areas that are empty and forgotten. When I photograph it, I’m trying to remind people it’s there.”

Serrano, who lives in West Tampa, is a junior at the University of South Florida. A 2011 graduate of Blake High School, he is now studying photography and filmmaking at USF.

He said some people don’t realize how beautiful their surroundings are until it’s captured as an art form.

“I create art out of what I see,” he said. “The meaning is there. I have to find it with my camera ... A lot of it is subconscious. The way I frame the abandoned building — it’s all subconscious.”

Tim Gibbons, the coordinator for the Bamboozle art shows, invites the public to attend Serrrano’s photography show, “The Spaces In Between” at the Bamboozle, 109 N. 12th Street in the Channelside District.

“Christopher has discovered his talent and his identity in photography, where he feels the greatest power of self-expression,” Gibbons said. “Also a filmmaker, Christopher strives, and succeeds, to manipulate light in order to create a cinematic ethereal look, the element of the familiar becoming unfamiliar.”

Gibbons said Serrano’s long-exposure photographic images capture a sense of motion in still images.

“History also plays a part in Christopher’s work, as can be seen in his photos of older, mundane buildings, which Christopher makes beautiful through his lens,” Gibbons said.

Serrano said he has spent most of his life photographing Florida, although he left the state for the first time last December to venture to New York City.

“I was so blown away from the environment,” Serrano said. “It was so new to me — I didn’t know how to compose anything.”

Although he still hasn’t seen snow, Serrano hopes to get to travel more in the future. Going to New York made an impression. He liked the fact that he could get more spontaneous shots in New York compared to Tampa, where people are more curious when he takes out his camera.

“In New York, no one looked at the camera — no one really cared,” he said.

After he graduates, Serrano said he’d like to become a gallery photographer.

“I want to be like the photographers of the past — having books of my own and adding my work to the lexicon of photo history.”

The Bamboozle Tea Lounge is open Mondays through Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is closed Sundays.

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