Painted in psychedelic colors and patterns, the lifeguard stands of South Beach, in Miami, Florida, are monuments of a carefree spring break lifestyle. Photographers love to shoot them. “You often see them sun-drenched in fashion layouts and postcards,” Miami-based photographer Marco Arguello tells Co.Design in an email, “but you never see them at night.” This past spring, Arguello ventured out to shoot the stands in the darkness, when the sunbathers have all gone home. But he found that the mere glow of the moon and the ambient light from the boardwalk made the resulting photographs too obscure.
He decided to wait until Urban Beach Week, a bacchanalian hip-hop fest that takes over the shore every Memorial Day weekend. “The local police line the shore with huge tungsten floodlights that illuminate the whole beach for security purposes,” Arguello explains. The illumination provided a perfect way for Arguello to create “Tungsten Beach,” a series of otherworldly photographs of the sunless shore and its unique architecture. In orange and yellow candy stripes or Pepto-Bismol pink, lifeguard huts are cast in dramatic spotlights. Exercise equipment and stacks of plastic sun chairs cast tenebrist shadows on the white sand, with its eerie lunar glow. “I shoot with film exclusively, so I have to be very technical,” Arguello says. Measuring light is a lot trickier at night than during the day, and his after-dark exposures typically last from 30 seconds to 90 seconds on a tripod.