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For Alan Maltz, a career in photography was quite literally a calling. While at his graduation ceremony at Long Island University in New York, “I heard a voice saying, ‘Pick up a camera,’” Maltz recalls. He’d never been interested in photography, but he handed his mother his diploma in psychology and, the following day, purchased a Miranda Sensorex camera and Kodachrome film. He boarded a plane to Europe, read the manual while in flight, and started snapping away upon landing.
He hasn’t stopped since. He migrated down to the Florida Keys and opened the Alan S. Maltz Gallery on Duval Street in Old Town Key West in 1999. He specializes in Florida’s iconic wildlife and scenery: a manatee blowing bubbles just below the surface of the water, loggerhead turtle hatchlings crawling into the surf, a Florida panther staring straight at his lens from its perch in the Everglades. “It can be just magical,” he says.
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For his talent and passion for nature, Maltz was designated the official wildlife photographer for the Wildlife Foundation of Florida. He has collected his work in six coffee-table books, with the latest, Old Florida: An Artistic Interpretation, expected to be out soon.
What makes Key West an ideal base for you and your photography? It’s a laid-back atmosphere—live and let live. It’s a great place for freethinkers.
What is the key to a great wildlife photo? Be in the right place at the right time. An hour to an hour and a half after the sun rises or before it sets is a good time. Lighting is essential. Be patient. And know your subject and its habits.
Where is a favorite photo spot of yours on Key West? Fort Taylor is great. I get incredible sunsets there. You can see the whole vista, with sailboats coming in and going out at sunset. And the old fort itself is a point of interest.
Alan Maltz’s Must-Do List
La Trattoria Oceanside: This location is away from downtown. The food is excellent. I like their Caesar salad and sauteed hogfish. They also make a great cappuccino.
Salute! On The Beach: The location on Higgs Beach and the food are fantastic. Everything about it is very funky: the bathrooms, the decor, the people. My favorite dish is the shrimp salad.
Hemingway Home & Museum: It’s a landmark. The whole history of the place is interesting.