Sunflowers blooming at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Photo: Lisette Morales McCabe/Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Photographer in Residence.
Sunflowers blooming at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Photo: Lisette Morales McCabe/Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Photographer in Residence.


Q&A with 2024 Photographer in Residence Lisette Morales McCabe

Photography, nature, and special moments at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

Lisette Morales McCabe is a photographer, artist, and healing arts advocate. Originally from Nicaragua, she has resided in Florida since 2000. During this time, she has channeled her creative energy into documenting the natural splendor found in South Florida. Simultaneously, she’s interested in the intricate interplay between the land, personal identity, ecology, storytelling, and the diverse perspectives prevalent among local communities.
Click here to learn more about the 2024 Photographers in Residence at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
Q. When did you first become interested in photography?
A. Photography has been a lifelong fascination for me, but it wasn't until I turned 22 in 1992 that I received my first camera as a birthday gift from friends. It was a Minolta x-700 film camera, and it opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities for me. Eager to learn more, I soon enrolled in a class on film development in a darkroom. Despite encountering challenges with damaged films, I persevered and captured countless images during those formative years.

However, in 2014, during a tumultuous period in my life marked by divorce, I lost my beloved camera. Determined not to let this setback deter my passion, I promptly invested in a new digital camera. Since then, I've never looked back. While I cherish the memories of my early days with film photography, I wholeheartedly embrace the convenience and versatility of digital photography. Don't get me wrong -- I still love and appreciate the art of film photography, but it's not for me right now.

Q. You specialize in nature/outdoor photography. What led you to focusing on the natural world?

A. Specializing in nature/outdoor photography wasn't a conscious decision for me; rather, it evolved naturally from my deep love for the outdoors. Spending time immersed in nature has always been a source of solace and tranquility for me, offering healing qualities that soothe the mind and rejuvenate the spirit. The lush greenery, the vibrant colors, and the serene landscapes provide a sense of peace that is unparalleled. Even if I can't always distinguish individual elements within the scenery, there's an undeniable sense of healing that comes from simply being surrounded by nature's beauty. Research supports the notion that exposure to natural environments and the calming hues of green and blue can have profound positive effects on mental well-being. 
Q. What is your favorite aspect of nature photography at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary?

A. My favorite aspect of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary undoubtedly lies in the allure of its ancient cypress swamp. There's something truly captivating about standing amidst these towering giants, each one bearing witness to centuries of history. As someone who has always been fascinated by trees, I feel incredibly fortunate to have such a remarkable location just 30 minutes from my home. Being surrounded by these ancient trees and experiencing the symbiotic environment they create is a truly magnificent experience.
Q. Do you have a favorite photo that you have taken at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary? Can you describe the moment it was taken?
A.  Yes, indeed, I do have a sequence of images I captured last October when the swamp sunflowers were in full bloom. The moment I took the photo stands out vividly in my memory. It had been raining, and the sky was cloudy as I stepped onto the boardwalk. Then, almost magically, the sunshine broke through the clouds, illuminating the scene before me. It was an awe-inspiring sight to behold—an endless field of vibrant yellow flowers stretching as far as the eye could see. The contrast between the golden blooms and the lush greenery around them was breathtaking. As I snapped the photo, I couldn't help but feel a sense of gratitude for being in that moment, witnessing such natural beauty. And as the year unfolds, I can't help but feel excited about the countless other moments awaiting me on that boardwalk, each offering its own unique spectacle of nature's wonders.
Q. What do you hope viewers take away from your images of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary?

A. Through photography, I aspire to instill a desire for exploration and learning, inspiring viewers to seek out their own adventures in nature and discover the hidden treasures waiting to be uncovered.
Q. If someone is interested in becoming more involved with nature photography, what is a good first step?
A. Spend as much time as possible outdoors, doing what you love, and always have your camera with you. Nature has a way of unfolding its beauty right before our eyes, and being prepared to capture those moments can lead to incredible photographs. Whether it's hiking along a trail, or simply exploring your own backyard, immersing yourself in nature regularly will not only provide ample opportunities for photography but also deepen your connection with the natural world. The more you practice and engage with nature through photography, the more your skills and passion for the craft will grow.

How you can help, right now