In November 2013, Luis Merlos decided to take a short trip to Seattle, Washington; a trip that would inspire him to revisit memories of his past even though he had never been there before.
“Seattle has always been a place of interest for me because growing up in Los Angeles, I took a liking to their Grunge music and I have to admit, I enjoyed watching the Seattle Supersonics,” Merlos, who goes by @deadpool167 on Instagram, says. “Also the Space Needle is cool.”
Merlos packed some bags and hit the skies with Cynthia Casillas, who goes by @cynn33 on Instagram. He says he enjoyed “having someone help you explore and kick around ideas.” Plus, he adds, “She also didn’t mind me bugging her to be the subject in a few of my shots.”
Once in Seattle, Merlos found what he’d long been hoping for, the Space Needle. Perhaps the city’s most photographed landmark, the Space Needle stands at 605 feet high. Built in the 1960s, the Space Needle has become a symbol of Seattle, one that Merlos found a compelling challenge to photograph.
“I think taking a picture of the Space Needle and editing that image was the most gratifying,” he says. “I know it can be a cliché shot to take, but I wanted to challenge myself and provide a fresh and unique take on it and I was happy with the result.”
The result finds the Space Needle behind a portion of architect Frank O. Gehry’s EMP Museum. To add flare to the image, which already features two architectural marvels, Merlos captured three birds in flight through the grey Seattle sky. This tone, the mood of the image, is characteristic of many of Merlos’ Seattle-based photographs, a quality he appreciates.
“I think Seattle provided a perfect playground for subdued images,” he says. “Even though I enjoy shooting vibrant long exposure images and sunsets, I prefer darker images because I feel they add a sense of mystique and story.”
This atmosphere is precisely what Merlos was looking for. “I envisioned the grey skies providing a perfect contrast in my shots,” he says. “I shot pretty much at any time which is something I don’t do in Los Angeles.”
Being away from Los Angeles also provided several unknowns, so Merlos looked to locals for guidance.
“I asked [Seattle-based photographer] @jeko_1 via Instagram while I was in Seattle about a couple locations and he offered to show me around,” Merlos says. “That made my stay complete. Wouldn’t have found some of the gems of Seattle without him.”
Meeting @jeko_1 allowed Merlos to see another angle of travel photography, one that local guides can help provide.
“If you can meet up with someone in their city I believe you should,” Merlos says. “You can Google and research on your own, but every city has great locations that visitors can easily miss.”
Some of those gems included a drive through the city that featured a view of Kurt Cobain’s old home, another nod to Merlos’ appreciation for the city’s Grunge scene of the 1990s. From the Space Needle to the details that many Seattle visitors often miss, Merlos’ short trip to the North West has left a lasting impact. The trip, he says, made him eager to see new places.