Join us in congratulating 2021’s South Walton Artist of the Year— photographer Chandler Williams!
The Tourist Development Council hosts the annual Artist of the Year program to promote the area’s flourishing art community and recognize a local artist for his or her hard work, creativity, and dedication to the community. The selected artist is commissioned to create a unique piece that hangs in a public space of the county.
This year’s Artist of the Year recipient is a long-time local of the Emerald Coast. Williams is the owner of Modus Photography, but his photography journey began a long time before opening up his photography business and gallery in Grayton Beach on 30A. As a child, Williams’ parents would shoot all of their crazy family moments with a Canon 35mm, which he was then able to take with him on an independent study in high school. His love for photography began all those years ago, as he captured moments, developed film, and explored the art of photography in the peaceful spaces of the darkroom. And this enthusiasm has only continued to grow!
Williams’ passion for photography paired with a restless spirit that craves epic adventures has resulted in a thrilling and fulfilling career. Over the years, Williams has honed his craft through a combination of travel, adventures, and finding moments to be preserved. He has visited many countries, been introduced to different cultures, made lifelong friends, and been pushed outside of his comfort zone. He has spent time “trudging through jungles in torrential rain to meet medicine men, paddling through turbulent waters in search of adventure, meeting new people and exploring diverse cultures” (VIE Magazine: Artful Eye, Adventurous Soul). All of this has helped transform Williams into the artist he is today.
The world may beckon to Williams, but the beach will always be home. He is an avid surfer and feels a deep connection with the water and nature, and he draws inspiration from the landscape and natural habitats of the coast. He grew up in this slice of paradise, and no matter where his travels have taken him, Williams has always found his way back to South Walton, where he now lives with his family.
Williams opened Modus Photography in Grayton Beach in 2007, where he displays his work and takes commissions. Modus translates to “the mode or expression,” which perfectly describes Williams’ mission to capture and share expressions of the world. He is known for his artistic landscape photography, which he captures on his travels, adventures, surfing excursions, and even simple days at the beach. He also has an established portfolio in Elevated Architectural Work.
His depth of knowledge and willingness to try new things is what has made Williams such an incredible photographer and artist. His talents breathe life, movement, and expression into still images in a way that is unique and beautiful. Some of his bestsellers include images that express the journey of life. There’s a baby sea turtle making its unwavering way to the ocean. A humble Peruvian farmer holding a pineapple as he and his son wheel in fresh daily fruit in a handcart. A soothing beach scene that depicts the serene and impressive beauty of mother nature. These are just a small sampling of the breathtaking images captured by this talented artist.
Williams adds another unique element to his photographs by printing on a variety of mediums. He uses metal, canvas, wood, cloth paper, and burnished aluminum. Each material adds different depth, perspective, and character to a photo. But that’s not all! Williams also creates handmade, rustic frames out of reclaimed wood—whether it’s a piece of old dock, a barn, boardwalk, or distressed structure. These frames combined with the various mediums used and the artist’s eye truly make Williams’ work one-of-a-kind.
Recently, Williams has concentrated even more on “his own backyard,” realizing that it can be easy to become complacent and not fully see the beauty of the day-to-day. About this reinvigorated focus, Williams says, “It’s actually harder to shoot in your own backyard and so it’s really kind of made me look at my own backyard landscape a little bit different…it’s been a great challenge because a lot of the time we get caught up in the same routine.”
His focus has certainly paid off, becoming 2021’s South Walton Artist of the Year. He is the second photographer to have received the award since Michael Granberry won in 2010. Williams is humbled to have been recognized for his art, saying, “To be recognized for your art, as a photographer—especially as Artist of the Year for South Walton—it means a lot. Overall, in the art world, photography really isn’t looked at as an art—I would disagree with any argument about it not being an art.”
We’d like to agree with Williams here…photography is definitely an art and Williams is one heck of an artist. And the South Walton community obviously agrees!
Williams’ artistic journey is far from over. As a self-taught photographer, Williams is always eager to learn, adapt, and explore new ways to expand his portfolio and artistic voice. So, what’s next for this year’s South Walton Artist of the Year? Williams plans to launch a fine art photography section to the Modus gallery soon. He also plans to host photography workshops to give back to the community. And we’re sure that’s not all Williams has planned! We can’t wait to see where his artistic journey takes him and watch as his craft transforms and grows along the way.
Come check out this amazing artist’s work for yourselves! The Modus gallery is located in Grayton Beach at 39 Logan Ln #9. Browse Williams’ art and make sure to take a souvenir home, whether it’s a small print, set of coasters, or a focal-point piece for your home. When you book your stay at one of our Grayton Beach rentals, you’ll be in close proximity to the gallery and other 30A highlights.
Keep reading: 10 Photos Showing How Beautiful Grayton Is