SEAGROVE BEACH — Any given morning, you might find Jonah Allen with his camera in hand, exploring the Gulf Coast.
Originally from Georgia, the 25-year-old artist says he's inspired by nature, both untouched and urbanized.
Although Allen uses photography to express his creativity, he doesn't consider himself a traditional photographer. Rather, he is a photographic artist who uses many images to paint a much larger and detailed picture.
He has been recognized this year as a finalist at Digital Graffiti on Friday and Saturday in Alys Beach. Of the nearly 30 artists selected, only one other finalist is from Florida. More than half are from oversees.
The festival, sponsored by Christie Digital, gathers artists from around the world to project their work throughout the white-walled community.
"I'm very excited to be nominated, and it's an honor," Allen said in an email, adding that he plans to share a collection of aerial photos and videos of coastal dune lake outfalls — moments when the unique, brackish ecosystems mix with the Gulf of Mexico. "I'd say my connection to the ocean through surfing was the catalyst for me to begin photographing the relationship between water and light."
He added that the dune lakes weren't the basis of his niche, but something that's captivated him since he moved to the Panhandle.
He hoped his work might inspire others to develop an appreciation of nature and motivate them to help protect it.
"People need to care about the environment because it's our future," Allen said. "It's your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren's future. If humanity doesn't utilize the Earth's resources in a sustainable way, we will slowly diminish our most precious resources until they are gone."
Allen said he works to capture natural landscapes and urbanized regions from the sky while showing the unique topography of the Emerald Coast.
He said he also is working on a book comprised of images taken from across the Southeast. He expected it to be finished by the end of the year.
"The relationship between people and water is something I find very interesting," he said. "The earth is my canvas; the landscape is my studio."
For more information or to purchase artwork, visit jonahallen.com. Those interested can also follow him on Facebook and Instagram at Jonah Allen Studio or contact him at 739-0929.