On the uppermost observation deck of a cruise ship, the pinpoint silhouettes of human heads are visible against the pink afterglow of sunset, giving a sense of the pleasure boat's massive scale. Off in the distance, the skeletal arms of multistory cranes are visible; at their bases are rows of cargo containers, freshly unloaded from freight ships, stacked four high.
Photographer J. Christopher Gernert took the shot of Port Everglades one evening by pulling off to the side of the road on the 17th Street Causeway. "It was shot at twilight," he recalls, "after the sun comes down and the sky takes on that iridescent kind of look."
Gernert snapped the picture for the new coffee-table book Broward County: Gateway to the World. He knew an image that captured the thriving shipping and cruise business at the port, the second-busiest cruise ship port in the world, would make an apt cover illustration.
Ostensibly a giant advertisement, the book is a 144-page, full-color, 10-by-13-inch brochure touting all that is good about Broward County. The public-private partnership responsible for luring business here, the Broward County Alliance, was behind the project and will no doubt use it as a marketing tool. Business leaders in the rest of the world, the thinking goes, view South Florida only as a spot for winter golf vacations. The book's images and text (by Milbrey C. Cuthbertson) are devoted to dispelling Broward's pleasure-only image with chapters on area history, culture, health care, education, sports and leisure, housing, and of course, business.
But while out-of-town corporate leaders mull over the overhyped language in "Expanding Horizons: Business and the Economy," we locals can simply enjoy the beautiful two-page photo spread that opens the chapter. The shot depicts downtown Fort Lauderdale's small row of skyscrapers backed by a vivid blue sky. Taken from a tall building several blocks away, the picture offers a unique overhead perspective of surrounding neighborhoods.
Another aerial photo, this one taken from a helicopter, provides a pilot's view of sun worshipers dotting the sand on Fort Lauderdale beach. But following the camera's long-lensed gaze, viewers can also take in Las Olas Boulevard as it crosses the Intracoastal Waterway and trails off into downtown with the hazy green expanse of west Broward visible in the distance.
"One of the main things that I really wanted to try to do was make [the pictures] interesting to the local eye," says Gernert. So even if you're not wooing executive types, the photos make the glossy volume worth a spot on the coffee table.