Stepping to the forefront the indie film industry, former professional European basketball player and Prolific screenwriter Kevin “KL” Martin has spent the last decade and half cultivating a reputation of comedic writing, crystal clear visions and a keen eye for both indie and mainstream content that is often darkly funny, slapstick, profoundly thought provoking or somewhere in between. His eye behind the camera as a cinematographer and professional analog photographer has propelled him forward exceptionally fast in art and photography world.
His vision through pandemic and as resident on Highlands, New Jersey, is presented on some kind of diary around his daily scenarios, the reality of a world behind the lens of an Instant Photographer.
2008 Economic Recession
2012 Hurricane Sandy
2020 Coronavirus Pandemic
I’m not sure there is a town in the United States of America that has been hit so hard by so many tragic and horrendous situations in such a short period of time.
Resilient, tough, and a little weird, Highlands, new jersey is a 5000-person strong, 3 square mile throwback to a time long forgotten in a New Jersey but probably more recently, and fittingly, for a place like Illinois or perhaps Kansas.
Blue Collar with more bars per square mile than Vegas (seriously), this rough and tumble shore town survived all these dark moments in time the only way they know how, together.
It hasn’t been easy though.
The town’s blue collar roots on the jersey shore leave it susceptible to the failures of the outside world. Highlands, “the gateway to the Jersey Shore”,thrives on tourism and its location which is adjacent to the very popular Sandy Hook Beach.
From May 25th to when the temperature drops, there is a constant influx of tourist, affectionately (not really) called B.E.N.N.Y.S. These out of towners spend money that is clearly and essentially the life blood of the town.
That all came to a screeching halt March 16, 2020.
Legitimately, many people, myself included, didn’t take this as seriously as we should have. In a town that has survived a lot, this seemed like another run-of-the-mill crisis in a seemingly endless string of them that hit this town.
Then things started to be postponed, cancelled and then closed. Town traditions stopped in their tracks and then people got sick.
This was real. This was happening all around us. Little by little, the gateway to the shore began to slowly close its doors, leaving local residents and business owners alike to do what we have done best, come together and survive.
I have been living here for 4 years but with family ties that go back farther than that, I have quietly been pretty attached to Highlands. It was with this love that I decided to chronicle via my favorite medium, the polaroid, the little town that keeps surviving.
The little town that could.