The holiday season kindles many traditions: from gift-giving and feasts to elaborate decorations.

For photographer Jeff Poe, holiday light displays are a quintessential part of the season of giving.  

“The lights are a great way people are spreading cheer,” Poe said. “It’s just simply—here’s something I spent a lot of time on to brighten your day.”

The Manhattan Beach creative captures and shares local illuminations in a seasonal photography series of 300-plus shots featured on his website

 Poe, who moved to Southern California 12 years ago from Maryland, said the South Bay community, with its beautiful scenery, sunsets and weather provides ample inspiration.

“The other night I grabbed my camera and just started walking up Manhattan Beach, up 15th street and just seeing what’s out there,” Poe described of a night out shooting. “That’s what’s fun for me is just kind of exploring and discovering the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—a great display of lights.”

When he’s not pursuing festive photographs, Poe often travels with his camera, shooting everything from landscapes to surreal night portraits and events.

A member of the South Bay artist collective, his work is featured at Resin Gallery in Hermosa Beach as well as various spots around town.

Poe said the ease of networking with like-minded creatives has also made the South Bay a great backdrop for his transition from a hobbyist to a professional.

“I kind of use local shops as a way to show my work,” he said, explaining he doesn’t operate a brick-and-mortar gallery, but his photographs can be found at businesses such as Waterleaf Interiors in Manhattan Beach.

Whether helping to spread holiday cheer or sharing unique glimpses of his travels, Poe’s vision for his photography is to impact others.

“I get to go to all these beautiful places that a lot of people don’t have the luck or privilege to go to, so I try to let people see it through my eyes,” Poe explained.

The photographer said he will continue to build upon his illuminated holiday photo series for seasons to come.

“I know people who put the lights up want as many people to see them as possible,” he said. “It’s all in the Christmas spirit of giving.”


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