George Mercado is an adventurer and an explorer at heart, a city slicker gone rogue in the wilderness. He is a man who finds refuge among God’s creatures and serenity within the outdoors. However, that was not always the case since throughout most of his younger years, his hunger for adventure was limited. Sadly George was born with a very bad case of astigmatism and eye degeneration. As a teenager he wore large bifocals and was considered clinically blind without them. It was not until he met an amazing micro surgeon named Alfonso Ponce in New York City, that his life was changed and his sight restored. It was truly a defining moment in his life that made him see what he always lacked seeing as a child. It was that moment that give him purpose and steered him into photography.
“Behind every great man, there is a greater woman who made that man great” – George Mercado
Shortly thereafter, George met his wife Margeaux and their love bloomed. Yet they knew that city life was not for them after the 9/11 disaster. So the following year they packed up their belonging and moved to Florida where they have lived ever since. Once in Florida, George bought a camera and started venturing off. It was the start of an epic journey, one that has blessed and defined his life is so many ways.
George was first introduced to the swamps of Big Cypress Preserve and Everglades National Park by his great friend Richard Ali-mam. A well known Gladesman who was raised about and around the Florida swamps. George and Richard hiked the swamps and for George it was love at first site. The beauty of the swamps was both memorizing and alluring in its own way, a combination of beauty and danger. Surely not a place where a city slicker would end up, but alas George was not your regular cookie cutter, city slicker. After his numerous eye surgeries, he had a vision, a dream, a purpose to capture and document what his eyes was blessed to see. He wanted to show the world what others take for granted that those who cannot see wish they could see.
The wilderness of Florida became his spiritual refuge, it had accepted him into its bosom and had enticed him to return time and time again. Where as many considered him crazy for venturing at times alone into the swamps, he was far from that. He knows quite well knows the dangers that exist out there at every turn. However, as his good friend, Florida Gladesman Nate Fisher once told him “If you live in fear, you will never discover life”. So George took that to heart and started venturing off deeper and deeper into the swamps.
Since the start of his Florida wilderness journey, George quickly made friends with amazing people he met along the way. Individuals who would become more than friends, they would become family. A family of like minded individuals who not only accepted and supported each other, but who inspired each other to become better without competition or judgement. Friends who loved to explore together, spend time together and most importantly who were loyal to each other. It was that bond that fueled the Exploration Florida brand and made it become what it is today.
Individuals like Fahad Asmat, Shawn Meredith and David Shaw whose friendship George will always cherish as they cherish his. They became his brothers in photography and most importantly his like minded friends
George & Lucky Cole
George had also became a great friend of photography legend, Lucky Cole, an everglades photographer who caters and specializes in natural nudes since the 1970s. The bond between Lucky and George goes back years and can never be tarnished because they are and will always be brothers at heart. The love, respect and mutual admiration they have for one another is deep and is truly a solid bond.
Where George will journey off next is a mystery, but where ever it may be. You can rest assure he will be there with camera in hand and GoPro in pocket.
George & Fahad Asmat