After a summer of renovations, The Colony Hotel is opening back up for the season with newly redesigned rooms under the direction of co-owner Sarah Wetenhall, featuring the work of three artists: Author and Photographer Nick Mele, whose book, A Newport Summer (Vendome Press, 2022), and work will be featured in an upcoming show at The Colony on December 6th; Painter Sarah Boyts Yoder, whose work has been exhibited at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art; and Underwater Photographer Chris Leidy, a Palm Beach native with a gallery in West Palm Beach.

Growing up a grandson of the legendary Lilly Pulitzer certainly gave Leidy a unique perspective—not to mention an eye for color. These days, he spends much of the year traveling to far-flung locales in hopes of discovering a new underwater wonderland to capture on film, but Palm Beach will always hold a special place in his heart.

“My childhood memories of running the streets of the north end are my most cherished and loved memories,” Leidy tells PALMER. “Growing up here was the absolute best!”

Below, we sat down with Chris Leidy to discuss where he gets his inspiration:

White wall by Chris Leidy

Where is your favorite location to shoot?

That is a very tough question to answer. Every location I travel to offers its own unique natural beauty. For example, one of my faves is Papua New Guinea, which has an incredibly raw and remote island life and unbelievably alive marine life under the surface which makes for a prime location for my work and heart to explore. The waves are perfect and there’s never a soul in sight to cap off its perfection. The country was a huge midpoint during WW2 so its land, both below and above the waves, is littered with crazy old wreckage, from Zero fighter jets to huge battle ships in which you can literally sit in the cockpit or the wheelhouse with your scuba tank on. Pretty wild.

What inspired you to focus on underwater photography?

Plain and simple: My whole hearted love for Mother Ocean. She brings me peace and happiness with a razor’s edge of fear and awareness. You are always at the mercy of the sea which makes for an exciting work environment. The underwater world gives me abundant sources to photograph from schools of sharks and pods of humpback whales, to intricate corals and sea fans the size of VW Beetles.

Which is your favorite piece going to The Colony?

Personally, I am really in love with the abstract and colors of the two Colored Pencil pieces. I am blown away by the ocean’s way of giving you something so beautiful to photograph.

Colored pencils 2 by Chris Leidy

What was it like to grow up in Palm Beach?

The Palm Beach of my childhood was amazing and holds very, very dear to my heart. It was a much quieter and slower town. It was a place people came to escape, and even though my family and I were born here, it felt like we were always “escaping” by just living here. My childhood memories of running the streets of the north end are my most cherished and loved memories. Growing up here was the absolute best place a kid could grow up!

What is your favorite memory of your grandmother, Lilly Pulitzer?

Oooh, that’s a tough one, since they are all very personal and hard to describe. I don’t know if a lot of people know this but Granny was very into watching tennis. There were many, many times she and I would cozy up in the living room, she on her little chair in the corner and I laying lengthwise on the couch, under a cashmere blanket that she would tuck me under. She always wanted me to be cozy, well fed, and having a sharp comb part and comb over in my hair. I would also call Gran when I was “sick” at The (Palm Beach) Day School, so she could come pick me up because I knew that my mom would never fall for it—Gran was a softy.

Colored pencils 1 by Chris Leidy

Do you feel you got your creative genes from her?

I definitely feel like Granny’s love of colors and creativity and huge passion shines through my work all the time! We shared creativity in our blood and as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
What is you favorite thing about Palm Beach?
My family and friends that I love so much.
All of Chris Leidy’s large scale artwork are limited editions and everything on his website, is for sale.
Follow Chris on Instagram @chrisleidyphotography