Featured Photographer Mike Monlezun
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Featured Photographer Mike Monlezun

- edited by: Glenn Shuck

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Longtime photographer, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”  I never claim to be the consummate photographer, but my passion for my subject matter speaks in the untold stories of my photos.

First Coast Wings and Wilderness

Hey Mike. We just love your photos of jets, among the many others. So tell us, in what part of First Coast do you reside now and how long have you lived there? 

Was a longtime resident of Arlington (since 2000) but now reside on the Northside since January 2022.

What is your favorite part of the First Coast to photograph

Anything wild.  Any coastal area has a beauty totally different than anything inland.  Sunsets and sunrises are phenomenal over the water.

What type of equipment do you use? 

Nikon D750 and D7100 and lenses of many focal lengths including 16-35, 85, 105macro, 24-70, 70-200, 150-600 (mixed among Nikon, Sigma and Tamron)

How long have you been part of the hobby? 

Since 1977.  Started in middle school at the base photo lab in Iceland that was open to everyone on base to develop film, and slides and use the darkroom for prints.

Do you do any type of planning before you head out to take photos or do you just wing it? 

In my recent years, more planning has gone into looking for appropriate light for certain types of results.  Many times, though, I take what I get when I travel.

How would you describe your style of photography? 

No particular style.  If I see something that catches my eye, I try to capture it and process it the best I can to enable others to enjoy it as well.

Do you edit your photos right after your shoot or do you let them sit for a while? 

I usually edit within a few days or at least a week.

Where is your favorite place (or type of place) to take photos? 

Flightline for aircraft.  Working in the Air Force has provided me with GREAT opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.  For nature, trails, ponds, and beaches are fantastic!

What do you think is the most important component to producing great results? (camera, lens, light, editing, location, artistic vision, etc.) 

Although artistic vision is one of the most important components, one can’t underestimate the equipment used.  An assortment of lenses and a decent camera are like tools in the toolbox.  You need to select the right tool for the right job.

Is there a ritual that you use to get into a creative zone? 

No ritual.  Creativity just happens as you look and ponder the natural beauty of the subject you are photographing.

What advice would you give someone who just picked up their new camera on how to get started?

In the digital age, there is no excuse to not wear your batteries out!  Have thick skin and let trusted people give you constructive criticism to help you learn as you go.  There are tons of GREAT tutorials online to help with almost every type of photography.  Do NOT get discouraged by other’s opinions.  They are just that, opinions.  If YOU like the photo and your target audience likes the photo, then it must be a good photo.

What is the goal of your photography? (A business, just to share on social media, gateway to adventure, etc.)

Too many other things in my life to do this full-time.  It is an advanced hobby that I like to do an occasional job for someone and sell a few photos along the way.

Do you shoot with your editing style in mind, or do you edit based on the shot that you got? 

I edit based on the shot I took usually.  Every once in a while, I have a vision and then try to create it while shooting.

Do you prefer to photograph alone, or in a group? 

Alone is better for some wildlife photography, but it never hurts to have others around to network with.

How do you feel like social media has changed photography and do you think it’s a good or bad thing?

Social media is a good thing…….when the work is true and honest and anything that has been enhanced beyond what you saw is labeled as such.

What is the best way for photographers to network? 

Photo clubs are a GREAT way to network, as well as going to photograph in places where photographers are known to congregate for certain subjects.  The St. Augustine Alligator Farm during the spring is a GREAT example.

What is your favorite photographic accomplishment? 

I did a light-painted photo (about 60 photos layered together) of our 75th Anniversary jet for the Florida Air National Guard in the fall of 2022.  That has garnered a lot of attention and a 6’x9′ framed copy of it is hanging up in the hangar there.

What’s the best thing for you about living on the First Coast? 

The best thing about living on the First Coast is a slower pace than my other highly populated areas.  Even with increasing growth, there are still lots of wild places to get great photos.

How can we see your work? 

Most of my photos available for sale are on SmugMug: https://mikemonlezun.smugmug.com/
Facebook is Monlezun Photography

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