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Glenn Shuck, The Man Behind The Magazine
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Glenn Shuck, The Man Behind The Magazine

- edited by: Mike Kaufmann

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Glenn and rescue “First Coast Callie

Where the term First Coast originated is a topic of some discussion among people who grew up in North Florida and people who didn’t. The notion that our area became known as the First Coast is widely believed to be because it is the first geographic region that visitors arrive in when traveling south from up north. Locals tend to believe that this area became the First Coast because it was the first area to be settled by the Europeans when America was discovered. Whatever the real reason for the designation, photographer, owner and publisher of First Coast Life, Glenn Shuck, arrived here and found a home that was laid back, photogenic and full of friendly people who welcomed him here and made him feel like this was where he wanted to be. 

Growing up in Maryland close to Washington, D.C., Shuck had a pretty normal childhood, but being born on the fourth of July gave him the idea that all the fireworks on Independence Day were in honor of his birthday! “I had the typical upbringing of most kids from a middle-class family I guess,” Glenn remembered. “I had one sister and we lived across the street from a “Caddy Shack” like country club so I got into sports at a pretty early age. Golf and tennis came first but I played football, and I was on a little league baseball team that made it to the State Regional Little League World Series so life was really fun during my childhood.” Unfortunately, his team didn’t make it to the finals, but Glenn recovered from that loss in baseball and continued to excel in other sports like water skiing and snow skiing, and looking back Shuck feels like he was blessed to have been born with so much natural athletic ability. 

High school came to an end and Shuck went on to attend James Madison University in Harrisonburg VA. During college Glenn acquired a camera and enjoyed taking pictures, but never really thought of photography as a career move. “Well, of course all of this was before the internet and before cell phones with cameras, but I did set up a little dark room in my bathroom and I really liked working with black and white pictures and the creative part of me found that to be really cool,” he added. 

Shuck ending the day making sales presentations mid 80’s

As a young man in the early to mid-eighties Glenn knew that making a living was important and with computer technology growing more prevalent, Glenn received a degree in business with a minor in computer science and entered the technical arena as an occupation. “Well, I married my college sweetheart, and we had three kids and I put the fun things like sports and photography on hold for a little while and went to work,” Shuck recalled. “My dad was in the technical field, and I found myself diving headfirst into the computer industry, and actually I was heavily involved in computers during the transition from the days of the minicomputers evolving into what we now know as PCs. I started out servicing computer hardware and transitioned into software, and ultimately I went into enterprise system sales and that was a great move for me because I just loved working in the fast-moving technical industry.” 

Shuck put everything he owned in a 5×8 PODS box to start over at 50. Not for the faint of heart

After forty years in tech, the creative in him began to pull Shuck back into what had been a hobby so many years earlier and that was photography. Having moved his family to Colorado from Virginia kept the Shucks busy for twelve years, but after getting divorced and seeing the kids leave the nest, Glenn was ready for a change and started pondering his options. “I didn’t know exactly what direction my life was going to take after the divorce,” he told us, “But I basically packed all my belongings into a 5×8 pod storage box and started heading east. I was ready to trade the mountains for the beaches. I looked at many possibilities from North Carolina to South Florida, but ultimately I chose Jacksonville (where I only knew one person) and it didn’t take me long to realize that this was where I was going to stay for a very long time.” 

Having received his first digital camera as a gift from his parents about eleven years earlier, Glenn Shuck found himself gazing at the beautiful sunrises and sunsets over North Florida and immediately became immersed in taking pictures. As his talent got stronger he realized that photography was a potential way to make a living and he started his photography business, simply named Glenn Shuck Photography. While weddings and portrait photography were certainly a way to pay the bills, there isn’t much leeway in being creative in the typical photo shoot business, but Glenn never abandoned his love of taking breathtaking photographs of nature in its full swing. “One of the things I was doing before I left Colorado was consulting with clients in the digital agency marketing business,” Shuck said, “so when I settled down on the First Coast I did still have some responsibilities to my clients from out west, and that was under a company I had started called Impact Marketing and built hundreds of websites over a great 15-year run” Then the covid epidemic struck and like so many other small business owners, Glenn saw a decline in his marketing agency business and had to make a very tough decision … so he closed the business to start over again with a dream he had for several years. 

Shuck has posted well over 5,000 photos to Facebook since 2014!

As his photography improved, Shuck created his own web page to showcase his talents, as well as to market his business and website GlennShuckPhotography.com became his outlet to reach new clients. “I started the photography website and created a Facebook page to use as a way to drive people to my website,” he said. “With social media growing by leaps and bounds almost daily, I saw that if I was to be successful, I had to put my images and my story in front of the eyes of the people I was trying to reach, and to be honest, social media really helped me achieve that.” It was at this point in late 2020 that Shuck had the vision of creating a digital multi-media platform that addressed the many inherent problems with print, and allowed him to showcase his talents to a larger audience, while at the same time offering both colleagues and competitors the same opportunity, and he started his digital magazine, FirstCoast.Life. 

“I didn’t know if it would work or not,” Shuck said, “but I had had the opportunity to shoot the cover shots for Atlantic Beach Living print magazine for quite a while and at one point they did a story on me and it resulted in an influx of business for me. That was what got me thinking about an online magazine for others to have the same opportunity to tell their story, so I went for it.” Shuck pointed out that while COVID was building steam and shutting down virtually everyone’s entire lifestyle, the negativity on social media was building to points of extreme frustration. “I wanted to create something positive that made people feel good again, and that the community could be involved in and feel good about, but most importantly, that the community could be proud of.” 

Strategizing on how to make this endeavor successful, one of the key points that Shuck drew on from his digital advertising and tech experience was to focus not on traditional advertising to fund the effort but to create bonds within the community by offering storytelling to help the public get to know one another in a positive and uplifting way. 

“Telling people’s stories is a really neat way to create deeper connections throughout the community and that was my goal to market my magazine to the business owners showing them how we can help them build THEIR authentic story, mainly as an alternative to traditional coupon-style advertising approach,” he said.

The early days. Shuck working from the kitchen table with online developers at 2 a.m.

With the four-year anniversary of FirstCoast.Life on July 1, Glenn Shuck is proud to look back and see the hundreds of stories on the local people in North Florida he has published through his online magazine. He has featured photographers, artists, musicians, writers, businesses, nonprofits, causes, trendsetters and so much more. Shuck didn’t create a news publication, he created a locally focused community platform that has showcased the cultural diversity of the people of our communities, all from a beginning where positivity was on a major decline and negativity was filling every nook and cranny of the people’s daily lives.

A fun planning meeting with local artists Gary Mack (middle) and Henry Von Genk

Now, having four years under his belt as a digital magazine publisher, Glenn is more assured than ever that the process of storytelling is one of the best concepts in media advertising overall. “I have provided a way for our friends and neighbors, our creatives and our business owners to introduce themselves to the people around them and to tell their story in a way that allows their peers, their contemporaries and even their customer base to feel that they know them better and open up new doors for future commerce as well as for new long-lasting friendships. I couldn’t be happier than I am to see the results of our community coming closer together through a concept that I created four years ago.” 

Shuck flying high for a customer shoot

With covid being a thing of the past and people returning to their former routines, FirstCoast.Life hopes to grow even stronger and continue to spread goodwill and positive vibes. Shuck pointed out that, “I can’t control what anyone else does, all I can do is be me. And what I plan to do is continue to provide this platform for the community to grow stronger with me.”

The future is never certain, but one thing that is certain is that when people need to feel good about something all they have to do is log into FCL and find a beautiful photograph that soothes their soul, or gaze upon the work of a local artist that puts a smile on their face or read a story about a community icon or business owner that warms their heart. How ever the First Coast got its name, we are just glad that the area’s charm and ambiance lured Glenn Shuck here to stay. 

Suggest a Story: FCL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so when you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

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15 Responses

  1. This is a wonderful story Glenn! Thank you for sharing… Wishing the best of luck as you continue to build your business and dream!

  2. Kudos to the author! A great tribute to your achievements! I feel blessed to have called you a friend. Such a long time ago. Happy birthday!!!!

  3. Congratulations Glenn! I love what you’re doing to build a greater sense of community where you call home in Florida!

    1. aww shucks Claire. You’ve been a BIG part of this ride and thank you. I will call this coming week to catch up

  4. Happy Birthday & 4th of July. Great article in which I learned we have some simular life stories, but also some very different ones. Still would like to sit down over a dinner or a beer and talk. Hope you have a banging birthday.

  5. What a wonderful story. This made my day. Happy birthday FCL and Glenn. I hope this day is as special as you are. Blessings and blue skies my friend.

    1. Thanks Phil. You were right there when I started in tech and I learned a LOT from you, brother!!

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