:: Photographer Spotlight :: John Starrett aka JonMonFishImagery goes for broke
He is a lover of all things water, a Florida native, father, surfer, published photographer and genuine rad dude.
With a life long love of the water, whether on a board or off, on top of or below, in his element & with a gifted eye, JonMon discovers there is an even greater gift his love for the water provides him. A new chapter writes itself when you step out of your comfort zone and go for broke. It's clear to see why his imagery is receiving such fast attention.
Meet the man under the blue veil. We catch up with JonMon in Northwest Florida for this weeks Q & A. Find out how he detaches from reality and what kind of big trouble he likes in China.
1) Where are you from? Born and raised?
(JM) Fort Walton Beach, Fl. Raised here along the beautiful Emerald Coast of NwFl.
2) How long have you been a professional photographer?
(JM) I've been doing photography on the professional level for 2 years now and total for 3 years.
3) What got you started in photography? Or how? When & where?
(JM) Three years ago I was given a GoPro 3 as a gift. It did not have a viewfinder or LCD screen. I just started taking photos with. Above and below the water. I started sharing my images on social media and I received a lot of positive feedback from photographers and therefore sparked my interest even more. I then purchased a DSLR and started learning everything I could from YouTube, books and other photographers.
4) What got you started with underwater photography? Would you say this is your specialty?
(JM) I would not necessarily say it is my specialty. It definitely seems to be my niche. I love all forms of photography and try to aspire in all of them. However, underwater is definitely what I am most passionate about. Before photography I've always been a water person from surfing to freediving and being under the blue veil is where I find the most inspiration.
5) What got you started in surf apparel photography?
(JM) I've always been into the surfer lifestyle and culture. From my interest in the lifestyle I grew up looking at ads in the surfing magazines depicting the surfer lifestyle. I knew that once I started delving into portrait photography I wanted to try lifestyle work. In doing so I wanted to offer up my own perspectives and styles in hopes of bringing more awareness to my clients brands as well as to spread the about the surf culture. It all seemed to take off from there.
6) What inspires you most for doing underwater shoots and what inspires you most for doing fashion photography?
(JM) Water itself has always fascinated me. From the swimming pool to the beach, I could never get enough. However not that I am older, I have seen the changes happening to the waters around me such as the fragile Florida springs. I grew up going to the springs with my father as he was a cave diver and a lot of those springs are now gone because of pollution levels. So a lot of my work is conservation based. That also goes along with pointing out much of my saltwater and ocean work is conservation based depicting sea turtles and other marine life in their natural habitats.
On the fashion & lifestyle side of things, I am simply inspired by the culture it breeds. The surfing and board riding aspects. I want people to project themselves into the photos I take. To imagine themselves living the lifestyle. To imagine themselves waxing off a surfboard and seeing a set coming in and getting stoked. I want to invoke that emotion and feeling with my work. Mixing fashion and water photography is just those two inspirations combining. Getting people on fire for the earth and the amazing lifestyles we can live.
7) Who has been an inspiration to your photography? Who has been your biggest supporter?
(JM) I have had many inspirations. Such as some well known names including Aaron Chang, Clark Little, & Ken Keifer. Other equally important photographers such as Cam Cline and John Moran to name a few. When it comes to support I have been blessed. When stepping outside of your comfort zone and following your dreams you can run into a lot of snags and self-doubt. It can be very scary at times. I couldn't have come this far without the support from my family and especially my little girl that has always believed in me.
8) What is most challenging for you while on a shoot?
(JM) Every shoot poses it's own set of challenges as they are all different. Being an underwater and outdoors photographer you are always having to keep contend with the weather and its' elements. From murky waters to mosquitoes. Honestly, I would have to say my wedding photography is the most challenging (LOL). Sometimes almost like herding cats.
9) What has been your proudest shoot so far and why?
(JM) I would have to say this is a very tough question to answer. In just the past 3 years I have had some amazing moments. From being featured in Guy Harvey Magazine to meeting Dr. Harvey to having one of my images hung in the Baltimore Aquarium. With all of the achievement I have been able to experience, I would say my pride rests in the simple things. Such as each time I get to swim alongside a sea turtle. Being a guest in their world and seeming accepted along side them is always an honor.
10) What awards, acknowledgements, publications or exposure have you received?
(JM) I have had the privilege of being featured in the Guy Harvey Magazine and was invited to spend time with him at a Lion FIsh awareness event which was very humbling.
Additionally I have received several Golden Pelican Awards from the Natural Florida Photographic Society. One of my pieces hangs in the Baltimore Aquarium which is a huge honor for me. I've been featured on several magazine covers within my region featuring my wedding work as well as my work with sea turtles. The Santa Rosa County Florida Welcome Center has 30 of my pieces on their walls as well as Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola Florida. The Saupp Conservation and Biology Center in the Ocala National Forest has several of my pieces as well. My video work has been used in publications for Florida Wildlife and Conservatism (FWC) as I am always happy to help them in their goals. My bio is listed on outex.com next to many respected underwater photographers such as Chris Higgins. Last but not least FindYourCoast & Venture Pro Brands have been a huge supporter and user of my works.
11) What pushes you to excel and keep creating/shooting?
(JM) With the digital age constantly changing and evolving I look forward to continuing to do just that with my photography and as a person. To constantly change and evolve. To be the best version I can be in turn developing my photography alongside myself.
My little girl also. She lives on Pupukea Oahu along the North Shore. She just turned 11 and as much time as I can spend with here is a great thing and pushes me.
12) What is your camera equipment of choice? What do you have your sights set on when it comes time to make another camera purchase?
(JM) I am a loyal Canonist. I stand by their equipment 110%. I also appreciate GoPro and the ability to grab their little cameras and go. I presently use duel Canon 5d Mark iiis and the GoPro 5. I have a Canon 7d Markii for a back up and several lenses. Knekt and Outex products help me stay in the water shooting without breaking the bank.
My sights are set on a DSLR housing from Sea to Sea or Nauticam.
13) Tell us what is your favorite food?
(JM) Oh man... favorite food. I like it all, lol. Probably a toss up between Japanese and Chinese.
14) What is your favorite movie?
(JM) My favorite movie would have to probably be Big Trouble in Little China. Always has been for some reason. (1986 Action Comedy starring Kurt Russell)
15) What is your favorite hobby when you are not shooting?
(JM) I would not necessarily call it a hobby more than a passion. When I am diving I almost always have a camera with me or up to my eyes. Every once in a while I'll set the camera on the bottom and just dive around. But to get away from the camera and everything else, surfing would have to be it. I don't do a lot of surf photography because it is so hard to photograph other surfers when I am missing waves. It's my way to detach from the land and just focus on mother nature and myself.
16) Where do you hope to be in five years?
(JM) LOL. On a beach in Hawaii.
17) Where did the name JonMon originate?
(JM) lol. I get asked this one quite frequently. My dad nicknamed me this early on. As a young kid I wore it as a badge of honor. My father has been everything to me from my influence to surfing to free diving. So I named my company in his honor.
18) What connects you to the FYC & Venture Pro brands?
(JM) I am stoked to see where FYC & Venture Pro are headed. It's tough to start a board riding/lifestyle brand these days. From the beginning you have attracted likeminded people like myself into seeing where the brands are headed. From the waves to the slopes you cover it all and I can connect with that.