Our Spotlight on the Arts for July 2023 shines brightly on photographer Michael Montillo!

We first viewed Michael’s amazing images on Instagram years ago. We were struck by the vibrant colors and crispness of his photos, many of which had been captured in St. Mary’s County.

How long have you been involved with photography?

I started taking pictures at a young age by “borrowing” my mom’s camera enough times that she began buying Kodak disposables. I continued these adventures in film through my college years, often visiting beach and surf locations to capture the many different moods of the seashores.

Years later in 2014, I received my first digital camera as a Christmas gift. The transition to digital media launched endless opportunities to capture and share my favorite photos much quicker and less costly than utilizing traditional film methods.

Who has inspired you throughout your career?

From an artistic perspective, my high school choir director Patty Pierce (formerly Kuzmick), was by far the most influential teacher I ever had. She set the bar very high. I also sang with Justin Myles in the chamber choir at Chopticon High School. Watching Justin’s progression over the years has been super inspiring.

As far as photography goes, Ansel Adams is the “godfather” of landscape photography and is up there on my list. I have developed (see what I did there) many friendships over the years within the art community around Southern Maryland. Most of my current inspirations are amongst these friends.   

Do you have a favorite aspect of your art?

I have always been drawn to landscape and wildlife photography and love traveling, with destination photography being the driving force. I’ve gone on some wild adventures out west and have fallen in love with exploring just about anywhere west of the Rockies that is not a city atmosphere.

Locally, I am a big fan of photographing life on the water or around the agricultural community.

I currently carry a Nikon DSLR and a Nikon Z7 Mirrorless, and I broke my brand loyalty to Nikon last September and purchased a Sony A7Riv Mirrorless camera. My bag is a little heavy these days, but I always keep a telephoto lens in one, a wide-angle fixed lens in another, and an everyday zoom lens in a third bag, so I am prepared for any opportunity that pops up.

Is your artwork available for purchase from any of the local shops, galleries, or upcoming events?

I have prints for sale at Chaptico Market, Morgan Family Dentistry in Mechanicsville, and in the lobby of Wicomico Shores Golf Course. I set up as a vendor every year at the Caledon Art and Wine Festival in King George, VA, in early November. If any businesses or galleries are looking for a new artist, I’d love to have the opportunity! Also, be sure to visit the St. Mary’s County Arts Council Gallery & Gift Shop during the month of June 2023 to see my work there in a special limited-run show. Check out my website too!

What do you do when you aren’t taking pictures? 

I work full-time as an engineering technician for Natural Resources Conservation Service/USDA. We partner with the Maryland Dept of Agriculture and the local soil conservation districts. Our main priority is protecting the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and helping the farming community address erosion and water quality concerns.

My favorite hobby is fishing or really anything that has to do with being out on or around the water. I also enjoy hiking, live music, and going to the beach.

Every spring, I volunteer with the Southern Maryland Audubon Society and assist with monitoring barn owl nesting boxes and banding the juvenile owlets before they fledge. It’s a long story of how I got there. It started with my camera, but it’s been something that’s brought me a lot of joy for the past eight years.

Thank you, Michael, for being a valued part of our creative community!

 Learn more about our featured artist at the links below:

 Website: www.montillophoto.com

Facebook: Michael Montillo Photography 

Instagram: @montillophoto

Submitted by Wednesday Davis/St. Mary’s County Arts Council (outreach@smcart.org)                                                                                            

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