Seattle Photography Committee Featured Member - Sept 2017

Michael Montgomery is the Seattle photography committee's featured member of the month.
Anita Elder Anita Elder
Seattle Photography Committee Chair
September 02, 2017
Seattle Photography Committee Featured Member - Sept 2017

Name: Michael Montgomery
Hometown: Kennewick, WA
Member Since: 2004
Occupation: Software Engineer at Amazon
Favorite Things to Photograph: Things that sit still. Flowers and landscapes. Definitely not birds.

Michael first became involved with The Mountaineers Photography Committee during the summer of 2016. He'd backpacked the segment from Ozette to Rialto - it was his first time visiting the coast and his first multi-night backpack - and he wanted more.

"I don’t know how I managed to go 36 years without doing either of those things, but nobody’s perfect."

Up until that point, Michael had never really taken photos, he just figured, "Well, a trail is a trail and a mountain is a mountain, and does the world really need more pictures of lakes and trail head signs?" 

But, when he walked out onto the beach at Sand Point and saw the sea stacks for the first time, it was like a switch got flipped - he wanted to capture every little detail, and he felt like it was a truly unique experience that he wanted to share with friends and family.

Michael took hundreds of mostly terrible pictures on his mostly terrible cell phone, and he came away a bit disappointed. He felt like the pictures he took didn’t really do justice to this beautiful place. So, Michael decided that he would get a “grown up” camera, learn to actually take decent pictures, and the next time he went to the coast, he’d be able to preserve those memories forever. Part of that learning process was photography classes and trips with The Mountaineers.

P5060974.jpgSunset at Second Beach


Michael always loved being outdoors. He grew up near a long-abandoned gravel pit that had some woods and a marsh, so he spent a lot of time there just hanging out. He got a bit tied up with adult life over the past decade, and between his dad passing away from cancer in his 50s and his recent divorce, Michael had to stop and take stock of his life and ask himself, "Do I want to be the guy who spends his weekends playing outside, or do I want to be the guy who sits around watching TV and mowing the lawn?"

Michael doesn't have a TV or a lawn any more. While his passion for taking photos developed recently, he has definitely fallen in love with photography. He cites three reasons: 1) it lets him look back on all the places he has seen and things he has done, 2) it helps him feel like he's making the most of the time he has left, and 3) it provides a creative outlet to connect with regular people in ways that his job never will. Being a programmer is pretty nebulous work to most people, when Michael talks about the things he's working on, eyes start to glaze over. But, everyone appreciates a good photo - he feels like photography lets him produce something that others enjoy consuming.

P8120086.jpgRidge Lake (Kendall Katwalk)


Michael's favorite memory of a Mountaineers Photography activity was an overnight backpack to Second Beach. He (mostly accidentally) got an amazing photo of a sea stack at sunset that he now has printed on canvas and hung above his fireplace. When people come over, their reactions are usually along the lines of “Oh wow, that’s beautiful!” so it feels pretty awesome to tell them that he actually took it himself.

When asked who or what inspires him, Michael said, "I’m not really sure how to answer. I don’t look at the work of other photographers for ideas, heck, I don’t even know the names of any famous photographers outside of, say, Ansel Adams."

Michael hasn't yet won any awards or recognition for his photography, but he puts his shots on Facebook and sometimes people like it and sometimes they don’t. He gets a lot of positive feedback in person, which is more than he ever really expected, but mostly it’s just about capturing memories for himself.

P6240579-Pano.jpgAlvord Desert sunset


Michael's camera system is small and light which means he almost always has it with him when he's playing outside - sort of an 11th essential. Even old hikes usually have something new to show him, so always having the camera is a good start. Patience and planning help a lot as well, although he's not quite to the point where he's regularly planning individual shots.

When asked if he was a leader or a follower, Michael said he generally likes to lead. I'm hoping that one day he will start leading hikes for the Seattle Photography Committee!


Attend our monthly potluck, which is the third Wednesday of each month. We socialize and share food, then we have announcements and show photos of what we have seen during the past month or year. Or, join us on one of our photo activities!


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Anita Elder
Anita Elder says:
Sep 13, 2017 11:58 AM

In love with the pica's so cute!