Frame Your Story Simply – Photographer Josh Monthei


Livestock sat down for an interview with photographer Josh Monthei. We explored several topics, including his love for travel, his favorite places to visit, and photographers that inspire him. Scroll down to see a selection of his images and to read the full interview.

How did you get your start in photography?

Photography became a part of my life in 2012 while trying to document a roadtrip with my brother that lasted over four years.

You do a lot of aerial shots. What do you like about shooting with a drone? How did you learn? When did you pick it up?

I purchased my drone off of Craigslist while traveling through California almost two years ago. It was an impulse buy, I couldn’t resist.

Capturing photos and videos with a drone is terrifying for at least the first fifteen times. Until you feel confident in the air, there will always be that gut feeling telling you not to go further or higher. I drove to the desert and flew the drone every single day for a week until I became confident enough to start flying around cities and people. The funny thing is, I crashed my drone yesterday and broke a propeller so it is currently out of service as there aren’t many options for drones in Guerrero, Mexico.

You also do a lot of traveling. Is there any one thing that stands out the most to you when you travel? How has van life changed you, and what made you “settle” in Mexico for the time being?

No matter where I find myself, it is always the people that stand out to me most when I travel.

While traveling I met my girlfriend Sesilie, and she is the reason we are currently in Mexico. I was skateboarding one day and after returning to the van Sesilie asked if I wanted to travel to Mexico for nine months. Right away I said no; I didn’t want to actually dedicate that long of a time period much time to any one place, which is why I was traveling. After my initial reaction, I realized the reason I started traveling in the first place was to escape the normal and break out of my comfort zone. By saying no to traveling in Mexico, I was actually doing the exact opposite of what I set out to do, and I knew I had to go. It’s now been six months in Mexico, and I’m incredibly thankful for this journey, and the love and encouragement from Sesilie. We have traveled around Guerrero, Michoacan, and Quintana Roo together, and every trip excited me for future travel outside of the states.

What is your favorite place that you have visited? Do you have a favorite travel memory, something that has really stuck with you?

Recently my girlfriend and I had the chance to spend five days on an island called Caye Caulker in Belize, my new favorite place. I highly recommend traveling there, especially if you want to travel outside of the US, but are unsure of where to go. The locals are extremely welcoming and, even though you will most likely find yourself with other travelers from around the world, the island always maintains a tropical small-town vibe. We swam and snorkeled through crystal clear waters around the world’s second largest barrier reef while hundreds of sharks and stingrays surrounded us like a swarm of bees. It was the single most terrifying and exciting experience I have ever had. We kayaked to Tarpoon Holes and watched as 2′-5′ fish leap out of the water to snag fish from our hands, visited a seahorse sanctuary, and was welcomed with free rum punch almost everywhere we went. Belize is a beautiful, genuine place, and I now consider my experiences there some of my favorite travel memories.

What is one of the biggest things photography has taught you?

One of the biggest, and most important, lessons photography has taught me is patience. Have you ever seen photos of star trails? An image like that could be over one-thousand images at twenty-second intervals, stacked on top of each other and blended in post. That takes a lot of time and patience, but when you finally remember all of your gear, locate the spot, find the perfect conditions and dial in the settings to create the image that has been on your mind for weeks, none of that time matters. The image is no longer an image at that point, not to me at least. The image becomes a representation of dedication and hardwork, not to mention a whole lot of patience, and I appreciate the process. Patience and respecting the process are two things photography has taught me.

Who are some of your inspirations in regards to photographers?

I honestly have so many people that I look up to in the world of Photography.

Lately I have been following along with James Barkman – He is currently on a climbing trip from Oregon to South America via dirtbike with friends. An incredible photographer and storyteller whom I look up to.

Eric Kim- An impressive street Photographer who also teaches workshops all over.

Zach Arias – Street Photography from Atlanta