Off-Duty Photography Artist

Monte Wills is a 13-year Miami-Dade Police veteran. He’s been protecting and serving Palmetto Bay for the last eight years.  Like most police officers, Officer Wills is there with a smile to uphold the law and help his fellow citizens. “I enjoy my work very much and plan on doing this until retirement.”

On-duty, Officer Wills is all about law enforcement. As you might expect, his police work tends to create a certain amount of stress. Off-duty, Wills has an interesting way to relax and let the stress go. “I usually get off at 6AM and wait for the sun to rise, then I go and start taking pictures. It’s my peace, my Zen, my stress reliever.”

Using only his mind’s eye and his iPhone 4S, Officer Wills is transforming the South Florida outdoors into eye-popping works of art. His photographic canvases are the very places most of us don’t even give a second glance, as we walk or drive past amazing beauty.

While on patrol, Monte jots down locations and scenes that seem like good photo opportunities. Later, when he goes off-duty, he returns to the scene (of the crime), to capture his photo.  “I see the picture result before I take the photo. It’s in my mind, already created,” explains Wills. “I wait for the right time of day so I get the light I want and then I run it through several [iPhone] apps to compose the final image.”

What comes out of his iPhone is truly amazing. “In the beginning, it was a lot of experimentation to see what did what. Now, I am pretty fast because I know what effect I want and where to get it.” His main applications include SnapSeed, Iris, PhotoForge 2, Blender and Juxtaposer.  Overall, he uses around 15 programs. No manipulation is done outside the iPhone. Oh, and he now has a macro lens that snaps over the iPhone to capture beauty in its smallest form.

Officer Wills favorite places for taking photos are Deering Estate, the Canoe Launch near Thalatta Estate, the Palmetto Bay Public Library grounds and the Palmetto Golf Course.  So, if you see a man carefully working his iPhone in one of these locations, see if it’s Monty.  I am sure he’ll show you his work in progress.

Down the road, Officer Wills sees this as a business after he retires from the police force. “I’m developing my art, understanding my tools and getting myself ready for the next big life adventure.  People really respond to my pictures and tell me to pursue it.  I plan on eventually doing the local art shows and then expand on that.”

You can see more of his work on Instagram - You can also contact him at MonteWillsPhotography[@] (remove the brackets!)

I couldn't resist this next one (below) because he snapped it during our interview and photo shoot. Little did I know he got such a stunning shot...on the first try, naturally!