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Jim Montanus, Photographer

I call this article two for one… or actually three for one. You see, Jim Montanus posted one of his photographs on our TI Life Facebook page with a “neat story.” As soon as I looked at the Montanus Photography website, I realized that this was someone that we should meet.

And then I discovered that his father, Neil Montanus, still active in his late 80s, was one of Kodak’s most celebrated photographers, being credited with the “best portrait ever” of Walt Disney. He was also took the  official Presidential portrait of Gerald Ford.  Together, Neil and Jim, are Montanus Photography in Rochester, NY.

Jim’s story has been told several times in recent years as he has gained a remarkable reputation. He began holding a camera with his brother when his father took the two boys on some exotic photo shoots. “Our father taught us how to scuba dive from a young age and we became his part-time underwater photography assistants.”

While a journalism major at Brockport College, he became the principal photographer on the campus newspaper, “The Stylus.”  At the same time, he became interested in fine art photography of landscapes, and portraiture. It was at that time that he asked his father to answer all his questions  - “thus teaching me everything he knows.”

This strong grounding in journalism and photography allowed Jim to begin his career at the University of Rochester where his images appeared in a long list of publications including  the alumni magazine, “The Rochester Review,”the undergraduate and graduate bulletins, and the University's “Prospectus.” Many of his assignments were at the Strong Hospital, Simon School of Business Administration, College of Arts and Sciences, Warner Graduate School of Education and his favorite, the Eastman School of Music. Many of his U of R photographs appeared in the leading media, including the “New York Times,” “Boston Globe, “Chicago Tribune,” and leading magazines. 

Jim’s career in corporate marketing came to a halt three years ago and it did not take long before he decided that  his next career should revolve around what he loved the most - photography. “I have been extremely fortunate and honored,” he told me, “as I was voted 'Best Local Photographer' in City Newspaper's Annual Best of Rochester Poll, for the second year in a row!’'”

Today, Montanus Photography facebook page  has over 17,000  fans.  Many visit, hoping to find Jim’s spectacular weather shots, while others just appreciate his ability to capture their favorite scenes in the North Country.   

When I asked Jim about his connection to the Thousand Islands, I learned that he comes to the River every year. He spends half his holiday in the Islands, and a half the time in one of his favourite cities, Kingston.

It is an honour to present the following Montanus photographs of our Thousand Islands region. In addition to the photographs, we present two videos. The first is the fascinating description by Neil Montanus of creating the first underwater color… and the second is an video interview, “Photography finds beauty in Brutal Winter,” produced by Time Warner Cable News in Rochester, NY.

Sunset overlooking the Clayton, NY, Riverwalk and St. Lawrence Seaway
Montanus Photography ©2016
Clayton NY Riverwalk Pavilion
Montanus Photography ©2016
Hotel Montanus
1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, Clayton, NY
Montanus Photography ©2016
R_TI Park 3
Thousand Island Park, Wellesley Island, NY
Montanus Photography ©2016
R_TI Park 2
Thousand Island Park, Wellesley Island, NY
Montanus Photography ©2016
Thousand Island Park, Wellesley Island, NY
Montanus Photography ©2016
R_TI Park Boathouse
Thousand Island Park, Wellesley Island, NY
Montanus Photography ©2016


Uploaded on Sep 30, 2010

Neil Montanus describes how he created the World's largest underwater photograph - the Kodak Colorama - back in the 60's. This is a part of a larger documentary on the Kodak Colorama.




Published on Feb 28, 2014

“In a Rochester winter that's been downright ugly, beauty has been hard to find. But don't tell that to Jim Montanus. The Greece photographer finds warming images, in winter's freeze.”

Today, there are new and experienced photographers in the Rochester area that take full advantage of Jim’s willingness to share his knowledge in classes with the tag line – Learn Photography.. the Montanus way!

Now we have discovered both Neil and Jim Montanus, you can be sure we will ask for more photographs of our River and its surroundings.

By Susan W. Smith,

Posted in: Photography, Videos
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Mike Costello
Comment by: Mike Costello
Left at: 12:30 PM Monday, November 14, 2016
Been following Jim on FB for months.
Love his photography.
He certainly has the 'Photographer's Eye'.
Must be in his genes because his father was great too.
Sue Murray
Comment by: Sue Murray
Left at: 3:31 PM Friday, November 18, 2016
Awesome! Our favorite spot!