© Mark LaMonica. All Rights Reserved.
I had the good fortune of meeting Mark LaMonica when I was a "refugee" from Hurricane Ike.  My husband brought me along on a business trip.  He was working while I was escaping fallout from the storm.

I met Mark when I was about to embark on a hike in unfamiliar territory.  Mark was waiting for his hiking partner and, in conversation, expressed concern that I was hiking by myself.  I was confident that I
had my map, and that I wouldn't be hiking too far inland.  In retrospect, my "confidence," coupled with naïveté, might have been a recipe for disaster.   We said our goodbyes.  He was planning to hike an
alternate route on the other side of the park.

To make a long story short, I got lost, after walking around in circles. Trying to find my way back to the trail head, I finally sat down.  Within 5 minutes of sitting, I heard voices on the trail.  Mark and his
partner had decided to hike "my" trail out of concern for my well being.  I found out that, if I had continued to go the way I was going, I would have found a rattlesnake nesting area.  I will never be able to
thank him enough for his conscientiousness, his awareness, and his sense of responsibility for a complete stranger.  He and I proceeded to become fast friends.

I came to discover that Mark is an amazing photographer and mountaineer.  I asked permission to tag along with him on his work days.  The next two weeks was an education that was so superb and
exciting, I am still amazed at my good fortune to this day, and it has significantly improved my personal picture taking skills.   

As we were hiking, I was being taught everything that I could possibly learn about photography.  Mark is a born teacher, not to mention a walking encyclopedia.  I learned more about photography,
lighting, filters, frame rates, utilizing the natural environment, and creating cookies for different effects in various environmental conditions and varied terrain.   To list the things that I learned is to minimize
the depth of the theory that he conveyed to me.  

His depth of knowledge and understanding of theory and application was so extensive yet taught in such a way that even a novice such as myself could grasp many of the concepts.  He should be
teaching in a University setting.  I have never met anyone with more passion for his craft, and more dedication for learning and expanding his own knowledge.  I've never met anyone who wanted to share
so freely of that knowledge and to teach others, just for the sake of teaching.

On a personal note, his integrity, his honesty, his kindness and commitment to others has placed him in my heart as a true friend for life.  

Hilary Nixon
The Woodlands, TX