ELAC lab technician explores photography

By Cynthia Laguna

Photography started as an interest for East Los Angeles lab technician John Monge, while he served in the air force.

Monge’s passion for photography started as a hobby. Serving time in the air force, he traveled to Japan and the beautiful scenery around him encouraged him to pick up a camera. Monge borrowed his friend’s camera capturing the sunset and architecture. “I managed to sell photos from my first roll I ever shot and it encouraged me to continue and I thought it was a way to make some money,“ said Monge.

Edward Weston and Ansel Adams’ work served as inspiration for Monge’s photography. The well-known photographers’ creativity, technicality, and beautiful images influenced him.

Successively winning 1st place in landscape photography at the Los Angeles County Fair, he realized the capacity of his talent and was encouraged to continue his hobby as something he should continue to pursue. Monge advises students who are pursuing a career of their choice to “Never give up, if someone tells you are not good keep going.”

While attending school, Monge worked as a free-lance photographer for Commerce and the Commerce Casino. After graduating college, Monge was a student worker at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in the photography department. He was also a private photographer’s assistant where they mainly did products and architectural photography. He had a side job as a wedding photographer for 22 years while being a student and when he began to work.

Monge was born in Los Angeles, California in 1959. He grew up in the city of Commerce and graduated from Bell Gardens High School, Class of ’77. He currently resides in Whittier.

After graduating high school, Monge joined the air force where he served 4 years. He decided to become an aircraft mechanic knowing he would obtain the chance to travel. He went to Japan for a year and a half then continued to travel to Australia, the Philippines, Hawaii, and Korea.

He attended the East Los Angeles College where he graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in 1990. He took a few other classes such as Journalism and a couple of art classes trying to experiment before actually deciding to emphasize on photography. He obtained certificates in general photography, digital photography, and portrait photography.

Monge mentioned being part of the ELAC campus news around the years of 1981 and 1982. He was a student of the current professor and faculty adviser for the campus news, Jean Stapleton. He participated in the Journalism Association of Community Colleges, which is a state organization where they hold contest and awards for colleges.

Monge taught full time for one semester at Eagle Rock High School and at East Los Angeles College. He instructed a digital, colored, and a black and white photography class.

“John is very successful because he not only is an accomplished photographer, but he has the opportunity to share his knowledge everyday with his students,“ adds his supportive wife, Patty Monge.

His job as a lab technician consist of day to day operation of the photography lab, making sure the chemicals to develop photos are correct, ordering and supplying the office, and most importantly assisting students who need help and want to learn.

In a few words, student worker Jeffrey Hernandez describes Monge as “helpful, generous and always going an extra mile for students as well as the staff members he works with.” Being able to help students get through the program successfully is one of his greatest accomplishments. Some of his student workers have left to study elsewhere and he has gotten to see them come back with successful stories that make him proud.

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