Flipper has nothing on Monica Lynn, the Fort Myers Beach Public Library’s July Artist of The Month!
“I have always been taking photographs of sunsets, ever since I was a little girl in grade school, so you could say that was the beginning of my professional photography career,” she recalled. “Dad used to take us to Naples in the winter and the sunsets were amazing, but I would just take the sunsets, without realizing that sometimes the best photos were after it set below the horizon, to see it reflect back up off the cloud deck. Dad kidded me that all my shots were the same, without even having a bird or pelican in them. Later, we vacationed at the Pink Shell, and I continued taking sunset photos. Then, when I came back to Fort Myers Beach about ten years ago, I was jogging on the beach and looked up and saw the Pink Shell again, as I did not really realize where it was when I was a child, and that was such a cool moment, because I realized as an adult I had come full-circle!”
From her home on Estero Bay, Monica saw “people going by in kayaks, and they looked so happy and free, that finally last April I bought myself a cheap one. I began to go out on the water, and a pod of dolphin approached me, and I thought it so funny! The first time I saw them as a group, it seemed like they were posing for me, so the next time I went out, I took my new camera and they were posing for me again, and I got some terrific shots, and began to think that this is a gift and the reason I started taking photos all those years ago.”
Before Monica knew it, “I was not only taking photographs and videos of them, but giving them names, as I got to know them by sight. Clarence O’Malley is one I see almost every day, and he has such a distinctive fin, and transforms when he is around me, kind-of like your dorky friend who eventually becomes the cool guy everyone wants to take to prom! In addition to Clarence, there is My Baby, Parker, Silvia, Peter Pan, Wendy, Captain Hook, Scarlet and Rhett, and about 15 others. The more I named and photographed them, the bigger a kick my friend got out of it, and stared calling me the ‘Fairy Podmother!’ That of course became the name for my business and website.”
Monica describes herself as “a wildlife photographer, and not just with dolphins, though they are obviously my focus, but sandhills and Blue herons, and of course sunsets. I love setting my dolphin videos to music, to complement the entire experience. I firmly believe the dolphins recognize me as much as I recognize them, because they come right up beside me in my kayak and seem to want me to take their photographs. Sometimes I can even be by my seawall and the dolphins come right over and swim back and forth, making eye contact with me, and that is such a special feeling. I feel such a connection to them, as they fit my passion for animal rescue and advocacy.”
She does a great deal of work with Esther’s Army of Love International Animal Rescue. “A couple from Toronto formed this when they eventually realized the potbelly miniature pig they thought they bought as a pet actually grew into a huge barnyard one! They kept her anyhow, and now post photos all the time of Esther, to convince others to avoid bacon and other meat products. I like their style, because they are not all in your face or passing judgement, but do it through compassion. I discovered them while I was literally eating a bacon sandwich, and I flashed back to being in Northwest Ohio 30 years ago, when I heard pigs squealing from the slaughterhouse, and I’ve never eaten bacon again, so I appreciate their gentle advocacy.”
As to how the Fairy Podmother became the FMB Library July Artist of the Month, “I was out walking my dog on the beach and met Eddie Foster, who most people know as the woman who led the successful movement to ban plastic straws on Fort Myers Beach. She was out cleaning the beach and found a wallet. I was in no hurry, so we walked until we found the owner and, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished! I told her what I did and gave her one of my dolphin calendars.”
Gifts of Nature
Shortly after that, “Eddie told Dr. Leroy Hommerding, the Director of the Fort Myers Beach Library, about me and he contacted me to do dolphin presentations for their public programs, even though I am not a professional speaker by any means! I enjoyed wonderful turnouts, however, with about 35 people attending, as who doesn’t love dolphins, so when you hear people talking about the Crazy Dolphin Lady in the rainbow hat, that is me! Dr. Hommerding asked if I would like to be an Artist of The Month and of course I accepted, and will have about 30 of my works in the exhibit. What is even more exciting is that this will be my first-ever display of my photography!”
Monica calls her style “’fantasy meets reality!’ My strongest talent is imagination; if you want to learn the technical aspects of photography, talk to someone else! As for my photography, it never gets old to me, as I love experiencing nature and dolphins and sunsets, and I hope when people see my work, it inspires them to help protect dolphins and all animals, as we need to protect them and each other, as we are all part of the living family of this Earth. There are many animal sanctuaries for dogs and cats and all kinds of other animals, but not for dolphin, and I feel my work helps to raise awareness for that cause. I hope, through this exhibit, to share the moments that give me such great joy, through my interaction with the dolphins, to motivate others to act.”
To view Monica’s artwork, visit the Fort Myers Beach Library’s 3rd Floor Gallery throughout July. It is located at 2755 Estero Boulevard, with hours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and closed Sundays and holidays including The Fourth of July. For information, see www.fmb.lib.fl.us or call 239-765-8162. Meet Monica and learn the story behind each photograph at the “Meet the Artist” session on Thursday, July 12, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. To view more of Monica Lynn’s artwork, visit www.fairypodmother.com.
“I hope my exhibit inspires people to reconnect with the natural world,” said Monica. “We live in a turbulent time, where it seems like nothing but horrible things happen, so if we can pause every so often and reflect upon the gifts that nature gives us, we perhaps can center ourselves again, and that is what I want to share.”