Never in her wildest dreams Jon Burket, Conservatory Resident never imagine becoming a photographer.
Today, the 39-year-old has become a household name in Winter Garden and beyond for his captivating local photography featured at numerous businesses and institutions across the city.
Burket currently has five prints hanging in Winter Garden Town Hall as part of the Historic Preservation Month exhibit; two prints at the SOBO Art Gallery as part of the “About Face” exhibition; as well as prints in Main House Market, Pammie’s Sammies and even the homes of local residents.
Although Burket is known for several different photography styles – including pets, travel, portraits, golf, conservatory and events – he said his favorite by far was his interest in photography. wildlife and nature.
He loves being in nature and often wakes up an hour and a half before the start of the day to drive an hour or hike a mile just to see a sunrise.
“I’ll find the most amazing sky, or I’ll find a bobcat or whatever, and I’ll look around,” he said. “There won’t be anyone there, and I’m just like, ‘What a shame this incredible thing is happening, and I’m the only person here. I love trying to capture that second of a moment and share it, so it’s never wasted.
Remarkably, Burket has only been doing professional photography for about a year. But his story is a series of strange coincidences.
Burket credits the start of her new life journey to her haircut in 2004.
His big afro-like hairstyle was perfect for his music-focused career path – at the time – and caught the attention of many, including a man who invited him to his recording studio in the Home state of Burket, Pennsylvania.
“If any of those things hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here,” Burket said with a laugh.
He was completing his final year of college as a vocal specialist studying music when he began spending time learning the production side of business at the studio. The guys explained that they were turning the studio into the Pennsylvania Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and offered to attend for free if he stayed in the area.
Burket jumped at the chance. He found an apartment and worked in a mobile phone shop while he studied.
In 2008, one of his clients gave him a gift card to play golf as a thank you. He admitted he was going to give the card away – he had never played golf – but decided to give it a try instead. He was hooked.
Soon after, he and his ex-wife decided to move to Washington, DC when she found a new job. Burket said he took his new love of golf with him.
Although he was unable to find a job as a sound engineer, Burket got a part-time job at Sirius XM radio, where he started as an on-board operator for the PGA Tour. He soon moved on to producing live tournament coverage for the network.
In 2011, he got a call from his former PGA boss who had been hired by the Golf Channel to start a show called Morning Drive. He invited Burket to come to Orlando to work for him. Burket was going through a divorce and knew it was time to start over.
Although he lived in Hunter’s Creek at the time, Burket said he always loved downtown Winter Garden.
He worked with Golf Channel for several years. Then, in 2020, the station announced it was moving to Stamford, Connecticut, and laid off most of its employees, including Burket.
Burket decided to start his career over from scratch.
As far back as Burket can remember, his mother loved carrying around a camera. It was not about capturing an image artistically but about impressing a moment.
The Winter Garden resident said he remembers carrying disposable cameras around college, but didn’t get his first camera until 2004 while studying music at abroad in Salzburg, Austria.
Burket said he had a teacher who challenged them to a photo contest. He took a photo through a circular iron balustrade to a cathedral, a moment which the professor said “brought him to tears”.
“It was really cool to see a photo I took elicit an emotional reaction from someone,” Burket said.
He never would have thought that almost 20 years later he would make it as a profession.
Although photography has always been something Burket thought he was “only a little good at”, with family and friends telling her he was talented, she has now taken a new dimension.
“It’s kind of like when people go to audition for ‘American Idol’ and they’re like, ‘My friends and family tell me I’m a great singer,’ and then they open their mouths and the judges are like, ‘Ummm no,’ he said jokingly.
After losing his job in 2020, Burket decided to take a chance and spent a few months honing his skills, researching and eventually buying cameras and gear to learn the science behind the perfect picture.
Around this time, We Are Winter Garden announced a photo contest with 12 categories, and Burket decided to treat the categories as a job to explore different types of photography. He went on to win seven out of 12. When he went to collect his prize, he met the team and a few weeks later started working with them. He is currently a senior producer at Minion Media Group, works with We Are Winter Garden, and freelances as a producer and photographer.
“It’s really great to be able to share my work with others and see the community respond to it in such a positive way,” he said.
His dream photography goal is to have a million Instagram followers and get paid for posting pictures of wildlife or selling tons of prints, although he thinks that’s not realistic. .
He said many people have suggested he offer guided wildlife photography experiences or classes, and he is exploring that possibility.
He and his wife of five years, Robin, now live on the outskirts of downtown Winter Garden and often walk the area with their three white golden retrievers. They enjoy the variety of events that take place in the community, as well as walking, biking and exploring the outdoors.
Burket said he could never have reached this part of his journey without the help of Robin, who he says supported him as he explored this new career path.
Besides being resourceful and using free tools, Burket said anyone interested in photography just has to be willing to put in the time.
“Learn your camera inside and out,” he said. “Have it with you all the time, because you never know when something special will happen in front of you. It takes patience, anticipation, determination, awareness and sometimes luck. You have to accept that some days you won’t see much or might even miss an epic shot for one reason or another. These near misses are hard for me to let go of, but if you keep putting yourself in position, the moments and the opportunities will eventually appear.
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