Photographer uses Corps experience to become one of the country's best


His photography has appeared in many well known publications. He recently had two photo pages in Life magazine. Much of his work is in US News and World Report issues. He's also done work for National Geographic Magazine.

He's not a local Marine, but he has a mission here.

Sgt. Michael J. Minardi, 43, from Tampa, Fla., is with the Reserve Augmentation Unit, Public Affairs Unit, Headquarters Marine Corps. He was here giving a photographic seminar and shooting pictures for Headquarters Marine Corps while fulfilling his annual training duty.

He joined the Corps originally as an Amtracker in 1963. After getting out in 1971, his hobby of taking pictures slowly became a profession. He joined the Marine Corps Reserve last year as a photographer.

Why would a man with such credentials return to the Corps?

"I wanted to give back to the Corps," Minardi said. "Now I have different skills. There are many Marines who aren't as skilled as I am (in photography), and I can offer them my expertise."

"I've gotten to be one of the top photographers in this country by using the stick-to-itiveness I learned in the Corps," he added.

At 17 years of age, Minardi hadn't formed a lot of bad habits, he said. "The Marine Corps taught me discipline to do things right the first time. There's a lot of good things about the Corps - not being a quitter, motivation and honor," he added.

"'Can't,' is removed from the Corps' vocabulary. There are a lot more people who aren't as confident in the business world." he said.

This confidence brought Minardi many different assignments.

"I lived through photographing South America for Eastern Airlines by using good thinking techniques learned in the Corps. I almost got killed while in that three year photography assignment," he said. "Good planning, avoiding confrontations and diplomacy saved my life several times." "I have my work in museums and I'm still alive," he said. He also travels around the United States giving seminars on photography as part of being a mentor for Eastman Kodak Company.

Working for the Marine Corps is like working for a large corporation, "only with a lot more love and respect," said Minardi.

It's not easy balancing the Marine Corps with his civilian work, he said.

"It's hard just to step away from my civilian work." he said. Headquarters Marine Corps gives him a period of time in advance. This gives Minardi a window to fit into his busy schedule. "Once I commit, I'm committed."

The direction, training and disciplince didn't hurt Minardi when he signed up in 1962, he said.

During boot camp Minardi lost 72 pounds in nine weeks and never gained it back. "My drill instructor told me, 'I don't think you're going to make it out here.' That challenged me," he said. "Now I run two to five miles every other day."

"I knew I was going to get through it. All I ate was skim milk, lettuce and salt pills," he smiled. "My drill instructor stood over me as seven skinny guys ate their food and all of mine."

He realized he was skinny when he cut his adams apple shaving.

"Boot Camp broke the cycle," Minardi said. He made honor man of his platoon.

Minardi applies what he's learned in everything he does, he said.

"Not everything I do is glamourous. There's a lot of hassles and hard work on a daily basis," he said. "No matter what job you do, you should do your best and take pride in it. Even the most mundane work is important," he said.

"It's very competitive (in my work) and I don't get a pay check every Friday, so I have to stay motivated," Minardi said.

I'm not scared of anything; the Marine Corps taught me this. I can just turn off fear. Fear is very negative, along with doubt, surprise, and worry. Those are the four oriental evils."

"You should build yourself up," he added.

"God deals you a hand, and it's how you play it that matters. A lot of guys have more than me, but have done a lot less. I've just taken what God has given me and went for it," Minardi said.

The Marine Corps changed Minardi.

"I was the shy fat kid," he said. "I'm not shy (or fat) anymore."

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