Joe Semkow

If you’re a believer in reincarnation, it wouldn’t be a far stretch of the imagination to assume that Vero Beach local Joe Semkow was likely a dolphin or a sea turtle in a previous life.

“Nothing is more satisfying then feeling free and being in the ocean surrounded by so much water and unknown,” Semkow shared, citing one of his passions in life as being under the water.

Certain a cool personality, Semkow is a fresh breath of positivity with a touch of free-spirit, a glimmer of artistic, and a believer of living in the here and now. He, like so many others, doesn’t consider himself cool, however.

Semkow in one of his favorite places to be – under the sea.

“I like to be a loner,” Semkow explained. “I love to lose myself in the water, wilderness and be at one with whatever adventure I’m on or am seeking. It’s just who I’ve become. The crazy part is I’m a huge talker and can talk to a group of people without a problem, but I choose to be the way I am because I like to watch and learn.”

An observer, so to speak.

“Most people know that I would do anything for anyone more than myself if it meant helping others or giving them some inspiration,” he said.

If you’ve run into him locally, chances are it was at, near, or in the ocean. A freelance photographer, Semkow takes every opportunity he can to capture Mother Nature in some of her most beautiful moments and share those moments with the world, as well as in the offices and homes of his clients.

A Floridian through and through, Joe was born in Hollywood, Fla., and has lived in the Vero Beach community for the past eight years. When he graduated high school in 2005, he knew he wanted to serve his country first and foremost, and so that’s exactly what he did. Not surprisingly, he joined the United States Coast Guard and was stationed in New York City.

“Serving in the military teaches you the definition of being an American, as well as honor, integrity, and devotion to duty,” Semkow explained. He’s proud to have served and values the experiences he had while on active duty.

Joe Semkow served in the United States Coast Guard and was stationed in New York City. He is pictured here in uniform with his father, retired police detective Danny Semkow.

“I don’t see life as a career or life as working a job,” Semkow said. “The moment we are born is the moment we slowly begin dying. I learned that life is a gift and that we must find and do what we truly love.”

Joe’s love for life and the work that he does is evident in his demeanor, his humbleness, and his willingness to offer the visions of beauty that he is able to capture in a photograph and brighten up anyone’s life. He finds the joy in all of his surroundings.

“I am a man who loves to help others and bring people hope as well as a sense of serenity,” Semkow said. “My photography is to remind people that life is our own story and we write our own book. Nothing is more rewarding than having people reach out to me and let me know that every day they wake up, they look for that motivation to help them get through another day.”

Semkow also gives his photography credit with his own level of hope. And, love for life.

“We all live one life and need something to remind us of who we are and about what really matters in this life,” he said. “Too often, we all take things for granted.”

One of Semkow’s photography masterpieces is displayed in the office of Arthur Rutenberg Homes in Vero Beach.

Most days start out with photography in Joe’s reality. Ocean sunrises, sandy beach backgrounds, creatures of nature in their natural habitats, and images capturing random beauty within the immediate outdoors. He often shares those images on social media, and others love seeing the images as part of their morning routine.

“I’m a simple man,” Semkow stated. “I’ve always learned to give rather than receive. I feel I bring to our community a sense of peace, hope, and event inspiration. I have been at the lowest of lows in my life and I know first hand it’s the worst feeling in the world – feeling alone. I want people to know that life is amazing and the simplest of things can turn it around for good.”

Vero Beach resident and a huge supporter of Semkow’s work, Margeret Rich.

Semkow’s upbeat spirit and outlook on life certainly meet the factors attributed to being a cool person. His love for physical activity and the outdoors are qualifying points as well. He wears multiple hats (marketing coordinator, social media creator, freelance photographer, promotional products sales person) are as widespread as is his love for Vero Beach. As if those jobs (or as he says, passions) weren’t enough to keep him busy, he also started transporting cars from up north down to the south, and from the south up to the north, at the beginning and end of ‘snowbird’ season.

If adventure isn’t finding him, then Joe is always going to seek adventure. He enjoys his local favorite spots, but also enjoys the thrill he finds in experiencing somewhere new – which is why his north to south treks are right up his alley.

Picture-perfect moment of a manatee playing with Semkow’s paddle board, and he was able to capture this unique shot.

One of Semkow’s biggest influences over the years has been Penny Tranchilla, editor and owner of Vero Beach Portfolio Magazine.

“Her pure passion and joy in life and doing what she loves has taught me to love everything about life,” Semkow stated. “And,” he added, “no matter what, give it your all! We are the only ones that have the power to change and do what we want to make a better life.”

Other supporters Joe gives credit to are the people of Vero Beach and strangers, sometimes, that he encounters throughout his personal and professional endeavors.

“The amount of community support here is amazing!” Semkow exclaimed. “Whether it’s a hurricane or someone just needing a helping hand, our community is always ready to help.”

Other passions of Semkow’s include softball, soccer, football, jet-skiing, and wakeboarding.

Joe’s notorious handstand photo, shown here following a 10K in Atlanta on July 4.

“Nothing is better than enjoying life outside,” Semkow said.

And that he does, and shares it with the world through his photographs and experiences. What others may not realize is out there, Semkow hopes to capture in pictures, in hopes of giving folks a way to motivate themselves.

“I want people to know that it’s okay to be hurt, be sad, and be afraid because all that can be used as fuel to inspire them to be the best that they can be,” Semkow explained. “No matter how dark it gets or how bad the storm, the sun will always shine after.”

Words of wisdom that Joe lives by: “On this road called life, you have to take good with the bad, smile with the sad, love what you got, and remember what you had. Always forgive, but never forget, learn from your mistakes, but never forget that people change. Things go wrong. But just remember – the ride goes on.”

To get in touch with Joseph Semkow, he can be reached via e-mail at or you can find him on social media.

Jennifer Stockdale
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