The Hardest Part of Photography

Today’s Post by Mark Toal

Learning to shot and show images that excite only you is much harder than learning aperture, shutter or manual exposure. When I started taking photographs I wanted to be like the photographers that originally inspired me to pick up a camera. If I could just make an image like Edward Weston or Ansel Adams I thought I’d be happy and people would love my work.

In the 1970’s photography took a different turn and photographers like Duane Michals, Les Krims, and Ralph Gibson caught my eye. I admired that they were trying something new and different, pushing photography and themselves to another level. At first I tried emulating their work and then realized that it was their personal vision, not mine.


It can take a long time to find what makes you happy and along the way people will question why you are taking these photographs. Photo contests and competitions will try to seduce you to shoot a certain style to win money and fame. I was in my 50’s before I decided to just shoot and show what makes me happy.

Am I still influenced by people’s reactions to my image? Of course I am. When I sit in front of the computer looking at images in Lightroom I can tell immediately which ones I love. After all these years my heart beats a little faster and I forget about everything else when I see that image.

I wish I could say follow what you love and you’ll get rich, but instead you might just be happier and in this world that’s worth a lot.