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Mark Metternich • What Keeps Me Inspired

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Different people get inspired by many different things in life. Mark Metternich shares his experiences and tells us what keeps him inspired in today's frantic digital world of landscape photography

There are many aspects to landscape photography, some which may even surprise you, which keep me perpetually inspired. Don't get me wrong, being an intensely passionate landscape photographer for over sixteen years, I have had very few, small and short seasons of near burnout, but those times were more much related to personal circumstances in my life than the marvellous work and the call of the outdoors.

Each year that goes by teaches me more clearly that it is the quality of our genuine relationships with others, what we give and receive and how we serve them, which brings legitimate fulfilment in life. Like other radical landscape photographers and their necessary travels, I too had long seasons of isolation, like some years when I lived and ran my photography business out of my vehicle, photographing over three-hundred days a year. What I sharply learned from that kind of isolation is that I am not an introvert! I love people. I need them. I am convinced that healthy humans are social creatures by nature and design.

Interview with Mark Metternich

The overwhelming privilege of interacting with my clients, peers and fellow nature lovers practicing photography has become an increasingly incredible source of inspiration to me each year. A great many of these interactions have developed into remarkable lifelong friendships. It is a high honor that I get the opportunity to serve people in this business by leading photography workshops, helping people experience a robust adventure and helping them to see incredible nature in the field. I have gained a particular joy from not only helping them to acquire great pictures, teach them critical post-processing and master print-making skills, but I am also passionate about making contributive educational materials, like video tutorials. Being given the trust of others to work on their images for print preparation is an extraordinary honor. It is precisely in these moments, while either out in the field on a workshop or communicating online, for example, that these cherished connections occur which would not happen but for the universal love of landscape photography. These interactions have brought me deep, meaningful friendships where we can share our lives and passion. I am blessed to be able to do all of this for a profession which has richly enhanced my life. I love the work, to serve, and I LOVE to learn! All of the above is bedrock inspiration.

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When I am not on the road traveling, you can assuredly find me sitting behind the computer for between ten and sixteen hours a day working in (or teaching) a variety of photography post-processing software, such as Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop. Some might justly think I would tire of this, or that I might easily get set in my ways because I have been doing it for so long, but the opposite is true. I relish learning and very much thrive on new information that I do not know! One example of this is in regard to the constant stream of ever-growing post-processing studies. I am continually striving to improve every link in the long post-processing chain, from an original RAW file capture (optimizing what we do with our camera), to pristine quality, finished master files ready for any output. I am talking about a finished photo that can be both a polished, impeccable and perfected fine art print, or an excellent image optimally prepared for social media or web viewing. Reaching proficiency or expertise in this area never means slowing down, taking it easy or that the learning process can stall or stop! Technology travels at the speed of light, and nearly every day there are new advancements and techniques which, when learned and implemented, allow us to elevate our imagery to another level of quality and excellence. Landscape photography has given me both an adventurous and prodigious educational mountain to climb, that appears to have no foreseeable peak.

A third and more recently unanticipated source of astronomic inspiration has caught me entirely by surprise. Family! As of the writing of this article, I am on the marvelous verge of marriage. Along with this comes the complete embracing of an entirely new life, family system and the startling experience and responsibility of stepsons, in-laws and much more. This unexpected new experience is something I neither imagined, envisioned nor thought I desired. In much of my previous life experience, I had an overwhelming longing for freedom. As I embrace this new chapter in life with high anticipation, I now realize clearer than ever that authentic freedom is not the absence of relational responsibility, but the embracing of its privilege. As many great mothers and fathers already know there is a powder keg of youthfulness and vigor that keeps a person thriving, motivated and growing when in the privileged position of providing care for others and being a part of a close family system. I now look back at some of the hardest working individuals I have ever known and see that most, if not all of them, are, or were, people of unusually high relational responsibility. I believe those fending mainly for themselves are at a disadvantage, because they lack the invaluable motivation gained from the accountability of giving inspiration and providing support and love to others. This welcomed responsibility of family is a powerful new source of inspiration.

Sure, the sheer fun and freedom of lone adventure, bouncing unhindered around the planet seeing, experiencing and photographing incredible landscapes is very attractive and even seducing for some. As time and some wisdom creep in, I am finding that there are richer sources of motivation. Being able to make a difference in people's lives and growing meaningful relationships through nature photography is now the base of my inspiration in this business and directs my approach, not only when I am out in the field, but also behind my computer. I have and will always love the challenge and adventure of finding new original epic landscapes and using my ever-growing skills to capture them in a way that inspires awe and wonder in the viewer. The inspiration is even more intense today because I can share this with others.

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About Author

Based in the US, Mark has been a professional landscape photographer for nearly twenty years, with his fine art gallery prints sold around the world. In addition to leading photography workshops, Mark produces post-processing training videos, teaches post-processing online and is a contributor to photographic publications worldwide.

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