Chamber of Commerce President Mark V’Soske’s award-winning photos on displayWritten by John P. McCartney | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As a 21-year-old member of the Air Force stationed in Guam during the Vietnam conflict in 1966, Mark V’Soske stumbled upon photography. His bunkmate invited him to the darkroom on a lazy Saturday afternoon, and the magic of watching his friend create an image on what had been a blank sheet of paper entranced him.
“I watched him,” V’Soske said. “He let me do it. I saw that picture come up, and it was like, ‘I’m hooked.’ I immediately went and bought a reasonable camera and started.”
That start 46 years ago has become a passion that enriches every aspect of his life.
V’Soske’s daytime job as president of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce involves community development, business development, lobbying and helping businesses in Greater Toledo compete, survive and grow. He calls his photography “a release.”
“Some people who do a job full time get in trouble because they’re totally immersed, 24/7, in their work,” he said. “In order to be fresh, you have to have some things outside the job. Otherwise, you can become stale and stagnant. And photography has been it for me.”
Toledoans are invited to see V’Soske’s work, along with that of 56 other artists, at the Photo Arts Club of Toledo’s 27th annual show at the National Center for Nature Photography, located at Secor Metropark. [The park is on Central Avenue, six miles west of U.S. 23/I-475.]
The exhibit of 330 photos is open April 21-22 and April 28-29, from noon until 5 p.m. Admission is free.
V’Soske said he believes people “will be very pleased” if they make the trip to see the exhibition.
“They’ll be very surprised at the quality of the photographs, the creativity and the excellence of people just like them who like to take pictures,” he said. “I think they’ll enjoy it immensely.”
V’Soske has two photos in the exhibit, both second-place winners in their respective categories. He takes the majority of his photos when he and Karen, his wife of 38 years, take cycling trips across Europe, especially in France.
He said his success as a photographer has been evolutionary.
“I have thousands, tens of thousands, of pictures from way back till now, and frankly, most of them are not good,” he said. “When I look at a scene, I try to identify what is it that I want to express with it, what do I want to say with this picture?”
V’Soske acknowledges that digital photography has changed the nature of his craft. He went digital in 1999, and says he loves the opportunities it creates.
“I can do it anywhere,” he said. “I can be sitting in an airport, on a tablet or a laptop, and I can work on a picture.
“It is quicker. It isn’t as dangerous [as working with film. There are no] fumes or chemicals. What you can do with digital is absolutely amazing.”
He does say, however, that digital photography has its drawbacks.
“You can shoot like crazy, and that’s one of the problems with digital that people have,” he said. “Everybody now has them, and everybody takes millions and millions of pictures, a lot of times without thought, or thinking, ‘I can fix it in the computer.’ They don’t put a lot of thought into it.”
V’Soske said he believes that students of photography can learn to think about what they are doing with their cameras by interacting with other photographers. He believes successful photographers “work with a purpose.”
He suggests that those interested in pursuing photography join a group.
“Learn the craft,” he said. “Buy the books. Understand composition. Understand light.
“Study the old masters of art. Go the museum and start looking at some of these masters, these pictures, but don’t just glance at the picture. Look at them and ask yourself questions. Pay attention to how they worked light. What was light? What was dark? Why? What stands out? What did they do to make the subject [stand out]? Look at it and say, ‘What did the artist intend the main subject to be?’”
V’Soske occasionally sells a photographic print, but more often than not, he donates his work to community organizations like the Rotary Club and Lutheran Social Services for silent auctions they hold to raise money.
He posts 331 examples of his work on his website, www.markvsoskephotography.com.