Art Weber is not retired. A photographer for Toledo Metroparks— a man with thousands and thousands of images of the area’s parks to his credit— Weber will probably never truly retire because he’s found a way to do just what he always wanted to do.
For 30 years, Weber worked as both a photographer and the public information manager for Toledo Metroparks. “I started in ’72, and my job grew a lot over the years, but it became more and more an office job, versus an outdoor/office job. And I’m really an outdoor guy,” Weber said.
In 2002, Weber decided it was time to step aside and let a fresh face take over the position. He was succeeded by Scott Carpenter, who remains with Metroparks today, but Weber’s work with the Metroparks didn’t end there.”The director at the time, Jim Spengler, really didn’t want to lose me, and I really didn’t want to leave, because I love the Metroparks. They’ve been my life, and it’s something I really believe in, with all my heart.”
A position was created for Weber, allowing him to stay with Metroparks as an official photographer along with starting the National Center for Nature Photography at Secor Metropark. Several years ago he stepped aside from directing the photography center. “I wanted to spend more time with family, I wanted to travel more. And that job, as wonderful as it was— and it really was pretty loose in terms of how I could put in hours— I wanted even more freedom,” he said with a chuckle.
But Weber is not retired. He still takes pictures for the Metroparks, along with doing freelance work for newspapers and reaching a broader audience than ever with his nature photography via Instagram.
“I work when I need to— when I see that the light is right, or I see great things happening, or I know the (specific variety of flower) is blooming, just from experience, that kind of thing. They trust me to just go and do it,” Weber said.
I have always wanted to…parachute out of an airplane.
What do you admire in people? Character.
What is your pet peeve? People that enter conversations and don’t listen to what other people are saying. Non-listeners.
What is something that most people don’t know about you? That I was a sports announcer. It wasn’t a career, it was a brief experience, and there’s a reason it was brief: because I was terrible at it. I did sports play-by-play for the campus radio station in Toledo.
What are the words you live by? Excellence, character, honesty.
What advice would you give to the younger you? To take more chances. That may surprise people, because I did take a lot of chances, but there’s still some stuff I left on the table.
Who is someone you’d like to meet? I’d really like to have been around to watch George Washington in action.
What inspires you now? Just trying to get better at what I do, all the time. It’s impossible to look through a camera lens at nature and not be continuously surprised and fascinated.”
What’s your favorite food? Pizza.
Favorite movie? I watch “Friday Night Lights” and “Christmas Vacation” more than others. Both are traditions. “Friday Night Lights” gets me looking forward to shooting high school football. I’ve been shooting Anthony Wayne sports for over 20 years, just because I love doing it for the players. “Christmas Vacation,” is loaded with great movie quotes, always fun to watch, and I’m a Christmas geek. “
Who do you most admire? “My wife. Sue has overcome so many challenges that would crush another person’s spirit, yet she is the most positive, caring, loving, intelligent person you can imagine. Truly beautiful, inside and out.”