Behind the Lens with Travel Photographer Mateo Toro

Local photographer Mateo Toro has accomplished a lot in the three years since he graduated from Penn State Berks. Toro now holds the title of entrepreneur, teacher, and international travel photographer thanks to his recent trips to Colombia and Cuba. Toro talks with Reading Magazine about how he balances being a local small business owner and traveler.

Just out of college, Toro used his experience with the camera to book local video production job. Soon enough he expanded his client base working with several well know Berks County businesses. Continuing to grow Toro took an opportunity to travel to Colombia to build his brand. “I went to have fun, but I also wanted to focus on the next style of my business” said Toro.

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His goal in Columbia was to get his work noticed by the tourism board. After months of traveling around the county, Toro decided to take a risk and take a 4 day expedition to Ciudad Perdida. Touring the “Lost City” is where Toro finally caught the break he was looking for. “It was a great project, but a tough area to get to” said Toro.

Although he was having an amazing time, friends and clients were calling from Reading wondering when he’d be back. So Toro came back to bring a new style of videography to Reading using the skills he learned in Colombia.

It was this time that he started working with Reading Area Community College and Reading High called Upward Bound, helping high school students learn the photography basics.

It was his teaching experience that lead Toro to rethink his career. “With the doors recently opened in Cuba, I again thought it wold be good to go down and work on my photography skills” says Toro. This time focusing only on photography, Toro spent 3 days in the country to learn more about the culture and meet up with a local photojournalist. During his time in Cuba Toro explored the streets to hone in his street photography skills. Taking an estimated 5,000 photo in all.

Toro compared his two trips. “Colombia was from a business stand point to show off the best of the best, Cuba was like, let me capture a moment, something real that can’t be replicated.”

Back in Reading, Toro is still working with small businesses to create unique video content. However, he now has a new mission to document downtown Reading through the same perspective he say Cuba.

Toro now sells prints of his work through his website, retorocle.com/travel and is expecting to publish a coffee-table style book with his collective work.