Eric Ward

Eric Ward


November 7, 2014




A school teacher and Instagram expert who has 169,000 followers, with his work being featured in galleries across the world, Eric Ward has mastered where, in the photography world, technology has met art. This year, he will participate in the Columbus Museum of Art’s MobilePhotoNow exhibit, as well as be featured on Instagram’s homepage, giving the 60 million people who use the App a glimpse of his work. We caught up with Ward to talk about his current projects, his background and the Metro Parks.

Tell us more about some of your past projects?

I’ve been included in three curated mobile photography exhibits at the Columbus Museum of Art, I’ve worked with Neighborhood Film Company (Philadelphia), Longwood Gardens (Philadelphia), OtterBox, CNN,,,, Copygram (Sweden), Grand Central Station in New York City, and NYonAir. I have had work featured in Midwest Living Magazine, The Toledo Free Press, several local community magazines and Twenty20 Volume 1. This fall I co-hosted a webinar with David Molnar, a fellow photographer from Nashville, on editing photos on your iPhone, where we had over 400 participants. A photography app, called “Looksee”, which was recently named by Apple as “Best New App”, created a set of photography filters named after me and based on the editing style of three of my photographs. I have also worked with @IGers_Toledo to bring attention to the Collingwood Arts Center and Cherry Street Mission. An interview can be found at

What current projects are you working on?

On December 5, I will have 12 photographs from my “Viewfinders of the Past” series featured in an exhibition at the Y Gallery in Minsk, Belarus. The same series was featured by Instagram in July on their main page to over 60 million people, as well as their blog. In February, 2015, I have been selected to participate in the MobilePhotoNow exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art. The museum received over 45,000 photo submissions, from 89 countries, and selected 300 images to be part of the exhibit.  

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

We’re becoming a place where people not only want to stop on their way through, but now groups of people are setting as their destination. Obviously, having all four seasons has its beauty, but the open, rural spaces and clear horizon, which many people locally take for granted, is something which friends in Chicago, New Jersey and New York have traveled here specifically to photograph.

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?
I’m inspired by the beauty of God’s creation, which surrounds me daily. 

Tell us about your background.
I grew up in Northwest Ohio and left briefly to attend Miami University, but returned after graduation and began teaching elementary school for Eastwood Local Schools, where I have been for the last 19 years. I’ve always enjoyed photography and credit that to my mom, as she allowed me to waste many, many rolls of film growing up in the pursuit of getting the shot. I’ve played soccer my entire life and coached the varsity girls team at Eastwood for 13 seasons, before stepping away to be able to coach my oldest daughter’s team. About 4 years ago my wife gave me an iPod touch for Christmas, which started this crazy ride I have been on with Instagram. About two years ago, she began working at our church, allowing us to switch our phone plan, which is when I picked up my first iPhone. From that point on, I have been blessed with incredible people coming into my life and amazing opportunities presenting themselves due to photos taken and edited on my iPhone. In August of last year, I even had a photograph selected as one of 15 finalists, out of over 30,000 images, in a photo contest on Instagram, hosted by @joshjohnson and sponsored by FiatUSA. After 2 weeks of voting on Facebook, my photo came in second place, but the winner was ineligible because he was 17 years old, so we won a brand new Fiat 500L! We picked the car up from Yark Fiat in February and my wife has been driving it ever since. It was an incredible blessing for my family. Being able to travel, work with national and international brands, meet new people and share my story and faith with so many people because of the 169k people following me on Instagram has been an incredible gift and one which I haven’t taken lightly.

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?
Our school district uses, what we call, “The EAGLE Way”, which is three simple guidelines: 1. Do your best, 2. Do what is right, and 3. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Nothing incredibly innovative in any of the three, but all fundamental to being a good person and making the most of every interaction. If I ask my students, as well as my own three children, to live by those three rules, then I better be doing the same.

Favorite place for local culture?
The Toledo Museum of Art. We have an incredible museum and while it may seem like an obvious answer, I am constantly surprised by the number of adults I run into that either have never been to the museum or have not been there since attending on a field trip when they were in school. I’m working with the museum’s social media director right now on a new project which will bring an enormous amount of positive publicity to our museum and the amazing art collection we have here in Toledo.

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .
Our metro park system. We have an incredible park system here in Northwest Ohio and one that, through exposure on Instagram, is bringing in people from Detroit, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and New York City into the Toledo area simply because they want to experience, for themselves, the locations which they have seen so many times on Instagram.

My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 
Swig in Perrysburg. With three kids, I don’t get to “chill” too often, but whenever I do, that’s where I’m heading.

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . . 
A small grove of pine trees located within Oak Openings, which we have given the name, “The Spot”. Whenever I go, the moment I close the car door and step in among these incredible trees everything that had been on my mind is gone. It’s truly a glorious place.

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . . 
A local park exploring with my kids.


Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?
My background in teaching and coaching make teaching and collaborating through Instagram a natural progression. Over the last three years I have had the opportunity to collaborate with photographers all over the U.S., as well as, photographers in over 15 other countries.  

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

This is an easy one…Sam Abell. Mr. Abell, a Sylvania native, has worked with National Geographic Society for over 30 years. Many years ago I happened upon a retrospective of his work called, “The Photographic Life” and instantly connected with his images. It was only later that I discovered his Toledo roots. I would love any opportunity to learn from him.

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .
Kind, thoughtful and forgiving

My biggest vice is . . .
My camera (iPhone). 

The last lyric that moved me was . . .
“…Your forgiveness is my fortress”, from Shoulders by For King and Country

The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .

Our three children.

My most inspiring moment was/is . . .

A helicopter ride at night over New York City with no doors on the helicopter. Hovering over the Empire State Building and then having the pilot turn perpendicular to the ground, so that you can photograph directly down onto the top of the building was the most exciting and inspiring moments of my life, outside of the birth of my kids. To see one of the most photographed cities in the world from a perspective so few have ever experienced it was a truly inspiring experience. 

I want my last meal to be _______________.

At a table surrounded by family and friends. If that happens, the actual food doesn’t matter much.


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