My name is Manuel Toral. I was born in Villaviciosa, a small ocean-facing valley of Asturias in northern Spain. I go by my last name, ‘Toral’, and I’m known locally for my passion for nature photography.
From a young age my relationship with water and the outdoors was constant, with canoeing and rowing totally captivating me. These became a latent passion of mine as I spent the subsequent 20 years in professional athletics, practicing discus throw and shotput, and eventually becoming a professional athletics coach. Through those years however I practiced white-water photography from which my technique evolved toward developing custom-made aquatic casings to enable in-water photography as my interest drifted towards all forms of surf photography.
As an athletics coach I also discovered the value in capturing athletic technique on camera, for error-detection and technique improvement in my athletes. And so began my long relationship with the world of photography, with the help of my father’s old analogue Canon. I have not stopped shooting since.
These days I combine my life as a professional athletics trainer and photographer with working at "Special Surf Rodiles" a surf school at my local river-mouth, which keeps me supplied with plenty of photographic fodder. And should a friend or neighbour ever need help working the nearby fields or plantations? I am more than happy to oblige. I love the physical work and the link this provides to my own family’s deep rural roots.
To be self-sufficient as much as possible, in harmony with the environment, surrounded by nature and tranquillity...that is my dream!
As for my career in photography, I am now finalizing my first book, "A Visual Guide to Paddle Surfing around the Picos de Europa", to be published later this year. The Picos de Europa (the Peaks of Europe) are an important mountain range in the north of Spain, flush with some of the most pristine nature reserves available in Western Europe, fast-flowing rivers, tidal estuaries and stretches of sea-cliff coastline of incredible natural beauty which I have photographed extensively in order to create this visual guide replete with images captured during years of work.
Although what I have always enjoyed, and indeed has marked a stylistic continuum in my photography and other aspects of my life, is landscape photography, I have to say that I much prefer to avoid the beaten track, aiming instead to show a different facet to what’s more commonly depicted on social media and tourism brochures of the Asturias from which I come. That’s my specialty.
Now Sealand offers me the possibility of collaborating with them, and I cannot be happier. From the instant I had contact with the brand and its philosophy I realized that its line of work and ethos was similar to my own, and that even in these convulsive times we live in one can still try to do things well, and with respect. I look forward to this first collaboration with Sealand becoming the first of many more!