Posted by: photosbymcdonald | February 11, 2013

Now and Then – Part 1 | Holly, Michigan Photographer

So I’ve been inspired to write this blog post – and don’t get me wrong – I’ve been meaning to do it for a while. A LONG while.

But it’s a tad bit embarrassing. OK. REALLY embarrassing. However I feel like it’s a good place to show how I’ve grown.

Amy Cook – a photographer out of Ohio – originally posted a blog topic like this ( and she gave me hope. In fact, I’m sure she gave MANY photographers hope. Hope and recognition – awareness – of what we’ve all been through. And it’s comforting.

Since I’m embarking on my fifth year as a business I thought I’d show everyone my “Then & Now.” Where I began and where I am currently.

While I’m not saying that I’m the “bee’s knees” when it comes to photography, what I am saying is that I’ve grown. I’ve learned. I like to think I’ve become a better photographer along the way. And I have many, many people to thank for that.

So this is not only a showcase of photos, it’s also a big shout out to those I need to thank who have directed me along the way. (Believe me, I wouldn’t be where I am without them today.)

I’m not trying to bash anyone or anything either (except maybe myself) – I feel like I captured some pretty awesome moments for these families – though I don’t particularly believe it was my “best” work in the beginning.

When I first began my business I mostly took photos for family and friends – being the baby of the family has some perks – my older siblings and their friends have babies πŸ™‚

One of my first sessions was with the lovely, little Samantha. I didn’t charge them anything because I wanted to gain experience and have some photos for my portfolio. I remember being super nervous even though I was friends with her mom. But Sam was a really awesome baby.

April 2007 – I had a Canon 30d and thought I was the shiz! No joking! πŸ™‚ This was shot with my “nifty 50” 2.8.


Gotta love the over-sharpening and black, heavy vignette! I’m really sorry guys!

Oh, but it gets better –

Bad use of window light; dull, lifeless eyes; red skin and baby acne I wasn’t sure how to Photoshop. Not to mention the poor placement of her hands. *head slap*


Then there’s the ever-popular baby in a diaper on a black, wrinkled sheet. Oy.


Moving right along to September 2007 – this little guy stole all of our hearts. He’s my nephew πŸ™‚ However these photos leave something to be desired.

Again with the wrinkled sheet! I’m not sure what was wrong with me – and the yellow skin tone. Ugh.


Cute baby. Bad use of on-camera flash.


December 2007 – I finally had my studio set-up and was an “official” business. By this time I had graduated to the Canon 40d and I used the 18-55 f4/5.6 kit lens.

Yay for selective color! *shakes head*


He’s a cutie – however I’m not sure where I was! Again, bad use of flash, horrible color – and that drool line is just awesome!

I’m so lucky this family still has me take their photos! I hope I’ve since made up for what I put them through in the past!


One of my first seniors – one of my nephews – August 2007. Part of my problem was the time of day and the sun was really bright. But now I know πŸ™‚


My attempt at being artsy in studio. Oy. Ug. Argh. BAD. (And believe me, at the time, I thought this was SO COOL.)


February 2008 – one of my first maternity sessions with a good friend. All I can do is shake my head. Full of cliches. And more wrinkled sheets! Fun stuff.


I have no idea what I was thinking with this one – I am SO sorry!


These next photos were taken while I was third shooter/assistant for Mary Lyn and Paul D’Aigle with Imaginique Studios. I would NOT recommend to just go out and photograph a wedding when you’re starting out. Not cool.

I was fortunate enough that Paul and Mary Lyn took me on and taught me A TON. I learned by example and by experimenting. Being an assistant/third shooter really has it’s perks – you’re not the one responsible for the main photos so you have wiggle room to experiment – and in my case – screw up. A lot.

September 2008 – still with the Canon 40d – 75-300 f4/5.6 and the 17-85 f4/5.6.

This photo looks like everyone is going to slide right out of the frame, in addition to the direct flash that lit up the white table cloth.


This has many distracting elements I don’t even know where to begin – the angle up the nose, the light behind the bride’s head and the shadow on the wall – ahhhh!


March 2009 – this COULD have been an OK photo – except what was I doing with that texture? Jeesh. I guess we all learn through experimentation. Again white balance is off. (I’m sensing a pattern with that!)


From the same maternity session in March 2009 – getting a *tad* better with the studio lights.


May 2009 – invested in some seamless paper backgrounds! Much better than the wrinkles! Also bought an original Canon 5D camera and 24-70 f2.8 lens as well as the 70-200 f2.8.

Still trying to figure out posing/camera angle though. Shot with the 24-70 f2.8.


The next two are both from July 2009 – both shot with the 24-70 f2.8

Shadows are dark/contrasty and still off on the skin tone – but getting better!


A little bright for my taste now and the background looks blown out, but fixable.


From a wedding in October 2009 – not bad. Could be much better. While she’s pretty much in focus the groom is not 😦


October 2009 – line them up! Why? Ugh. 24-70 f2.8.


High school senior from October 2009 – not horrible, not great either in terms of execution. But isn’t she gorgeous? STILL off on the color! Come on Jen, pull it together! Shot with the 70-200 f2.8.


It’s pretty crazy going through all these photos! More coming soon!

Look for the next blog post with the REST of the story – 2010-2013!



  1. […] June 2010 – I discovered back-lighting – what a wonderful thing! This also happens to be the little boy one year later after his parents had their maternity session with me You can check that out in the previous post HERE. […]

  2. […] And we just said goodbye to 2012 and here we are in 2013! Wow. It’s crazy to even say that. 2013. Where has all the time gone? (If you’re just now joining us and you need to start at the beginning and get some back story click HERE.) […]

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