I will start off by apologizing, I have got myself behind on posting the highlights.  The flu this season knocked me for a loop and I really struggled for 4 weeks to get back on track. Added to that I went traveling as well just as I was starting to feel better.  However, you were not forgotten and hopefully I will be back on track.

For the month of February we highlighted the disease CHD – Children’s heart disease.  @marisamcdonaldphotography was chosen to be our featured artist.  I caught up with Marisa recently to learn a little more about her.

Tell us a bit about yourself?  and  Are you a hobbyist or a pro?

I started my photography journey as a mom with a camera. I bought my first DSLR in 2008 while I was practicing law in San Diego and pregnant with my first son. When he was born I immediately began snapping away in auto. I loved it in the same way I had always loved using disposable cameras as a tween/teen to document my friendships. But obviously I had no clue what I was doing! So much changed over the next 5 years. We moved across the country; I chose to stay home with my son; I had my second son; I started homeschooling; we moved across the country again.

By the time my second son was 3, I was starting to feel like I could breath and like I had room in my life for something more. I was blessed that my best friend was already a professional photographer and she was able to quickly guide me to all of the best resources to start my photography journey in earnest. I took on about 5 portfolio building clients and the rest is history. I’ve been in business now for four years. I started with families and quickly added on studio newborn sessions. Two years ago I started taking on weddings (something I never thought I would do) and quickly became hooked! With all of my work, I love capturing those authentic moments and connections that instantly draw you in and show you something real about my subjects. Because that has always been my main passion, I decided this year to transition away from studio newborn sessions towards lifestyle newborn sessions which feels much more consistent with my family and wedding work!


-I love the way she’s smiling. This is exactly what I want to capture in a solo portrait. Although I can’t capture a connection in an image like this, I really strive to connect with my subject myself and show something about their true personality! 

Tell us a bit about your photography gear.  What is the lens do you not have but you   desire to have the most?

I shoot with a Canon Mark D IV and my backup is a Canon 6D. My primary lenses are the Canon 70-200 2.8, Canon 50 1.2, Canon 35 f2, and Canon 135 f2. I think my next lens will either be a wider angle or a macro lens (I currently use macro filters will pretty good results!).


I love how these two were open to really opening up and showing me (and my camera) how they love each other! 

What makes you pick up the camera when you don’t feel like it?

This is constantly changing. For a long time it was just my kids. As they have gotten older, they are no longer my main subjects (the bribery to get a good picture of them is getting too expensive!). Having clients on the books helps. Having photography students helps as well. Just last week I planned a spontaneous evening shoot with an adorable model just so that I could inspire a teen photography student of mine as she builds her portfolio. Bonus: That helped inspire me too! The more I shoot, the more I want to shoot, so having things planned ahead that “make” me pick up the camera can help keep me out of a rut.


This is my boys and they got a big kick out of the giraffe I added! They are too fun! 

Film or digital? Black and white or color? Lifestyle or traditional?

I have never shot film so I am digital all the way. I am super impressed with film photographers though! I am reading Sally Mann’s book, “Hold Still” right now and just constantly think, “wow”! I think all photographers know how much trial and error is involved in creating a beautiful image but with film this trial and error can be even more painstaking and require so much patience and determination.

I love both black and white and color. I get darker and moodier often in my black and whites so I definitely love using those to express that side of my work and for documentary images! Lifestyle for sure! When my kids were younger I started with all lifestyle…they are energetic boys who don’t have much interest in posing so that was where I found my joy. I don’t often work in the day-to-day of clients lives but infuse those elements into every portrait session by guiding them towards real life interactions with each other.


This was my spontaneous photo shoot that I arranged last week for my teen photography student. Our model is my neighbor across the street. She is just the most adorable girl and she is so comfortable in front of the camera and really able to just “be.” I love how relaxed and natural she is! 

What personal projects are you working?

I visited my 89-year-old father last weekend and did some documentary photos of him cooking my favorite meal and also some portraits to try to really capture his character. I absolutely love how they came out and can’t believe I never thought to do it before!


I love this because this is an image of my 89 year old father from a recent visit. I had traveled across the country and had brought two speed lights (but no stands) so this was very much pieced together, propping one light on a box on a dresser behind him. I love how it came together and love that he humored me!

Most important thing you learned about editing.

Oh gosh this is a hard question! I definitely am not even close to knowing everything but I do value the things I have learned to do in photoshop! Things like adding realistic skies and other effects (easily) can sometimes totally transform an image and these things often make a big difference with clients. The biggest thing I think though is to train our eyes…this is an ongoing process and something I talk to my photography students about.  We can’t do it with every image but its a process. I encourage my students to take an image they have edited and love and create a second copy of it and change the exposure and white balance and compare. Sometimes we have to see an image way cooler or way warmer to notice how off our first image was!


This was another personal project creating a double exposure during my son’s horse riding lesson one week. I used one of the darker horses and an image of the succulents behind his barn to create this image! I just love how it came out! 

Thank you so much Marisa for sharing a little bit about yourself.  We so appreciate it.

I am working on catching up on the other features, but in the interim look out for the new Share Six theme going live in 3 days time.