Photographer Spotlight: Mike McDonald Courtney Hayes May 22, 2018 ART, FEATURE, PHOTOGRAPHY Photographer Mike McDonald doesn’t stick to a common theme. Instead he explores the world with his camera lens, finding beauty in everything from his family to the great indoors to the splendor of everywhere he travels. Learn more about his craft: via Mike McDonald Surround Yourself: How did you get into photography? Mike McDonald: In 1991 I began making ski films in upper Pennsylvania. In 1992 I received a letter from someone in the ski documentary business who gave me the advice to go to school for film making, then apply to their company shortly after graduation to try to attain work. I went to school for 4 years. Shortly after that time I ended up moving to NC where there is very little snow, so there went my chances of working in the ski industry. I decided to keep shooting but this time it was still photography that I chose to dive into. In the beginning days I shot mostly street photography and all the characters in the local music scene. This really gave me a grasp of shooting in the brightest daylight to the dim lights of the local music venues. Eventually I would get to shoot for Warner Brothers records for a short spell as a regional music photographer. This sounded great to me but finally I decided my real passion was to get back outdoors and begin shooting buildings, landscapes, and people. I found I could be more creative outdoors than in a dark music hall. There is a lot more to look at. via Mike McDonald SY: How would you describe your photography? MM: I would describe the bulk of my photography a mix between lifestyle, street, travel, and music. I also have a 17 month year old daughter so she begs a lot of time in front of my lens. via Mike McDonald SY: What shot are you most proud of from your current body of work? MM: I think the shot I am most proud of recently is an early morning photo I took in my hometown of Pennsylvania at the end of winter last year. I went to a body of water I grew up fishing on when I was really young, and hiked along the banks catching different angles of the shoreline as the sun came up over the mountains. In this particular shot I got a row of pine trees highlighted by the the sunrise, while catching a perfect reflection in the water of the tree line. On the right side of the photo (in the water) you can see a little bit of melting ice while the rest of the water appears to be glass. It really drives home not only the beauty of the area but also visually dates it by letting you know winter was coming to an end. via Mike McDonald SY: What photographers, musicians, artists, or writers inspire you? MM: People that have inspired me? The list is so long. Off the top of my head I have always liked the street photography of Ricky Powell (NYC). His street portraits, and shots from early 80’s music scene were the ones that made think that I could pick up a camera and do the same in the city of Raleigh. Number two is my wife. She and I have been ever so lucky to have traveled to many places around the world. She gave me an opportunity to see and photograph areas in other countries that I could only have dreamed of as a budding photographer. For example, when I was wishing someday to goto the Galapagos islands to take photos she said “why don’t we just go?” She can pull the trigger on adventure much easier than I can and I love her for it. via Mike McDonald SY: Do you travel often for photography? What’s your dream destination for photography? MM: I do travel quite a bit and my camera is always with me. You never know when the perfect opportunity will arise for a really interesting shot. It doesn’t need to be an exotic place to create meaningful art. Sometimes you capture a great sunset at the beach, sometimes it’s a lightning bolt hailing down from the clouds, other times its just as simple as a leaf falling from a tree. You never know. But if I had to pick a place to shoot that I have never been to I would have to say Antarctica. I feel that the landscapes would really test what I was capable of capturing. via Mike McDonald Thanks, Mike!