McDonald Photography: Blog en-us (C) McDonald Photography (McDonald Photography) Fri, 09 Feb 2018 19:21:00 GMT Fri, 09 Feb 2018 19:21:00 GMT McDonald Photography: Blog 96 120 Creating Child Portraits  


Our Child Portrait entry in the 2017 Professional Photographers of Canada national Image Salon CompetitionCalgary Child Portrait - Mad HatterCalgary Child Portrait - Mad Hatter "Do you like Alice in Wonderland?" I asked her--and her eyes lit up.  We had been taking photos for a few minutes and we were getting some ok images of her, but we weren't getting any that showed this little girl's fun & quirky personality. As a child photographer in Calgary, I have to be able to think quickly and guide the session to match the individual child's personality...and it helps to have a concept in your pocket to guide the session. For Chloe, it was the quick addition of a Mad Hatter's Hat and a Cup & Saucer, combined with a request for a funny face and this was the result.  
At McDonald Photography, we specialize in conceptual studio portraiture and work with people of all ages to create meaningful images that showcase their personalities while incorporating their passions into the session. Over the last few years, we have been creating more child portraits--with ages ranging from newborns to teens--and have seen some great results. Our work has been recognized both provincially and nationally at various competitions over the years and we continually strive to improve on it.  Baker - Winner of our 2017 Child Portrait Contest in CalgaryChild Portraits Calgary - BakerChild Portraits Calgary - Baker
Conceptual Child Portrait of a little boy in our Calgary StudioChild Portraits Calgary - Back in my day...Child Portraits Calgary - Back in my day... We often hear from parents "my kids are too active and would never sit still for a portrait", and though that can be a concern for some parents, we still encourage them to bring their child to the studio. More often than not, we are able to work with the child and the parents to achieve great images while working within the child's attention span and shifting focus. It helps to have a solid concept to work with that the child is on board with from the start, but our team is pretty good at adapting to each child's interests and still getting the shot. 



Does your child have an activity or character that they love? Have you considered customizing a session around this? We'd love to set up a consultation and figure out how to get you an amazing portrait of your little one.  Book your consultation today!

For us, 2018 has been a busy year so far. We submitted a Child Portrait Accreditation with the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) consisting of 10 of our favourite child portraits from the last few years. We also just entered a set of four portraits into the PPOC National Image Salon Competition. On top of this, Jeff has been working toward his Craftsman of Photographic Arts designation from the PPOC and is hoping to qualify this year (pending the results from Accreditation and Salon judging). Stay tuned for the results! 


(McDonald Photography) calgary calgary child photography calgary kids photography child photographer family family photographer photographer photography portrait professional studio photography yyc Fri, 09 Feb 2018 19:17:20 GMT
Photography...learning, teaching & competing ` Special effects body painting portrait by Calgary portrait photographer Jeff McDonaldSpecial effects body painting portraitSpecial effects body painting portrait by Calgary portrait photographer Jeff McDonald It was an amazing weekend at the Provincial Photography Conference that wrapped up yesterday.


I had a great time, learning about creating portrait wall art, posing groups of all sizes and I got some excellent insights on business and marketing too from our speakers at the event. As someone who specializes in portrait photography in Calgary, I took away so many tips that will help me provide even better products and service for my Calgary and area clients. 


We started off on Saturday with an early program from Karyn Lee Portrait learning more about SEO for Photographers. Karyn is an entertaining speaker and fellow professional photographer from nearby High River, AB.


This was followed by an emotional and truly inspiring full-day workshop on creating portrait wall art by Lisa Evans Portrait Design in California. Lisa is a wonderful person and an amazing photographer and I'm glad I had the chance to spend this time with her. 


Scott Robert Lim also presented, but unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see his programs at this event but had a few opportunities to chat with him over the weekend. I've taken a course of his online at Creative Live and he provided tons of great info there!  


Saturday was also the Awards Banquet for PPOC-Alberta. After a tasty dinner, the winners of the various categories were announced, I was honoured to have my portrait submission included among the class winners as “Best in Class” in the Portrait Category. After the class awards were complete, they further surprised me by giving me two more top awards for my entry, the “Judges Choice” award and the “Pat Eisenbarth" award for Best in Show!  To say I'm happy with how this image did is an understatement.  

Professional Photographers of Canada - Alberta Salon Competition. Award WinnersThe members present at the PPOC - AB awards banquet for the 2017 Image Salon.

Sunday started early with as I'd been approached to teach a 90 minute Early Riser program on my Photoshop editing workflow for portrait photography. Thanks to the couple dozen people who showed up at 7am to listen, asked all the great questions and gave such positive feedback afterwards. 


The full-day programs on Sunday included more from Scott Robert Lim (which I missed again...sorry Scott) and some amazing insights on posing small and large groups by Michele Celentano Portrait Photographer in Arizona. Michele was awesome and I loved her teaching style and candid and honest insights on how and why she does the things that work in her sessions.  

Thankfully, Monday started a bit later (as 2 days at 7am were enough), with 2 more full day workshops with Scott and Michele.  I decided to spend a 2nd day with Michele as she was reviewing her business model and photo processing workflow.  It's always so helpful seeing how & why other people do things in their businesses, and I took away a bunch of tips to help streamline my business and make it easier for my clients to understand how to get what they need from the session (stay tuned...). 


It’s always amazing getting to spend a whole weekend learning with (and from) other professional photographers. I’m proud to be a part of the Professional Photographers of Canada and am already looking forward to the next event!


Thanks to all of our incredible speakers, our organizers, and volunteers who make it all possible...and of course to our sponsor Technicare Imaging Ltd!

#ppoc #ppoc_ab #professionalphotographersofcanada #eep#educationaleventforphotographers #lightmatters2017

(McDonald Photography) "light 2017" alberta" calgary calgary family photography calgary portrait photographer educational event for photographers eep family photographer matters photographer ppoc "ppoc professional photographers of canada yyc yyc family photography yyc portrait photographer yyc portrait photography Tue, 31 Oct 2017 16:56:38 GMT
Happy Mother's Day Celebrating Mother's Day!

We love creating images that show moments in people's lives and Mother's day is the perfect reminder of why we do what we do. 

Over the last few weeks we have had the privilege of photographing a new mom and her baby in our studio.  Alex's first visit was at the end of her first pregnancy for some maternity images. She had a ton of amazing ideas and we did several looks in the studio with her ending her day with a milk bath session. Each different set resulted in some stunning images that we were proud to help create.  

Alex has since had her baby girl; mommy and little Addison are doing great and they came by the studio this week for another visit.  This time we did some newborn photos with baby Addison. She is such a cute little baby and she let us work through a few different poses with her.  We're looking forward to having them back in the studio again soon. 

As Mother's Day is fast approaching we would like to offer a special deal to all the mothers out there. (and all of the husbands & kids looking for a last minute gift idea)

Book one of our portrait packages for Mom by May 15th and receive either a 12x18 print (fine art canvas or framed) or a belly painting with your session ($150+ value). If you have any questions please contact us

Here are a few samples from Alex & Addison's sessions:


(McDonald Photography) Award winning portraiture Calgary family photographer Calgary maternity photographer Calgary photographer specializing in female portraits Professional photography baby baby photography calgary conceptual portraits in calgary family family photographer figure maternity mommy mother's day mother's day special newborn photographer photography portrait pregnancy pregnant professional yyc Thu, 11 May 2017 23:24:19 GMT
Press Release - National Image Competition Results  

Toronto, ON - The 2017 National Image Salon of the Professional Photographers of Canada was exhibited on February 24-25, 2017 during the PPOC judging at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario.

Jeff McDonald, a professional photographer from Calgary, AB had four images accepted in the National Image Salon, including two that scored Merit designations and one that scored an Excellence. Images were judged by a panel of Craftsmen and Master photographers from across Canada. Acceptance into the salon is an indication of the makers’ ability to produce outstanding images for their clientele. It also earns the maker merits toward several designations offered to PPOC members, including the prestigious Craftsman of Photographic Arts and Master of Photographic Arts.

The competition features entries from across Canada in twenty-one different classes, including press, portrait, architecture and fashion.

Jeff’s Portrait and Figure Study entries have been selected as finalists for the Best in Class award for each category and his aggregate score also qualifies him as one of five finalists for the 2017 Canadian Portrait Photographer of the Year. The photographer of the year and best in class awards will be announced at the National Convention in Ottawa, ON on May 1st... (read more)


(McDonald Photography) art arts calgary canada child figure fine nude of photographer photographers photography portrait portraiture ppoc ppocab professional study yyc Thu, 20 Apr 2017 17:07:45 GMT
Master your camera settings


Camera settings...a source of mystery and frustration for many...the basis of creativity for others. Where do you sit? 

I know when I got my first DSLR in 2005, I spent a ton of time banging my head against the wall trying to figure out not only what ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture meant, but also how they worked together to create a well-executed image. At the start, I had no one to mentor me and spent hours shooting and hoping the settings would figure themselves out.  As you can imagine, I was plagued with blurry and/or underexposed images and with no idea how to make them better.  It wasn't until I made a focused effort to understand these settings that my images started to improve.  

How did I do it? Through courses, workshops, books...and PRACTICE. Lots and lots of practice.  Now, 12 years---and 10's of thousands of images--later, basic camera settings are 2nd nature to me and I can determine which ones to use right away. As a bonus, I am also able to quickly troubleshoot an image if it's not coming out as expected. 

If you are where I was in 2005 and are tired of banging your head on the wall, I would like to help.  Join me at my studio on April 18th for a 2 hour workshop to "master your camera settings to take better photos" from 6-8pm. This workshop is for both brand new photographers and those looking to take more control of the settings on their DSLR cameras.  Registration details are available HERE.

Need more than the basics? Stay tuned for Intermediate and Advanced workshops coming soon. 


(McDonald Photography) basic calgary camera class classes photo photography seminar settings training workshop yyc Mon, 10 Apr 2017 19:34:03 GMT
Word of Mouth Kidston Island LighthouseKidston Island LighthouseAn image shot at dawn in Baddeck, NS of the Kidston Island Lighthouse in their harbour.

Everyone knows that word of mouth advertising is one of the strongest ways for a business to spread the word on its services and it allows a direct connection to form between a potential client and the services that they need. 

We always ask new clients how they heard of us and why they chose us over the other photographers in the Calgary area. More often than not, they tell us that a friend had a great experience with our services, or an acquaintance of theirs has worked with us in the past and recommended us to them.

I was reminded of this again last night when my friend Shane phoned and told me about one of his clients who had a photographer threaten to cancel at the last minute for a session that was scheduled for today. After a brief chat with me, he reached out to her and passed my details along.  The client then contacted me and I was able to help her work through the problem and provide a solution in the event the cancellation actually occurred. Fortunately, her original photographer came through in the end, but it was a great opportunity for me to connect with a potential client in the fitness industry--that I did not know before--and to let her see first-hand how we take care of our clients and convey what we had to offer. 

With this in mind, I would like to do a shout-out to some of the businesses that I am directly connected with and that I trust to provide their services in a consistent and professional manner.

If you are in need any of the following services and you would like a personal introduction, please let me know and I will happily connect you with them.

Accountant - Nasir Abbas - Jazba Corp    

Bookkeeper - Leanne Lynk - Premium Bookkeeping    

Business Coach - Mark Taylor - Marmor Group    

Chiropractor – Dr. Chris Green - Calgary Centre for Health    

Cleaning Services - Devin Flewell - NoSpot Cleaning Solutions    

Commercial Electrician - Joe Zombori - The Electrical Connection    

Costuming and Theatrical Supplies - Don’s Hobby Shop -

Graphic Design - Sheryl Anderson - Graphic Alchemy    

Health & Wellness Services - Susan Hoy - Culinary Skills & Nutrition    

Home & Auto Insurance - Jessica Lovas - Lundgren & Young Insurance  

Home Renovations - Darryl Einarson - BuildIt Custom Contracting

HVAC - David Lanciault - Lancelot Furnace Ltd.    

Insurance Broker - Lea Basawa - Investors Group    

Investment Advisor - Steve Preece - Edward Jones   

IT Services - Paul Konyk - Simply iKonyk Solutions Inc.    

Life Coach - Jos Willard - Jos Willard Coaching    

Makeup Products – Shane Vegelis – Backstage Cosmetics

Marketing Services - Trina Lo - FreshInk Communications    

Mechanic – Broken Axle

Mobile Fitness Trainer - Jason Yaholkoski - Fitness On The Go    

Moving & Storage - Scott Herzog - We R Movers    

Naturopathic Doctor - Kim Gowetor - Effective Health Solutions    

Painter - AJ Lutfulla - Parsa Painting    

Photographer    Me (of course)...but I can connect you with some amazing people that shoot different things than I do too...

Printer - Wade Novak - The UPS Store

Recruiter - Lloyd Hamshaw - REAL Recruitment    

Residential Mortgage Broker - Susan Ashton - Ashton Mortgage Solutions    

Residential Realtor - Wendy Kelman - Coldwell Banker    

Storage Organization - Sharon Cohen - Stor-X Organizing Systems    

Tire Service - Elizabeth MacRae - GoTire Mobile Tire Service

Web Design - Jamie Easton - Easton New Media Inc.    

(McDonald Photography) businesses calgary recommeded referrals trusted trusted partners word of mouth yyc Mon, 06 Feb 2017 03:31:01 GMT
Fishing in K Country Fishing in K-Country

Gone Fishing wall art by McDonald PhotographyGone FishingA pair of fishermen try their luck on the Lower Kananaskis Lake as the sun sets on the Rocky Mountains.

Recently, a friend of mine--who is formerly from the east coast--was looking for a scenic image as a wedding present for a family member from Nova Scotia.  He spent days wandering the city trying to find a unique photograph that showcased the majesty of this region that he now calls home. To my surprise, during his search he didn't once think to ask me if I had any images in my collection that might be a fit for his gift. It took him complaining to me in passing to get the conversation started about photographs that I've created that I could provide as wall art for him.  After a very short discussion he ended up ordering a 16"x24" ready to hang metal print of the above image "Gone Fishing". The finished print arrived earlier this week and it looks amazing. 

Osprey and troutOsprey with troutAn osprey shows off his lunchtime catch on a fishing trip to MacLean Creek So, where did this disconnect come from? How did my friend (who has even fished with me in this very spot) not think of me as a vendor who can provide high quality artwork?  It's got me thinking... Upper Kananaskis LakeUpper Kananaskis LakePaddling on the Upper Lake with the smoke from BC forest fires thick in the air. I know, I know. I market myself as a portrait photographer not a nature photographer, and the majority of the work I share online is conceptual and/or body art related. I focus the most effort on the portraiture market as I love working with people and it is the business I have chosen to attract; but I do in fact enjoy shooting images out of the studio. I have had some great successes shooting landscape and wildlife images and I have an Accreditation from the Professional Photographers of Canada in Animals.  Who knew? 

Bear NecessitiesBear Necessities A mama Grizzly Bear searches for food in a clearing near the Kananaskis Lakes I suppose I should get better at marketing these images as I'd love to have more of them hanging in peoples living rooms or at their offices...or maybe I need to get out and shoot more of them (and actually get some use out of my Parks Canada pass). I'm thinking I'd like to start doing both more.

Anyway, just some random thoughts and a few cool nature images. Want a print for yourself? Click on the images to order.  



(McDonald Photography) Alberta Canada Kananaskis Rocky Mountains calgaryart fish fishing for sale k-country lake lake fishing mountains prints provincial park sunset trout vibrant wall art yycart Thu, 29 Dec 2016 22:12:28 GMT
Is it time to update your headshot? 6 tips to help you improve your next profile image. You've worked hard to gain the skills and knowledge required to succeed in your current role, you've been recognized by your peers and you are now looking to expand your network to connect with other like-minded professionals. Being a person who is organized and ready meet a new challenge, your CV is all polished up and it looks wonderful. You've uploaded the relevant details to your LinkedIn profile and are ready to take over the world, but...

The photo you've chosen to represent yourself is the ubiquitous white head in a gray box that is provided with your profile--or worse, an image from your vacation in the tropics, complete with a tasty beer/wine/daiquiri and a friend skillfully cropped out of the shot leaving only their arm around your shoulders.

They say "Image is everything" and this is your professional profile...right?

Maybe you need to rethink your profile photo?

The world is a competitive place, and sometimes small changes to how you present yourself can make all the difference in how you are perceived by others. Why not make yourself stand out in every way you can?

With that in mind, here are 6 tips to improve your profile images. After you review these tips, take a few minutes to look through your current contacts and ask yourself the following questions. Which profile images shine? Which ones fall short? Why are they good or bad? Most importantly, what reaction does your current profile image evoke?

1 - Make sure you are well lit and in focus. Remember, you are selling yourself and trying to make a good first impression, so use your profile image to add value to your brand.

2 - Avoid busy patterns, logos or slogans on your clothing. You want people to remember you, not the floral print, giant logo or witty slogan on your shirt, so keep the clothing simple.

3 - Avoid distracting backgrounds. Use a shallow depth of field to blur background objects, or position yourself to have fewer elements behind you. Images with branches, poles or other objects growing out of your head don't look as professional.

4 - Only include props that are relevant to your business. If you are trying to land a job as a professional or gain contacts in the business world, try posing in a work setting. (ie. at a desk or outside downtown). Photos in the woods with your hunting rifle or on a boat in a life jacket shouldn't be used here--unless you own a wilderness adventure company.

5 - Relax and smile. This should be obvious. Photos showing relaxed, genuine smiles are better received than those with the awkward, forced smiles that many people revert to when a camera is pointed at them. Practice your 'photo smile' and try to engage with the viewer. Be relaxed, confident and expressive. It may take some practice, but you can do it.

6 - Consider getting a professional portrait taken. There are many advantages to having your profile image taken by a professional photographer; at the top of the list is quality & consistency. Having an above average image that makes an impact can be the difference between making a new connection or being skipped over in favor of someone whose profile is more polished.

Get the idea? If you need some help capturing that perfect profile image, and have finally resolved to have a Professional Headshot taken, feel free to contact me via your preferred channel at to set up a free consultation in Calgary.

Still on the fence? Check out this short video with some samples of my work.


Jeff McDonald

Owner & Photographer - McDonald Photography

(McDonald Photography) calgary headshot image media photos portrait profile shot social yyc Sun, 27 Nov 2016 01:34:26 GMT
The Martial Arts Sessions

The Martial Arts Sessions

A few weeks ago, I took the first steps towards creating a new photography offering in Calgary that leverages my decades of experience instructing Taekwondo with my unique portraiture style.  As a part of this project, I reached out to some of my martial arts contacts in Alberta and I was connected with a diverse selection of practitioners from a variety of different arts in my area. 

The plan for each session is to highlight an elite or upcoming athlete from a different martial art and then to produce an image with them that they would be proud to hang in their studio. Over the coming weeks and months, I will introduce you to some of these martial artists and share some of the portraits that we create of them showing the art that they love.

Session 1 - Osuna Karate

Our first session happened at the end of October with the instructors from the Osuna Karate Dojo in Cougar Ridge. Sensei Osuna was kind enough to invite me in to set up a studio during their adult class and capture some images of Sensei Plumacher, Sempai Silva and himself for the project. 

Session 2 - Glory Combat Sports Canada

The second session was this week with Anthony and Kathleen from Glory Combat Sports Canada. Both athletes are actively training for upcoming competitions and invited me in to their new facility to shoot with them on one of their training days. 

Interested in shooting with us?

Sessions can be booked for interested individuals or gyms and can be done in our Monterey Park studio or on site at your location. Contact us for a quote at

Why do this project?

This project is important to me because one of my biggest regrets over my years of participating in the martial arts is the lack of quality images that I have of myself training, teaching, competing, testing, breaking and performing demonstrations.  

Don't get me wrong, there are some ok images out there, and some others that have wonderful memories attached—even though they don't stand out as wonderful photographs.  Some were taken by friends and family who were present at various events, and some were from pros that crossed my path. Unfortunately, more often than not, many of the final results lacked the impact of a well-planned and executed martial arts image, as the image maker was not familiar with the activity and/or their own gear thus causing them to miss the shot.  I'm hoping to change that for the people that participate in this project and encourage more people to seek out professional images.

Here are a few of me over the years... A selection of images taken of me over the years.

(McDonald Photography) Glory Combat Sports Canada Karate Martial Arts Sessions Muai Thai Osuna Karate Taekwondo athlete calgary dojang dojo elite fight fighter gym kick martial arts photo project project punch spar traditional upcoming yyc Mon, 14 Nov 2016 01:49:17 GMT
Boudreau Family

Boudreau Family

I rarely get to see in person how our clients display our products in their homes, but this weekend I had the opportunity to see this set from Sean & Tabatha's family portrait session hanging proudly on the showcase wall in their new living room.  This CollageWall looks amazing lit by their accent lights and really captures the fun that Jilly and Abby had hunting lady bugs and playing with Mom & Dad in Fish Creek Park on this warm fall day. 

The good memories of this experience didn't end with the photos. After talking to Sean about installing them at home, he was thrilled to share that installing the CollageWall was a simple process that only took a few minutes with the custom installation kit provided.  This was a huge feature for the family as we all know how frustrating and time consuming hanging a group of photos can be.  

Is it time to update your family photos? It's not too late to book your own family session and get wall art & gifts in time for the holidays. Drop us a note and we'll get the process started CLICK HERE to set up your free consultation. 

(McDonald Photography) Calgary Photographer calgary candid child photographer family family photographer family portrait portrait portrait photography posed professional yyc Mon, 24 Oct 2016 18:48:54 GMT
Old blog posts... Hello and welcome to our site!

We're in the process of putting some new material together for our blog and moving to our new platform. Click Here to see some of our older posts.

While you're waiting, please visit us on Instagram or Facebook to see what we've been up to recently.

Looking forward to hearing from you,


(McDonald Photography) Sat, 22 Oct 2016 02:07:27 GMT