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Meet Marisa McDonald of Marisa McDonald Photography

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marisa McDonald.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Marisa. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My path to photography is not a traditional one. I actually started my adult life as a big firm lawyer in Washington D.C. and then San Diego doing securities litigation defense.

While I loved the subject matter and the challenge, I eventually decided to stay at home when my first child was born. Around that time, I bought my first “nice camera” and started “documenting” my son’s life (poor child)! I knew I had a passion and an eye for photography but I also knew I had a lot to learn. Over the years that followed, I was blessed to have dear friends who mentored me and helped me take that hobby to the next level. Three years ago I started Marisa McDonald Photography in the desert near Joshua Tree.

I started with family sessions, thinking I’d keep things simple. Let’s just say things escalated quickly, haha! My small community supported me and gave me the confidence to continue growing. Within the first year, I had served almost one hundred clients, created my website, been published, and joined some amazing professional organizations. I continue to continue to seek inspiration and growth every day and am so thankful to have found this “work” that is also my passion. I am both a driven professional and a nurturing mom with an obsession for capturing moments. My story, although non-traditional, is what makes me unique.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Is the road every smooth? Nope! In some ways, it’s been smoother than can be expected. I had the benefit of very close friends who took me under their wings as I was getting started. I always say they gave me the “fast track.” The hardest part for me has never been the actual “photography.” The hardest part is the “business.” Learning how to market myself in a meaningful way that authentically reaches my amazing clients is much harder than I knew.

Learning how to analyze my current and future costs and how to price myself accordingly is always a learning curve. Another challenge is something I think most people can relate to and that is learning how to balance my personal life with my professional life. In some ways, I think this challenge is magnified because most of my work is from home and it’s easy to let it bleed into too many moments in the day.

One of the biggest crossroads in my business though was two years into my business when I moved from Joshua Tree to Oceanside (not complaining about that one bit!) and took on the challenge of establishing a new client base after so much success in the desert.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Marisa McDonald Photography – what should we know?
I specialize in families, newborns, and weddings. I am known for vibrant colors, dramatic skies, and capturing authentic moments in a beautiful way. I always make sure to get posed images for grandma but the session doesn’t really start until we start getting real. I’m not talking about cheesy props and corny poses. I’m talking about capturing real connections.

I work with each couple or family to figure out how to bring out that side of them during our session. Some people just do it naturally. Others feel a little more uncomfortable in front of the camera (which is totally normal!) and for them, I have lots of prompts and fun activities that help bring out all of the love they share every day.

As a mom of two (very energetic boys), I am also great with kids and am prepared to get gorgeous images of them exactly as they are (no sitting still required)!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Although my former career as a lawyer and my current career as a photographer seem totally different, I think my professionalism and my confidence were important to my success in both areas. I am honest with myself about my limitations and always continue to look for growth opportunities, but at the same time, I enjoy my progress and talent where I am today and I’m not afraid to share it with the world confidently.

As a photographer, the quality of my work is the most important thing but as a business owner, I believe my professionalism is equally important. From my initial communication with potential clients to detailed client guides to session experience in image delivery, I strive to create an experience on par with the images I produce.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Alexis Ralston Photography

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