Learning how to bring your photographic vision to life is one of the biggest takeaways from our Advanced Course. Most of our students join us because they’re competent in manual mode and ready to take their photos to that next level artistically. And Toni McDonald is one of those students. Toni was shooting in manual mode but she felt her photos lacked that special something, and she had a vision for newborn photography that she couldn’t quite pull off. Until she joined the Advanced Course…
I’m a mother of 3 and grandmother of 4 beautiful grandchildren, from Canberra where I’ve lived for many years. However I was born and bred in Tumut, a small town several hours out of Canberra, so I’m very much a country girl. This shows in my photography as I love anything rustic or vintage, natural textures and materials such as wood, and muted earthy colours.
My love of photography began at age 12 when I received my very first camera. Over the years I longed to know more but just didn’t have the time nor the money to do so. But I was always the one with a camera at family get togethers and loved to photograph my kids.
I longed for a DSLR and finally purchased a Canon 600D and kit lens in 2014, and with this I received a voucher for photography tuition. However it took me two years before I actually got around to using my voucher. I opted to put it towards a three hour basic photography course at the zoo. My heart was on fire and this ignited my passion for photography.
I completed a few more courses here and there which eventually led me to shooting in manual mode, but it took a really long time and it was still hit and miss. I learnt so much in the Advanced Course that I wished I had done the Enthusiast Course as I’m sure I would have learned a lot faster. I also took some basic editing classes for Lightroom, but before that I hated computers (still do!) and I had no idea how to even copy and paste, I was this bad when it came to technology!
I took my camera everywhere, and when I was out and about with my camera I was always drawn to little ones, wishing I could photograph them. I have always loved babies and children and had my own family by the time I was 22. So I started experimenting with newborn photography, and it was my desire to improve that led me to Click Love Grow.
I came across CLG on my Facebook feed and I was amazed at the before and after photos of the Advanced Grads, and I wanted to achieve those same amazing results. I also have grandchildren now, and I wanted to take better photos of them.
So I joined the Advanced Photography Course and my photography excelled beyond my expectations, as too did my confidence.
Before CLG my photos were just photos, lacking personality and creativity. I had little idea on how to find the light to create the beautiful images in my mind’s eye. I had friends wanting me to capture their family however I wasn’t confident shooting outside at different times of the day.
But during the Advanced Course I learnt so much more including how to bring my vision to life and create beautiful images, by using more complex compositional concepts and different lighting techniques that we covered in the lessons.
The biggest takeaway for me is that I see light everywhere I go now. I loved all the lessons in the Advanced Course but my favourite was the low key light lesson. This one really helped me think outside the box with my exposures, and I loved the way embracing shadows created so much depth in my photos. I have now carried my love of light and shadows into my studio work.
I’ve found my style thanks to CLG and I’m now creating beautiful photos that I’m proud of, and finally I am loving my work!
During the Advanced Course I started really honing my skills in newborn photography. I offered free newborn shoots to young couples and single mums that could not afford to pay for these photo shoots, and this is how I practiced. With each shoot I took away so much, including increased confidence. Soon people were coming to me via word of mouth and offering to pay me to take newborn photos of their little ones.
Since Click Love Grow it has been a whirlwind!
I use a Canon 6D and for my newborn work I use a 24-70mm lens as I’m 5 foot nothing! Being a little more vintage than most newborn photographers (turning 59) I attend crossfit classes so I’m able to stay fit enough to be able to shoosh those babies to sleep while they’re in props!
Louise is just amazing as are all CLG mentors. They are all so knowledgeable and are always willing and happy to help. I found the lessons informative and easy to understand. The CLG community is friendly and helpful and I continue to learn and be inspired by this group to this day.
The last 4 years my life have been crazy from learning to use a camera, computer, Lightroom, Photoshop and learning with Click Love Grow. And on top of all this a friend and myself built a studio in my double garage.
Photography is a passionate hobby and I would love it to be more, in between working full time as an enrolled nurse specialising in haemodialysis. Also I try and find time for my grandchildren as much as I can.
My goal this year is to perfect my newborn photography. I’m getting there but need to work on angles and composition. Newborn photography is hard work and also very physical however I love it and find it so rewarding when parents gush over the photos of their precious little one. I’ve made a few mums cry and this is why I do what I do.
This year I’m dreaming big.
A side by side before and after shot is a perfect way to showcase how far you can come with just 10 weeks of learning with us on the Advanced Course, so please enjoy Toni’s B&A!
Many thanks to Toni for your words and gorgeous images! If you ant to see more of her work you can find her over here…
If you’re already shooting in manual mode, on our Advanced Photography Course you will learn to shoot with confidence in any scenario, and push yourself creatively to find and develop your style through intensive 1:1 critique on your work. Our next course is starting soon… join our wait list to get an email when we go on sale!
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