Photographer and artist Michelle McDonald’s interest in photography started in high school in New Zealand, followed by a decade of ‘hobby photo-taking’ at friends’ and families’ social events, two TAFE courses in 2017 and 2018 and a RAW Artist photography exhibition in February 2018 on the Gold Coast. After launching 12 Percent Photography in early 2017, Michelle grew her ‘once side hustle’ into a full-time photography gig. Read more for our exclusive Q&A with this super talented artist, a sample of Michelle’s beautiful portfolio, her international plans for 2019 and exclusive discounts on nearly all photo shoots, with the special starting from just $219!
What do you love most about being a photographer?
There are many things that I love about photography – some of my ‘stand out’ reasons are making people feel comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera and to just have fun. I love watching the progression between the first few photos and the last photos during a shoot, where the subject is 100% owning themselves in the photos, sparking a certain air of confidence. For me it’s about capturing ‘the best versions’ of a person.
I also like the two different types of connections: 1) allowing my subject to feel comfortable and connected to the camera and 2) the connection which translates into people enjoying the photo and feeling engaged to the finished product.
What does 12 Percent Photography mean?
My business ethos is pretty simple (and also unique!), as I wanted to mix three things together that I’m passionate about: photography, my lucky number 12, and donating money to charities.
That means 12% of the job price is donated to a charity of YOUR choice.
So far, my clients have chosen to donate the 12% to charities such as the Queensland Cancer Council, Bravehearts, the RSPCA, Animal Welfare League, the Australian Melanoma Research Foundation and Act for Kids…just to name a few. I love the fact that together we can donate funds to help make a difference. It creates a win-win.
“I love watching the progression between the first few photos and the last photos during a shoot, where the subject is 100% owning themselves in the photos, sparking a certain air of confidence”.
What advice do you have for aspiring photographers or those already in the industry?
My top tips:
1. Just do it – start shooting, everything and anything. I’ve learnt that passions are formed by doing. It’s all about the action.
2. Let the creative processes flow. If something’s not quite working then stop, take a moment to reframe and think about what some other options are. Be open and flexible. Often that’s when you get those magic shots.
3. Carry your camera manual with you in your camera bag. Use this as your mini bible to look through if you get stuck or want to experiment with your camera. Remember you can’t really ‘break’ your camera, rather just continue to learn on it. Once again, we learn by doing.
4. Plan and visualise your shoots. It’s so important to jot down those ideas, quirky angles and must-have shots. I often write down things before and during a shoot and have a Pinterest board to keep the inspiration oozing.
5. Being flexible enough to get lost in an amazing shoot but also aware enough to #knowyourworth! I like to think there’s a fine line between gaining experience to grow your portfolio and also being taken advantage of. What life boils down to is time and energy – it’s so important to make sure that we are remunerated accordingly for our time.
You have a big 2019 planned, starting with moving from the Gold Coast to San Francisco! What are your goals this year?
My goals are to continue to grow as an artist and photographer and to be a part of a new and exciting creative community in San Fran. I understand the importance of morphing, growing, adapting and changing – and this is something I’m so ready for. My aim is to really hone in on different photography genres such as fashion photography, documentary photography, portrait shoots and engagement, maternity and love photos. I aim to find my customers and clients through ‘the law of attraction’.
There’s something so rewarding about people seeing your work and being moved by it enough to send you an email and reach out to you. The past year I’ve really enjoyed working with both aspiring and established models in the fashion industry. This is an area I really want to grow in. I absolutely LOVE doing fashion shoots because both the model and the photographer are there to create magic and to push themselves personally and creatively in front of the camera. I find the unchartered creative territories in the fashion sphere really attractive! For me, it’s all about pushing those boundaries.
“I find the unchartered creative territories in the fashion sphere really attractive! For me, it’s all about pushing those boundaries.”
What’s your motto for 2019?
“It’s either one day or day one” – this really resonates with me because I won’t be remembered for my ideas, but rather my actions. For me this year is all about doing, being and believing.
Michelle is soon setting sail to the city of clam chowders and cable cars! An exciting opportunity has arisen for Michelle and her husband to move from Australia to the bright lights of San Francisco, California. Before Michelle departs from Australia (end of February 2019) she’s offering great discounts on nearly all photo shoots, with the special starting from just $219.
You can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your spot and take advantage of the amazing discounts.
Thank you so much Michelle for an insight into pursuing a career in photography and sharing your top tips! Follow 12 Percent Photography on Instagram for all the latest updates and Michelle’s experiences in San Fran!
We recently collaborated with Michelle on our very first content shoot and could not be happier with the end result! Michelle has the ability to capture the concept and vision for your photo shoot perfectly, while making you feel relaxed and confident in front of the camera! We highly recommend 12 Percent Photography, so if you are after some fresh business photos or have been thinking about getting some professional profile photos done get on to it today!