Project 52, Class Continues

Well, life got in the way so I am way behind posting assignments for my year long commercial photography class.  I missed a couple completely because I had conflicts with my photography business that simply had to come first.  So, I will put assignments up as they are available but not necessarily in order from now on.  That’s life.  You do what you can and improvise for the rest.


The assignment I am posting today was to create a Halloween double spread magazine article.  It was necessary use an image that allows the written article to appear and the image added should entice your eye to go to the text to read.  I had a lot of fun with this week’s assignment. The images needed to be dark so that the white text showed up. Halloween needs spooky and dark looks anyway so that made it easier.

In the image above, the costuming helped lintroduce Halloween as something that goes way back.  In fact, it actually goes back farther than the Renaissance clothing in the image.  I used a couple of different images in layers to create the second spread.  Since I ended up with two final layouts that worked well, I submitted both. They both fit the assignment but were totally different in feel.  My instructor liked them and felt either would meet the needs of a magazine client plus it gave them choices.  I am not sure whether I have a favorite layout.  Maybe you can choose!


52 Weeks of Commercial Creativity Week 3

Still Life

This was a very difficult assignment for me.  I have never created a still life image in my life.  We had to have a minimum of 5 objects in the image and one of them had to be a flower.  I found a still life isn’t lit like a portrait, and setting it up is different than a portrait.  I wound up switching props over and over, changing lighting, shoot, reshooting, adding more props and reshooting again.  The entire day was gone before I knew it and I still wasn’t happy.


I finally ended up with the image you see although I recropped it tighter than the one I submitted.  I wasn’t the only one in class who struggled with this assignment. Those of us who are used to photographing people were all in the same boat.   Some of our classmates love shooting food and other still life subjects.  They excel at it, in fact.  For me, getting the composition just right didn’t happen.  I am anxious to have another assignment so that I can improve on it.  I have to be prepared to shoot many different things in the commercial world rather than people only.  I have to be able to meet a commercial clients needs and create their vision.  I have to be able to fit their mold rather than mine.  I love the challenge even though it drove me crazy trying to get that still life right.  Maybe next time I will follow my vision better and make my still life to show drama, elegance and sophistication.  Then I will be headed to the place I belong and my images will make me happy.

Next week, photographing an entrepreneur.  See you than!


52 Weeks of Commercial Creativity, Week 2

Week 2 searches for my style and vision.

My Vision StatementDrama, Elegance and Sophistication

Week 2 was a very interesting exercise for me.  I have always been told that when you have created thousands of images, you will develop a style.  I knew what I liked and knew what my clients wanted but I have never had to actually define my style until now.  We were asked to choose the five favorite images we had taken over the years.  Armed with a set of questions to complete, we were to write our vision statement.  As I went through this process and looked at my favorite five, I was shocked to see the similarities among them. Each image was a different female subject, all backgrounds were different, poses were different and some were in color while others were black and white.  The style was definitely the same.  It was just amazing.  It is said that you develop your style by looking back not looking forward at your work.  Now I understand that statement.  I am supposed to keep my vision statement (on the image above) in my mind as I create images.  My vision statement is really just for me, not my clients.  It is what inspires me, what makes my heart sing and what should be visible in each of my images.  As I incorporate my vision, I hope that one day my pictures will be recognizable as mine and stand out in some way so people say, “Gloria McDonald created this image.”

Thanks for reading this.  See you for Week 3, Still Life.


52 Weeks of Commercial Creativity

Week 1 of my 52 week journey into commercial photography begins now.

It has been almost a year since I added anything to my blog.  My last post was so deeply moving for me that I just haven’t had the heart to write something new.   I wanted that final tribute to my friend to be what everyone saw.

I think it’s time to update my blog and turn the page.  I have been a working professional photographer since 2004.   During this time, I have continued my photographic education. One of the things I love about photography is that you never get to the end and can always seek a higher level of expertise.  I took a black and white class in the spring and in September I began a 52 week Commercial Photography class called Project 52 (P52).  I hope that you decide to come along for the ride.  This course is going to stretch me as I learn the ins and outs of commercial photography to add to my portraiture work.

Our first assignment was to approach a stranger and photograph them.  There are varied backgrounds and varied levels of photographers in P52 so approaching a stranger was more difficult for some than for others.   This was a fun way to start the year since I’m used to approaching strangers for photography.   I made the image pretending that it was a commercial assignment.  Since I am a portrait photographer, I decided on using her as a model selling cosmetics.  I found my stranger at Ulta so, of course, cosmetics was the perfect fit.  Here is the image that I submitted for assignment #1.


I’ll continue to share my assignments as I have them finished.  The next submission requires me to create my Vision Statement with a picture to illustrate it.  Definitely a challenge!

For Rita


It has been a long time since I began writing about Rita’s Journey.  So much has happened since she was first diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time.  I began to tell her story just before she started her treatments.

I have been so blessed to be a part of her life, to be her friend and to be able to photograph Rita and her family over the years.  Our first shoot was a family photo session with her husband, Jeff, her son, Jack, and their two dogs.

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The second photo session was to begin her journey as she negotiated the treatments for her breast cancer.  We decided to photograph her journey so prior to her first chemo session, we went to the train station in Denton, Texas armed with a piece of 50’s luggage and a 50’s hat box to prepare her for her journey.  I began telling this story in this very blog.  In fact, you can go back and read the details starting in 2012..

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 I photographed Rita as she was losing her hair from chemo at the third session we did.  She had her hair stylist come and shave it all off.  There were lots of us there supporting her and celebrating her strength.

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The fourth journey session was done at a local park.  Those images became more poignant and touching as we set up each shot.

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Session 5 was her last day of chemotherapy and Session 6 was her last day of radiation.  Each time her husband came with flowers and her friends came with balloons and goodies to celebrate yet another milestone in her journey.  We were all so excited as she finished up her breast cancer treatments and her MRI’s came back clear.

The celebration at the chemo clinic. Rita did it!
The celebration at the chemo clinic. Rita did it!

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The seventh session that we did was planned after Rita found that she had cancer once again.  It was not the spread of her breast cancer but rather a new cancer.  This time is was in her brain.  I found Rita to be amazing yet again in how she accepted that she had a new cancer, and how her faith held her up to face the next surgery and treatments.  I had been talking to Rita about doing a “sophisticated woman” session with her prior to her finding out about her latest cancer.  She called me and said “if you want a sophisticated shoot with me, let’s do it before I have to have brain surgery.”  So, we set it up and it was a grand day.  Not only did it take both of our minds off of her impending surgery but it was the most fun shoot that I had had in a long time.  We laughed, talked and celebrated the beautiful woman that she is.  After Rita’s second cancer, she changed her hairstyle completely.  Instead of long colored hair, she opted for short, slightly spikey natural colored hair.  She was getting such compliments on it as her hair grew back, that she kept it short.  It looks fabulous and very sophisticated.  It definitely made the “sophisticated woman” session even better.  At the time, I didn’t know that it would be the last session prior to her decline in health.

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I have done only one session since then.  It was just a short time ago and it  wasn’t a session at all. Her husband planned a surprise birthday party for her and I was invited.  Naturally I showed up with my camera so I could take candid shots of her family and friends who came.  There were so many people that we were all spilled out across the yard and there was no parking close to her house.  Her mother, brothers, sisters and other family members were there along with some of her husband’s family.  It was a fun party and Rita had a wonderful time.  Some of her friends from outside the local area flew in for the surprise.

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 I visited my dear friend, Rita yesterday.  It is the latest of several visits I have made recently as Rita prepares to leave us to spend eternity with God whom she loves so much.  She has battled breast cancer twice and won.  The last several months she has been in the biggest battle of all fighting brain cancer.  She has had brain surgery, radiation and chemotherapy to battle this difficult cancer.  Each time she received a cancer diagnoses, she has met the new challenge with determination and faith in a God who loves her.  She has shared Him with everyone she could along the way.  She knows that although this battle is going to be lost, that God has a better plan for her. She has completed what He wanted for her to accomplish here on earth and now He is calling her home.  Those of us who will be left will miss her greatly.  We will have deep sadness but also a joy in knowing she is no longer struggling, or suffering and that she is celebrating in a place where there is no pain, or sadness but only joy.

You have made each of our lives a whole lot better, Rita.  You’ve made us laugh, lifted us up, shared yourself in so many ways and, yes, taken charge a bunch of times.  You are loved, Rita.

A new Concept Photoshoot is coming soon!

Film Noir
Film Noir

Those of you who have been following Wild Mane Photography for a while know how much I love to photograph clients and/or models using special themes.  In fact, if you visit my website there is a category for Concept Sessions in the drop down menu of Galleries.  With makeup, costumes and lighting, many looks and eras can be re-created.  There are Film Noir, Renaissance, Vintage Circus and others represented in the Concept Session category.

I am excited and looking forward to one that is coming up.  I will be shooting with a group of other professional photographers in October creating Bohemian looks.  We have all been collecting clothing, jewelry and props to create our version of it.  One of the things that will be interesting is to see each photographer’s vision of Bohemian.  We are different ages and from different parts of the country.   I suspect we will envision it differently so it will be a wonderful, creative and fun day.  There is a possibility that we will need some models.  I will post it on my blog if we do.  Either way, I will blog all about it along with some of my images once they are ready.

In the mean time, here are a couple of my images from past concept sessions!  Have a great week-end.


Ellie’s little girl!



Meet Bella!  She arrived over a month ago just when we were about to give up.  Poor Ellie was so big that I started worrying she would have trouble foaling.  After checking over and over again, Ellie managed to have this little girl when I wasn’t around.  Isn’t that just the way it happens.  She is darling and has a delightful personality.  Right after she was born, I hurt my back so badly that I couldn’t go to the barn for 3 weeks or keep up with my blog.  Since she needed to be handled and socialized, my husband, Patrick, took over for me.  He did a great job.  Bella is so friendly, that she chases after us when we start to head back to the house.  Apparently Patrick is the best scratcher of all time as far as she is concerned.  We have integrated her and Ellie back into the herd and everybody is getting along very well.  The next baby due will be to Dora.  She is getting big but definitely weeks away from presenting us with a new one.  I’ll keep you posted.



Bella is brand new in this picture.




No wonder poor Ellie was so big.  Look at those long legs and ears she was carrying around.