© Marisa Donnelly

Event Photography (The Lights Festival), March 2018

In March of 2018, I attended the Southern California Lights Festival, an emotional experience of family and friends, lantern lighting, music, dancing, eating, celebrating, and writing wishes and hopes to set into the sky.

I worked to capture not only the mood of the event, but the beauty—still and moving—of the lanterns and the people. In this gallery you will see hands, you will see a couple exchanging vows, you will see torches, and you will see love. All images are copyrighted and you can find some on my Instagram page as well.

 

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© Marisa Donnelly

Event Photography (Neuqua Valley High School Senior Prom), 2016

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It’s prom season, which means beautiful photos of beautiful people.

This May I was given the opportunity to photography my younger sister on her senior prom! This was so fun, as the weather was perfect and the natural environment made for some beautiful contrast. In shooting these photos, I worked to get close-ups that really captured both my sister and her boyfriend’s natural, happy expressions. I framed the shots with the greenery to keep the focus on their black and white clothing.

I also shot some photographs indoors, which included our family dog, Flash! With these photos, I focused on getting the correct lighting that would highlight the browns and beiges of both skin tone and fur.

I largely used a zoom lens; this was because I felt that the closeness of the shots provided a natural intimacy. I loved how they turned out! 🙂

 

 

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© Marisa Donnelly

Event Photography / Senior Portraits (Waldorf University Graduation), 2016

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It’s graduation season again, which means beautiful senior portraits! This year I was asked by my friend, Shaye Sutherland, a Waldorf University 2016 graduate, to take her senior pictures.

With these photos, I experimented with the stark color contrast of whites, browns, and greens against Shaye’s skin. I also posed her naturally, and often casually so that the photos could reflect her beautiful, natural smile.

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I staged the majority of the shots in front of the university’s main hall, Salveson Hall, to capture the essence of the old structure and the memories Shaye has built there over the years. There were a lot of lines in the stairs and pillars, so I used those to frame Shaye’s body and face. We also used her sign and decorated cap as props to add color and contrast to the photos.

Shooting her photos was a lot of fun and I love how they turned out! 🙂 Congrats graduates!

 

 

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© Marisa Donnelly

Event Photography (Waldorf University Homecoming Court), 2015

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I was asked by Waldorf University to take the photos for the 2015 Homecoming Court. This was an awesome (and hilarious) group of seniors and I loved that I was able to photograph them!

With these pictures, I experimented with both staged and candid shots, working to capture good lighting and a composition that was focused on their faces with minimal distractions.

I think they had as much fun as I did and I love how they turned out! Happy Homecoming!

 

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© Marisa Donnelly

Environmental Photography (Forest City), May 2015

 

 

I attended Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa from 2011-2015. Living in small-town Iowa was much different than my fast-paced suburb of Chicago, but I have some of the most wonderful memories from that itty-bitty town I learned to call home.

As I prepared for graduation, I knew I wanted to capture pictures of Forest City: the behind-the-scenes of living in a small town and the little things that people often overlook. I realized, as many of my peers prepared to move out of Forest City, that some of the beautiful, simple aspects of this town weren’t appreciated. So I set off to capture these things in my photography: old, worn buildings, clothing on a clothesline, an abandoned wagon, hard-working people, and of course, puppies.

I love how these photographs show the background of a small city that works hard, and has gone through years of wear and tear, but most importantly, years of love.

 

After taking my photos, I created a magazine layout to showcase Forest City – Hidden Treasures: Behind the Scenes of Small Town Life – which can be viewed here.

 

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© Marisa Donnelly

Portrait Photography (Mother & Son), May 2015

 

In May of 2015, I took these photographs of little Caleb and his mother, Diana. My goal was to take photographs that were natural, yet captured Caleb and his many faces–as you can see there are many! I also wanted to photograph Caleb with his mother, to show their relationship and to also capture Diana as she interacted and played with her son. I love not only the lighting in these shots, but the way the telephoto lens allowed me to focus in on Caleb without background distractions.

 

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© Marisa Donnelly

Sports/Action Photography (Waldorf Baseball), April 2015

 

As a former collegiate softball player, I’m aware of what makes a good action shot. For these photos, taken at a Waldorf College home baseball game, I worked with a telephoto lens and quick shutter speed to capture each stage of a pitcher’s pitch and batter’s stance. I also worked to capture the ball while moving, for a more dramatic shot.

 

 

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© Marisa Donnelly

Macro Photography (Flowers), April 2015

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These photographs have a funny background story, actually. I was driving around my college town, Forest City, Iowa, searching for some over-looked, beautiful things to take pictures of for a photography project, when I found these flowers at a four-way stop. I had to pull over and take a few shots, and it so happened that the lady who owned the home was outside, so I introduced myself to her and started chatting. She was a sweetheart and her tree was gorgeous. Not only did I get some great pictures, but I also met a wonderful person!

My focus with these photos was to capture the beauty of the flowers by bringing them front and center and throwing the background out of focus. I worked with a telephoto lens, macro setting, and zoom. The contrast of the background and the pink flowers, in my opinion, makes for calming, yet dramatic shots.

 

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© Marisa Donnelly

Environmental Photography (Chicago), March 2015

 

 

Chicago is my city, the place I have called home all my life. When I decided to attend the Alpha Chi National Convention in March 2015, I was excited that I would be able to head home for a bit and be in a place I knew and loved!

Because I knew Chicago, and have lived only 30 minutes away since I was born, I became the head of my group of travelers from Iowa. I knew where all the touristy places were, and as I showed everyone around, I started to see Chicago from the perspective of someone who had never visited.

I have always thought Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities. Even with some of its dirt and wear-and-tear, I think it’s beautiful, eclectic, majestic, dynamic, and wonderful. I brought my camera on the trip, and as we traveled, my goal changed from capturing Chicago through my eyes, to also taking pictures from the perspective of someone who was experiencing its beauty for the first time.

These are some classic Chicago shots: Navy Pier, Millennium Park, The Bean, and the skyline, but I tried to get unique perspectives to really capture the essence of Chicago.

 

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© Marisa Donnelly

Wildlife Photography (Cocoa Beach), March 2015

I traveled to Cocoa Beach with my softball team for Spring Break, and knowing I was going to be in a sunny, cheerful, and much different than Iowa type of place, I wanted to snap a bunch of pictures.

I was enrolled in a Photojournalism class at the time, and one of my assignments was to photograph people in their natural environments . One night, after dinner, my parents and I walked the Cocoa Beach Pier, and with a camera-in-hand, I started snapping pictures of a local fisherman who had just happened to catch a fish and filet it right on the Pier ledge! The photos of the fisherman turned out alright, but what I really loved were the shots of the fish in mid-filet and the pelican who had harassed the fisherman the entire time.

I worked with quick shutter speed to capture these photos, especially with the pelican who was always in motion. I also messed with the aperture priority setting to allow me to focus on the subject even in the sunset/low-lighting. For some of my first shots, I’m pleased how they turned out.

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