This year hasn’t been easy but as the most wonderful time of year approaches we here at McDonald’s Studio are looking back at 2020 with a different lens. Here, we’re taking a look at memorable and joyful events of the year through photographs we have created throughout the year.
When we had a session dedicated all to man’s best friend and got some cute shots like this.
Moments like two young brothers sitting together as the younger discovers ducklings for the first time.
When one of our editors, Chloe had way too much fun with photoshopping effects and helped to create this memorable shot.
How could we leave out when Joe was invited to the White House in pre-COVID 2020 to meet the Prime Minister of Ireland! While there, Joe not created these photographs of the Supreme Court and Capitol.
This was not the end of Joe’s travels then either. Right after DC, he hoped on a plane to the Happiest Place on Earth and took part in a photoshoot at EPCOT.
And even when the pandemic came in full swing, we still managed to find merry and bright moments. Like when the cherry blossoms bloomed and filled the air with their fragrance.
Of course, Joe wasn’t just busy at the studio! As a State Representative, the Master Photographer worked hard with his colleagues to pass a relief bill to help those affected by the COVID-19 shutdown. Not only did the bill pass, but he created this photograph after adjourning the session.
We also learned how to make a few new food items and Joe captured this at home while he and his son attempted to make Disney-style churros.
And even found new beginnings to celebrate…
Then a week after that we had a snowfall in the middle of October. Can’t say it came on time but it certainly did make for a beautiful picture!
The holidays rolled around of course, and though they looked a bit different, we still managed to have some fun. A personal favorite was when Joe created this photo duo with the only and only Saint Nick!
That’s A Wrap!
Yes, 2020 hasn’t been an easy year to endure but we here at McDonald’s Studios believe there can be moments of comfort and joy if you just look for it. With the year coming to a close, here’s McDonald’s Studios wishing you a Merry Christmas and here’s to many blessings in the New Year!
Not A Typical Summer
When we think of summer here at McDonald’s Studio, images of bright blue skies, bonfires, fishing on one of Minnesota’s many great lakes and rivers, parades, State Fair and so much more. This summer though, things didn’t go according to that plan thanks to COVID-19. The State Fair halted, bonfires became smaller, parades were watched from inside homes and we even had a state-wide shutdown. And the changes of the year have only continued as we’ve gone on and as the holiday season approaches, we’re looking at having to change our traditions to fit this unique time. The ones we can observe though, we will and McDonald’s Studios is no exception. In our tradition, here’s the Top Ten Senior Portraits from 2020!
Starting our list is Mr. Derik Dreier! While this Watertown senior highlighted his love of sports during his session, he also wanted to share his love of music. Dreier, brought his guitar along and played a bit for us! It made for both a cool shoot and some great music!
Next on our list is Frank Brand; the Buffalo senior made a large jump to reach this ledge which resulted in this dramatic photo. And even more impressive than his jumping skills was this: Frank didn’t get one spot of dirt on his all-white outfit! Between these two things, Mr. Brand takes number nine on our list!
What’s more Minnesotan than fishing? The answer: tater tot hotdish but that’s not important! Our number eight winner, Delano senior Alex Aren wanted to show off his love of fly-fishing and brought in all his gear in order to do so. While we had quite a few shots of this, the intense lighting made for a unique look that earned a slot here on this list.
For the second year in a row we have a set of fraternal twins on our list of top senior photos! Sara and Kate of Hanover Minnesota took numerous photos together and apart during the course of their shared session. However, this one snagged a spot on our list due to their heartfelt embrace and big smiles!
Of course, sports aren’t for every senior that crosses our door. In the case of Howard Lake native, Audri Bakeburg her niche was found in FFA. Joe created this photograph on Audri’s family farm where we see her rocking her FFA jacket as she posed with the animals she works with most often: dairy cows! However, we have to say the most stunning part of this picture was Audri’s smile. Can someone say Brooke Sheilds lookalike?
And now to our number five slot we have Colby Kern who reminded us of one of our favorite things about summer: staying cool in the pool! Here, the Delano Senior and Swim Team Captain showed off his butterfly stroke for the camera for an action-packed photo! We’re glad to report no photographers were splashed in the making of this photo.
Coming up next, we have Miss Mikayla Neaton. This senior decided to highlight the work she does as a Watertown Ambassador. How? She grabbed her crown and rocked it! Keep your head up high Miss Ambassador and take our number four slot!
Next up, we have another animal lover: Whitney Betchold! Here, this Buffalo student posed with her two horses, (yes, two!) and had such a beautiful smile that she earned the number five slot on our list.
It’s a common fact that many people find fashion to be a creative outlet to help them express their interests and personality. Our number two entry on our top Ten List, Ms. Maggie Schaffer did just that as she brought in her Renaissance Fair outfit to her senior shoot! From the steampunk goggles, classy top hat and umbrella, she had one of the most unique outfit choices we’d seen this year and so, takes a well-earned spot on our list!
Finally, we have our number one pick: Delano senior Sam Schuler! This young man had a great many photos worthy of our list but we settled on this one. We felt it encapsulated the wonderful things about Sam that we got to see during his session including his infectious smile, sense of humor and a passion for all things Disney!
He got the ring, got down on one knee and asked you the big question; “Will you marry me?”. No matter who you are, this exciting chapter usually starts there. With my own 22 year anniversary recently passed, I’ve found myself nostalgic as I think of all the couples now who are about to embark on the same journey my wife and I started back then. I want wish all the soon-to-be-wed couples well. I hope your marriage is one full of happiness, love and plenty of shenanigan’s. Of course, that all begins with the wedding!
Having been in the photography business for three decades I have taken many a wedding portrait and in honor of all you lovebirds, I thought to share some of my most memorable pictures that I’ve taken over the years.
“A Royal Dress”
As I began McDonald’s Studios in 1988, it felt right to start this list with one of the first weddings I covered! As you can see, this young lady was a classic 80’s bride. She channeled Princess Diana with her puffy sleeves, and dramatic train. The high-necked collar though? That was all her own and boy did she rock it!
“Putting For Love”
Up next I’m jumping a few years ahead to the 90s where we see a couple with a shared interest: golf! The happy couple decided to have a bit of fun during their wedding photos and practiced their perfect hole-in-one putt on the golfing green. In all thirty years of the studio, this is a shot I have yet to see again at any wedding so I wanted to share it with you all!
“King of The Keg”
No matter what year it is, you can always count on a few shenanigans at any wedding. This shot, taken in the late 90’s is proof, as the groomsmen decided to have a bit of fun and get the party started right there in the parking lot.
“May God Bless You”
Whether it’s the mid-2000s or decades before, weddings have long held religious significance for many couples. As a result, I’ve photographed ceremonies in numerous churches, photographing couples in stained glass has always been one of my favorite wedding photos. Just at that lighting!
Though most people think the wedding is the bride’s day, the groom isn’t just a decoration. I created this photo in 2016 as this groom-to-be had a little fun with his friends. Like I said before, no wedding is complete without a little fun!
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”
Though white is traditional, not every bride opts for it on their wedding. This 2017 bride was one such example and she turned heads in a brilliant red gown on her big day. As you can see, the groom couldn’t take his eyes off her and the feeling was mutual!
“A Little Help From Mom”
In all the weddings I’ve been a part of one thing remains the same; the bride’s mother is her biggest helper. Whether it’s 1988 or 2020, it’s something I’ve come to expect and I love capture special moments like this. The smiles on their faces are truly magical as they both see long-time dreams come true.
“The Luckiest Man on Earth”
Of course, I had to save the best for last. This photo was taken on a beach in Florida back in 1998 where I pulled double-duty as a groom and a photographer. To this day, Rachel remains the most beautiful bride I’ve ever photographed and I love her more every day. Truly, I was the luckiest man on Earth that day and nothing has changed in the last few decades.
That’s A Wrap!
Of course, these aren’t all the wedding photos I’ve taken (this post would be way longer if it was!) And as you can see, many things have changed over the decades. What hasn’t changed however, is my commitment to my clients. I’m just as committed to make sure I give you the highest quality photographs possible now as I was in 1988.
Once again, to all you couples about to embark on this new journey of marriage, I wish you an abundance of love and joy. And to my beautiful wife, Rachel-thank you for an amazing twenty-two years; when I count my blessings, I count you twice. I love you.
Surescripts 2020 Gala
Beginning in 2001, Surescripts saw a need in the medical field to replace paper prescriptions so to improve communication between doctors and pharmacists. After nineteen years, the company has done just that and has become the biggest health information network in the United States. Even with such an impressive legacy though, the Surescript team has never forgotten that it’s the people who made such a legacy possible. For that reason, the company throws a party in honor of their hard-working employees each year and once again, McDonald’s Studios was there to document every moment.
Let’s Get This Party Started!
This year, the gala was held in the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel. The historical building used to be the depot that housed trains back in the day, neat right? So upon pulling up to the building, Joe and his assistant made their way inside and got a chance to admire the locations. The lack of crowds made for some excellent close up shots of the lovely décor; including ice sculptures!
Before too long, guests began to arrive, the first among them being the company CEO, Tom Skelton and his wife. As you can see, they put on their best for the event and made quiet the matched pair as they posed for a photo.
Of course, Mr. and Mrs. Skelton weren’t the only attendees who were dressed to the nines. As more and more guests began to arrive, Joe began to work his way around the room to snap photos. Some saw him coming, some didn’t and the result? Amazing photos of people having a great time and looking even better while doing it! (And these are just a few of them!)
Eventually after guests had a chance to settle in with some appetizers and drinks, Mr. Skelton took the stage and a moment to address his team. In his speech, he praised their hard work, not just in putting the party together but in the whole year prior as they continued to help build SureScripts. He promised the company would continue working towards excellence and the party kicked up as Mick Sterling and his band began to play.
Of course, no party is complete without food! Later in the evening, the buffet lines opened up. Joe managed to snag some photos of the spread before it got devoured; doesn’t it look good?
Between the food and drinks, people were still mingling and began playing Wine Toss (a.k.a the adult version of Ring Toss). And of course, cutting a rug across the dance floor.
Alas, all good things must come to an end and the clock ticked towards eleven; the official end of the party. However, the night ended on an even higher note than it began as winners were announced for various raffle prizes. Among them being a Samsung watch, Google Home and a pair of plane tickets!
That’s A Wrap!
Suffice to say, Surescripts had another successful gala and McDonald’s Studio’s certainly looks forward to seeing just how they’ll outdo themselves next year!
Wow, we haven’t posted on this blog since last year! Anyone else hear the crickets chirping? No? Just me? Okay then! Well to make up for that terrible joke, let me tell you all about some of the exciting things that will be happening at McDonald’s Studio in the New Year!
Are you finding that your are walls bare when it comes to precious family photos? Is your Aunt Cheryl asking for a copy of the Easter photo of your kids that was taken last year? Was your wedding portrait damaged by years of love and you’re in need of a new print? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then I have some great news for you! Come January 2020 all month long McDonald’s Studio will be having our Reorder Special. With this stellar deal, you can get 50% off previously ordered images, 30% off newly ordered images and if you have ordered a print, you can get a digital copy of said print for just twenty-five dollars! New image or previously ordered, you can share that image on your Instagram for just twenty-five bucks! Sale ends January 31st, 2020.
But That’s Not All!
Tell me, what is cuter than small children playing happily on the first day of spring after a long hard winter? Kids doing exactly that with adorable animals! This coming spring (exact dates yet to be determined) McDonald’s Studio will have our 26th Annual ‘Duck and Bunny’ shoot going on! We use live ducklings and rabbits (yes, really!) and when you put such cute critters with even cuter kids the results will make everyone stop and say ‘awww’.
And the best part of all this adorableness? It’s only 79 bucks a session! Appointments fill up quickly for this one so be sure to call us ASAP to ensure you get your spot!
That’s A Wrap!
Of course, these are just a few of the fun things we have going on here at McDonald’s Studio’s in the new year. You could almost say it’s going to be a roaring year! Keep up with our Facebook page McDonald’s Studio of Photography Inc. or back here on the blog where you’ll be the first to hear more about these and other amazing deals we have coming in 2020 that would even make Jay Gatsby say “well done old sport!”
Living In The Digital World
According to a survey by Screen Time Stats in 2019, the average American spends three hours and fifteen minutes a day on their phones-if they can be called that. These days, phones are much more like computers that just happen to fit into our back pockets. We’re always connected and the savvy business owner knows they can use this; question is how? Well, the answer is easy, they need to market themselves well and that begins with a foray into the world of commercial photography.
What is Commercial Photography?
Commercial photography is a blanket term, in general, it just means any pictures that are taken for the purpose of being used in a business setting. This can be anything from flyers, brochures, merchandising, product placements or sales pitches. These pictures can be head shots of company employees, the building, products or even the warehouse! Whatever it is, they can be used in building your business up and display your company to it’s best advantage. In short, a commercial photographer is one of the most important people you will work with as a business owner. They allow you to ‘walk the walk’ as well as ‘talk the talk’.
Sure, Landscape Structures LLC could tell prospective clients all about how they build interconnected and unique playgrounds for kids all across the country. They could talk about how they build their structures to be accessible for disabled and able-bodied children as well but nothing will capture the magic like seeing the kiddos playing and having a blast.
And yes, Cal Brandt Industries could explain how they manufacture machines that safely and quickly move railroad cars from one place to another. There’s no doubt they could hand a client a stack of papers and explain mathematics involved. Unless their clients double as engineers however, it’s not a good way to open the conversation. Showing their machines in action however? Now that’ll get some sparks going.
If a young couple is in search of a new home, what’s best: to tell them the house is beautiful or let them see it for themselves? Vanderlinde Group in Delano MN after almost thirty years in the real estate market knows the answer. (And hint, it doesn’t involve talking about hardwood floors!)
Whatever you need to say to your clients, a commercial photographer has the skill and knowledge to help you do it and thus, you can put your best foot forward and make use of all the tools open to you in our digital world.
Saying Goodbye to Summer
As of last week, summer officially ended and gave way to fall. While Autumn admittedly brings a lot of things to look forward to from the changing of the leaves, harvest season, hot apple cider, the excuse to wear fuzzy socks and of course all the fun of Halloween and Thanksgiving! Fall offers a lot to be sure, but here at McDonald’s Studio, we can’t help but have a soft spot for summer. The bright blue skies, scorching temperatures and sunshine are easy to love, but our favorite part is the numerous senior photos we get to take. So, as fall officially starts, we wanted to look back at our summer and count down our top forty senior photos from summer 2019. However, we realized upon consideration that no one has the time to read that so we have cut down the number to ten: here we go!
Coming in at number ten is a photograph which we think captures one of the best things about summer in Minnesota: going to the lake! Put simply, going to the lake and fishing is one of the most “Minnesotan” things you can do in the summer. Therefore, it felt right to give a slot on our list to Delano senior, Jacob VanBeusekom when Joe captured his fishing skills out on Lake Rebecca. Jacob showed off his amazing castings skills and we’re glad to say no one went overboard during this shoot.
You know you can find awesome locations right in your little town? We do! This shot of Watertown senior, Ethan Tang was taken behind an old industrial warehouse right here in Delano. With the unique location and winning half smile and the impressive jump to get up on the ledge, this photo takes a well earned place on our list.
Everyone who walks through the doors of McDonald’s Studio comes with a story and our eighth entry on our list, John Brand of Buffalo High School was no exception to this rule. This young man had spent his summer in Germany and recently returned to the States before coming in to take his pictures. A lover of both the United States, Germany and soccer John wanted to highlight them during his senior photos which is how we got this picture.
Our first lady to make our list is Delano senior Brynn Schwankl. A movie lover Ms. Schwankl wanted to highlight that passion in her senior photos and struck a pose in front of our world map with her Jurassic Park t-shirt. Aside from her excellent taste in films, Brynn also had a good sense of humor when she discovered we added another dino to this picture. Can you find it?
Sometimes, the best photos are the ones you don’t plan on taking. When Preston Wagner came into McDonald’s Studio he came in with nothing more than a few changes of clothes. Despite being on the Long Lake Trap Shooting team, Wagner hadn’t intended to take a photo with his gun. At the end of the shoot, Joe heard of Preston’s involvement in the trap team and asked him to come back with his gun that afternoon. Preston obliged and that’s how we got this awesome picture. And don’t worry, the safety was on!
Are you a dog lover? We sure are here at McDonald’s Studio and so is Leanna May. A Watertown senior, Leanna wanted to snap a few photos with her fur-baby Margo and not shockingly, both lovely ladies were incredibly photogenic and took a few photos together. However, our favorite was when the dynamic duo grabbed a chair and gave us their best smiles.
At many senior photo shoots, the senior’s parents come along. In the case of Cheyenne Ticich, her mom Sarah came along and as you can see they bring the phrase ‘like mother, like daughter’ to life. Joe snapped a few photos of the mother-daughter duo and this one was their favorite. Truly, it must be a summer miracle that a mother and her teenage daughter can agree on something. For that reason, these doppelgängers made our number four slot for our favorite senior pictures!
In our number three slot, we have for you Dunkin Bistadaeu, another Delano Senior who came in with the coolest jean-jacket we had ever seen. The unique design looked amazing in many photos but we especially loved it in black and white.
It’s a special thing to have a sister, but it’s even more special to have a twin sister: something Lauren and Ella Foley can attest to. Giving brand-new meaning to the phrase ‘a brunette and a blonde with an unbreakable bond’ these Watertown natives took many photos both together and apart. However, the big smiles they wore in this photo as well as the contrast of their blue and yellow dresses respectively earned them a second slot on our list!
Finally, our number one slot goes to Elizabeth Mineheine, a Rockford senior who was all smiles, spirit and self-proclaimed ‘sassy’ that kept us all laughing and grinning during her entire shoot. A natural in front of the camera, Ms. Mineheine struck pose after pose that Joe captured on camera but her perfect twirl and classy necklace in this shot cinched the number one spot on our list.
That’s A Wrap!
And so, as we look back over summer we want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the seniors whom we were privileged to photograph, thank you for choosing McDonald’s Studios for your portrait needs; we had an amazing time and we hope you did too! And to seniors overall, we wish you luck as you move forward in your final year of school. We hope you can embrace all it has to offer!
You did it! You made it to your senior year of high school! You’ve got a lot planned this summer I’m sure, from days at the lake to nights around the bonfire. You’ll be working, laughing and also having to sit for your professional photos for the yearbook. For those whose stomach turns with anxiety at the prospect of sitting in front of a camera and posing-don’t worry! As Joe’s photography assistant, I have plenty of tips to help you not only get through your senior photos easily, but also how to make them look great and enjoy the process at the same time!
Tip #1: Bring Multiple Outfits
Hey, I know not everyone’s big into fashion, but multiple outfits help make your senior photos that much more dynamic. The polo shirt will make your mom happy but the baseball cap and t-shirt will make you feel like yourself. Three to four is standard and allows you enough variety to showcase every aspect of who you are as a person!
Tip # 2: Props Are Welcome
We all have activities in high school or hobbies that are very important to us and a senior session is a great place to highlight them. Played volleyball? Bring that jersey! Maybe you were more into music? By all means, bring your instrument. Car person? We’ll happily get a picture of you next to your ride. Action shot? We’re there!
Tip #3: It’s Normal To Feel A Bit Awkward
Let’s face it: we can’t all be Instagram Influencers. Most of us aren’t used to being photographed all the time or having people fuss over our hair to get it just right. It’s a little weird to hold a pose for a few minutes as a flash blinds you. You feel so stiff and you worry it might translate to these once-in-a-lifetime pictures. Don’t worry, that’s normal! I felt the same way during my own senior session and I have yet to be part of one now where the Senior didn’t feel the same way at first. Let me say again: the awkwardness you’re feeling is normal.
Tip #4: Goofing Off Is Occasionally Needed
Senior photos might be once-in-a-lifetime but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a little silly during the shoot. It’s a great way to relieve some of the awkward tension that I mentioned in #3 and even results in some great photos!
Tip #5: Choose Your Photographer Carefully
The last and most important advice from your friendly neighborhood photography assistant: choose wisely when it comes to hiring a photographer. As I’ve said before, senior portraits are once-in-a-lifetime. You’re never going to graduate high school again and for that reason, you need to make sure you hire the best person for the job. Yes, anyone can have a nice camera, take a picture and use filters to improve the image but that is not what makes a great photographer.
Great photographers aren’t made by their fancy equipment. They’re made by their ability to connect with clients; their ability to listen to ideas and actively engage. Their skills behind the camera are just as critical as being able to put anxious clients at ease. To make them laugh so they can capture that 100% genuine smile. Great photographers also know how to see the extraordinary in the mundane. Just see for yourself:
That’s A Wrap!
There! Now that you’ve read this post, you know everything you need to know to survive and thrive during your senior photo session! See you then!
Our Story Begins in 1956
Back in 1956, Kenneth “KJ” McDonald opened the first McDonald’s Studio of Photography and in 1958 moved the studio to his hometown of Watertown, Minnesota. Thirty-two years later, his son Joe opened McDonald’s Studio in Delano and has been in business for thirty years. With such a history behind it, it’s safe to say a lot of things about the photography industry have changed since the first McDonald’s Studio was opened. What changed? Well, as they say a picture’s worth a thousand words.
When KJ was starting to build his studio, photographs were developed from negatives; images on a strip or sheet of transparent plastic film. As the darkest parts of the photo appeared the lightest and vice versa these images were called “negatives”. To switch it around, KJ had to make a “positive” of the image by projecting it onto a piece of paper with either a photographic enlarger or by way of a contact print. He was aided in this endeavor by his lovely wife Barbara.
Over the years of developing his craft photography changed again, going from negatives to film strips and then to video. KJ mastered all of them. Eventually, he passed on his vast knowledge to his son. Like his father before him, Joe had a passion for capturing precious memories on film and this lead him to opening his own studio at the young age of twenty-two.
The Story Continues in 1988
By the time Joe got his start in 1988, film cannisters were the new normal for photography and like his father, Joe developed and printed his images and used a darkroom to do so. However, the industry changed again in the early 2000s and digital began to take over as the age of computers ushered in a new era. As a result, he had to learn to use the computer to get his images looking just right. Later, he met and married his wife Rachel who used her expertise in graphic design to help him perfect his craft. Eventually, their boys began hanging around the studio as their family expanded.
Eventually, the commitment and passion Joe brought to his craft earned him a Master’s degree in photography as well as numerous awards and recognitions. Some of these include an award from Kodak for “Photographic Excellence” in 1999 and that same year he won Court of Honor from the Minnesota Professional Photographer Association. Joe went onto win that honor again in 2007, 2009 and 2010. That same year the Professional Photographers of American awarded Joe “Photographer of the Year”. His most recent accolade was “Best Photographer” for the Herald Journals’ Best of Delano 2018 piece. However, Joe maintains that the best titles he’s been given are “Dad” and “Rachel’s husband” respectively.
So, it’s safe to say that while photography has changed a great deal over the last few decades, the commitment of McDonald’s Studio to provide quality work and immortalized memories for our clients has never wavered once since 1956.