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.