LSI Pro of the Month April 2016 | Bukalders Photography

donna pro of the month

Congratulations Donna, you have been selected as our LSI Pro of the Month for April! We are so excited to introduce you to our readers and would love to get know you better! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your photography business.

Hi! Thanks so much for asking me to participate in this new series! I opened my portrait business in 2011 and shortly thereafter decided to specialize in newborn and babies. I’ve been a maternal newborn nurse for almost 20 years and figured newborns were the best fit! I added maternity a couple years later and opened a small studio in 2013. I closed my studio early this year to concentrate more on my family and work. I am loving shooting for myself for the time being and hope to get back into portrait photography before too long.
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What would you consider your favorite photography style or genre and why?

I am absolutely in LOVE with landscape photography! I feel that photography has helped me see the beauty in everything around me. I notice the softness of the morning light, the colors in the sunset, the quietness of the forest and the strength of the ocean waves. Sometimes I just can’t imagine that the world can be any more beautiful. That sounds sappy but it’s so very true. That feeling is what drives me to wake up at 5 am on my day off to see the sunrise or to drive 2 hours away to catch the low light of morning through the trees of the forest.
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We adore how versatile your work is and how you seem to have mastered both portrait and landscape photography. How did you become skilled in both styles?

Thank you so much! I would have to say lots and lots of practice! I honestly don’t feel I’ve mastered anything. I am amazed when I see people who are producing beautiful work and it has taken them such a short time to get where they are. It has taken me many many years to feel comfortable with my work and I still see the need to grow every time I pick up my camera.
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Are you formally trained in photography through schooling or are you self taught? If self taught, did you take any workshops, either online or in person, that you feel really pushed your work to the next level?

I am self taught. It took me so many months to understand manual settings and many years to actually like some of my photography. I could always tell that there was something missing in each of the images I took but I didn’t really know exactly what. When I started with newborn photography I practiced on all my friends and coworkers until I felt I couldn’t get any further on my own. An online group I belonged to included a newborn photographer who offered to teach a few of us what she knew. I took a workshop with her and then a year later met with her again to fix some of the things I was missing. A couple years later I attended a workshop with a well known photographer. That helped immensely and my work definitely refined itself after that.
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Please share with us your favorite portrait image and your favorite landscape image you have ever taken. Why are these 2 images favorites?

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I love this landscape image because of the peacefulness and solitude it exudes. I love the barely there colors—and I love water!

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There are so many portrait images I love because of different reasons. Most of them were because I was working on something specific and I nailed it. But this image is one of my favorites because of a few different reasons. I loved her hair! Isn’t it gorgeous??? I loved the way she was positioned-very naturally. I loved the neutral colors and I loved her parents. I really enjoyed this session and it was hard to pick just one as a fave.

Do you have a favorite landscape location you most enjoy photographing? Please share with us a few examples.

I love water. I would have to say my favorite location is somewhere on the water. I had the opportunity to travel to California last year and I fell in love with the rugged coastline and the beautiful sunsets.

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I also get very excited when I will be flying during sunrise or sunset. I love love love taking pictures from the plane!

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If you had to choose between being a portrait or landscape photographer for the long haul, which would you choose and why?

At this moment in time, if I had to choose, I would probably choose landscape photography. Is is so relaxing. It forces me to stop, take a deep breath and admire the beauty of the world around me. I take my time and force myself to see the little details. Although, I would like to do portrait photography again in the future.
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Please tell us about your camera gear and what kind of bag you carry it all in. Which lens do you find yourself grabbing for the most?

I might just be proof that the gear doesn’t make the images. I have such a long wishlist and too little funds to make it happen. For landscapes I use my Nikon d700 and my Tamron 10-24mm the most. This isn’t the best lens for my full frame camera because it vignettes when open all the way but it works for what I need at the moment. For newborns I always use my Nikon 50mm 1.4 and for outdoor portraits I use my Nikon 85mm 1.4.

I use a Lowepro Fastpak 350. I needed a backpack that was comfortable for traveling and walking all day. The shoulders had to be well padded for comfort. I also like the fact that it holds an ipad so my husband doesn’t balk at carrying it for me.
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Your landscape work has a very dreamy and uniquely soothing style to it. Is this part of your post processing or something you have learned to achieve in camera?

Thank you. When I take a picture I envision what I want the final image to look like before I snap the shutter. I am naturally drawn to water-which I find very soothing. I prefer softer, less contrasty images and I think this is conveyed in my final product.
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And finally, we’d love to know what inspires you to stay motivated with your photography journey? Any advice you could offer to those who are struggling to keep the creative juices flowing?

Sometimes it is hard to stay motivated. When I feel I’m in a rut, or I’m not liking my work, I try to focus on one thing to work on until I feel I’ve mastered it. For portrait photography I would do model calls to specifically practice a certain way of wrapping a baby or a certain position. For my landscape photography I wanted to practice getting good images at sunrise. So I would wake up early as often as I could to catch the rising sun. This year I would like to practice shooting waterfalls. Practicing this way gives me something to research and concentrate on-and it’s fun to see the results when I finally catch on!

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Be sure to check out and follow more of Donna’s work here…

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