The Art of IT
It was an unexpected journey, but it is one that has left photographer and film-maker Adrian McDonald completely fulfilled.
Three years ago, McDonald was watching his friend edit some wedding photographs. His friend then decided to invite him to help with his next wedding. This decision changed his life.
"I can't remember what exactly was so profound about that
experience, but all I know is, after that, I knew that it (photography) was what I should be doing," said McDonald.
So the then teacher of grade-four students at New Horizon Preparatory got started with wedding photography with the encouragement of his friend, fellow photographer Richard Brown.
While he enjoyed wedding photography, he knew that he wanted to be more than a wedding photographer. There was something about fine arts that piqued his interest. McDonald wanted his work to tell stories about the human condition and encourage people to be better.
"When I do a piece, I have to think, does this inspire people to go to a higher level inside themselves? The messages I send should be morally correct," he noted.
There was no better feeling than when he was contacted by a viewer of his Instagram page on Facebook about his piece 'I Choose Life'. The picture showed a man with the rope in hand kneeling after he had chopped down the branch that he was going to hang it on, symbolising the choice of life over death. The viewer told him that the piece had made her 'choose life' after wanting to attempt suicide herself after her brother had done the same.
"I was glad that my work could create such impact," he noted.
In the inception, however, he was inspired by quotes, and he wanted to bring these words to picture. However, it was not that easy starting out. His first try at fine arts photography he describes as a 'disaster'.
"I did the first piece with my girlfriend. The theme was addiction and I wanted it to appear that she was addicted to alcohol. It was an utter failure. It looked like someone threw a bottle down and took it," he described the incident comically.
There were a few things that he knew he need to do when it came to approaching fine arts - research, practice and better equipment. McDonald worked on these three and everything started to come together, and two and a half years later, he redid this piece. Along with his hard work came success, but he did not predict that it would land him with Vogue.
"I had a friend - Christina Ramsey, that started to encourage me to send my picture to Vogue. They have a section on their website where they allow photographers to submit photos and, if they make the cut, they will share it on their website," explained McDonald.
While this was something that he wanted, he was quite hesitant at the inception.
"After I created a profile, I saw a long list of posts from people who had been turned down. Some even said, if you are a new photographer don't bother to try, so I just did not bother at that time," he mentioned.
However, after taking a photograph of dancer Kerry-Ann Henry, he felt like it was time to give it a try.
"To be honest, I had no expectations. I was up like two in the morning and checked my email and saw an email from Vogue that the picture had been accepted. I then went to their site and there it was. I ran over to my roommate's door and just started banging on it and said, 'Dude, I made Vogue'," he recalls his first acceptance.
That was just the beginning for McDonald. He got seven more acceptances in 2014 and two since 2015.
Well, apart from continuous improvement, McDonald is also trying to get his foot into film-making. He completed his first film Cozenage last year, and is currently working on a second called Dear God. For fine arts, he is working on some photographs depicting Women of the Bible.
He advises fellow photographers, "Find your direction or purpose and stay true to such, you will be much more fulfilled at the end of the day. Also, growth won't happen immediately, it takes time, a lot of time. You need to take time to cultivate your mind with refined thoughts and
visuals of photography. Quality and message are essential, if it is one thing people can relate to, it will be one of the two previously mentioned. Don't be arrogant or consumed with pride or think of yourself better than others. Be willing to accept advice but also be willing to stand your ground for what you believe in. A friend once said to me, 'If you like photography, you don't have to do it like everyone else', the same is true for everything else. Find your own unique creative expression."