According to Dale McDonald, the number of new clients to request his professional event photography services “increased significantly” in 2015. Ironically, McDonald’s growing reputation also posed some of his biggest challenges throughout the year. “The increase in commercial photography jobs made it a challenge to keep pace with the strict product turnaround times that I guarantee,” he said. Nonetheless, McDonald photographed several prominent local professionals, including Marc Stefanski, the CEO of Third Federal Savings, and David Blatt, then the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. On July 10 Stefanski and his children hosted the first-ever Rhonda’s Kiss benefit as a tribute to Stefanski’s wife, Rhonda, who had succumbed to pancreatic cancer. “My job as the event photographer for Rhonda’s Kiss was to photograph all of the key moments (and) emotions and document visual references that could be used as material to help promote their cause,” McDonald said. “The biggest obstacle, like many events, was trying to cover as much ground as possible while making sure not to miss any key moments.”
Blatt, while still the head coach of the Cavaliers, spoke to dozens of children at the Cleveland Friendship Circle’s Gift of Giving launch in December. The day began photographing families and children playing games, working on arts and crafts, candle making, and watching an olive oil-making demo during the Chanukah Party. Following the Chanukah Party, Rabbi Yossi Marozov introduced Blatt to a crowd of teenagers eagerly waiting to meet the NBA celebrity. Blatt helped wrap donated stuffed animals, answered questions from guests, posed for a group portrait with the teenagers in attendance, and lit the first candle on the Friendship’s Circle giant Lego menorah. “The biggest challenge photographing this event was working in conjunction with multiple video crews that were onsite as well,” McDonald said. “Trying not to block the view of video crews while moving around to capture moments from multiple vantage points can be quite challenging.”
Two more noticeable events that McDonald photographed were the Bright Pink FitFest cancer prevention fundraiser and the Cleveland Heart and Stroke Ball. With the FitFest event “off-camera strobe lighting was used in many of the fitness rooms to supplement the ambient up-lighting within the room,” McDonald said. “Placing subjects in the best light is always a priority. The challenge is doing this without destroying the ambient atmosphere in the background. In this instance, the usage of off-camera lighting becomes a valuable tool in capturing an event in the best of light, literally.” The Heart and Stroke Ball was the first event McDonald photographed at the Metropolitan at The 9. “Though beautiful, challenges existed with navigating through the crowded rooms, and the venue’s dark-colored walls made it difficult to use on-camera bounce lighting to illuminate my subjects. To get around this obstacle, I had an assistant hold an off-camera strobe for lighting subjects in both posed group shots and candid photos. Using off-camera lighting in this instance solved two problems: adding flattering directional light on my subjects, and helping retain the ambient light in the background.” Back on his own home court, McDonald no longer has to worry about crowds and outside elements. In late 2015 he opened his first photography studio.
Runners-up: Jim Baron, Baron Photography; Linda Ford, Linda’s Lenses; Vanessa Gliha, Orchard Photography; Steve Petti, New Image Media.
2015 —Dale McDonald
2014 —Dale McDonald
2013 — Linda Ford