Marina McDonald remembers clearly where it all began.
‘Dad gave me my first camera when I was 10. By the age of 12 I was doing a lot of photography. So much that I had to get a part time job,’ laughs Marina.
A Senior at Fairholme in 1986 and Photography Captain, snapping moments quickly became the focus of a young Marina.
‘I was in Grade 9 when I was taking some photos of a friend’s daughter when we were away at the snow, and her family loved it so much, they invited me to take portrait photos of her back in Toowoomba.’
It was the start of a lifelong love, which was nurtured at Fairholme.
The Old Chapel was an art room at the time, run by Miss Mitchel.
‘I took over that area when they let me have a dark room in there, and I remember every Friday I would spend the entire afternoon in there.’
Marina began winning awards at photography competitions, and by the end of her Senior year at Fairholme she was determined to find a job as a full time photographer.
‘I applied for this job at the Toowoomba Chronicle, and I got called in for an interview. I was so excited. Then I got there and they said ‘We’ve looked at your grades and you really should go to Uni with results like that’, so that was it. I went to Uni and studied Software Engineering.’
But that was far from the end of photography, as Marina recalls taking mountain treks to Nepal every two years with her brother to climb mountains, and take photographs.
‘We would come home from those trips and contact outdoor equipment companies to swap our photographs for mountaineering gear. So a lot of our photos ended up in catalogues and magazines, and we got the equipment we needed to keep going.’
Four years ago, Marina was about to restart her career in software engineering, after a few years of maternity leave, when she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.
‘The diagnosis wasn’t good. I think it was a real shock… thinking that might not be here.’
Marina says she started to think of all the things she wished she was doing with her life.
Then, after nine months of cancer including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with her hair just starting to grow back, her life took another turn.
‘I was involved in a Canon campaign with Lisa Wilkinson (Host of the Today Show) in which Lisa was shining a light on young women with breast cancer. During the weekend of filming, Canon kindly offered that I could use their cameras so I took some photos of my daughter. When Canon learned of my photographic background, they gave me one of their latest DSLR cameras.’
And Marina once again found her passion, behind the lens of that Canon camera and has gone on to become an accredited professional photographer with the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) winning 6 awards at the prestigious Australian Professional Photographic Awards (APPAs).
‘I’m loving photography as it is a wonderful creative outlet for me and I am constantly learning. My business focus is children and teens portraiture as well as architectural photography. Working as a photographer also allows me flexibility in working hours to maximise my time with my kids.
Marina’s photography will be on display at Facets of Fairholme this weekend and includes a number of her award prints. One of them is the photograph that inspired Grant Lehmann’s incredible painting, also on display at the exhibition.