Todd McKinley, Bountiful, Utah

How long have you been a photographer?

About five years.

What first piqued your interest in photography?

The construction downtown of the City Creek Center.

What is your photography forte?

I love photographing architecture. I love buildings, old and new. I have recently started trying my hand at landscape photography as well.

What tip or trick have you learned along the way that made the biggest difference to the quality of your photos?

Practice. That is the biggest thing I have found. I taught myself photography and have never had a class on it. I kept practicing shots. I would take the same type of shots over and over again and each time try something new or different to get the picture to look better. Keep trying new things. The beauty of digital photography is that if you don’t like the photograph, you can delete it and reshoot it.

What about photography inspires you?

I love that you get to capture a moment in time. Nobody else can capture that exact same moment that you captured. I love looking back at the Shipler collection of photos on the Utah State Historical website and seeing his old photos from almost a century ago. It gives you a glimpse into their lives back then. You can see what people wore, what the cars looked like, what buildings existed then, what the weather was like on that day. It’s like a walk back in time. Capturing those moments is what inspires me.

Heavenly Father has created this beautiful planet for us. Every night I would come to Temple Square and get a completely different shot. I look at the sky behind the temple as a canvas in which Heavenly Father is waiting to paint for me. I have to be willing to stop and watch what He will do, because every night He shows me a new masterpiece and I have to be there to capture it. Even if there are no clouds in the sky, the colors will change throughout the evening as the sun sets from gold, yellow, and orange to pink, purple, and blue. There is also a slight change in those colors from season to season.

How do you decide what to shoot and how to shoot it?

I think of an area in town that has interesting buildings and will go there to photograph them. When I am there, I walk around the buildings to capture the different angles and the different lighting. I know it sounds weird, but in my mind I am continually looking at things like I would through a camera lens. My mind will study out the different angles and take everything in front of me into account and decide what would look best for a picture. I am continually thinking if I should zoom in or out to include different objects in the photograph. Most importantly, I want to compose the photo in a way that I will want to go back and look at that picture over and over again. If I don’t want to see it again, then I haven’t accomplished what I wanted.

Where is your favorite location to shoot?

Currently it has been the City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City. In fact, a year and a half ago, the company that runs the retail portion of the City Creek Center asked if I would photograph it for them every month. I did most of their photos of the project, including the ones on the directory that you can pick up there. I love the lighting down there as the different buildings interact with each other. I love photographing the urban environment.

What do you love about photography?

See what inspires me above and you will see what I love about photography.

What advice would you give to new photographers? 

Practice, practice, practice. Don’t give up on it. If you love it, then put your whole heart into it. Make sure that you are the one who is happy with the photos that you take. That is what is important. It doesn’t matter what others think of your shots. If you love doing it and you love the photos that you take, people will see that in your photography. 

How important is Photoshop in your final image?

Very important. I process most of my shots in HDR (High Dynamic Range). If done correctly it can make your photos look amazing since you are capturing all the levels of light. I take at least three shots of different exposures and then merge them together to make one image. I then go in and, using the different exposures, I gently blend them back into the HDR image to correct spots where lighting is out of balance. Here are a few examples of some shots that I took that are processed using HDR.

This is Provo Canyon near Bridal Veil Falls looking west down the canyon and another photo taken from the same angle a few minutes later.

What is your favorite lighting?

My favorite lighting has to be after the sun sets. It is called the blue hour. It is the last hour of light you have in the day before it gets dark.

Where is your dream location to shoot?

There are so many. I would love to photograph the buildings of New York City and also photograph Hawaii.

What is one tip that you would like to share?

Don’t be afraid to fail. Keep trying, and your talents as a photographer will get better and better.

—Todd


Jason Barron, Riverton, UT

Jason Barron
How long have you been a photographer?

10 years.

Where is home?

Massachusetts.

What first piqued your interest in photography?

Photography is timeless, and having the ability to capture meaningful moments in time is what piqued my interest.

What is your photography forte?

I enjoy taking pictures of people. There is an entire story that could be told with just one portrait, and with three boys under the age of five, I get lots of practice.

What tip or trick have you learned along the way that made the biggest difference to the quality of your photos?

Getting in close, focusing on the subject (not just with your lens, but removing anything that distracts from the subject), and having that subject tell a story. Have fun, take lots of pictures, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Another helpful tip is that post processing is just as important as any stage in photography. There are many people much more talented than I who have great resources online. 

What do you think photographers could do to help in the Church’s call for photos?

Submit photos! Find out what the Church's needs are, take a ton of pictures, and pick only your best ones, even if that means 1 in 500. 

Where is your favorite location to shoot?

My yard with my family.

What do you love about photography?

I love conveying emotion through photographs and that photographs can capture the overlooked beauty all around us by presenting that beauty in focus. 

What advice would you give to new photographers?

Stop theorizing and start taking photos. The best way to learn is to do. Take classes or read books, but never let theory cloud practice.

—Jason