photographer mia mala mcdonald

Mia Mala McDonald is an emerging Melbourne-based photographer whose work has already appeared in The New York Times, Frankie and Yen. Other clients have included EMI Mushroom Records and Network Ten. Mia has also exhibited her work, and recently did her first music video as a cinematographer.

Which five words best describe you? Impatient, emotional, enthusiastic, spontaneous, light nerd.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? At a young age I loved music and seeing bands - photography was my contribution to this world - it just felt right and I sucked at playing guitar. Photography has always naturally progressed and my "career" path is always changing and surprising me. Each year I make my New Year resolution to write a five-year plan: hasn't happened yet. I'm turning 30 in March and I have decided to take myself to New York for a burst of inspiration and some exciting collaborations... could be a new fork in the career road.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? You should never force/ask someone to smile.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Last year I ventured into the world of cinematography for director Emma Freeman. We made Gallows - a music video for USA band CocoRosie. It was amazing seeing my images come alive with movement. It was so refreshing and inspiring collaborating with people on a film shoot; photography can be such a solo adventure at times. Also straight after finishing my photography degree at RMIT I went to the Pilbara and worked with a group of indigenous elders - teaching them photography. We had an exhibition that allowed them to tell their story in their own visual voice about their connection to the land. It was using photography in it's most purest form.

What’s been your best decision? Looking at my mum's old Vanity Fair magazines when I was six, among other bigger life decisions.

Who inspires you? Anyone who maintains their passion and love for what they do. People who don't compromise and succumb to mediocrity. So many great inspirations right here in Melbourne - our artists, musicians, community radio, coffee makers, designers, writers, festivals, gardeners, dancers. Melbourne in general inspires me most days. Just recently I have moved into a new house and a new studio - I can now see the city skyline from my verandah and also at my studio window (if I stand on my tippy toes).

What are you passionate about? It's important to maintain a sense of adventure and laughter so I guess my passions are for anything that promotes goodness. I dance with a dance troupe - BodyElectrics - I love swimming in all the beautiful Australian swimming spots (not so much the salty kind as I'm a bit scared of sea creatures), visiting my family home in Yandoit, horse riding, tap dancing, winning boardgames, dressing up, new friends, old friends and always asking a lot of questions.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Meeting my idols has usually been slightly underwhelming but I cannot deny that I would love a guided tour of New York City by Diane Arbus, a hand written letter from Dorothy Parker, a dance lesson with Ginger Rogers (in our tap shoes) and a photographic portrait sitting with Patti Smith.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To have neat hand writing so I could write in nice notebooks.

What are you reading? The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper; The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar

images courtesy of mia mala mcdonald