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Matt McDonald, The Bellingham Herald

Matt McDonald, pictured above (taken from his website -, sat down with me for an interview for my Newswriting class assignment. In this assignment, we were to pick any person and ask them about their life. I thought it'd be appropriate to find a photographer to interview - and, he's the photographer for the Bellingham Herald.

Here is my article:

Matt McDonald sits down for a cup of coffee holding the leash of his new best friend – his dog, Charlie – and a Nikon DSLR camera, after a morning spent in search of the perfect snap of a bald eagle.

McDonald, 31, works for the Bellingham Herald as the multimedia editor, where he captures photographs and videos for the newspaper and website.

He graduated from Western Washington University with a journalism and computer science degree. McDonald decided on a computer science major because of the amount of jobs that could benefit from it.

“It’s what gives me more skills than anybody else,” said McDonald, explaining how he is more technically savvy than most other photographers.

His knowledge for different kinds of cameras and technology is what sets him apart, said Austin Santiago, a friend and past coworker of McDonald’s.

After graduating, McDonald worked for Kiro TV in Seattle and traveled to Europe, Hawaii and California before he returned to Washington. He immediately started applying for any jobs available.

He worked for The Good Guys, a clothing company, as an online news clerk and also shot photographs and videos for the website.

Trying to land a spot on the Bellingham Herald staff, he did random tasks, such as designing info graphics and archiving stories. He kept moving up in importance until he reached the position of the head of the Information Technology (IT) department.

Equal Motion is McDonald’s photography business. When working full time as the IT Tech, McDonald was also building up his own business.

Luck and good timing regarding the resignation of Russ Kendall factored into McDonald landing the job of multimedia editor at the Bellingham Herald. Once he acquired this new position, he focused on expanding his overall portfolio, instead of the channelized focus on his own business.

“I was really close to just quitting,” said McDonald, regarding his IT job and how he was tired of fixing old technology.

Getting paid to take photos is the dream job, according to McDonald. He is getting paid to do whatever he would be doing anyway.

On a typical day, McDonald will wake up, walk the dog and check his email for any newsworthy events to photograph. If no news events are listed, he will drive around searching for something.

Later on in the day, he will go into the office and talk to his bosses for any instruction on assignments or other tasks. To get even more photographs, he will go back out and film until the sun goes down.

Even though McDonald mostly works exclusively for the Herald, he still takes photographs for other publications, businesses, bands and events. These other companies include DB Skimboards, Wild Buffalo, Skim Clothing, Whatcom Magazine and Elektro Fest Bellingham.

He doesn’t focus on just one style of photography, said Kelsey Wylie, a friend and coworker from the Bellingham Herald. He photographs a wide variety, including animals, portraits, music and landscapes.

“I just started out by going to places and taking photos and just doing it for free,” said McDonald. “So (A) to get better and (B) to get my name out there.”

Another way he gets his name out in the world is by social networking. He calls himself a “new media entrepreneur,” which is a way of saying that he knows not just how to develop websites, but also to create an experience where viewers can engage and interact with the business.

McDonald tries to spread the importance that if companies want viewers to find their website on the Internet, then they need to be posting daily on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.

For Disidual, a Bellingham clothing shop, McDonald helped create their website, blogs, and Instagram feed.

As for the newspaper, the Herald has a Facebook page and a Twitter account where daily news reports are shared, along with the photographs taken by McDonald.

“What I see is pretty much what goes in the paper,” said McDonald, referencing the power he has in one photograph.


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