Photographer Cathy McDonah’s vision just one click away

NASHUA – Nashuan Cathy McDonah’s passion for photography is obtainable as is her camera, which she faithfully has on her at all times.

“Actually, I keep it in my car,” said the St. John, New Brunswick, native. “I have things that I primarily shoot: landscapes, architecture, floral and then just anything that catches my eye, like a door knob or a cool window. I like to be ready for anything that makes me look twice.”

McDonah began taking pictures at 8 years old, when her aunt gave her a camera.

“It was her Brownie camera,” McDonah said. “I don’t even know where it is now. It was like a square cardboard box camera with a simple meniscus lens. It introduced the concept of snapshot to the masses.”

McDonah dabbled with “Kodak ones – long and narrow and were sort of geared toward anyone who could press a button. You would put a square flash bulb on top, and there were only four, and after that you’d practically burn your fingers trying to throw it away.”

A working mother of three adult children (McDonah is a nurse at the Nashua Ambulatory Surgical Center), she said she actually has less time to shoot now than when her kids were little.

“I do have less time it seems. With work and being involved in more local organizations, and I guess getting more involved in photography means getting involved with stuff like Light Room and PhotoShop and editing, and that just takes up more time.”

She admits she’s not the most savvy with new photography software and editing tools, but that hasn’t stopped her from having her photographs displayed all over the city: The Pheasant Lane Mall, where the new exhibit, “Flower Power,” will be unveiled on Sunday; The Nashua Area Artists Association’s Art House (located at 40 Temple St. in Nashua), with a new exhibit entitled, “Awaken the Senses,” which runs through April; The Menino Art Center in Boston; the Rogers Memorial Library in Hudson; The Nashua Public Library; The Beaverbrook Falls Fest in September (she earned second-place honors) and Mayor Jim Donchess’ office.

Like any artist, the thrill of the artform is often rewarded when someone notices your art.

“It’s awesome when someone want to buy something,” McDonah said. “To pay for the equipment and printing, it’s expensive. And I just bought a new camera, A Fuji C-T2 mirrorless camera. It has the newest technology. It’s silent. You know when you take a picture and it makes that clicking noise? That’s the sound of the mirror lifting up and going back down. This camera has no mirror. The shutter speed is something ridiculously fast, at 1/32000. And it works like a pin hole camera, but with new technology and focus point-higher density.”

McDonah, also a member of the Photographers Forum Camera Club of Nashua, recognizes the power of social media when it comes to reaching people with her art.

“Social media, like Facebook, thrives on personality-based content,” McDonah said. “I am working on a website, and realize how I don’t have to limit myself to just a few images – and I have a lot more than that. I’m speaking more about allowing the world to see your studio through that social media portal.”

Like anyone else following the saga that is Nashua’s Performing Arts Center – most people want it – McDonah said she believes it will be a great asset to the city.

“I think it will be phenomenal,” she added. “It’s anyone’s guess if the location is the very best. But why don’t we have something large enough to accommodate the Symphony who performs here on a regular basis? It seems to me that we should be accommodating everything that is here in Nashua.”

McDonah continues to shoot pictures from all over the world – many of which are at the aforementioned venues and also on her Facebook page.

And her favorite pic?

“My absolute favorite picture is at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, on the third floor, looking out through the big clock they have there, and it’s a view of the Louvre.”

So, like any artist with passion and moxie, McDonah likens her artwork to caring and nurturing small children.

“It is like your kids,” she said. “You think you’ve done everything right and then you get a glimpse of the pictures and you’re like, ‘oh yeah,’ that didn’t come out the way I had hoped it would. And then some are perfect. It’s always a work in progress, and everybody looks at things differently.”