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Young and hungry: getting to know Rose McMahon

Rose McMahon, a 14-year-old photographer, features as D-Photo's first One to Watch. Lara Wyatt talks to her about her portfolio and why she picked up a camera

27 December 2015


Rose McMahon, a 14-year-old photographer, features as D-Photo’s first One to Watch. Lara Wyatt talks to her about her portfolio and why she picked up a camera

It can be disheartening for a young kid to realize that, when they grow up, they can’t be a giraffe. Rose McMahon didn’t let that fact get her down for long — instead, she set her heart on being a storyteller. Always a creative type and expressing herself through painting, drawing, sewing, and making films, the now 14-year-old has discovered photography as an outlet that will let her tell the stories she wants to project.

“It must have been two and a half years ago when someone started lending me their camera, and I started using that and really enjoyed it as a hobby.” McMahon says.
“I started photographing events for free and I would give the photos to the people, which was really cool. From there, I started following other photographers around and learning more from them.”

Rose McMahon

After borrowing a Canon 5D Mark III, McMahon fell in love and wanted one of her own, so being the ambitious and determined person that she is, went straight to the internet and started doing some research to find out how to get one of her own. It wasn’t long until she found the $5000 price tag next to the camera of her dreams, and tears ensued. 

However, she bounced back and ventured to good old Trade Me, where a near-brand-new Canon 40D caught her eye, but it was still too expensive. She dug a little deeper and realized that the camera was being sold by a local Tauranga photographer. So, eight-year-old McMahon jumped on the phone and explained to him what she was doing. Needless to say, the photographer was impressed and decided to give McMahon a great deal on the camera.
McMahon fully funded her first camera and all of the gear that has followed — there was no relying on her parents to foot the bill for this entrepreneurial artist.

Rose McMahon

“I just had some stuff saved, and then I started doing small things, like events, and second shooting for weddings. I was able to use my savings for my first camera, and then I made more from my first camera and I could get my new camera, which is brand new — but I still use my other camera lots,” she says.

Within her portfolio, McMahon already features wedding, portraiture, fine-art, and product photography, but with all of her photographs, she likes to have a story coming through. Her portrait work is a bit different in the fact that she asks questions of the people she’ll be photographing, and collects props to set the scene.

Rose McMahon

“In my latest shoot, I found out that the people had three kids. I found out that one child was into baking and quite arty, another was more of a bookworm, and the other was an outdoorsy little girl. So, with that, I could base a story around them. One of my favourite photos I’ve got is of a little girl in the kitchen and she’s pouring milk into a bowl — it’s one of my favourite portrait photos.”

Wedding photography is a huge passion for McMahon; climbing up on ladders, getting people into position — she’s in there, boots and all. She says people are usually really excited about the photos she produces for them, including one bride who gathered all her bridesmaids and her mum to show off the shots.

“Sometimes you get people who are a bit hesitant, but they start to relax when they realize I’m not just a kid taking photos.”

This article was originally published in D-Photo Issue No. 67. You can pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below: