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For Parkville resident Sarah Donald, being far form home is extra incentive to keep her camera close. The best photos, she says, aren’t staged — they’re a reflection of a point in time, and how she saw it.

Donald, a research specialist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, inspired this month’s SunShots photo contest, “Travel,” due to her penchant for capturing far-off corners of the world in bright and appealing ways.

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Her photo, “Orchid and butterfly,” won the December photo contest, “Out in nature.”

"Orchid & Butterfly" was voted into first place in December's SunShots photo contest.
"Orchid & Butterfly" was voted into first place in December's SunShots photo contest. (Sarah Donald)

Whether she’s taking a foot tour of a new city or on a hike somewhere tropical, Donald, 32, sees her camera as a way to make the most of the moments each place presents.

Read more about Donald below and be sure to enter a photo in the SunShots contest for a chance to be profiled and featured on the @baltimoresun Instagram account. And, don’t forget to vote for your favorite photo entries.

1) How long have you been taking photos? I have been taking photos since I was little. I would take pictures of any and everything on the variety of cameras that I had. I was always the one to have a camera with me!

2) What kind of camera do you shoot with? Canon DSLR. I would always have the new, most up-to-date camera growing up, digital, waterproof, Polaroid, you name it.

3) What is your favorite type of photo to take? (i.e. portraits, landscapes, nighttime, black and white, etc.) I prefer nature and landscape photography, as these are what adorn my walls at home. Really I like all kinds of nature. My husband and I travel a lot, and I take more pictures when I travel. I want to take more local photos, too. I have also photographed a couple weddings for close friends and some maternity shoots, but really that’s just for close friends and family. I don’t feel like I’m “there” yet.

4) What inspired your photography hobby? My father had a nice camera when I was little, so I think my interest piqued when I was younger. I mostly taught myself just by playing around taking lots of pictures of my pet, and also going on YouTube and using the internet and reading books about it. I also do look at other professional photographers and look at what settings they use. Really it came just by messing around the camera.

I love being able to capture any moment at any time from my point of view. While traveling, I enjoy photographing smaller pieces of landmarks, people, places, etc. that would be able to show the mood through my eyes.

5) What advice would you give to aspiring photographers? Practice, practice, practice. Don’t be afraid to shoot in manual mode. It is much easier now to practice and get immediate feedback versus the days when film would need to be developed in order to see how the picture turned out.

6) Where can people follow you if they want to see more of your work? My website is sarahdonald.smugmug.com and my Instagram is SDonald_1.

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