Shannon MacDonald launches photo exhibition to give insight into Traveller culture

12 July 2018
Shannon MacDonald

YTT, caught up with 18-year-old photographer Shannon MacDonald to talk about the inspiration for her visual exhibition, 'The MacDonald Collection' aimed to 'give people an insight into the life of Scottish Travellers'. 

How long have you been interested in photography?

I've been interested in photography since a very young age, and just all different kinds of art. I started off painting and drawing, but by about 9 or 10 I'd be borrowing my mums little digital camera to take photos of anything and everything, until I eventually got my own bridge camera at about age 12, and since then my love for photography has just continued growing.

What was it that drew you to photography?

I was drawn to photography so strongly I think because I love memories and taking photographs captures a memory forever. You can really capture someones character and soul on a photo and I think that's beautiful.

What type of things do you like to photograph?

My main thing I like to photograph most is just people, I love catching people of guard in photos because it's more natural; I do love posed smiling photos as well though, I also really enjoy  close-up photos of things just like the photos in The MacDonald Collection. I'm really drawn to taking photos of people’s hands and eyes, to me they’re the most important features on people, you can tell a lot about a person with their hands or their eyes I believe.


'The MacDonald Collection'
'The MacDonald Collection'
'The MacDonald Collection'
'The MacDonald Collection'

What inspired 'The MacDonald Collection’ photo exhibition?

I was inspired to take these photos because I realised I had a lot of items lying around my home that had interesting stories behind them, and I thought that would be kind of informal way to give people a nice little insight into the lives of Travellers.

What was the exhibition about?

My exhibition was about hopefully teaching people a little about the culture of Travellers, I wanted to share pieces of my family’s life through photos, I wanted to capture the photos and stories together as well for a memory to me in the future.

Where has the exhibition been displayed?

My exhibition was displayed at the University of Aberdeen as part of the 'Tobar an Keir' (at home and on the road) event at MayFest this year. I've been given lots of amazing opportunities to take photos at many events before, mostly Gypsy/Traveller based, through MECOPP and Article 12 

Check out our 'Tobar an Keir' story to see more of Shannon's photographs working as a YTT photo-journalist for us.


'The MacDonald Collection exhibition at the University of Aberdeen'
'The MacDonald Collection exhibition at the University of Aberdeen'

What are your plans for the future?

I'm not sure exactly what my plans for the future are, I'm definitely going to continue my work as a photographer and get better, and as an activist for Gypsy/Traveller rights, and hopefully at some point in the future I'll be able to do something that incorporates that two things.

Do you have any advice for other Travellers interested in doing more photography?

My advice for other Travellers interested in photography is just try take photos every day even if you end up deleting them, honestly I’m not a very good person to ask for advice in this subject as I'm still just learning myself. Always take more photos than you think you need, it's nice to have an off centre subject in my opinion with a plain or out-of-focus background, and just photograph your culture because you're the only one that can get those photos at such a real first hand experience, it is uniquely yours and so important to document and keep.

Travellers' Times wishes Shannon all the best with her photography and is looking forward to working with her again in the future. 

If your interested in photography but don't have a digital camera, why don't you start with your smartphone? Smartphones are by far the most common form of camera used today. Check out these ten handy tips to help you take great photos with your phone.