Bryan Scanlon


MPA: Why do you love photography?

BS: I’ve always been a sucker for a good story. I’ve got two writing degrees, a ridiculous comic book collection, 20+ years in professional public relations, am addicted to audiobooks – and I am married to a librarian. Photography is storytelling. There’s also the whole adventure component. Going places, meeting people, turning the corner and there’s picture/story staring you straight in the face, an amazing change in the weather (for good or bad), etc

MPA: Your favorite thing about MPA?

BS: By far it’s the quality, attention, and enthusiasm of the instructors – and now the community. The trips have a large ratio of instructors, so you are getting a lot of attention at your level. I remember this one trip where David was all over me about watching my shutter speed on aperture priority mode, which was also telling me that I was ready to shoot on manual by showing me the limitation on my work (vs. some platitude like “shoot in manual”). The whole day pushing that in my head. It got me into manual mode and thinking far more about subtle changes in my photos.  

The attention doesn’t end in trips. The PEN community is terrific, and image reviews (in depth and even casual) are so valuable because you get feedback from David, Ally, Steve and Toby – as well as the community. It’s a terrific place – almost like a digital neighborhood where everyone is looking out for each other with some amazing photographers to learn from. You get support, but also the serious critique (if you want it) that pushes you. At least three times in one year I’ve asked for Tuesday tip or tutorial on something, and wham! it appears. That’s pretty amazing.

MPA: Your favorite trip or course with MPA?

BS: Yellowstone. And the extension with Animals of Montana was terrific. It’s a great way to get into wildlife photography and just have a lot of fun with a great group of people. (The photos are terrific, too.) The countryside and park are beautiful – even when it’s ridiculously cold and snowing sideways. 

MPA: Your aspirations as a photographer / artist?

BS:  Now that I have the fundamentals down and shooting in manual mode, fluent in Lightroom, etc., my goal is to define my style and create art and emotion vs. simply documenting a moment and getting exposure, etc. right. I’ve learned a lot quickly, but now I need to focus and hone the craft, with smaller, harder gains over time to get even better. Instead of taking a bunch of photos and “sorting it out later in Lightroom,”

I want to very purposeful and think about a thread of the story to build upon before I press the shutter. “What do I want from this? What is the story I am going to tell? Who’s the protagonist? What do I want to viewer to feel? How do these series of photographs when presented together create a powerful narrative?” I’m less harsh on myself about technology, and very serious about the story and focus and craft and taking far more risks.

I’ve started printing and that opens up a lot of learning. I want to spend more time working a scene before pressing the shutter. Shoot with more purpose. Craft with more precision. Edit more delicately. And then, maybe, create more memorable art.

MPA: Where do you look forward to traveling next?

BS: I am headed back to Mexico next year and just returned from shooting the Day of the Dead celebrations. I’ve been to Cuba twice, and can’t wait to go back. Cuba is a street photography dream location with amazing people whose faces seem to tell a hundred stories in a single frame—and it’s at a critical point of change. There’s something terrific when you’re taking human photos that are also rooted in deep history, tradition or ritual. 

You can find Bryan’s work HERE or on Facebook or Instagram (@bkscanlon).

Kicking off our 2015 Tours

2015 has gotten underway with an awesome start here at MPA! Last weekend was spent in Yosemite. Although we did not have much snow, we had an amazing time with AWESOME light! What a great trip it was and plans are under way for a Fall return!

Half Dome Reflection

Today was our first day here in Montana of our Winter Animal tour. Our work with  the company Animals of Montana has continued to be an awesome relationship. Being able to photograph these amazing animals up close and personal is a experience that is beyond words.

Tiger 1Piney 1SNow Leopard Mat signedWolfs 1 17x7 w mat

Here are a few images from today’s shoot. Enjoy and be sure to join us on the summer baby animal tour where baby animals abound AND we will also be doing an optional helicopter tour landing on a glacier getting out and photographing either the Mountain Lions or Grizzly on the Glacier! A total McKay exclusive NO ONE gets to do!



Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

MPA recently held our 3rd annual SF Holidays at night tour.  The weather was amazing and allowed for some of the most beautiful images of the city lit up in a long time. We hope you join us next December for this annual event!

SF Bay Bridge 1 FB
SF Gheridelli 1 FB
SF Sculpture FB
SF Skyline 1 FB

We wanted to take a moment and say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all. May the Spirit of giving and Peace be upon you!

If you have not checked out our latest video yet, be sure to go to our You Tube site for a very helpful tip on Photographing the Holidays!  Click here to see this video now!  Be sure to subscribe while there for frequent tips as they come out.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from ALL of us here at MPA!

David & Ally McKay, Adam Furtado, Nick Sharples, Chris Thompson



Fomer MPA employee goes out to help the world!

We are honored to be a part of peoples lives that dedicate themselves to making this world a better place. We have one of our own going out to do work selflessly through story-telling , image making and showing love to a hurting world.  Taylor Jashinsky has been part of the MPA team and we are so proud of her accomplishments and that she will be using her photography to make a difference.

Please read her story.

-David and Ally


Hello, my name is Taylor Jashinsky and I am a recent graduate of Westmont College and I would love to tell you about the amazing opportunity I will soon be embarking on. For two years, I will be living and working in Asia on behalf of an organization called World Concern. There, I will act as a visual storyteller, going into the villages and tribes where World Concern works in order to powerfully and effectively document the stories of some of the poorest and marginalized people that World Concern works with. With a passion for photography, writing and traveling for as long as I can remember, pursuing this dream with my camera in hand is the only way I could imagine stepping into such a new chapter of my life.



Three years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to work under Ally and Dave’s wonderful leadership and teaching as their assistant for MPA when it was just getting started. It was then that my love for photography turned into something much more tangible as I realized that with the right skills, passion and creativity, the possibilities are endless. With each beginning and intermediate class that I sat in on and every question I got to answer, my desire to pursue photography as something more than just a hobby grew.


Over the past three years I have been able to make the art of photography my own as I have embraced the opportunities to travel to Guatemala, Western Europe, the near Middle East and Madagascar. With each trip, I faced various challenges when it came to photography – the displeasure that some cultures find in being photographed, unique environmental circumstances as well as my ever-evolving personal style in photography. My greatest realization of all, however, is that photography is a unique and challenging art form that takes time, patience and discipline.


As I prepare to embark on my greatest adventure yet, I am thankful and in awe at the comfort and community that I have found in fellow photographers, wanderlusts and writers alike. Though I still have much to learn, I feel well equipped in my knowledge of photography as I set out to be an advocate and storyteller for those whose names and faces would otherwise go unheard and unseen.

It is my privilege to utilize the skills and abilities that I have learned in order to fulfill a greater, global need. For the next two years, my camera will quite literally become a part of me in a way that I have never before known. I am excited to take the technical skills, artistic edginess and personal flair that MPA has provided and encouraged me with to the ends of the earth.


In preparation for this two-year commitment, where I will be serving in Myanmar and traveling to countries including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Laos and Vietnam, I will be relying on the emotional, spiritual and financial support of family, friends and others who feel led to help me engage the world abroad. I would love it if you could partner with me in this journey as I take what once was only a hobby and make it into the greatest means of visually communicating the needs of the poor and marginalized to people back home.


All donations go through World Concern, are tax deductible and go directly towards my budget and my role as a communication liaison and will impact the lives of those who World Concern is helping abroad.


To learn more about this amazing journey or to make a monthly donation, please visit


Stay updated through my blog at:



Taylor Jashinsky



The Inspiration of Yosemite, Ansel Adams and John Sexton

Yosemite Group Shot 1
Group Pic- Yosemite
El Cap at Night group



We had two awesome groups for our Yosemite tours last week. Yosemite in the spring is always awesome with the waterfalls and opportunities to photograph. I swear I could spend years photographing there and still not touch what is available.  Having traveled all over the world and photographed, Yosemite is still just one of the most special places. Every time I drive into the park, the beauty is just inspiring. Of course,  Ansel Adams images always come to mind and for what he has done for photography, nature, and inspiring others, I am truly astonished and grateful.  Another great image maker comes to mind as well for me.  His name is John Sexton.  In fact, hopefully someday I will meet him in person. I know those that know him and someday I would love to sit and talk and share how much his work has meant to me.  John, if you read this, know your work has truly been an inspiration for me in many ways.  Recently, Ally, Adam and I were also fortunate enough to hear him speak with his friend and fellow photographer, Kenny Rogers. Yes, THE Kenny Rogers who happens to be a brilliant photographer.  He and John are great friends and Mr. Rogers learned much of what he knows from John Sexton. Ally Think Tank

This past trip, we stepped into the Ansel Adams gallery once again. Every time I do, I get tingles. Really! It is such a moving experience for me. Last fall when I was there, I started working on my finished images differently, and a new journey of discovery to work with purpose that my art would be printed and that I would take the time to make sure each image I felt was worthy to produce, would only be printed when it was truly ready.  It’s interesting, in our portrait work, which is what has been our mainstay for many years, Ally and I have always done that and produced the highest quality images for our clients.  Yet, for our fine art work, it had not received as much attention it seemed.  Sitting on our ipad, desktop or worse yet, posted on FB seemed to suffice.  

 Last fall in the Ansel Adams gallery, we purchased one of John’s books, “Recollections- Three decades of photography”.  As I sat and looked at the images, once again, inspiration hit. No more quick Photoshop actions for me….. I decided to go back to my roots of the darkroom.  Now, when I say that, I did NOT actually go back INTO the darkroom.  However, the many things I learned from years of shooting film, developing and printing, somehow, had been turned into quick and easy photoshop actions and filters.  As I looked at John’s book, I realized how much care went into producing each and EVERY image. A quest for perfection in tonality and print quality was unmistakable.  That set me on my journey to produce a higher quality standard image.

Last week-Matt at River 5x7

Stepping into the gallery once again….more tingles. Once again in awe of the incredible print quality all around me. I came home and started printing.  I spent hours just working on tones in the images I was working on.  One of the items I have quickly realized in this journey is that quick and easy PS, plug-ins, or Lightroom, is not your friend.  Please don’t mis-understand me.  I LOVE PS and it alone is an amazing tool which has transformed how we create images. But as I look at so much work out there today, I have realized how much people just throw a slider here or there, bump huge amounts of saturation and rarely spend more than a few minutes in an image and quickly say…this is art.  I see it being taught in college photography classes this way too! I want to shout to everyone….STOP! If you took the time to capture a beautiful image, PLEASE take the time to learn to finish and produce that image. I will tell you, it’s not easy, but it IS WORTH IT!  Spend time in photoshop, or lightroom if you prefer, but gain a true understanding of what really great images should be produced like.

As I sat and printed some images and spent a number of hours doing so, trying desperately to get the right print, I found myself itching to be done and honestly, a bit frustrated.  Then I thought about the greats such as Ansel Adams and John Sexton…taking not hours, but months to get the beautiful images finished in the darkroom that we all get to enjoy. That is true passion and art.  I would like to say thank you John for showing me the way through your images.   Ansel, thank you for the multitudes of inspiration you have given this world!  I myself personally, as well as multitudes of others, are forever grateful. 

David McKay








Welcome Dena and Martin Bez, Beth Manalac, Jennifer Brosnan, and Christina Olson to the /trībe/

MPA Safari BadgeMPA Tribe v3

We have NEW /TRĪBE/ Members and we would like to Welcome them!!!

This new crop of enthusiastic members have combined for 19 trips to various locations. That is incredible considering we are only talking about a few people. Either they really enjoy the MPA experience or they love the punishment. We prefer to think they just LOVE the MPA team as a whole.

  • 2 to Italy
  • 3 to San Francisco Urban Safari
  • 2 to San Francisco Marin Headlands Day Safari
  • 2 to Pro Academy
  • 1 to Yosemite
  • 5 to Bozeman
  • 3 to Moab
  • 1 to Pt. Lobos

Either way, let’s give these folks a warm welcome to the MPA /TRĪBE/!!!! We are happy to have them on board.

Dena and Martin Bez

Beth Manalac

Jennifer Brosnan

Christina Olson

Ireland 2014 Re-Cap

Ireland 2014 Re- Cap.


What a fantastic trip was had in this beautiful country. The people of Ireland are the nicest we have found anywhere. Always willing to share their experiences, their culture and their love for fun with those that ask, the Irish are friendly folks!   Whether sitting in a local pub with the locals watching Ireland defeat France in the Rugby championship, celebrating St Patrick’s day, or even being a tourist, the Irish people fill your heart with their warm hospitality AND Hot food!.

Some of the stops on this tour included:

Limerick, The Rock of Cashel, Adare, Bunratty Castle, The Cliffs of Moher, Liscanoor Castle, Trim castle(Braveheart filmed here)  , Dublin, and of course, the lush beautiful green countryside.

Our journey took us to these locations rarely getting on the Highway, but using the back roads to travel by, seeing many sheep, farm land, beautiful landscape and sights all along the way.  Our bus driver Donnie, had never had a photography group before and it took him a day or two as we would yell…”STOP”…and he would pull our bus off somewhere non touristy to get images we wanted. He was very accommodating and being Irish, always happy to share his thoughts with us and take us to locations off the beaten path.

Please see some of the images below from this wonderful trip. We hope you join us on a future “Photo Safari” sometime soon. It is incredible to take in new experiences, culture and the love of photography with others passionate about travel, photography and life.

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MI1A1060 copyMI1A1000 Athlone w1 copy
Galway Shop StMI1A0780 copy
MI1A0478 CliffsMI1A0698 final b&w

Old Sacramento Photo Safari

We are gearing up and getting ready for our local, hometown, Old Sacramento Photo Safari….AT NIGHT!!!!

This is always a fun adventure for us. Not only is it here in our very own backyard but it is packed with lots of cool architectural elements which is great. Plus you can never go wrong when shooting Night Scapes and with the recent added rain we are hoping for some cool reflections and shiny grounds. These are definite added bonuses.

For more information on this Photo Safari and how you can get in on the next one, check out this link:

In the meanwhile, here are a few images by Adam Furtado



and just like that both dates (March 12-22 & March 21-31, 2015) have SOLD OUT!

Let this be a friendly reminder that if you have not signed up to our Safari Email list, you might be interested in doing so. We like to reach out to our Priority List for the Safaris before the general public. Usually, the priority list will fill our Safaris before hand.

So, take advantage of advanced notice and sign up…… IT’S FREE and we do not SPAM you we PROMISE!

Sign up at