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Tony Donaldson got his start as an athlete, racing BMX then starting his own BMX freestyle team. His freestyle team toured the Midwest doing shows at fairs, festivals and events. He started his first business when he was only 15.

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When in college, Associated Press photographer and friend Seth Perlman took Tony under his wing and taught him the basics of photography. Within months he was working as a stringer for AP then earned himself a staff position at a BMX magazine he had grown up reading.


After working for several years on several magazines, he went out on his own. Tony’s clients include magazines like ESPN, Time, Millimeter, Golf, the New York Times, and advertising and PR clients including ESPN, Chrysler, Buick, Lincoln, Activision, Maxxis, Tioga Tires, Oakley, and others.


In high demand for his knowledge of the business, creative and technical sides of photography, he’s written product and software reviews, an editorial column, consults with government and aerospace contractors and lectures at conventions around the country on photography. You can find the two books he’s written, both on BMX, on He’s currently working on another book or two.


Clients love him for the power of his images and the ease of working with him. He can work within extreme time limits, e.g. the time he had to photograph director George Lucas and was able to create two completely different images with radically different lighting in just ten minutes with Lucas. Tony has a gift of developing instant rapport with his subjects, drawing out interesting and sometimes rare sides of them.


People are at ease around Tony and his unconventional, laid-back style. He works well with celebrities and World-class athletes, CEOs and even those who have never been in front of a camera. From a quick editorial portrait to a large layout, Tony and his crew bring out the best in people.


He also is in demand for his work as a director of photography on commercials, short films and a television pilot or two, for clients from bicycle companies to short film producers to Apple Computer.


He is based in Santa Monica, California and travels all over.


“Tony is the real deal. A photographer who both understands the artistic value of the “right look” and balances it with the commercial objectives of branding and advertising. Tony brings a keen eye for detail and blends it with something more to really bring his photos to life. I’ve really enjoyed working with him on several successful projects, and look forward to doing more with him. To top it off, Tony knows so much about new technology that he makes the generation Y kids look slow.” Ross Brandt, Owner, Ross Brandt Graphics and Partner, Coil Media


“Tony has, literally, amazed me for years. He just has that ability to get ‘the shot’. He has been both a consummate professional, as well as a source of inspiration on many of my projects, which range from still to video. He takes direction and turns it into a finished product I never thought possible.”

Tony deMoraes, Art Director, element18


“Tony has provided me with many hours of diligent research about location lighting under special circumstances in his quests for customized perfection. I cannot thank him enough for his insight and recommend that you “Ask Tony” when you’re not sure. He won’t mind telling you “I don’t know” but I am often surprised by the depth and details of his answers. He’s a wealth of photo information. Thanks, Tony!”

DJ LaDez, General Manager, Lumedyne, Inc.


“I had a really great time. Totally stoked, and would request you on future shoots. Because I’m so hard to shoot, and so hard to make comfortable, and I had a great time!”

Clementine Ford, Actress


“Tony Donaldson will do anything to grab that electrifying moment. Watching him in action has a magic all it’s own.”

Steve Kmetko, Television Personality


“Tony has always impressed me with his unusual and inspiring photography. He has been a most welcome guest several times on my podcast, where we discussed his different styles of photography and all sorts of other things. He was always very open and generous in explaining how he achieved his great results and I’m looking forward to the next time I can welcome him on the show again.”  

Chris Marquardt, Producer/Host, Digital Photography Tips from the Top Floor


“Tony was such an easy photographer to work with. Not only is he a consummate professional, but he’s a total hoot and had me laughing the entire time. He produces creative, high-quality shots and I would gladly work with him again anytime!!”  

Suzanne Lyons, Model


“Tony is so professional ; great lightning. great much fun to work with..I totally enjoyed styling makeup and hair for him.”

Victoria Rubell, Makeup and Hair Artist


“Tony delivers on every assignment that I give him. His professionalism, vision and dedication to his craft is unparalleled. I can’t think of anyone else I’d prefer to work with.”

Darryl Roberts, Publisher, Wine X Magazine


“You’re easy to smile at!”

KaDee Strickland, Actress

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