Photographers tackle challenging Waco scene

Photographers in Waco have had to find new and creative ways to spice up their photos in a town like Waco which is mundane compared to some of the glitz and glamour of other cities. Photo courtesy of Mckenzie Noriega

By Olivia Martin | Social Media Editor

Being a Waco photographer is not easy according to many who have taken on the challenge. There are no rolling hills, scenic mountains or huge skyscrapers to use as backgrounds or subjects. However, Waco offers photographers something that most locations do not: it’s home to one of the biggest tourist attractions in the United States.

Magnolia provides photographers with the opportunity to experience meeting people from all over the world and capturing their experiences in Waco. Since Waco is a destination spot, it serves as a major perk for photographers.

Mckenzie Noriega, also known by her brand name 7 Sisters Photography, chose to stay in Waco when she and her husband had the opportunity to move. The couple’s love for the city, alone, persuaded them to stay.

“I have built such a great clientele here [in Waco],” said Noriega. “I love my clients here and I love the university and having the opportunity to shoot with all my Baylor students.”

Noreiga first started taking pictures for her wedding planning business. Before Instagram and Pinterest were relevant, Noreiga said she had to take her own photos for her portfolio. Then, her husband had to travel a lot for his former job as Baylor baseball coach, so Noreiga would carry a point and shoot camera with her to take pictures wherever they went.

Family photography has become Noreiga’s true passion, she said, because she grew up in a family of 10 kids. She said she loves capturing her own children, as well as her 28 nieces and nephews. Now, Noreiga runs her own photography company and shoots portraits, families, weddings and lifestyle.

Though Noreiga confirmed the difficulties of being a photographer in Waco, she also emphasized the unique opportunity to be shooting in a destination spot.

“Something that is unique to a Waco photographer is that we get to photograph people from literally all over the world,” said Noreiga.

Kara Warren, a senior biochemistry major and photographer, is also pursuing her passion for capturing life through a lens. She said she finds ways to get creative using Waco landscapes.

Recently, Warren has made the decision to pursue photography full-time as well as deciding to focus on ministry rather than the pre-physician assistant track that she was on. Being able to capture people and make them feel beautiful through her work is what she loves, she said.

“I love creativity and photography,” said Warren. “I get to serve people through that platform in order to make them feel loved and celebrated exactly as they are.”

Warren listed various locations she has found to take photos around Waco and is currently doing many shoots involving seniors, couples and other various portraits.

The McLennan County Courthouse located on Washington Avenue in downtown Waco is one of Warren’s favorite locations to shoot with an urban aesthetic.

East Waco, near Revival Eatery and Lula Janes, is another one of Warren’s top recommendations, as there are many spots for more urban scenery. These photos have an artistic, yet industrial feel to them.

“There are a lot of mural walls and brick walls,” said Warren. “It gives more of an inner-city look and is a little more run down, but super cool and hipster.”

One of Warren’s newest discoveries is down by the Brazos River on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. She said she recommends a shot of the Alico building at sunset from across the river, with the bridge behind.

Both Warren and Noreiga have found ways to use various iconic locations and buildings to get creative with photographs and show off the famous Waco scenery.

Noriega said she encourages students and other Waco photographers to simply put themselves out there, be willing to try new things to build their portfolios.

“Shoot as much as possible, whenever you can, whoever you can,” said Noreiga. “Grab your friend, grab your family, grab your dog – every Baylor girl has their dog – and go shoot!”