Council Bluffs continues to be a big part of Michaela Morrissey’s story – whether she is biking around, finding the next best estate sale or photographing the people in it. As a graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School in 2003, she returned to the Bluffs where she currently lives and works.
While in high school, Machaela was a typical high school student. Days filled with classes, practices, and activities; weekends filled with friends, fun and of course – games. Her favorite memories from her years at ALHS surround football games and car rallies. Classmates would decorate their cars, line up in the parking lot and parade down to CB Stadium to cheer on the Lynx. She remembers hanging out of car windows and celebrating on the way to the game, and wonders how they managed to stay out of trouble. She may still have permanent scars as a reminder of just how much fun they had!
Importance of teachers – During her high school years, Machaela hadn’t given much consideration to art as a way to make a living or even as a focus of college studies. Her high school art teacher, Carrie Pope, encourage her to enjoy life and art and find a way to combine the two. She connected with her through art classes, and her guidance as a teacher became somewhat of a life mentor. Her father was sick most of her high school years, Carrie found a way for Machaela to take lunch to her father during the day, and spend that time with him. After he passed, Machaela gained an understanding of how important that time was and how thankful she was and still is for teachers who know that sometimes life is as much a teacher as the classroom.
Pursuing her passion– After graduation, Machaela attended Iowa State University, graduating in 2006 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies and a minor in Sociology. Her original plans were for journalism, creative writing and telling stories. She would write stories from her childhood and turn them into stories with a few more embellishments. She laughs thinking of the some of the stories she recently found and the thought of sharing them with her siblings who may have remembered things a bit differently than she did! While at Iowa State, pursuing courses in journalism, it was a photojournalism class where she discovered photography could be a career choice. She could tell stories with an image. She attended Metropolitan Community College in Omaha and received a degree in Commercial Photography. Ironically, her plans did not include photographing people, one of her passions now.
Unknowingly, Machaela started developing her passion for photography in high school. When her father passed, she was asked to create a memory board of photos for the funeral and there were very few recent snapshots. It was bothersome, she found herself buying disposable cameras and taking hundreds and hundreds of pictures of family and friends at every occasion. She talked about the power of an image and where it can take your memory and how an image can tell someone’s story. She continues creating art and capturing time, she has had her work displayed at a variety of galleries and shows, including the RNG Gallery on the 100 Block in Council Bluffs.
MMorrissey Photo, is her way of continuing to tell stories. Through commercial, wedding, senior and family photography she now uses her gift to tell others’ stories. She thrives on getting to know her clients – learning more about them to create their “brand” and making the photographs about them. Listening to her talk about staging, lighting and capturing their perfect image, her passion clearly shines through.
Opportunities: As an Alum of the Council Bluffs Schools, Machaela is proud of the progress CBCSD continues to make. The opportunity to take college credit classes while still in high school is a huge benefit to students. Having been able to enroll in classes, the opportunity allowed her to graduate college in three years which is not an option for many students. She is also very proud of the changes to facilities. Similar to public art installation, she feels the beautification of buildings, grounds and facilities creates an environment where people want to be; to work, to play, to learn. The ongoing Stadium Complex project is a clear example of creating spaces students, staff and supporters are proud to call home.
Community called home: Being active in the community she calls home has become more and more important to her. When she connects the dots, she laughs that she wasn’t overly involved as a student, but has made volunteerism a way of life now. She is currently the Chairperson for the Public Art Commission and a member of the Dodge House Board. She has been involved with the Teammates program since the beginning of the Council Bluffs chapter. She is quick to share her time and talents volunteering for as many programs and causes as her schedule allows. Machaela can be found enjoying a craft beer, chatting with friends, and working with clients – continuing to tell stories as she keeps writing her own.