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Where Do I Begin?

Jan 24

In Rants, Thoughts at 6:39pm

So….where do I begin? As I dip a very tentative toe into the sloshing ocean of the blogosphere, I realize that the sensations I’m experiencing right now are the same ones I feel as I take those first few steps on a new location shoot. What is this about? Am I gonna survive? Where do I begin?

That of course is just the beginning of the battery of questions that ravage the psyches and befuddle the brains of location photographers. The “Where the hell do I begin?” query is a real biggie. Often times, it’s decided for you, of course. On your average, say, corporate portrait (which I do occasionally, and can even be fun [see Roger and Michael]), you are often shown a conference room. “Does this work?” they ask?

Michael Eisner with Roger Rabbit

And in the interests of being a good sport, you survey the grey walls, the cheeseball art, and the obligatory huge table that takes up 427 square feet of a 450 square foot room, one that has floor to ceiling windows on 2 sides both of which overlook a half demolished parking structure, and say, “This’ll be swell!”


You take a stand and tell them it doesn’t work and get labeled “difficult.” And you make demands, you know, like to get into the boss’s office and photograph him or her in one of those sumptuous big boss type wood panel rooms with chairs covered with the skin of the testicles of unborn calves and the motorized window shades.

They agree… nervously.

FricknFrack, the PR duo with the synchronized twitches, are assigned to monitor you so your C-stand boom arm with the medium Octa doesn’t swing into the original Mission lamp adorning the wheel’s desktop. You are watched like a hawk.

I used to twitch, too, as a younger shooter. I would get very nervous. Wired. Strived to impress. Reached to make idiotic banter. Now, I don’t. One of the last corporate portraits I shot was of the chairman of one of the real blue chip biggies who blew right past the niceties and told me I had less than five minutes. I looked back and said simply, “Good.”

The art director sucked in air through her teeth and made the kind of sound you often hear in a Japanese noodle shop. My subject tilted his head at me kind of like Nigel, my wife’s 19-pound cat, does when I tell him he can’t have another bowl of wet food. I said, “Look, you’ve done this before. Please step on the tape mark and look at the camera and I’ll have you out of here in less than five. Cool?”

He actually relaxed, and I made a few frames that they didn’t need to hire me for and could have cloned out of last year’s annual, cause the dude has three expressions, and I covered ‘em all pretty much in the same fashion last year’s shooter did. But hey, I wasn’t gonna point that out. I mean, if I’m only working for 5 minutes, my day rate’s pretty good at that point, so who’s complaining?

But I digress. Instead of idiotic banter on location, voila! I now have a blog to blather away on. Hope to be amusing, informative, irascible, pungent, and occasionally even relevant. It’s an interesting time to be a shooter, and as the Chinese evidently said once, therefore a good time to be living. However, it should be pointed out that quite possibly that phrase, “May you live in interesting times” might actually be one of a trio of curses the Chinese wished on folks, the others being; ” May you come to the attention of those in authority,” (a given for photographers) and; “May you find what you are looking for.” (less certain).

Off we go.

Mentioned in this post:
- Avenger C-Stand
- Avenger Extension Arm
- Elinchrom Medium Octa

53 Responses to “Where Do I Begin?”

Ronnie Jacob says:

on May 29, 2008 at 4:13 am

Hello Joe,

Received you book last week from Amazon. I bought it after reading David Hobby raving about it at Strobist.com.

I am still digesting it slowly, and enjoying every bit of it.


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