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It’s Raining Here….

Mar 1

In On Location at 2:43pm

It’s not supposed to be raining here. This is Dubai, that giant mushroom of concrete, glass and steel that erupted out of the sun blasted sand and became a magnet for all things over the top. Put the adjective “tallest,” or “biggest” in front of any number of things, and they be here.

I’m convinced it’s me. Bad weather just follows me. Last year in Las Vegas, in the springtime, fer chrissakes, I lost a day’s shooting to a snow storm. Here, where for a chunk of the year the temperature dial is set at “fricassee,” it just ain’t supposed to rain like this. Wild. I used to think it was because I’m Irish Catholic, and I just kind of tug my own personal set of rain clouds around with me, and the following gloom would create an atmosphere conducive to repentance. But now I think I’m just a weather Jonah. A million years ago, I shot so many football games in the rain that at one point I put my 300 4.5 to my eye and watched what I thought was a massive dust speck inside the barrel of the lens just sprout legs and crawl across one of the interior elements. So much moisture had gotten in that thing it was like I had my own personal Amazon rain forest, right there in my camera bag.


Still, though, even after all these years, I remain undaunted. It was looking bleak the other day, but I still went to the desert, looking for non-existent light in the midst of swirling, pre-storm sand. Worked with Sahar, a beautiful Persian dancer, who fuses elements of traditional Sufi and dervish dance styles with modern hand movents and body language. The uncertain sand prevented her from doing her spinning style of dance, but we managed a few frames before we got the hell out of the desert, thunderheads hard on our heels.

Got back to the hotel just as it cut loose, and it actually rained so hard at the rooftop restaurant here, a good portion of the wait staff was dispatched, armed with mops, to combat the rising tide sliding through the doors and towards the tables. Dubai is known for commerce, industry, and increasingly, photography. It is not known for drainage. It’s like Atlanta in a snowstorm, with people staring blankly at streets that just became canals, wondering what to do and when it will go away.

It could also not be me, I’m relieved to report. It could be the city is just having a tough water week. At the Dubai Mall this week, the giant aquarium sprung a leak. The official mall website read thusly:

“A leakage was noticed at one of the panel joints of the Dubai Aquarium at The Dubai Mall and was immediately fixed by the aquarium’s maintenance team.”

A leakage was noticed? Fellas, they just about had sharks sliding through the Benetton in there.

Here of course for the GPP yearly photo fest. It’s a very cool event. Great faculty, great attendance, nice people. And, it was good to go back to the desert, even briefly. I have pursued dance off and on for years, just a photographic hobby I love and keep returning to. Put a few pix lately on the blog of dancers in strange places, and some folks have asked if it’s a new project. Not really. Been doing it a long time. I convinced my reluctant editors at LIFE to send me to Moscow , ’cause I had a contact at the Bolshoi Ballet. They really didn’t want to do it, and when editors really don’t want to do a story, to a photographer that’s a sign from the heavens that it needs to be done. I hectored them about it, and finally they relented and said I could go, albeit unsupported. So, as a staff photographer at a multi-billion dollar company, I used my frequent flier miles to get over there, and I stayed in my fixer’s tenement. It wasn’t a great apartment, but it was a great location. More tk…..


64 Responses to “It’s Raining Here….”

Mistie Mcdonld says:

on March 2, 2010 at 10:47 am

Yay mother nature!!But you got an amazing shot before she rained on your parade! LOL
I so understand the love of dance..I myself have a bit of an obsession with it.I photograph some of the belly dancers here in Lawton Ok from time to time…but I wanna shoot a ballerina so bad..the look of motion & pose are soo fluent…love the shots man!!!

Ken Toney says:

on March 2, 2010 at 11:51 am

Joe, don’t think the bad weather is following YOU, it’s everywhere! Hey man, I think I like reading your bloggers comments as much as your blog, I mean “numnuts”, thats funny.

Atiyeh says:

on March 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Hi Joe,

It was so lovely meeting you today and getting your autograph on your book! SO AWESOME!

i though bad weather comes when my husband washes his car!! we actually laugh at this because he can wash his car once a year here in Dubai since its so hot in summer! so since he started washing his car again.. we have rain.. and he washed his car last night or the night before I believe.. so I think you can blame him!

Are you gonna go to the desert again while you are here? Can anyone join?

Sahar looks lovely and I know you shot her in dark, right? thats what I heard from one of the models today. she said she was there and you were shooting in dark and it would turn out like its a day! she was sooo amazed! I was like welcome to Joe Mcnallyhood!!!!



John Swanson says:

on March 2, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Joe, you must have some power. Your rain cloud hit here at Baghdad. Definately a man that packs power!

Christina Wehbe says:

on March 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm

LOL I was there in Vegas last year when the snow hit the desert! It was devastating. good luck In Dubai. I miss that side of the world

Colleen says:

on March 2, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I enjoy your blog :)

Brian Burke says:

on March 2, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Doo-hoo-hoo’d. That desert shot is just crazy.

Phat Photographer says:

on March 3, 2010 at 1:55 am

Surely you had a (shoot through) umbrella with you to shield you from the rain :)

Ken Toney says:

on March 3, 2010 at 10:54 am

Joe, just saw the storms on the news for Dubai, did you get any lightning photos?

Michael Kalbo says:

on March 3, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Mr. McNally I would just like to say that I truly enjoy your blog. Your a HUGE inspiration to me. Someday I hope to be able to produce amazing photographs like you.

Thank you for sharing your creativity with us.

Michael Wiesman says:

on March 4, 2010 at 9:37 am

Better luck with the weather for the remainder of the stay, at least there isn’t snow on the ground there like back in Wisconsin. Although, we have had a heat-wave over the past few days, it’s been into the 50′s!

shawn chamberlin says:

on March 8, 2010 at 8:57 am

hey joe, hope you had a great time in dubai, just want to mention that i love that top photo in this post. there are so many elements that just make it beautiful, something about the combination of cool sky and warm sand just help the dancer jump out at you. theres also just a hint of warm details on her outfit to help tie in with the background. looks pretty cloudy in the background, i’m assuming you didn’t need that 10 speedlight rig on your c-stand this time? its okay if you did, we know how you are with your light. thanks for sharing joe.


on April 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I LOVE the girl on the sand shot!

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