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LIFE Launch…

Oct 19

In Books at 7:43am


Today is official release of a book I wrote for my alma mater, LIFE magazine. What a long strange trip photography is. I shot my first job for the magazine in 1984, and managed somehow to survive editor changes, shifts in format, style, and even the change of the physical size of the magazine to keep shooting for them right through the nineties. Just about 1995 they asked me to become their first staffer in 23 years, which also meant I became the last staff photographer in the history of the magazine, as it is no longer publishing. As I always point out, being the last in a series of 90 staff shooters at this illustrious picture magazine probably means that someone writing the history of this field will probably associate my name with the death of photojournalism:-)

It was an honor to write, given the fact that my editor was Bob Sullivan. Sully and I have done stories together over the years for LIFE, Time, and Sports Illustrated. As I always say about him, he is one of those editor/writers who know more stuff about more stuff than just about anybody I know. He gave the book coherence and structure, and a sense of the English language that my location influenced photo dialect falls far short of. He can switch hats from sports to news to music to celebrities in a heartbeat, which has made him the perfect editor at LIFE, which was about all that and more.

LIFE of course continues in electronic form as one of the most popular photo sites of the web world. LIFE.com is a treasure trove of the current pictorial news of the day, as well as a rich mix of images from the archives of the magazine, many of which never saw ink on paper, and are only now just being published for the first time. I’m the guest editor at the site right now, and I had a wonderful opportunity to ramble a bit about my favorite LIFE shooters and their images. Check it out here. Also do a stint on holding cameras, and a section called “dynamic photography.”

The LIFE Guide is just that–a guide. It can take a newbie right from opening the box containing the new digital picture machine right through composition, light, lenses, and color. Predictably, given the author, it is not a dry, nuts and bolts account of f-stops and shutter speeds, but more of a mix of basic information, leavened with 30 years of field experience offering notions of when it is appropriate to bring that information into play, and fly by the “rules,” or just chuck the manual and go with your head and your heart.

It’s got lots of stuff….





Not to mention a fairly bent set of tips…..:-)


They did the smart thing of making it with a semi-hard cover, flexible but tough, and of a size that is fairly easy to stuff into a camera bag or backpack. I plow through basics such as aperture and shutter speed, rule of thirds, lens use, light and color, and even a bit about flash. It is, well, soup to nuts:-) Hoping to make the basics fun, and to keep folks who already have those basics tucked away in their noodles entertained and intrigued with field strategies, and lessons from a whole bunch of hard won (and lost) assignments.

More tk…..

76 Responses to “LIFE Launch…”

DennyCayman says:

on October 20, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Hey Joe,

I like the new book I think you did a great job on it.


Tom Snide says:

on October 21, 2010 at 8:00 am

In-freakin-credible Joe! How you find time to do everything and -then- on top of all of it, produce another book? You are a machine!

Take care,


SFW ’10

Drew Gurian says:

on October 21, 2010 at 10:29 am

Kevin: I believe it’s a D300s, and if you look on Amazon, the final layout has the model # cropped out, as not to make mention of any make or model at all. The book layout was actually done this year, and as I see it, is really quite current. Thanks very much for your concern.

Drew Gurian says:

on October 21, 2010 at 10:32 am

Dustin- we actually posted a version that wasn’t completely final. If you look on Amazon, it’s cropped a bit differently.

J Starace says:

on October 21, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Whens the book signing party? We need to hoist a few!

Kristin says:

on October 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Can’t wait to look at this!

When can we expect the e-version for our Kindles & iPads?

alexsiu says:

on October 23, 2010 at 6:55 am

Good Job!
I`m form China.

Christopher Campbell says:

on October 23, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Picked it up yesterday — I don’t get into town much. You can tell us, Joe — that camera you are hugging on the back cover. Borrowed from Moose Peterson?

Silvester says:

on October 24, 2010 at 11:17 am

Just bought the book !

CoventryBob says:

on October 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm

The fantastic new book arrived in UK Friday morning and been devoured ever since. A great read as ever Joe – keep up the great work. See you and Drew sometime next year in London again?

Ken Toney says:

on October 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Whats that song, video killed the radio star!
I’ve ordered your book, I’m sure it’s great. You continue to make me better (bet you wished I was a lady) :)
PS, see ya in Hotlanta.

michael says:

on October 24, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Hi Joe,
Thank you very much for all the information you share. Your stories are like a guide for me of what to try and learn next. I hope your new book is as exiting to read as the other ones.

Let me know when you visit Germany some day. (Too bad i already booked my trip to Thailand in December, otherwise I’d visit you on your Asia—Tour!)

Sincerely Yours,

Charlie Flynn says:

on October 26, 2010 at 8:14 am

Thank you for including the definition of “Drag the Shutter” in the Glossary of the “The Guide”.
Charlie Flynn

Erika Plummer says:

on October 26, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Yeah! My Hubby brought home for my birthday today!!!! Yeah!!!!!!!

Network Geek says:

on October 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I went looking for this book based on the strength of the author. I haven’t really started reading it yet, but the photography is, of course, fantastic. I look forward to digging into it!

Rachel says:

on October 29, 2010 at 3:22 am

yea nice Work

Chet says:

on November 4, 2010 at 9:12 pm

I want to add this to my collection of Joe McNally books but am unable to find a hardcover copy. Is this only available as a paperback?



Joe McNally says:

on November 5, 2010 at 6:46 am

hey chet…yep, just the cover as is. It’s kind of an in between cover treatment. Not a hard cover, but not paper either, which is a little different….best, Joe

Chet says:

on November 5, 2010 at 8:11 am

Thank you, consider another one sold!


Michael Murphy says:

on November 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Awesome book! Congrats!

cpa network management says:

on December 6, 2010 at 10:36 pm

What entertaining phrase

Tommy Lynch says:

on December 13, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Got mine for my 50th B-day…..what a great present!

Ulrich Roth says:

on March 1, 2013 at 6:57 am

Yeah! Love your Books and your style of writing!


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