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Things to be Thankful For…

Nov 23

In Rambling at 8:48am

I’m thankful that when I take a picture, I can still hear the shutter:-)

I’m thankful for all the fancy new gear we have available to us as photogs, even though that time honored maxim of nothing working right when you really need it to still applies.

I’m thankful I still need to shoot about as much as I need to breathe.

And, I’m thankful there still remains a direct connection between my shutter finger and my heart and lungs. The very slight activity of that finger when it assists in recording what I might perceive to be a good photograph can completely arrest, for a split second, the activity of the other two. I’m thinking of donating my cadaver for forensic research so someone can write a learned paper about this physical oddity.

I’m thankful for Lynn in my studio, who in addition to producing jobs, paying the bills, keeping us afloat, and answering the phone creates a wonderful atmosphere of friendship, fairness and frivolity at our tiny shop.

She in turn is thankful that I don’t answer the phone, because when somebody calls and offers us zero for the rights to use our work, I’m prone to use the f word a lot, and we’d rapidly not have to answer the phone anymore, ’cause no one would call us ever again.

I think I’m thankful that the reprint rights to all photos recorded and yet to be recorded by any medium heretofore, forthwith and yet to be devised that will be reproduced at some point on the moons of Uranus via holographic transmission in future millennia are so desirable. That means us camera clickers must be doing something right, because, seemingly, everything we produce is truly excellent, valuable and will withstand the test of time.

Pursuant to all that, I’m thankful and still amazed that the phone does ring and people offer to pay for that which I would gladly do for free, most of the time.

I’m thankful my dad had a Beauty Lite III rangefinder camera which I borrowed in 1973.

I’m thankful, actually, for all the crazy jobs, long hours, heavy gear, busted assignments, heartache, insecurity, overfull credit cards, flight delays, outright despair, and the general personal and professional mayhem that swirls about the act of being a photographer like a personal mini-twister. All that bad stuff is like the debris on the sides of the road of one of those post-apocalyptic movies. Stay the course, stay on the path, and it leads somewhere, like to the reward of a very occasional good picture. I’m thankful for that road,  and the many lifetimes spent on it, even though I walk it now not so much in purposeful, smooth strides, but more of a broke down shuffle, kind of like Wily Coyote after an unfortunate encounter with an oncoming train. It seems a small price to pay.

I’m thankful for the gang down at Tampa, the Kelby tribe. They define fairness and decency.

I’m thankful for all the pixels, even though I don’t need anymore than I already have. If I end up getting some more, I don’t know where I’ll put them. I came into the studio the other day and a whole bunch of them were hiding under my chair.

I’m thankful Ernst Haas made a book called The Creation. At the end of a tough day in the field, just looking at it is like taking a shower.

I’m thankful for Sid and Michelle Monroe, whose wonderful Santa Fe gallery remains a place I go to remind myself of why I continue to do this.

I’m thankful to the bunch of folks who read this blog, or come to a workshop, and engage in a passionate pursuit of be being a better photographer. That pursuit is life long, and worth it.

I’m thankful that Drew, Cali and Lynda in my studio put up with me. They are terrific colleagues, and wonderfully talented.

I’m thankful Derek Jeter continues to play baseball, excellently. And I think I’m thankful, at least on one level, that the NBA season is in the dumper. That means a disappointing showing by the Knicks will potentially be avoided, at least for a time.

I’m thankful for my kids. Claire likes school. Caitlin might yet find what is very beautiful and worthwhile inside of her.

I’m thankful Jay Maisel didn’t become a painter. I’m also glad he throws the f-bomb freely. Some folks might be offended. I think it’s just creative use of language.

I think I’m thankful for Vincent Laforet’s blog, even though I can’t even pronounce most of the stuff he talks about.

I think I’m thankful for Google Plus, though I don’t know how to work it yet. I know it’s important ’cause Dave Moser at NAPP kidded that he was going to punch me if I didn’t add him to a circle. I don’t know. I might hold off just to test if he’s serious or not. On the other hand, that might be unwise, ’cause of the many wonderful things Dave is, “kidder” might not be one of them.

I’m thankful for my ten year friendship with Donald Blake in Santa Fe. His wise and mischievous face is the cover of my new book. We are now bound together, via a picture, forever.

I’m thankful I’m still able to travel into the land beyond the yellow border. The folks at Geographic continue to tolerate me. I’m also thankful that NGS photogs are largely not included in most of the conference calls, and story pitches, and all those magazine machinations that need to occur. We’re field people. We don’t do well in an office, or in meetings, for lots of reasons, including the possibility that we might actually say what we’re thinking out loud. Best to just shut up and shoot.

I’m thankful I’ve been around long enough to have known Eisie, Gordon, Carl, and Mr. Mili. And to still know John Loengard, Ralph Morse, Jim Stanfield, David Douglas Duncan, Neil Leifer, Walter, Johnny I, and so many, many legends who have taken up a camera over time. Their work is the bedrock on which we all stand.

I’m thankful airplanes generally go interesting places, ’cause I’m on them a lot.

And this year, I’m thankful for ground transportation, in the form of a cartoon decorated bus that logged 14,500 miles across this country. For all the folks who saw fit to come out to Flashbus, many, many thanks. For DH, Jeff, Grippi, Lenz, Cali, Drew and Phil–all praise.

The above mentioned crew riding on an enclosed, wheel borne metal can for six weeks also makes me thankful for air freshener.

And yes, I’m thankful for manual.

And I’m thankful for camera manuals. And for the fact I’ve really never read them.

Once, a video producer, exasperated by my antics and non-sequitur behavior during the shoot, looked at my ever patient wife, Annie, and asked, “Is there an off switch?” Her response: “I’ve never looked for it.” For her kindness, decency, patience and love, I am forever thankful.

110 Responses to “Things to be Thankful For…”

Dennis de Jesus says:

on November 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I know this is a little late for the occasion, but I am thankful for a company like Nikon and being introduced to the Nikon D40. That was my first camera and for discovering you Mr McNally on how you inspire and take everyone into this great journey on discovering how great life and our world is through the craft of Photography. I thank God for people like you who truly is genuine in helping others reach their dreams to not just be good but great. Thank you Mr McNally.

Steven King says:

on November 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Wow.

“…looked at my ever patient wife, Annie, and asked, ‘Is there an off switch?’ Her response: ‘I’ve never looked for it.’ ”

An amazing picture of love painted in a single sentence. Beautiful. Moving. Inspiring.

Thanks for sharing Joe!

Prateek Dubey says:

on December 1, 2011 at 2:56 am

One of the most inspiring pieces I have ever read.Thank god you are a human being like the rest of us, and thank god you are grateful.

Joe Mc Nally is a human being like me. Yippee….

Thank you life. Thank you Joe

jim mcd says:

on December 2, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Joe: Like so many others, I’m thankful for your blog, books and open sharing. You’ve a great sense of humor, humility and skill (s). Again, thanks Joe for sharing/teaching the rest of us. And taking time for the rest of us.

Thanks.

Brisbane Wedding Photography says:

on December 2, 2011 at 9:48 pm

There are a lot of things I am actually thankful for. I am just so thankful for everything in my life. Photography has helped me see the beauty in this world, no matter how simple things are.

kelly borgman says:

on December 3, 2011 at 5:51 pm

You are the best, I loved reading the above especially the last part where your wife has never looked for the off switch.

Al Hart says:

on December 17, 2011 at 7:50 am

The cost of the first book was bad enough. Now though, I’ve bought two more books, one DVD, one softbox, a C stand, two umbrellas, a reflector, a diffuser, two umbrella holders, and two SuperClamps. I’ve also been brainwashed into buying three Pocket Wizards and two brand-new SB-910s.

Listen McNally, either stop writing or send money!

-al hart, farmington hills, mi

Alex Carrasco says:

on January 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm

My copy of the creation just arrived at my doorstep, I ordered it after saving this post in my personal hall of fame, with Zack Arias’ transform and other gems of the net. I thank you for this post Joe, and for all the inspiration you continue to give us through the years, it is much appreciated.

Thanks,
Alex.

Madrid, Spain

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