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Lynn’s Blog

Mar 19

In Friends, history, Jobs at 6:59am

This blog has been a long time coming, as Lynn tends generally prefers to stay in the background of things. All of us at the studio had a hand in prodding her just a touch to write this. Which is a wonderful turn of events. Lynn and I have worked together for nearly 20 years. She is one of the treasures of my life, and the dearest of friends. She has been a confidante, fortune teller, business manager, representative, finance magician (occasionally conjuring something out of nothing), producer (which is her tale below), rights and rates adviser, font of wisdom, voice of reason, and organizer of all things. And, as I mentioned, the most unflappable, unshakable, and understanding of friends. Without Lynn’s guidance, we would have run aground long ago. Like a compass with a heart and a voice, she continues to steer our tiny studio through thick and thin, through rough and calm seas.

She’s also an amazing cook. Every year at her house, we have Abbundanza! Which is Italian, for roughly, too much food. All the friends of the studio gather at her house for a feast. And the two of us stand and toast each other from the deepest part of our hearts. Another year. We made it another year.

Hi all, Lynn DelMastro here, Joe’s long time studio manager / producer. Ah, yes, a voice from behind the scenes of a Joe McNally shoot. What really goes on? How does all that stuff actually get dialed into the scene? Well, I’m here to tell you, in part, about some of the “magic” (even though most of the magic actually doesn’t happen, as we know, until Joe gets behind the camera.)

:-) .
(Joe here. And let me be the first one to step forward here and be completely candid about the fact the sometimes the magic happen, and sometimes it don’t. But that’s on me. The beauty of a Lynn production is that when I step up to the camera, all I have to worry about is what I see through the lens, and connecting with it. All the other stuff has been taken care of, done deal, lock solid.)

Sometimes photographers have asked, “does everything Joe shoots require a producer?” No, certainly not. For some less complex shoots, Joe puts together everything himself. It’s all very circumstantial, when a shoot is either extremely complex, or when Joe’s schedule simply won’t allow for him to oversee every step himself, the production falls on my desk. Over the years, I’ve produced everything from the McNally Workshops in Dobbs Ferry, to Joe’s Language of Light DVD, to small magazine shoots, to full blown commercial assignments for him. Some of the more memorable ones have been for Nikon. The most recent production for them was for the launch of the D4.
When we were first awarded the project, our studio team sat down for a pre-production meeting. Joe proceeded to explain what his wishes and desires were for the visuals (aka his imagination on steroids). My mouth dropped, my heart raced, my body overheated, and my head throbbed. So, for about 30 long seconds, I think I actually blacked out, without really losing consciousness. You know what I mean? Like when you hear news that makes your whole being go into a virtual freeze frame mode? Hmm, why did I have this reaction? Well, he used words like… circus, animals, swamp, Delta blues artist, multi-city locations, studios, body painters, models, performers, helicopters, and the list went on and on. Oh sure, just sounds like a long “to do” list, right? Yeah, well you go out and try to find a custom-made circus, a swamp that won’t swallow up the crew, and an authentic Delta blues artist, etc… all the while keeping within the confines of a budget and a looming deadline. He may as well have told me that he wanted to shoot a full- blown production on the moon with Gisele and Bono. No worries.

So, once I stopped hyperventilating, I dipped into my brain’s, “who do I know” file, to kick start the action. Assuming that the circus scenario would be the most challenging to orchestrate, I contacted my good friend, Chiara Adorno, a very talented filmmaker in Hollywood.  Never know who she might know, etc. I explained what I was looking for, “Joe wants to shoot an old- school looking circus, a family type deal”. However, the kicker was that we needed it not for a day or two, but for a week, and it had to be all for ourselves. We needed a closed set, no public allowed (hey, we had to keep the D4 a TOP secret, after all!). I also mentioned that Joe had been visually inspired when he saw the film Water for Elephants, with Reese Witherspoon. Chiara gave me the contact info for a friend of hers, who is in the circus business, explaining that he would be a fantastic starting point. So I contacted VW Scheich, and well the rest of the conversation was simply music to my aching ears. He replied, “my cousin was the animal trainer for Reese in the movie”, “let me put you in touch with her, I’m sure she can help”. Oh.My.God. I then contacted his cousin, Darlene Williams, and so it began. I can’t even explain how incredibly wonderful this woman was. She put me in touch with her mother, Eva Williams.

Eva is a circus agent, and literally became my one-stop-shopping circus guru. Darlene, who could have bowed out at that point, stayed with it, periodically emailing and calling me, just because she cared. Wow, like mother, like daughter, these women were amazing. Okay, so with the circus planning underway, I turned my attention to the swamp production. Holy mackerel, or rather, holy gator… seriously? Again, Joe had a vision in his head (shocking), of how he wanted the swamp to look. So many things to consider… plus we needed a willing hair-M/U artist, wardrobe stylist, and model, all able to deal with the most unappealing environment ever (think major humidity, mosquitoes, gators, poisonous snakes, and other unknown creatures), a location vehicle, a medic, and a park ranger. There were major permissions to deal with, as well as scheduling issues. Okay, so I’ve been doing this long enough to know that, although I pride myself in my ability to multi-task and tackle large productions, sometimes I just have to hand off a piece of the pie. So I called my colleague and friend, Lyn Wik, a very experienced producer, to see if she’d be willing to pitch in and help. Lyn, being the incredible person she is, replied, “for you and Joe? Just say the word and I shall be yours!”. So I put her in touch with a former assistant of ours, photographer Scott Holstein.

Scott is a swamp LOVER, who lives in Florida. Scott was so psyched about the notion of working with Joe in a swamp that he offered to assist and help out in any way he could. At that point, with Lyn and Scott being on board, I KNEW that I had nothing to worry about. Naturally Lyn and I still talked and emailed 24/7, for about 3 weeks.


Okay, so amidst the tons of emails and phone calls with Lyn on the swamp, I was simultaneously dealing with the other shoots. Communication with Eva, for the circus shoot, was constant. We had to review options for tents, locations, talent, elephants, permits, dogs, horses, contracts, and the list went on and on. Then there was the selection of the model, which took days, just to find the right girl. I also had to find a wardrobe stylist, and due to budget, needed to find someone in the vicinity close to the shoot. I totally scored with the stylist, Deana Anais, represented by a wonderful agent, Sarah Hamilton-Bailey. Deana had an incredible sense of style and was totally intuitive about the look and feel of what we wanted. I also contacted Deborah Engelsman, an extremely talented hair-M/U artist, whom I’ve worked with many times over the years. Together, this team caused a fashion sensation at the shoot…

There still remained the [not so small] matter of finding a Delta blues artist. Once again, I tapped into my personal resources… a wonderful and special friend, Jody Wenig, of Wenig–LaMonica, a source for amazing talent. I knew that Jody could point me in the right direction, and man did he ever! Two emails later, and I was in direct contact with Wacko Wade, the manager of Delta blues artist, Little Freddie King.  Wacko and I created an instant bond (with a name like that, how could we not?), and he helped me to iron out all the details of how and when to work with LFK. Joe requested a run down, patina ladened, character driven house that evoked the flavor and style of old New Orleans.

Location scout, Michael Dittmar to the rescue! Michael did an amazing job and sent us lightboxes of properties to consider, all over the city. Joe settled on the one that suited his purposes the best, which turned out to be absolutely beyond perfect for the shoot and the video that we shot of LFK. Our local assistant, photographer Donald Page, brought us to the dual bridge location, where Joe shot an incredibly cool image of LFK.


For a separate photo situation in New Orleans, Joe had his heart set on shooting at Preservation Hall, a musical landmark institution there. As with any landmark, it’s subject to policies, procedures, and long wait lists. My motto, “be pleasantly persistent”, was what had to be put in place. Five emails and three voice messages later, I finally heard back from them. I just needed that voice contact to make a new friend of the business manager there and we were in. Good to go. Right down to the wire.

But wait, there’s more. Let’s not forget about, “Snake Beauty”. Although not as many moving parts as the circus, the swamp, or even the New Orleans shoots, the snake shoot presented its own set of complexities. After an extensive search, I found the brilliantly talented, NYC based body-painting and make-up artist, Anastasia Durasova. Understanding that not every model is willing to sit perfectly still for eight hours to be painted, but also not every model is willing to wear an 8 ft python, as an accessory. Anastasia highly recommended Marina, the model, and she was an absolute dream to work with. Sexy, beautiful, pleasant, and had zero qualms about “wearing” the snake. Along with the supremely talented hair stylist, Sasha Nesterchuk, “Snake Beauty” came to fruition and was shot at NEO Studios on an extremely memorable day.


Also, as with any production, I had to work out all the travel arrangements – hotels, flights, ground transfers, truck rentals, catering options, etc. In the end, it was 10 jam- packed weeks of pre-production, for 18 days of travel, scout, pre-light and shoot. Phew. Of course, the key to any successful production is to surround yourself with an awesome crew. In each location, I was blessed to have the best, most experienced helping hands. Back at our Ridgefield studio, supremely organized Lynda Peckham, thankfully held the fort down in my absence. My primary boys (Drew, Grippi, and Cali), provided unstoppable comic relief (with the help of Nikon’s own inimitable Mike Corrado), and the joy of working with two of the nicest, most talented, and incredibly wonderful clients, made it all so rewarding.

And then there’s Joe. He’s in a genre all by himself. Aside from being one of the most decent human beings on the planet, his beautiful mind (although a tad twisted) is captivating and his sense of humor is infectious. As long as I have a brown paper bag nearby, I’ll hyperventilate for him anytime .

All pix of Lynn shot by Lynda Peckham.

More tk….

62 Responses to “Lynn’s Blog”

Tim Skipper says:

on March 19, 2012 at 7:35 am

Thank you for posting this. All this time I just imagined things just fell in Joe’s lap. Now I know he has a awesome magician working for him.

Tom Bricker says:

on March 19, 2012 at 7:40 am

I first saw you on Kelby Training’s “A Day with Joe McNally” and had expected to see you again on Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe rather than on Joe’s blog. It takes a special person to be able to organize and put together such productions.

Jason says:

on March 19, 2012 at 7:53 am

Gosh.
Wow.
That was a fascinating post, thank you.

I sort of wondered about how hard it was to organise some of those shots.
I didn’t really consider the fact that they we all part of (much bigger) campaign and that one person needed to run the campaign.

I doff my hat to you Lynn.
Do you have a golden lasoo and wrist bands?

Alan MacRae says:

on March 19, 2012 at 8:15 am

Having met Lynn on several occasions, I so enjoyed this post. Joe’s comments are, as always, right on the money, and Lynn, great post! Thanks so much to all of you for sharing everything with all of us in the photo world. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

Vic Peek says:

on March 19, 2012 at 8:32 am

Best post ever on your Blog.

Laurie Excell says:

on March 19, 2012 at 8:32 am

Lynn, What a great post! Loved hearing your side of things. Very well written. I was totally engaged to the point I almost hyperventalated when you did! :) Excellent job!

Ivan Boden says:

on March 19, 2012 at 8:36 am

Lynn, you are a magician! There’s always some unsung hero that has to make difficult things happen, behind the scenes. Wow. So impressed with what you do, and so glad to read this.

ChasVS says:

on March 19, 2012 at 8:36 am

Gee, with this kind of support, what kind of images could all of us be getting? !!

Don Carrick says:

on March 19, 2012 at 8:40 am

Lynn,
Great post, thanks so much for your amazing behind the scenes peek. It’s amazing how much Joe gets accomplished…now we know how he does it! If you ever need a location for drag racing, custom cars or motorcycles on the east coast give me a shout. Thanks again for a great post.

John Keane says:

on March 19, 2012 at 8:57 am

Lynn,
It’s great to hear your “voice”. After reading the blog the phrase “herding cats” kept coming to mind. Thanks for keeping the wheels rolling and for making all Joe’s work seem like magic. He’s lucky to have you and the rest of the crew behind him. I seriously suggest that you and Joe write the next book together. A kind of how it’s really done, behind the scenes photography business book.
All the best.
John

Scott says:

on March 19, 2012 at 9:17 am

Great post, Lynn! Miss you!

Scott

Tim says:

on March 19, 2012 at 9:21 am

Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing the “magic” that makes these great photos happen!

leslie says:

on March 19, 2012 at 9:23 am

Hi Lynn,

What a fabulous post! I’m just enjoying another public holiday here in Ireland (after the st. patrick’s festival weekend) and loved reading how you pull the whole thing together for Joe. He has been my inspiration to get into photography a couple of years ago (just finished reading sketching light…awesome; as you guys would say!) and it’s really cool to see the backbone of the studio in action. Best of luck with everything being thrown at ya for 2012!

Linda Brinckehroff says:

on March 19, 2012 at 9:29 am

Fantastic piece! After 20 years, I am sure Lynn has enough material for an entire book. THanks for giving us a peek into your world.

TimothyM says:

on March 19, 2012 at 9:35 am

Great post, I love hearing from other folks on the crews. Call me crazy but your job in many way sounds quite fun. You get these crazy but so very interesting challenges, you find the solutions, meet interesting people, and know that the team the clients truly appreciate your time and efforts.

John O'Neill says:

on March 19, 2012 at 9:39 am

Joe, you are blessed to have Lynn orchestrating the operations of “McNally Land.” I ran into Lynn at a Dobbs Ferry workshop a few years ago. She could not have been more gracious, helpful or patient. And watching her operate that day, juggling any number of tasks — seemingly so effortlessly — is a memory that stuck with me. She is the personification of grace under pressure.I am glad to see her receive the recognition she so richly deserves in today’s blog.

Fotodog says:

on March 19, 2012 at 9:43 am

Another great article.
Lynn, you have an amazing job ahead of you each week and it’s obvious that you’re doing a phenomenal job for Joe.

It’s nice to know what exactly needs to happen to get Joe and his subjects to the shoot so he can work his magic.

I’m happy to see you get the recognition you deserve.
Cheers,
~fotodog

Bob says:

on March 19, 2012 at 9:57 am

I am in total awe….love all of this story…thank you.
Bob

Tony R says:

on March 19, 2012 at 9:58 am

Bravo Lynn, Bravo.

Mark Adams says:

on March 19, 2012 at 9:58 am

Lynn, You’re awesome!!

Mike Mahoney says:

on March 19, 2012 at 10:17 am

And she make great Italian food, too??? My kind of gal!! Wonderful post!

Janine Fugere says:

on March 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

WOW, how extremely blessed Joe is to have you, Lynn, and how extremely blessed you are to have so many people you can count on to pull off such a “larger-than-life-in-true-Joe-McNally-imagined-proportions” production! KUDOS to all of you! You all continue to inspire the way the world is viewed “As Seen by Janine.”

Patrik Lindgren says:

on March 19, 2012 at 10:34 am

Great post! It´s a huge machinery that needs to be set in motion for big productions like this. Really awesome that you share this with us, there is a lot going on both before and after the actual pressing of the shutter button for us photographers.

Greg says:

on March 19, 2012 at 11:34 am

How can the two of you have worked together for almost twenty years when Lynn looks to be only 20 years old. Has Joe been violating child labor laws for all this time?

Thanks you for the fabulous article on how difficult it really is to setup and execute a photo shoot? Maybe now people will realize why photographers charge as much as we do and why we have panic attacks when things start to sideways and backwards.

JerseyStyle Photography says:

on March 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm

What a wonderful post by Lynn and about Lynn. I first met this wonderful woman – at least on email – the first time I had the pleasure of hiring Joe, back around 1999/2000. Then really met her at the Faces of Ground Zero ceremony, the unveiling. Can’t believe so many years have passed. Now she’s seen me “grow up” in my passion for photography, attending Joe’s Dobbs workshop and evening helping out some with last year’s FOGZ event. There are two constants with Team McNally – the quality images that Joe shoots, and the rock-steadiness of Lynn to make sure everything falls into place for that to happen. But Lynn’s not only great with the details, she a sweet gal as well. Every time I see her, even if it’s years from the last time, she still greets me with a hug like it’s only been a few days.

Good peoples, as they say.

~ Mark

Stacy R. says:

on March 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Well done madam! :)

Donald Page says:

on March 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm

The world needs more people like Lynn

stephen says:

on March 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Thanks for the post! It’s always great to learn about what goes on behind the scenes on such large productions.

Lyle says:

on March 19, 2012 at 6:20 pm

You must be a driven, patient, talented, and very special person to create such great success with a guy who refers to himself as “numnuts” :)

L

J.T. Haney says:

on March 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I want a Lynn for Christmas!!!

Henrique says:

on March 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

PLease, make this a periodic Lynn’s blog somehow! She is just awesome.

stanchung says:

on March 20, 2012 at 4:50 am

God bless the Lynn’s of this world! Love this post. Being in TV Commercial production for more than 10 years, I have met quite a few super producers and I can tell you not all have a nice disposition when stressed out! LOL. Humour on set is a prerequisite-otherwise there’s too much tension!
Great team you guys have there. Does bring back great memories. XD

Karen B says:

on March 20, 2012 at 8:42 am

Lynn, Such a delightful post ~ thanks for sharing bits of your behind the scenes action. I look forward to more of your stories. Excellent!

Joe Masucci says:

on March 20, 2012 at 9:19 am

Talented and attractive. A winning combination. Great post.

Lou says:

on March 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm

What a fantastic piece of writing and glimpse into a crazy, but very special world. Thanks for sharing and may the future continue to be just as special…and crazy.

Joe Ethridge says:

on March 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm

….and you cook….wow!

Alton Marsh says:

on March 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Very enjoyable post. Thanks.

John S says:

on March 20, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Lynn:

I think it would be a good time for you to request a pay raise. Perhaps double? All of the readers would support you in your request.

Joe: You oughta make a preemptive strike – it’d cost you less.

Seriously – thanks for the bts viewpoints from the folks who help you make your visions become reality. It is right to give them thanks and praise.

Bob J says:

on March 21, 2012 at 5:32 am

hey Lynn, nice post! Can we have some pictures of Joe’s studio and of the other team members in another blog post?

Patrick says:

on March 21, 2012 at 7:42 am

Saw Lynn on the “A day with Joe McNally” Kelby production and realized then she was the driving force behind the man, the myth, the legend, Joe McNally. Great post and insight on what really happens to produce a photo shoot.

Brian Powell says:

on March 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm

What’s that saying?..

“Behind every numnuts there’s an organized and pleasantly persistent woman”?

:)

Tom Hohl says:

on March 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Wait, let me get this straight… Joe doesn’t pull off these amazing shots by himself? Hmmm… I didn’t think the average human could juggle a Book or two, a few very high profile product shoots, teaching, a blog, a Flash bus tour, and more ’round the world teaching. LOL Great job Lynn. Now we know who REALLY runs the show!!! Love you guys!!!!!

Robert Behnke says:

on March 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Great post! Sounds like a fun and caring group to hang out and work with! Lynn it is nice to hear things from your side of the studio. How you remember to keep so many connections is amazing! Glad you keep Joe up and running so I can keep learning.

Irjohn says:

on March 22, 2012 at 10:42 am

Lynn, you should really run a workshop on production logistics. Allow me suggest a title: “How to work your ass off without stealing the thunder from (your boss) the photog”.

Steve Harrison says:

on March 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Joe

She needs/deserves a raise and a chapter in your next book.

Simon says:

on March 24, 2012 at 7:53 am

Great post Lynn, thank you, and a further insightful look into Joe’s amazing life & career.

I can see a new DVD opportunity coming up… “The Language of Lynn”

Darin Reed says:

on March 25, 2012 at 7:48 am

Wow! That was an awesome post! Lynn should run workshops for aspiring & pro studio managers. Nikon may not like this but I think I need to invest in the best “Lynn” in can find, rather than a new D4 to take my photography to the next level. Keep the magic coming coming guys! Love it!

Byron says:

on March 25, 2012 at 10:20 am

Lynn,

Thanks for sharing your insight on was goes on behind the scenes. When you look at Joes’s pictures, we don’t realize what and how a big production it is. Keep up the great work you do.

Joe,

You should change your company name to Joe McNally Photography Productions from Joe McNally Photography because your work is nothing small and simple, all big and magical.

John McGill says:

on March 26, 2012 at 10:19 am

This was a really amazing and informative blog. I never realized how much work went into making these shoots happen. As they say, you’re only as good as your team. In this case, Lynn and all the others made it happen. Mabrouk (congratulations)!

Frank Burch says:

on March 30, 2012 at 4:02 am

Fabulous post Lynn! The background stories are so entertaining, I really hope to see a lot more of you on the Blog!

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