Archive for the ‘Links’ Category
There is now a website, The Photo Society, which has gathered working National Geographic photographers together under one roof on the internet. Now, getting any group of photographers together to do anything, in unison, is difficult. Getting this particular bunch of disparate personalities, egos, interests and formidable skill sets on the same page to act collectively and all show up at the same time requires something roughly akin to an act of congress, or perhaps even a forcibly worded subpoena. This is a collection of passionately individualistic people, who, in the field, spend a lot of time alone, working things out for themselves. They rely on instinct, not press releases, resolutely avoid the pack, and seek out the path less traveled, all in hope of an angle or perspective on a story that has not been seen before. They bridle at uniformity, being utterly, confidently convinced that their vision is the truth of the matter, and that vision is pursued relentlessly, often at great risk. Our rare gatherings are lively indeed, and vaguely reminiscent of the wild Celtic street celebration seen above, shot by the endlessly talented Jim Richardson.
As youths, in school, we were most likely deemed unruly, headstrong, and destined to engage in a lifetime of problematic, irritating behavior. Or perhaps become photographers. (Is that redundant?)
The price of admission to this website is actually being assigned and doing a National Geographic story for what is routinely called around the shop, “the yellow magazine.” Because of the degree of difficulty associated with doing this type of work, the photojournalists presented here constitute an exclusive club indeed. By my count, 86 all told. This group has done the core visual work for what is routinely referred to as the best picture magazine in the world for the last 30 years. What the Photo Society is doing here is drawing back the curtain a bit. What most folks understandably respond to are the pictures in the magazine– at turns stunning, daring, pictorially mesmerizing, thoughtful, searing, emotionally wrenching and always story driven. What they don’t see is the risk, physical and otherwise, the emotional involvement, the intensity of commitment, the first steps and ball games missed back home, the marriages set adrift, the financial brinksmanship routinely engaged in, the utter solitude of the decision making process in the field and the fevered, interior second guessing that induces in even the most confident of individuals. It is not, in short, for the faint of heart.
The site has been created and maintained by the hard and generous work of a gifted few, such as Randy Olson, George Steinmetz and Stephen Alvarez, who have done a great deal of the heavy lifting. They continue to develop it as an ongoing gallery, a repository of essential work. If one is aspiring to be a storyteller with a camera, it is a necessary resource, and should be a frequent stop on your internet travels.
There are flat out geniuses on the site, photographers whose work has informed and changed the way generations of shooters have looked at the world and approached doing stories. For instance, Bill Allard, whose stubborn, gruff independence as a visual communicator has inspired readers for 40 years.
And David Doubilet, an utterly indispensable underwater photographer, whose risk taking and visual daring defined the craft for generations.
And Lynn Johnson, whose quiet sympathy for people has created an archive of nuanced, subtle observation about the human condition.
There are also photogs who have literally created their own niche, driven by a singular passion for a place or people. George Steinmetz, who routinely straps the equivalent of a lawn mower engine and a ceiling fan to his backside and runs off cliffs to get airborne, has done aerial views of most if not all of the world’s deserts.
And Gerd Ludwig, who has specialized in Russia, the Eastern version of the wild west, and has risked greatly to define the ongoing tragedy of pollution and radiation contamination in the former Soviet Union.
What I love about the site is an area called “vignettes,” where the Nat Geo photographers share pithy, brief descriptions of their time in the field. If you peruse it even casually, you’ll notice it runs vividly counter to the imaginings that perhaps abound out there about the life of a National Geographic photographer. Contrary to myth, lore and legend, it is not a lifetime of abundance, first class air tickets, and luscious sunsets in exotic locations. Take a look below. It doesn’t read like a travel brochure.
Make a visit, if you would. It’s a rare and rich grouping of images, and a look at the ornery, gifted folks who created them. More tk…
Been back from Beijing for a bit now, and cranking away, finishing a new book, Sketching Light. I’ll be done writing in a couple of days, which is good, or I’m gonna go blooey. My long suffering editor at Peachpit, Ted Waitt, probably thinks I already have, and I’m holed up like the Unabomber in a shack someplace, with an old Royal typewriter and a kerosene lamp, laboriously typing out a change of heart manifesto titled, “Flash is Bad.”
Had the pleasure of shooting with a bunch of good photogs over there, Trey Ratcliff amongst them. He’s a terrific shooter, with an amazing touch for HDR. He also uses his Ipad as a bit of a flying carpet, zooming around, doing videos, interviews, and BTS stuff with it as he shoots. By contrast, Mongo here just use it to see movie on plane.
Very graciously, he shot a couple of chats we had and posted them up over on G+. We talked a bit about the picture above–this elegant Chinese musician at the Peony Pavilion opera. It’s an ISO 2000 shot on a D3S, out of camera, with no noise reduction. Not a photo to rattle anybody’s timbers, but I simply enjoyed the serenity and the expertise this young lady demonstrated during the performance. I found myself tuning into the music, honestly, more so than the actual staging of the show. Trey has since posted up a part 2 of the Ipad chat here. Speaking of Google Plus, we’re going to get more active on it shortly. Right now, just about every keystroke is about the book. Sigh….
Beijing was fascinating, as it has always been. Eventually going to post some stuff that dates back to my original visit there in 1987, but for now, thought I ‘d throw some stuff up from the recent trip.
At the Water Cube…..
Science Museum. Amazing the tools we have now. ISO 1600, D3S, 16mm fish, AF. I’m not looking through the camera. I’ve got it extended at arm’s length, over a glass splash board down into the bubble bath these kids are playing with. Try that with a non AF film camera….
Hi from Joe….please consider today’s blog an invitation to visit Scott Kelby’s blog…..
I did a story once on Korean green grocers in NYC. Running a produce shop in New York is a tough, 24 hour a day job. To make sure the story got off to a good start, I of course needed a picture of a green grocer that, ideally, showed the enterprise, and the all night, 24/7 nature of it, and, very importantly, show the reader we were talking about New York green grocers, not, you know, ones in San Francisco, or Seattle.
After a lot of scouting, and some pretty fast talking, I got these folks to allow me to shoot their shop. Reason being, of course, the Trade Centers give it a sense of place. They of course thought I was just going to take a picture, not load up their fruit bins with flash. Which is what I did. There’s a bunch of strobes in the store, all green gelled, with a magenta on the lens of the camera. Standard operating procedure for Kodachrome.
Like many NY shooters, I go way back with the Trade Centers, now gone. I write a bit of that story today in Scott Kelby’s blog. Scott, as always, was amazingly gracious in offering me a slot for a special blog post during this very significant week.
My thanks go out to him, and all the wonderful folks at NAPP. If you have a couple minutes, head over to Photoshop Insider, Scott’s blog. More tk….
From the weekend…Maggie was indeed a beautiful bride. Pinned to her dress were her granmother and grandfather’s rings….
New week…tomorrow, Tampa! Gridding it! Details here. Another season of the Grid is kicking off!
LIFE.com announced the winners of its’ 2011 Photo Blog Awards, and this little rambling collection of thoughts ended up winning one. Very honored, especially when you look at their roll call of winners….Lens, from the New York Times, Bag News Notes, Time magazine’s Lightbox, and NPR’s Picture Show.
The blog is fun to keep up with, albeit at times a bit daunting. I find myself writing on planes, or airport lounges, or in cars on the way to location. Thank goodness for hot spots! Thank goodness, too, for this amazing adventure. Thirty five years with a camera in my hands, and still going. New Geographic assignment coming up in July, and today, for instance, into NY for an ongoing portrait series on the 10th Anniversary of 911. Stuff just keeps happening, and the blog, for me personally, has become a good way to check my pulse.
Life’s comments on Numnuts….
“The thoughts, notions, and ideas here come from thirty years in the field as a shooter,” reads the text in the upper-right hand corner of this blog, underneath a smiling stick figure and the casual, handwritten words “Meet Joe.” It’s that juxtaposition of the serious and the playful that make Joe McNally’s Blog such a treat. With bona fides from Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, and LIFE (for which he was a staff photographer), McNally tells stories and gives advice from behind the lens, pulling from his travels and his vibrant, extensive portfolio to riff on newsmakers (like the Navy SEALs, whom he once followed in training), share deeply personal memories of favorite shoots, and totally geek out on lighting technique and gear (explaining, as only he can, the best clamps, lenses, strobes, etc.). With eloquence, humor, and passion, McNally makes every post a love letter to his craft.”
That is pretty much the way I feel. Still in love with doing this. Still crazy after all these years. Very, very thankful to any and all who stop by for a bit of rambling. Many thanks, and as always, more tk….