Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Teaching photography is an act of passion, same as doing photography. You gotta throw yourself into it, because people are there to learn, and have given themselves a great gift–the time to do that learning. You have to return the gift by being a good teacher. So it’s kinda cool that I’m included in a group of wonderful, talented, shooters and educators in this current Photo District News article. Here’s a link to the PDN site.
I know it’s an accident of the alphabet, but it’s especially wonderful to be there, on the page, right next to Jay Maisel. I wrote a paper about Jay when I was in Photo-j school, calling him “the father of modern color photography,” which he is. He’s also a dear friend and mentor. And I’ve taken his workshop at the bank, so I can attest to how good a teacher he is, and how refreshingly blunt he is when assessing a picture on the screen. He handed me my ass more than once. Out there in the photography career thicket, amid the snares, traps, swamps and things that might eat you, lie treasures, unforeseen and unexpected, that make hacking your way through the aforementioned thicket year after year worth it. A friendship with someone like Jay is one of them. I’ve had the privilege of hanging with him, and teaching with him. I even coaxed him in front of the lens once.
I told him he had lost his ability to say “no pictures” long ago. So he sat for me. But when you see Jay through the viewfinder, time to make it fast, and bring your game. One SB-800, camera right, Lastolite Tri-grip diffuser. Done in about a minute or so. A favorite portrait of a dear friend.
Photogs are hard to shoot, right? They sit there in front of the camera, slyly observing and absorbing what you are doing. They know even before you do when you have the picture, or if you’ve gone off the rails. I was assigned to shoot Arnold Newman once. Talk about nervous. I had the notion of mimicking his light, by simply using the walls of his studio as bounce sources. Gulp.
Arnold was gracious to a fault, knowing full well how nervous this schmuck photog who just showed up at his legendary studio was. I got to know him a little bit, and he signed his amazing book, Americans, for me. He inscribed, “To Joe McNally, who has turned the tables on me, and quite nicely!” Geez…..that’s a keeper.
We also taught together a bit at the Eddie Adam’s workshop in upstate New York. It was an honor to do so. It’s an honor to teach. This business has a long and proud tradition of mentoring, and passing on young people. Happy to be a part of it….more tk….
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….
Last night at Adorama Camera in NYC you could get the usual….lenses, lights, modifiers, flat panel TVs, sushi, Heineken, coconut chicken dipped in some sort of cool sauce…..hey wait a minute.
The bash announcing Adorama’s new pro division was a hoot. No way to tell how many people spun through the doors last evening, but several hundred for sure. It was great food, great fun, and I got to see a bunch of shooters who are hard to get caught up to. David Bergman was there, just before he heads off to Europe with Bon Jovi, for instance. He’s been out with the tour for a while now, living and sleeping on a bus. (He must be crazy.)
Got to grab a pic of a legend photographing a legend. Bill Eppridge, who knows a picture when he sees one, snapped Mr. Mendlowitz, the owner of Adorama. Spoken of in reverent terms, Mr. Mendlowits, or occasionally, Mr. M, is rightfully a legend. He’s built Adorama into a camera powerhouse, largely through dint of being a visionary in terms of the marketplace. He had Adorama positioned, for instance, on this thing called the internet before most folks got caught up to the notion of how thoroughly it would change how we do business.
Now, he’s carved out a section of the store devoted to just pros, and it fairly bristles with pro gear, from stills to video rigs, from hot shoe flash to elegant lighting solutions like Elinchrom, Profoto, and Broncolor. Most importantly, the people in the section know their stuff. Daniel has forgotten more about lighting than I’ll ever know, and Efraim can tell you the SKU of the connector cord that links the flux capacitor to the warp drive without looking at his computer. He speaks, like six languages to boot. And then there’s Annie. In yet another visionary move, Mr. M hired my wife:-) Annie brings her considerable technical knowledge and her force of nature organizational skills to the department, not to mention the legions of shooters she’s helped over the dozen years she was at Nikon.
Just a great night. Pictures, sushi, beer, friends, camera gear, Annie….and outside, New York City, glowing on an early summer night….more tk….
Rattling around the country, and this week, washed up in Orlando for one of my favorite events of the photo calendar–PSW. It’s so loaded with great classes, it’s like a candy store of photo instruction. On Tuesday, I teach a pre-conference class called Photo Safari with my bud Moose Peterson. Fair enough to call it a safari, ’cause what we do is go and hunt for pictures. From what I gather, our game this time around will be airplanes, as we’ll trek to the Fantasy of Flight.
Like any shooter who’s been doing this for awhile, Moose is experimenting, seeking new subject matter, and in short, re-inventing himself. A long time landscape and wildlife guy, he is of late entranced with flying machines, so much so he’s instituted a series of workshops called Air2Air.
It’ll be fun being around the smell of jet fuel again, and once again point my lenses at some cool, sleek planes. I’m not an aviation photog, not by any stretch. Always been a generalist. Give me an assignment, I’ll go get a picture for you. Curious about lots of stuff, so my photo portfolio, should such a thing exist, is a bit like a cluttered general store out in the country somewhere. You know, one of those places you can go into and score milk, butter, eggs, fishing line, bait, DVDs, romance novels, firearms of various caliber and types, and certain lawn tools. To complete the analogy, it’s tended by an aging, somewhat curmudgeonly proprietor who is increasingly forgetful as to where things are. Uh, that would be me.
But I have flown all manner of craft, have hundreds of hours in helicopters, and once, did a major story on aviation. It was a biggie, the first ever all digital coverage in the venerable history of the National Geographic.
Did some fancy flying as well.
Man, I thought I was styling back then, with my D1X and Lexar one gig cards, sitting backseat in an FA-18 with the Blue Angels. Rode the slot position with them twice, and had pretty good luck. (The Blues will routinely dole out “media rides” on certain occasions, which are fun, to be sure. Hop in a fast mover and go flying. But being allowed to ride in formation is a rare treat.)
Those one giggers (about $750!), if I recall properly, held 119 NEFS (Nikon Electronic Files) per card. Cool! Went up with one card in the camera and one in my flight suit. What a blessing. First time I ever rode a tactical aircraft, it was with the Air Force T-birds, and, in the midst of getting violently ill, I switched out 10 rolls of Kodachrome. Dropped one, which is a no no in one of those birds. Any object like that is classified as FOD, or, foreign object debris, and you have to land immediately. But Bert, the pilot, a great guy I’m still in touch with, just turned the plane upside down and the offending roll spilled out onto my canopy. I grabbed it, and we kept flying.
Amazing how far we’ve come in the digital world, which of course is what Photoshop World is a celebration of. Those one giggerlys have been replaced now by Lexar 32 gig screamin’ fast storage lockers you can stash literally thousands of pictures on. Given the fact I now shoot D3S and X type cameras with two card slots, well, changing cards isn’t a major concern anymore. Shoot all day, never have to change.
I’ve quite literally had my ups and downs in flight, and spent a fair bit of time on carriers, working aboard both the Truman and the Lincoln.
Managed to set up a small flash studio in the hangar bay of the Truman, grabbed a swatch of seamless from the carrier photo department, and did some portraits. A carrier is a floating city of 5,000 people, complete with a newspaper and a photo staff.
During the ’93 war, I transited Bahrain, and jumped onto the carrier Lincoln, operating out in the Gulf. Being catapulted off and trapped on a carrier has it’s moments, I tell ya. Members of the press get dumped onto a plane called a COD (cargo onboard delivery), which is a lumbering beast compared to a fighter jet. When I got shot off the Lincoln, the pilot, perhaps because it was an operational area, or perhaps because he was just getting his ya-ya’s out, did some dipsey doodle, evasive type maneuvers. As a passenger, you’re squeezed into rows, tighter than a regular commercial airliner, shoulder to shoulder, facing backwards. As soon as we hit the skies the journalist next to me taps me on the shoulder, and asked me to get the attention of one of the crewmen, who was a couple seats away. I reached over and tapped him on the shoulder. The crew guy was a big dude, most likely from the deep south, judging by his accent, and probably had been shot off aircraft carriers a few hundred times. He had a bunch of air bags stuck in his belt, and the scribe next to me was getting ready for his own version of a catapult. Got him the bag just in time. When he launched, the guy immediately to my right, navy personnel, signals the for a bag as well, and, as they occasionally say, engages in a technicolor yawn.
Now I’ve got stereophonic barfing going on, and I grit my teeth. The crew dude looks at me, looks at them, rolls his eyes, reaches into his kit, rips open a giant bag of cheetohs, and chows down, all the while eyeballing the gastrointestinal acrobatics being performed. He shrugs, and sits. The cabin filled with a wonderful mix of aromas, and other stomachs started giving it up, and all the while, he sat there, contentedly munching cheetohs. Those flyboys.
That aviation coverage was a labor, indeed. But worth it. A point of pride for the studio is that after it was published, it was acquired by the Library of Congress, who felt that in addition to being the first digital coverage for the yellow magazine, it was also an important piece of a visual continuum they maintain from the Wright Brothers forward. Sorta means that 100 years from now, when my hard drives are toast, and most of my pictures are properly and blessedly forgotten, these will linger, and maybe a researcher will find them useful, or even a great great grandchild might take a look, prompted by fuzzy tales of a lunatic in their blood line.
It’ll be fun to take a look again at some planes. Might even light a few up. Photoshop world, here we go again! More tk….
From reading David Hobby’s blog, it seems he has another big announcement coming up. So do I. Okay, okay, I hear ya. Enough already. To dispel rumors and a wide variety of guesses, I will tell you this.
David and I are not getting married and moving to Asia.
We are not starting a reality television show.
We are not switching from Nikon to Sony.
We are not, as @chops893 depicted on twitter, twins.
We are not coming out in speedos and war paint to do the ultimate WWE style Manual/TTL smackdown, as perhaps is suggested by the boxing poster dreamed up by our bud and west coast music shooter Alan Hess. But then again, we might.
And Chase Jarvis mentioned on his blog that we not only teach well, based on the combined 60 years we have logged in this business, we have the personalities of the two balcony muppets, Statler and Waldorf. Check it out and see what you think. It will be a fun day.
Much more tk on all this. Tune in Monday. In the meantime, I will tell you that David and I put the call out to basically everybody in the biz who could help us pull this off, and the result is: A) a terrific list of sponsors; and B) a goodie bag filled with stuff that is worth more than the price of the ticket. Very cool.