Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Joe McNally - a photographer's best piece of equipment

Today, instead of a lesson on the technical details of how to shoot a portrait, I decided to post a video. I've watched this video numerous times. Why? For motivational purposes.

Joe McNally, the star of the video, is one amazing photographer. He has shot for some of the top publications in the world such as, and not limited to, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated and Time. Not to shabby of a resume if you ask me. McNally has a unique photographic style. His work is usually done with multiple off camera lights yet yielding very natural looking results. He has also written a few books of his own. His newest release is the "Guide to Digital Photography : Everything you Need to Shoot Like the Pros." This is an excellent book for shooters of all levels, whether it be a beginner learning how to work the lens or a pro looking for new tricks of the trade, this book is one I highly recommend.

Another book, and my absolute favorite Joe McNally publication, is "The Moment it Clicks." I choose this one to be my favorite of the Joe McNally library for a few reasons. First, this book is jam packed with the awesome work Joe has produced over the years (sometimes words in books can interfere with my reading). Next, Joe gets down and dirty about specific photographic techniques, lighting, in camera settings etc. The dirt that he spills about his techniques is usually limited to your run of the mill text books, not one you would have out on a coffee table for guests to browse through. Finally, and what I find most important about this book, is that it inspires. 

Inspiration is what every photographer needs from time to time. Sometimes creativity is lost. Let me explain. 

It's Saturday morning, you finish your second cup of liquid energy and have in your mind that you are going to shoot something great. You are going to create the photo of the century. The one shot that will change the world and win you a Nobel Prize. Ultimately, your life will be changed and before you know it, you need to hire a PR person, a financial manager, and some other miscellaneous staff and assistants. Yes, you captured history, and did it in such a unique way that you need to start planning your next book deal. Are you following me so far? Maybe your goals for that day may not be that high, but you get the point. 

As you hold your head high and grab the bag-o-gear, a problem arises. Uh-oh. Your brain has gone blank. "What the hell am I going to shoot?" Just like writer's block, every human being, creating something from nothing, will inevitably have this happen to them. As you try to come up with ideas, the problem seems to only get worse. As a result you start to put yourself down. You get angry and ultimately your attitude causes you to put the gear away, flop yourself on the couch and drown yourself in misery while watching missed episodes of Boardwalk Empire. You then proceed to tell yourself that tomorrow is another day and tomorrow there is no doubt that you will awake with new creativity to shoot again. 

Ok, this story may be something straight out of, a day in the life of me, but I can bet my life that every photographer has gone through something very similar. I also have to admit that today was one of those days. I juggled my brain for a couple of days trying to think of a shot for my newest post. Brain? Blank. I have scheduled shoots, but that is exactly what they are, scheduled. I couldn't bump up the dates on those to make me happy. That's just bad business. 

As my attitude became negative, I went back to watch this video, for inspiration, for motivation, to change my attitude on this day. I was about to get the gear out again but thought that it would be a great idea to share this video. Yes, it could have been a little lazy on my part. It would have been more work to post a new piece. So sue me!

The video was taken at a seminar at which Joe McNally was presenting. He is reading excerpts from "The Moment it Clicks." The title of this video is appropriately named, Joe McNally - A Photographer's Best Piece of Equipment. Watch, enjoy, and most of all, listen and learn. . .