Sunday, January 8, 2012

Let Me DeBrief! My day with Joe McNally

I'll start by saying this probably won't be a brief debrief.

My head is just spinning with all I've learned and excitement to put some of it to use! Or maybe its the Tim's double-double I just chugged on the drive home. My body has been crying out for coffee all day, ever since the first one I bought got left behind in my car when I switched to the work vehicle. Oooops...Ha!

But wow. That workshop was awesome! Joe McNally is a blow-your-mind amazing photographer with years of experience and an incredible portfolio to prove it. He is well-known for his years of work for National Geographic, among other huge clients. I've been in awe of him since I first discovered his work almost 2 years ago, and it was basically a dream come true to learn from him live. We even shared a moment, a little smile and then an awkward moment that should have been where I told him how much I admired his work and his instruction - but instead I lost all ability to communicate and magneted my eyes to the carpet. Yeah...its not really a secret that I'm not the best with strangers. When you heap on a fair amount of celebrity onto that stranger my social skills are basically non-existent.

However, for a day where I shared very little human interaction (which, for a "blue" personality like me is basically a write-off) while surrounded by strangers, I had an incredible time! I learned a lot and laughed a lot, as Joe is a pretty good entertainer on top of his other skills. The fun thing about live demonstration is that things can and will go wrong, wonky, or crazy, and laughing about it with a room full of people is pretty heart-warming. I came in at the last minute and had to sit in the front row (on the side), which ended up being where the models and crew sat, so I felt very close to the action. And sometimes like I should be holding a tri-grip and not sitting on my butt lol!

But lets get serious. I learned a lot by watching Joe work about how to put my equipement to better use. It was really encouraging to realize that I actually posses enough to re-create some pretty cool set-ups. I don't have a lot, but what I do have can definitely be enough!

The most valuable thing I learned though, was about confidence. Watching everything happened I realized that I get it. I am starting to really feel like I understand how lighting works. Flash photography is a beast that can't be fully tamed, but gaining confidence in how to work with it is invaluable! I feel like realizing that a complicated lighting set-up is not scary has opened up a new world for me. Because I get it, and because I know I can begin to use it to really be in control of my photographs, I feel like the next time I stand before a model I can leave some of my second-guessing behind. Its hard to describe, but I feel much more capable of being confident in a shoot. Seeing Joe McNally finagle lights and set-ups and model poses made me realize that I don't have to come to the table and know exactly what I'm doing. I just need to ACT like I do, ha! But it does mean a lot to know that the pro's aren't magical beings who produce only gold with their cameras. And I feel that much closer to being able to produce a few bits of gold with my own camera! Even though I shoot with a lowly D7000. Ha!

Be sure to check out some of Joe's Work (all photo's from

Thanks Joe! I am so grateful that you make it a point to teach and pass on your experience!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah!!!!! Thrilled you had such a good time. I can hardly wait to hear about it. And of course I'm more than willing to be your practice model for you to show off your new talent. :) Thanks for sharing... Tanya