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Update on The Moment It Clicks

Feb 22

In Lighting, Links, Thoughts at 2:09pm

The book has been pretty well received. When I first looked at its ratings climb on Amazon, I just figured it was my sisters, clicking away, running up their credit cards, helping out their baby bro.

But, the book kept climbing, and holding up a pretty high ranking, spiking all the way to #10 of all books on Amazon. That puts us up there with all the murder mysteries and romance novels!

I thought about it and figured the appeal must be the noir-ish, sweaty style in which I wrote it, thrown in with some good photo info. Think of mixing the Adorama catalog with a bodice ripper.

A sample:

It was a dark and stormy night. Outside the windows of the cheap motel, the thunder rolled. Her heart was quaking. He had sparked her with a pepper, re-arranged her pixels, and she knew she would never forget it.

“Will you stay?” she asked, though she already knew the answer.

Fashion ModelIn the flashes of lightning, she could see his face was stern and resolute. “I can’t stay, babe. I told you when all this started I wasn’t a stick around kind of guy.” The lightning effect was augmented, of course, by the Pocket Wizard transceiver he had in his pocket, tripping an Elinchrom Ranger RX unit with a Free Lite head and a long throw reflector on a c-stand complete out in the parking lot. Inside the reflector pan was loosely taped a Rosco Cinegel quarter blue (Quarter CTB), to give the light a pale, cool feel, just like lightning.

“I know,” she replied. Her voice was steady but her quivering bosom gave lie to her words. “Will you come back?”

“Depends if there’s ever any news again in this lousy burg,” he said. “It would also help if you had a twin sister. But I guess that’s no go on both counts.”

He shouldered his cameras and stepped to the door. Framed by the lightning and the slashing rain, she could see he had a Nikon D3 with a 200-400mm AFS VR Zoom f/4G IF-ED. How she longed to touch it one last time!

He tossed her an Lexar 8gb UDMA 300x CF card, and on it was scrawled a note….”Thanks for the good times…”

When she looked up, he was gone.

Kidding of course….

[More after the jump]

Actually, the book is pretty irreverent, anecdotal, and refuses to take itself or its author too seriously. In the midst of the pictures and stories, there actually is a fair amount of decent photo tips, strategies and info, most of which I gleaned not by divine intervention, but by making repeated, often egregious and, occasionally, just unbelievably stupid mistakes. Much of what I have learned in this business has come about by trial and error, hanging in when things are going south, and from a repeated series of “Whoah, I coulda had a V-8!” types of forehead slapping moments.

ESB Light BulbBut the funny thing is, you do learn, and you do keep after it, and you live for those occasional beautiful light/effortless picture moments cause you just love doing this so much.

As I mentioned before, the book disappeared from shelves almost immediately. The good news is it hit the warehouse today, Friday. Back orders should being going out pronto. As far as physically hitting a shelf in B&N or someplace like that, dunno. Probably a week or two. Hang in and many thanks…..

Quick note…I’ve got a bud named Mark Krajnak who’s an energetic enthusiast with a good eye who has been doing things on his Flickr page…. He’s done a noir New Jersey thing, and has also pushed himself to doing a picture a day for pub on his site. Worth a look….

More tk…

Mentioned in this post:
Pocket Wizard Transceiver
Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed AS
Elinchrom Ranger Free Lite A Head
Elinchrom Long Throw Reflector
Avenger C-Stand
Avenger Extension Arm
Rosco Cinegel 1/4 CTB (Blue)
Nikon D3
Nikon 200-400mm f/4G
Lexar UDMA 8 GB 300x CF Card

ben jamieson says:

on February 22, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Just put my order through Amazon today – read so many great reviews, that as a newbie, I thought I’d best buy a copy pronto!

Thanks for creating it – many of us have so much knowledge yet are reluctant to share it.

John V. says:

on February 22, 2008 at 2:49 pm

You’re doing great Joe! Keep up the good work!

Bill Richardson says:

on February 22, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Joe, Could you give more details on the lighting of heaving bosoms?

Tibor says:

on February 22, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Your book might be #10 at Amazon but #1 on my photography book shelf.
Amazing photographs – but it’s not me who should tell you that :-) – and capturing and entertaining style with educational content.

I wrote a few words about the book here.

Best regards,
one of your first Hungarian readers

disneymike says:

on February 22, 2008 at 4:09 pm

I’m one of the lucky ones who got a copy of your book from the first shipment to It was a good read and I love the tips and insight you give on making photographs. Since I use a Nikon D3 and 3 SB-800s, your information is even more pertinent.

Thanks so much for the knowledge and inspiration, Joe.


Michael Fox says:

on February 22, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Joe — I was sadly disappointed when my beloved didn’t get me copy of your book for Valentine’s day. Maybe she would have if she had read this post . . .

I’m on back order and hope to get a copy in my hands soon.


Jason Manchester says:

on February 22, 2008 at 5:53 pm

I think I may have been one of the first to snatch up a copy when it was released through here in Canada. I’ve read through it a number of times now and it is truly an inspiration to photographers at all levels. I highly recommend it.

Thanks Joe!


Alan B. says:

on February 22, 2008 at 6:42 pm

I know the “sample” was a joke, but you may be on to something. Just think of the photo industry vendors who’d pay good money for product placement into such sizzling fiction. Or, maybe not:)

Luv ya work, Joe…both photo and written.

-Alan B.

Rich Gibson says:

on February 22, 2008 at 6:57 pm

“just my sisters, clicking away…”???!!! Huh? Joe – You’ve written the best Photography Book of the Year, if not the last 10 years. The lessons you conveyed on each and every page are priceless. “Get you camera in a different place” and “Don’t light it all” are among my favorites. Awesome, Just Awesome stuff. And kudos to Kelby & Co. for pushing you into it.

So, no it wasn’t you big sisters, but guys like me, who crave to get better, who have a passion for this stuff (even if it isn’t a full time vocation), who’ve read the technical books and needed something more… Lessons from the field. From those of have gone before… Thank YOU SO MUCH for writing this book. By far, my favorite book on the subject of ALL TIME. Tell your sisters to keep their credit cards stowed away in their purses. Plenty folks like us who will take care of it.

All my best,
Rich Gibson
1st edition owner of ‘The Moment It Clicks’ …woo hoo

Dee says:

on February 22, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Isn’t that pretty unusual for a photography book to get up to #10?

I suppose next you’ll be on Oprah.

Robert Lee says:

on February 22, 2008 at 8:42 pm

When I saw the book was out, it was the first thing on my list for my birthday this year. (mid-Feb) And luckily, my wife was on the ball enough to get my copy before they ran out of the first run. I’m enjoying it, and trying to restrain myself and only read a few of the stories per day to savor the complete book. Thanks Joe!


Roger Loeb says:

on February 22, 2008 at 11:51 pm

Joe — You seriously underestimate just how good your book is! The pix are, of course, superb. The “how to” notes are inspiring. And, as a bonus, there’s a plot (well, sort of). Plus, the writing is a lot more entertaining than anything Scott Kelby writes :-)

Tech question: As all of us who shot color film did, you frequently put a green gel over a strobe and a CC30M on the lens to compensate for fluorescent lighting. You mention this several times in the book. With the D3, do you still bother with the CC30M or just do a proper white balance?

Gregg Zivney says:

on February 23, 2008 at 9:33 am

Joe Mc

I can safely say, I have never read a photography book cover to cover … in one sitting… until yesterday.

An elephantine plate of information with clever portion control.

Well done.

Thanks Joe,

Adam Swords says:

on February 23, 2008 at 9:33 am

Hi Joe,

I saw the book advertised on Strobist and put my order in straight away.
As a twenty-year-old photographer, I’m an open book with many, many blank pages to fill.
When your book dropped through my letterbox I took it straight out of the packaging and started reading. By lunch time I was half way through and by dinner time I was nearly finished.
I simply couldn’t put it down, I wanted to read on to see what more priceless tips you had to share. I finished the book the next day and I’m still hungry for more!
I’ve started to re-read the book now and I’m taking notes to compound what I’ve read and hopefully let me remember even just a handful of the multitude of wonderful hints and tips you offer in the book.

Thanks, Joe.

Adam Swords

MkC says:

on February 23, 2008 at 10:13 am

Great website, and most certainly an awesome book. Even my wife who’s not into photography couldn’t put down the book till she had gone through it from cover to cover.
I relish each story/photo each night before I sleep, to wind down after a long and tiring day. Well, sometimes I read 2 stories before I can put the book down…

Tom Marriage says:

on February 23, 2008 at 10:19 am

As I said before–Love the Book! Read it once already and now going through it again. Also loved the extra “bar stories” chapter from the web site.

I freaked when you mentioned “Firesign Theatre”. That brought back some memories of my time in San Francisco from the late 60’s. (What I can remember).

The blog is great & helpful. Thanks again for sharing.


Barrie says:

on February 23, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Add me to the list of people who love this book! As someone who is fairly new to photography, I really enjoyed getting to read about shooting from your perspective. You are a great story teller. I’m quite enjoying your blog as well!

Ken Wilcox says:

on February 23, 2008 at 12:53 pm

So, now that you have book one done and selling well…

Have you started on Book 2?

You are doing another book, right?

RC says:

on February 23, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Jenn and I have been on the hunt to send it to Oprah’s book club.. bet we can make it appear there.

We were -rolling- over here with laughter over the bodice ripper. Now -that- would be an interesting Vol. 2 e-book. :)


cynlee says:

on February 23, 2008 at 5:14 pm

mine’s been on back-order too..
but just got confirmation that it should arrive mid Mar :0))
how could i resist!!
what with all the high recommendations & glowing praise on sev sites & blogs..
looking fwd to reading & sharing it with my town’s photo club..
hey.. that may even generate a few more sales :)

Andrew Strain says:

on February 23, 2008 at 8:57 pm

“…she could see he had a Nikon D3 with a 200-400mm AFS VR Zoom f/4G IF-ED. How she longed to touch it one last time!”

Priceless! Camera-porn always makes me laugh…

My copy of the book arrived a few days ago, and everything I’ve read so far has been brilliant. As a fairly young photographer (23) just starting to bring off camera lighting into the picture (har, har), each page provides new ideas and insight to fuel my own learning process. The book is worth every penny paid, and then some, which is no doubt why it’s selling so well.

Props, Joe… great work!


Jay Mann says:

on February 23, 2008 at 11:48 pm

OK, so I am sitting in my office in the desert on a Thursday afternoon, ( our weekend in UAE is Friday/Saturday) wondering which of a 1000 things I need to do, and THE PACKAGE arrives. A First Edition of Joe’s Book and Scott’s Digital Photography #2. Its ##$%^# hard to think about work when that book is sitting there, looking at me, tempting me, seducing me….. Work can wait, I closed my office door and opened the book…… home late.

Brian says:

on February 24, 2008 at 9:23 am

This is a great book – thanks Joe! It is the best book of 2008 for me, by far. You can check out my review of it here:

Yuriy says:

on February 25, 2008 at 3:32 am

I’ve ordered your book at Amazon too.
Wow! I’m looking forward it’s delivery in the middle of April to East Europe (Ukraine).
Thanks Joe!

Malinda Hartong says:

on February 25, 2008 at 8:54 am

If Amazon runs out of them, try Kelby Training website. NAPP members get great price too. I just ordered for a friend ’cause I luv mine and I’m not sharing!

Hoddo says:

on February 25, 2008 at 9:17 am

Fantabulous book!!

Tom Hohl says:

on February 25, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Just grabbed your book (it was sitting on the shelf at Barnes and Nobel)
It is a very well written and very informative work for sure. I’m signed up for your class in Maine this summer and I am JAZZED!!!!! You are one of the truly creative minds in the business. Well if that didn’t improve the old ego nothing will lol. Congrats!!!!

Roger Tregelles says:

on February 25, 2008 at 9:56 pm

Joe – I absolutely love your book! The experiences, techniques, photos and sense of humor make it a real pleasure to read each night. I’ll be sad when I’m finished (guess I’ll have to read it a second time). The more I read, the more I realize I know next to nothing in the field of photography. If I can glean 1/100th of what you teach in this book I know it will make a difference in my work. Keep up the great work and blog and thanks so much for sharing with us. :-)

Emile says:

on February 26, 2008 at 8:57 am

Does checking your blog 5 times a day to see if there are any new posts indicate some sort of Joe McNally addiction ?

any JoeMcnolics Anonymous Groups out there?

I’m ordering your book one of these weeks from the US when they are back in stock to satisfy my graving. They are for sale (and in stock) here in Europe but they end up costing 75 US$ for some odd reason.

Stephen J. Zeller says:

on February 27, 2008 at 12:45 am


I just got my copy this past Friday. It was by chance really as I am on travel down in Wallops Island, VA. I called the B&N in Salisbury, MD and asked if they had a copy in stock. The associate told me that he had one copy and I asked him to hold it for me and explained I would be there in an hour. I immediately jumped in the car and went to pick it up.

Since then, I’ve read it front to back and I’m absolutely blown away! What a great book! It has given me a totally different perspective and it has changed the way I shoot from now on. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your insight, wisdom, and experience with all of us!

I love the blog and it is on my list of daily reads! I look forward to the continued education and inspiration that you provide. Many thanks!

Best regards,


Bill Rogers says:

on February 27, 2008 at 1:00 am

Joe – I love the book! I do have one comment that may be helpful if there is a 2nd edition.

On page 90, you state that you leave your cameras set to rear curtain sync “all the time.” I attempted to do this with my Nikon D200, but page 77 of the D200’s user manual says that rear curtain sync cannot be used with studio flash systems because the correct sync cannot be obtained.

This makes sense, and by extension, I assume that it also applies to using a radio slave system (Pocket Wizard or similar) to trigger speedlites set to manual.

It probably would be a good idea to footnote this. Thanks.

Jim Poor says:

on February 27, 2008 at 8:47 am

Looks like Amazon will be shipping mine today 😀 Hope for the masses!

Chris Vincent says:

on February 27, 2008 at 5:33 pm

Joe, got my copy today!

It is inspiring and just the right size to slap myself on the forehead with…

Umbrellas are like carpet bombing with light…. Priceless! (yet I felt my face go quite red as I read that…)
I’ll ground my bombers and start working with precision guided ammunition from now on.

To those on the fence: Even ONE of the eye openers in this book is worth the cover price.

Thanks for sharing, sir!

Alan Young says:

on March 9, 2008 at 10:22 am

Hi Joe,

If I knew you were keeping tabs on Amazon, I wouldn’t have bought mine at the local book store! :)

Congratulations on your successful book!
I’m really enjoying it.

carolbrowne says:

on March 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm

I got your book last week and just love it. I really like the way you tell your stories, explain the shots and, of course, the photos. [Spoiler Alert!] The Fiona Apple story and photo is terrific. I’m so glad I found your blog as well. Thanks!

Tony Jr. says:

on June 5, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Joe, Great book. Loved it. Learned from it. Looking forward to the next one!

Michael says:

on August 21, 2008 at 6:30 am

Hi Joe!,

I picked up your excellent book yesterday and still cannot put it down!.. what an incredible insight into your world!. I cant wait to try some of the tips into my own (still learning) photography!..

p.s – When the hell are you coming to New Zealand? 😉


Mark Bolado says:

on March 7, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Good posting

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