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Da Bet

Jul 16

In Seminars & Workshops, Travels at 12:04am

Jerry Courvoisier is a good guy. He’s also a terrific shooter, a great Photoshop/Lightroom guy, and a gifted teacher. I love to teach with him cause he’s down to earth and easygoing about everything. We get along, in short. We often teach the National Geographic Expeditions workshop courses offered via the Santa Fe Workshops, and it’s always fun, even when he gets the entire class to pick up buckeyes in the park and pitch them at me when I start a lecture. When we teach an NGS class in Santa Fe for instance, we often assign the class to go to the town square and be adventurous with their camera. We go to one of the benches in the square and sit there, ostensibly to be a resource to the class, but in truth we just talk and toot, doing our own version of Grumpy Old Men.

But boy, did he screw up. Last time I was in Santa Fe, he proposed a bet. We calculate our weight (vetted by our wives, who are scrupulous and honest about this stuff, something Jerry and I would never be) and whoever lost more weight by the time I got back to SF wins. Loser buys dinner at Geronimo, a really tony restaurant on Canyon Road, the heart of the gallery district, a street where a lot of rich folks go to buy really bad art.

I arrive in Santa Fe on Saturday, and man, is he in trouble.

Jerry sent me an email after we made the bet, noting his weight, again, with Julie’s stamp of approval. He evidently has got one of these fancy pants scales at home cause he sent his weight (won’t tell you exactly, but it was north of a deuce), his body mass indicator, his muscle to fat ratio, his shoe size, his favorite cologne, and whether he wears boxers or briefs. This machine calculates all that stuff in one shot. We ain’t got one of those, so Annie and I jumped in the car and headed out on Interstate 95, where Annie pulled off at an inspection station and threw my sorry ass on a truck scale, where I clocked out at an eye popping 211.

Jeez. Who knew. I fell off the gym wagon about 3 years ago, when work kinda sorta took over my life. I got real busy, and real lazy, at the same time. Another unfortunate trend intersected with this development. I tied on the feed bag, big time. There wasn’t a plate of pasta out there I didn’t like, from straight up spaghetti with meatballs to expense account truffle ravioli soaked in squid urine. Not good. I was like a hot air balloon, and 211 wasn’t even my low/high point. I remember after one really bad, excruciating job consoling myself with a beer and a Baby Watson cheesecake. I topped out at 215.

Leave it to Jerry to motivate me. (Geronimo is a really expensive restaurant, and their truffle ravioli in squid pee is excellent.) I’ve been working my ass off, kinda the way I used to. I figure this is a good time to attack, cause I know Jerry’s been working on this book he can’t talk about much, but it will be all about post production, workflow, digital asset management, you name it. Given the depth of his knowledge of these areas, it’s gonna be one of those go-to, gotta-have books that will stay by your computer for a long time. Pretty sure it’s out very soon, like this summer. Track it and sign up now, is my advice.

So I gotta figure Jerry’s been up at night, stressing about this book, writing actions and workflow plans and scarfing Freihoffer’s. Too bad for him, cause I’ve lost 25 pounds, and I’m around 190, cruising for 180. Annie’s been helping, cause she’s super healthy, and a great cook. She’s been preparing all this stuff that probably lives on the underside of mushrooms but tastes like a Delmonico steak the way she spices it. (How does a man get this lucky?) Jerry will get off easy at Geronimo’s though, cause I pretty much consume only rainwater, bark and sprouts now.

Poor Jer. i think he proposed the bet to get back at me cause when we teach together I demonstrate flash by using his head as a fill card. He never gets ruffled, though. That’s why it’s great teaching with him. I always say, he’s got good bedside manner. We’ll have a workshop participant positively melting down, I mean just spritzing about some thing or another, like I lost my files, or where did my pictures go, or I turned on my computer and it’s making a noise like a thirty horsepower milking machine, and I’m ready to go for the defibillator and shout CLEAR! when Jerry walks up and says okay, well, let’s take a look, maybe you have them behind that other file on your desktop, the one with the pictures of the family trip to Niagara Falls and those other almost certainly personal pictures, and, ahh, there they are, underneath everything, just around the corner and down the hallway inside this monster Dell that causes a brownout in most of Santa Fe every time you turn it on. There they are!

He’s calm, in word. Knowledgeable. Along with Reid Callanan and Renie Haiduk, he’s helped build Santa Fe into a powerhouse workshop center, especially in the realm of digital and workflow. It’ll be good to see him. All 200 plus pounds of him.

Randy says:

on July 16, 2008 at 12:30 am

I noticed the wings are back. Joe, I just want to thank you, you put it in words that a ditch digger can understand and appreciate. No foo foo, just honest to goodness bullshit. To let you know, your book sits on the top of the throne for inspiration every night before bed. Should I take the blue pill tonight, nah, lets try to 5 hours a sleep tonight, tomorrow going to be long day.

When the next edition going to come out?

Thanks for all the inspiration, or is it constipation, its late time to go to bed, and flush.

Good night Joe. Thank you again, keep doing what you do.

Scott Emmick says:

on July 16, 2008 at 12:46 am

OK. Now I’m officially sorry I’m not up (from Phoenix) in Sante Fe for the workshop. It seems that the fun has already begun.

P.S. Jerry’s head looks well powdered in the shot above. No visible harsh highlights. Did you make him lift his glasses too?

Deji Osinulu says:

on July 16, 2008 at 1:11 am

That was hilarious! I burst out laughing right about “squid pee” :-) Have a good time in Santa Fe.


Steve Hyde says:

on July 16, 2008 at 1:23 am

Great post, Joe. I really love your style. When my newsreader shows that there’s a new post on your blog, it’s the first place I go to. I read The Moment It Clicks and have been watching your training videos on Kelby Training. Your laid back style, self-deprecating humour (I’m a Brit, see!) coupled with mass of the great information you impart leave me craving for more. I’d love to do one of your courses but Santa Fe is a long way from Munich. Any plans to do a workshop in Europe (or even better, Germany) in the near future? Keep up the great work.

Andy Tan says:

on July 16, 2008 at 1:57 am


Hey – I love the stories, thanks for the laugh on this quiet evening.

I don’t mean to be a pest, but would you care to share anything about this new book? It should be a worthwhile wait until its arrival (I preordered it yesterday).

New Zealand

Tom says:

on July 16, 2008 at 7:53 am

Great story Joe, thank you. I’d love to see you make a 4 disc video collection of your classes much like Mr. Strobist has. I think tons of Peep’s cant go to your classes for one reason or another and it would be a huge help.
Squid Pee…. (ink) Humm. Good.

Marshall says:

on July 16, 2008 at 8:22 am

Now, well, I just feel bad that I liked *some* of the art on Canyon Road. I guess I’m fortunate that it wasn’t in my price range, especially after dining at Geronimo…

Mark K_NJ says:

on July 16, 2008 at 10:07 am

Well, while I’m happy you were able to drop the poundage, I’m also happy to see that your’e hanging out with a better class of people. Namely, those that will most likely pay off their bets…and not continue to welch on a certain Knicks/Sixers wager from, oh, five years ago….

And here in New Jersey, we prefer “black squirrel urine” to squid pee thankyouverymuch. Better consistency of flavor.

kathyt says:

on July 16, 2008 at 10:39 am

Mr. McNally you just have a way with words!! Thanks for the great posts. I was just looking at Behind Photographs web page yesterday — it has been updated — saw your picture. I could tell you lost a pound or two — lookin’ good (I am guessing Anne would say cuter than ever). thanks for sharing your knowledge and humor!! kathyt

Chris Cina says:

on July 16, 2008 at 11:56 am

Wish I could get Annie to cook for me. I’ve been trying to loose weight and trying to become a better photographer – your blogs are always inspiring as well as hilarious. Maybe this will give me the impetus to shed some pounds before the DLWS workshop I’ve signed up for in October.

Paolo says:

on July 16, 2008 at 2:50 pm

you have my sympathy, all 185 lb. of it, since that’s were I stand.
Let’s put it this way, 10 more lb. down would be great, but what the heck, how can you turn down those steaks and a good glass of red wine!
I loved your book and it’s still a wonderful source of ideas.
Thanks for your great photos and inspiration!
I wish I could afford one of those workshops in Santa Fe…


David Hobby says:

on July 16, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Way to go, Hoss. I noticed in the O-club at Ft. Meade, you skipped most of the buffet and went for the salad bar. I, of course, missed the salad bar and went straight for most of the buffet.

randy baran says:

on July 17, 2008 at 10:41 am


Can you get Annie to pass along some of her recipes? Since I stopped running in 2001, I gained (gulp) about 50 lbs. No more running, orthopedic follow up was way too expensive.

Was that flat, shadowless lighting you got on Jerry C’s head ambient or SB800-900 magic?



Steve says:

on July 17, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Jerry’s book “Lessons in DSLR Workflow with Lightroom and Photoshop” is in pre-order status at Amazon and other online retailers.

billy shell says:

on July 19, 2008 at 11:00 pm

dear joe,

wow very nice pic you take whit the sd-900 about the fire tuck i have a nikon d300 and the sd-600 2 of then and a sb-800 flash i am trying to lean more about it i have 3 lens i have a 50 mm 1.8 and the 18-200 mm and the 14-24 lens i want to know what to buy the next lens can you help me joe made nikon have your pic in the office when i call them up thay say the pic in the office all over the place that you take and i like the video on you tube can you put more video on you tube about the camera you have or the d300 plz joe thank you !!!!:)

Joseph says:

on July 21, 2008 at 3:53 pm


I’d suggest 20-30 running laps, with equipment and sand bags, to the top of the Scottish Rite temple. Even though I ate massive amounts of bacon and eggs every morning, I came home from Santa Fe 10 pounds lighter.

Good Luck

Matthew Saville says:

on July 21, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Come on down to 175 and hang out with me! I’ll let you buy me an SB900!


cory Lum says:

on July 22, 2008 at 4:17 am

hey joe, i don’t know if you remember me. i was at eddies workshop when louie liotta, joe rosenthal and many legends were in attendance. i’ve really been enjoying your blog ! your rock man ! inspirational ! thanks for being my leader ! you continue to inspire, teach and encourage all your students ! lately i’m freelancing after leaving the newspaper world about 5 years ago. tough ! my dream is to join magnum ! pls view my site, i also have a flickr stream with a blog like atmosphere. stop in and say hi ! aloha ! mahalo ! cory Lum

thanks again for being a wonderful teacher !

Richard Cave says:

on July 22, 2008 at 6:03 pm

LOL, we as photogs are grazers, the job is always on the road and we are bad at looking after our weight. Hey I am at 180 and been told to loose more.

But what people dont realise is how active we are on shoots, up and down,climbing on things , laying on the floor and getting up again. When all that is done having to carry all our gear halfway round the world.

We should be as fit as athletes. Hope the diet holds out, as Henry also needs to lose some as well.

See ya later Joe

on assignment in Canada!

Tuffer says:

on July 29, 2008 at 4:46 pm

very funny! That’s just the randomness I’m looking for in a good blog. plus little tidbits like there’s gonna be a new book I need… nicely done.

Mark Griffith says:

on August 8, 2008 at 1:27 am

Ha! great story! I don’t make bets any more after eating vegetarian food for a week once. I ran across your blog from a friends who posted your bit about the changing of a lightbulb. Great stuff.

randy baran says:

on August 9, 2008 at 1:10 pm

I don’t know what you can do with a bunch of guys who all want to be like you, but though it does center around the passion of getting the image, there IS something to be said of the collegiality, especially with “salt of the earth folks” as yourself.

It’s great to read about someone who’s honed his craft to the point you have and yet doesn’t take himself too seriously (except when you’re on the job, eh?!). Admirable. And in a way, reading about how you handle your corner of the world is the good stuff that counters some of the bad that is so rampant and media grabbing.

Whether Tom knows or not, he is prayed for, I assume, by a lot of us. Keep on keepin’ on, sir.


Thiago says:

on August 19, 2008 at 1:22 pm

If you wanna lose a few more pounds, trade your D3 in for my D40. I sure wouldn’t mind the extra weight…

Steve says:

on August 25, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Just got an e-mail that Amazon is shipping Jerry’s book.

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