responsiveslider_lol_02 The Language of Light DVD - More
MeetJoe_02 Meet Joe McNally - More
inthebag What’s in the Bag? - More


Mar 22

In Upcoming Events at 11:23pm

Heading to Beantown for the big meet up at the twice yearly NAPP fest, Photoshop World, ’09. Looking forward to it. I’ve been to many, many photojournalistic conclaves over the years, some of which have been truly profound and moving, while others have been sort of listless and self important. Let me say that “listlessness” is not on the menu for Boston. The energy of the PSW gatherings is bracing. People are jazzed. Truly jazzed. I mean, people camp out at the doors for Scott Kelby’s classes like they did outside of Apple stores the night before they released the Iphone. And what Scott doles out in terms of wit and wisdom is worth alot more than an Iphone, so it’s no mystery why folks are lined up.

Ahoy, matie! Mooster and I do a pre-con Safari, where we lecture and then hit the high seas with a bunch of folks to do flash portrait sessions on board the USS Constitution. It’s a great opportunity for Moose and I to explore our future as Somali pirates. Hey, I figure it’s one of the few growth industries around. It’d be cool, you know, going “Aargh!” and making off with a supertanker. (How do you say that in Somali, I wonder?)

I really don’t have the cojones to be a Somali pirate. Worked there once, in Mogadishu, and it is one seriously crazy place. Before I went in I had dinner with a journalist bud in Kenya, and he had this advice. “If you wanna go somewhere and the Somalis don’t wanna go there, don’t go, cause the Somalis are not chicken shits.” Quite true. I hung there for a week, tended to by my translator, my driver, and my own personal Somali army of 5 guys armed with Kalashnikovs. It’s the only way you could work at the time in Mog. Every morning the steel gates of the hotel would open and we would plunge into the craziness. My guys were strong with the Aidid clan, and they got me in touch with this bunch on a technical, which is Somali speak for a Toyota pickup with a heavy caliber belt fed weapon in the back. Might be an interesting option for Detroit to offer. Could boost sales, especially the way folks drive in say, LA.

Main drag, former financial district, downtown Mog. Shot with a Fujica 617 camera on 120 film.

Got in on a Red Cross plane, go out on a drug plane. Little Cessna puddle jumpers are gutted and stuffed with bales of khat, and then flown from Nairobi into dirt airstrips near Mogadishu. Somalis chew it and kind of buzz their way through the day. Can’t say I blame ’em considering everybody’s armed and there is no rule of law, no police, no fire department, very little running water and electricity, and an economy that makes our current state of things look positively rosy. I’d stay buzzed, too, I think. Difficult place, and sad…..

RC will be there. too. That’s RC as in “Non-Stop Concepcion.” Can’t wait till he bounds out of nowhere, camcorder in hand, in his patented guerrilla interview style of video interviewing. Probable question: “Joe, what’s the coolest thing about CS4?” Joe response: “Uh, well, umm, I, uh, well….I’ve always liked the number 4! So it’s bound to be a cool program! Right? Huh? Is that good?”

Actually, I’ve been getting better at the post stuff. Just got the suite of NIK filters. That stuff is cool, and makes things alot easier for a thunder thumbs like me. You’d think I’d learn faster, being at PSW and all, but it stays busy, so I don’t get to many classes. If you are out there, though, and trying to decide what you’re doing for the week, PSW is very cool. High energy, lots of like minded folks, great classes. You can really tune it up in the three days.


When PSW ends on Saturday, I jump on plane for the Middle East and the Gulf Plus Photo conference. Third year in a row. Just an amazing workshop, in an amazing place. Talk about a faculty. Teaching there will be David Hobby, Cliff Mautner, Vince Laforet, Chase Jarvis, Bobbi Lane, Carol Dragon, David Nightingale, Drew Gardner, Zack Arias, Asim Rafiqui, Chris Hurtt, and Robin Nichols.

Just makes you want to stop teaching and go to a bunch of classes. My hat’s seriously off to Mohamed Somji and his staff for pulling this off at a time when it is tough sledding even in a money haven like Dubai. He has stayed the course and organized all this in the face of daunting odds. It is the central clearing house for photo education, chat, and networking in all the Middle East. More tk…..

Ana says:

on March 23, 2009 at 12:16 am

I wish I had a little fraction of your energy ! How can you be in so many places in such a short time? And not only that, keeping your cool, writing amazing stuff, photographing unforgettable stuff, and generously sharing everything you know?
I am a big fan.
I hope to beat the crowd in Boston to have you sign my just-arrived The Hot Shoe Diaries.
If one day I get to be honored with being the guest interviewed in Dave Cross’ Finish the Sentence and he asks me about who I’ve learned the most from… my answer is Joe McNally!!
And I didn’t even commented about Somalia.
You are an amazing person.

虾米 says:

on March 23, 2009 at 1:29 am


David Brown says:

on March 23, 2009 at 3:03 am

It’s only a matter of time before the “technical” becomes the weapon of choice for discerning drivers everywhere. I sure as hell could use one in China, and Taiwan isn’t too much better, either.

Jamie Willmott says:

on March 23, 2009 at 4:18 am

Fascinating info and pictures of Somalia. Cool light on the bottom picture. Moose’s moustache has the pirate thing goin’ on.

Craig says:

on March 23, 2009 at 4:20 am

Cool post Joe…..ewww im a comment virgin…..on the GPP thing, theres bound to be oodles of top class togs there as the middle east (especially Dubai) pay top dollar and are throwing money at everything before the oil runs out.

Unfortunately we dont get too many shows in the UK :(

oh nice work on the new book, amazon delivered mine 3 weeks before the expected shipping date :) so im a happy bunny

Laith says:

on March 23, 2009 at 6:04 am

Hey joe, i’m quite excited about gpp, i’ll be attending your two day workshop and im looking forward to it. I was wondering are you going to have any of copies of hot shoe diaries with you for sale?

mike says:

on March 23, 2009 at 6:28 am

Joe, you as a pirate – I can see that… Moose on the other hand – this image will haunt my dreams…

Wish I could get to all this stuff, but flying from NZ just isnt in the budget this year!


erica says:

on March 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm

WOW. I cannot believe you are going to be in my hometown teaching a workshop! I totally missed the boat on signing up. If any spots open up I would LOVE to come.

Curtis Copeland says:

on March 23, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Nice pictures on Somalia. Thanks for sharing!

Nick says:

on March 23, 2009 at 3:26 pm


You, my friend, are costing me a lot of money! No more writing books for you

John Leonard says:

on March 23, 2009 at 6:05 pm

NIK makes some top quality software. I pretty much use NX2 exclusive complete with NIK Color Efex Pro. Good stuff, especially if you are a Nikon shooter.

Bob DeChiara says:

on March 23, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Save some ink in that pen to sign my copy too.

Now if only this flu that has take its toll on my family passes I can actually enjoy PSW.

Have a safe trip to Boston!


Mark K. says:

on March 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm

I got nothing but a big, huge WOW for this post. These images are AMAZING!!

Kalashnikovs…hell, they need mohaskas. Then they’d be set.

I’m learning NIK filters too. Color and Silver. Good stuff.

John Depp ain’t got nothing on you….

Michael S. says:

on March 23, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Looking forward to tomorrows class :)

Dumbo says:

on March 24, 2009 at 12:11 am

Sorry I can’t reverse engineer the strange shadow on Moose’s face.

What I like about Strobist is that on each post David teaches and trains photography, lighting and hardware.

Although with David’s last post of the 60 foot light stand tripod–I think that your rubbing off on him even thought he’s sticking with his light weight gear.

Tell me did you shoot your standard 9000 frames to get these shots?

David says:

on March 24, 2009 at 12:21 am

Congratulations to you and Moose for an amazingly successful diet and workout program. I didn’t recognize you two guys at first.

death knight builds says:

on March 24, 2009 at 8:42 am


You travel quite a lot. This makes me want to be a photographer. Maybe some day I’ll have 1/8th of your skills :)

John Leonard says:

on March 24, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Yeah, really nothing to do with this post, but my copy of HSD just arrived!

Jim says:

on March 24, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Hey Joe! Got your new book today looks great.. How do you open it and why is the fire dancer upside down. Gotta go..bye?

waylan says:

on March 30, 2009 at 8:04 pm

i noticed that all of Joe’s workshops are sold out.

i would have been very interested in the Small Light workshop.

ugh. do we really need to go to Dubai for these kinds of educational offerings?


Leave a Reply