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Small Flash in Paradise

Apr 22

In Seminars & Workshops, Tips & Tricks at 9:38am

Plus Scott Kelby. I explain below, or go here.

It’s funny how life works out sometimes. Especially funny, at least occasionally, if you’re a photog. Jay Maisel has famously said that being a photographer is “a license to steal experience.” Some good, some bad. Some as quick as a fast shutter speed, others stick with you.

One really, really good one stuck when Travel Holiday magazine sent me in 1994 to St. Lucia, to the Anse Chastanet resort hotel, one of the truly beautiful destination hotels in the world, to shoot a cover story. I remember Bill Black, the photo editor there, calling me. I was stunned. Usually, I get sent to Siberia in February (twice so far) or Alabama in August (blessedly, just once to date). But St. Lucia? This hotel? Spend ten days? Shoot pretty pix? In panorama? Me? There’s a magazine out there that wants to assign this type of idyllic adventure to me?

Of course, this magazine is out of business. But, may it rest in peace, cause the reverb for me has been long lasting. This assignment introduced me to great people who work in a wonderful place.

Anse Chastanet is one of the most amazing marriages of sea, sky and greenery to be found on earth. It is nestled literally into a tropical forest. The rooms have no windows, no phones and no TVs. No need. The view is the entertainment, and the music is the birds, many of whom wish to sit with you at breakfast.

I became friends with the owners, Nick and Karolin Troubetzkoy, who have stepped aside from the general run of tourist frenzy and made a place as beautiful and tranquil as the water. Risk takers, just in the last few years, they crowned the jungle retreat of Anse Chastanet with another, even more audacious piece of exotic architecture called Jade Mountain, which is nothing short of unbelievable.

The shimmer and colors in the picture above rise up from the infinity pools in each room, or haven, as they are called.

I also met Michael and Karyn Allard,  a remarkable couple who have lived and worked in St. Lucia for many years. The redoubtable and indestructible Michael is affiliated with Cannondale bicycles, and has resolutely carved out dozens of trails in the jungle hillsides, working with 1996 biking Olympian, Tinker Juarez, master of the 24 hour endurance race. At the top of one of the most difficult trails, there is a bell, and, if you can make it, you get to ring Tinker’s bell. (I have never made it. I guess cause I never tried. Probably too busy at the beach bar, ringing my own bell:-) Karyn is an organizational force of nature who, along with the Troubetzkoys, marshalled the efforts to artistically graft the Jade Mountain edifice into a steep jungle hillside. We met when they were running the dive shop at AC, and Michael was the person I trusted to scuba certify my oldest daughter. A stone’s throw from the beach, the diving is great, especially night diving.

I have been blessed to do a bit of the hotel’s photography over the years, and the ever gracious Karolin has always welcomed me to this piece of paradise. She is remarkable host, juggling the myriad details of resort running every day. As you can imagine, in a place where everybody has a tendency to slow down, her average day is a mad sprint. We talked last year about a lighting workshop. I could imagine no better place.

Hit the link here, or above, and read more about this unbelievable oasis. We are going in July, and the workshop days run the 6th through the 10th, intro party and greet on the evening of the 5th.

Classes will run from Monday July 6 thru Friday July 10
Arrive July 5 and depart July 11 or 12
The week will be an informative, intensive look at the possibilities of small flash, and the nature of what is beautiful light and how to use it to make your pictures more eloquent, expressive and beautiful. Each day will involve shooting all around the lush grounds of the resort, working with models, heading into jungle locations for action flash photography of mountain biking. During the “bad light” of the day, classroom sessions will take place discussing the theory and the practical use of flash photography. Each day of shooting will be followed the next day with a critique of the efforts in the field. The critique sessions will spur further investigation of the practical, fluid use of flash photography and how to improve your skills.
……..For five days, workshop participants will work with Joe and his assistants to ramp up their skills using flash, and deal with: Available light, and how to recognize good light; mixing flash with available light in a seamless and beautiful way; use of reflectors and diffusers; how to control and fire remote flashes for sophisticated, professional results; use of color and gels; the essentials of exposure; and how to craft a wonderful quality of portrait light which is essential to make storytelling photos of our subject.


Hotel reservation inquiries can be sent to:

and to see more info. on the resorts, check out the following links:

Lynn at our studios has more details… I’m busy working on figuring out how to use one of those little umbrellas that come in the drinks as a fill light…..more tk….

Mark says:

on April 22, 2009 at 10:09 am

Can’t wait to see you in the board shorts and Ray Bans.

One word of caution: SPF 50 for that Irish skin of yours….

Ben Wong says:

on April 22, 2009 at 10:40 am

Man, I am so jealous! My wife and I went to Anse Chastanet for our honeymoon. That was 13 years ago and I wish we have the time and money to go back. It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and the people there are so nice. On top of that, having Joe McNally and Scott Kelby teaching you photography is just going to be an awesome experience. Oh well, maybe next time…

For those of you who plan to go, enjoy!!

Pedro says:

on April 22, 2009 at 11:48 am

maaaaaaan, stop doing this to us…
there’s a crisis out there, you know?

At least you didn’t show that many bikinis on the photos…
Now that’s a relief!
thanks for that.



Joe Reed says:

on April 22, 2009 at 12:02 pm

That last sentence is hilarious. Could see you trying that!

Charles Verghese says:

on April 22, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Wow Joe!
Great place and you certainly elevated the place with your serene and beautiful images.

Hope I get lucky to photograph such a wonderful place! Thanks for sharing!

Marc Payne says:

on April 22, 2009 at 12:35 pm

this is one, I really wish I could attend. Great topic and even better location!

Eric Politzer says:

on April 22, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Joe, you and Moose pick the most awesome places to teach. that said, I don’t know how you gents keep the travel schedule you do. i was tired just after the Kauai DLWS!! btw, thank you for the beautiful “Bird” tribute. he was a hero growing up, along with John “The Count” Montefusco. Your pix of MF were wonderful when you took them; so poignant now.



phil says:

on April 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I got a bunch of macro lighting stuff here:

I’d make a fiber optic attachment for an sb unit, or 2. Put a piece of reflection in the umbrella, or umbrellas, and shoot away.

Could make awesome spot lights. Filter the light to match the umbrella for fun!

Toronto wedding photographer says:

on April 22, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Beautiful location!
Wish I was there..
Have fun guys!

Tom Marriage says:

on April 22, 2009 at 5:29 pm


You’re killing me. You keep writing about all these fantastic places and have workshops there and I can’t go! Please just one lottery winner!

Enough whining. To everyone that gets to participate—Have a really great time.


Andrey says:

on April 22, 2009 at 6:13 pm

That is probably an off-topic comment but… I really enjoyed _reading_ this entry! You made me look up a couple of vivid phrases in the dictionary :)

I wish I could attend the workshop.

Scott says:

on April 22, 2009 at 8:19 pm

If you go, make sure you have a ‘dirty banana’! Sneakiest, best tasting drink ever…. sure to help with the flashing. Err, rather the use of flash.

Mike Nelson Pedde says:

on April 23, 2009 at 3:54 am

If you’re going to be in the area anyway, wander over to


Sherman says:

on April 23, 2009 at 7:33 am

hey Joe,

I’m St.Lucian. You should take me along just for me to show you all over the island. That area of St.Lucia is truly beautiful. I live in NJ now but I go back every 2-3 years. Those images make me wish I was home.


David Brown says:

on April 24, 2009 at 12:16 am

These shots really hammer home the point that being a working photojournalist is a tough life. I mean, ten days with your own infinity pool? How rough is that!

But I’ve got a holiday coming up, and I think I now know where I’m going. Nice shots.

Lindsey says:

on April 24, 2009 at 12:12 pm

I want your life.

John says:

on April 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Just signed up. I’m already dreaming of being there!

Osprey says:

on April 25, 2009 at 12:11 am

July in the Carribean? Interesting choice of for the time of year. Good luck with the weather!

Alvinus says:

on April 27, 2009 at 9:37 am

Great location! great location! This is home for me. I wanna be there!

Matt says:

on April 28, 2009 at 7:37 pm

NikonPRO just twittered me to your page… how’s that for a lazy way of getting to your site rather than just opening my bookmarks?

Fotografie Luna says:

on April 29, 2009 at 8:29 am

Living in Belgium, I can only be jealous :-). Love the blue sky :-). Urgently need to book a holiday

Tony Pettis says:

on April 29, 2009 at 3:10 pm

I am trying like heck to figure out a way to get there. No rich relatives, no room on the credit card, too honest to steal it. But I’m working on it….

Eric says:

on April 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm

wow, I am insanely jealous. That looks amazing. Please have this again in a couple years so I can go! (gotta wait for my fiance to finish school)

David Apeji says:

on May 2, 2009 at 11:49 am

Now you have thrown me into confusion. I was going to attend your Venice workshop in June, but now I don’t know …

Darien Chin says:

on May 3, 2009 at 4:17 pm

The day I get to travel to a place like this….well actually the day anyone pays for me to fly anywhere to shoot….will be an awesome day and one of my best. The day I get to travel to a place like THIS and get paid to shoot will be heaven…

Joel says:

on May 27, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Looking forward to this one, the sights, sounds, and even seeing Joe trying to ride a mountain bike… Now that’s a shot to get!

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on June 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm

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reklam ajansları says:

on June 19, 2009 at 7:36 am

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Petrit says:

on November 18, 2009 at 6:37 am

A beautiful location! Wish I was there..

Johnson says:

on January 13, 2010 at 8:50 am

I am planning to be there. This will be soo great to have Joe & Scott on lovely St.Lucia again. This time I will try my utmost best to be there. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for me.

Leo says:

on February 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I am there,but can’t attend because of the price. My best hope is to see them on the airport

Motorcycle Rider says:

on April 6, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I just found this blog recently when a friend recommended it to me. I’ve been an avid reader ever since.

Jaime Osaile says:

on November 16, 2010 at 11:37 pm

i always make sure that i got a hotel reservation at least 1 week in advance to ensure that i got a reservation .”*

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on November 9, 2011 at 6:21 pm

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Best Ski Holidays says:

on November 10, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Amazing pictures, I am trying like heck to figure out a way to get there. No rich relatives, no room on the credit card, too honest to steal it. But I’m working on it

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