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Things Have Been a Little Strange Around Here, Lately….

May 28

In Rants at 6:00am

I spend a lot of time on the road, so coming back to the mail is interesting. I got this not too long ago, Hmmmm. A very big promo piece for a very big book called The End, by the excellent photog Rodney Smith. The blad contained text from Rodney describing these tough times we are currently experiencing. “Gone are the days of luxurious photo-shoots with gold-gilded Hasselblads and caviar-encrusted lunchtime snacks.”

Hmmmm. I don’t miss the above described days because I don’t remember them. Last time I checked, there was nothing at Subway encrusted in caviar, and I shot Mamiya for my 120 system ’cause I couldn’t focus a Hasselblad worth spit. The promo is, as I mentioned, huge, and lavishly presented. The accompanying, hyperbolic, hopefully tongue-in-cheek intro alludes to it being “the kind of book that will set the tongues of the artistic community wagging for a thousand years.”

The book will no doubt take it’s place in the ranks of stylish efforts, as Mr. Smith is indeed a stylish and successful photog. Again, from the front matter….”An unparalleled artistic masterpiece, this book is monstrously expensive and is being produce as a Very Limited Edition…. ” Further, the book “should only be handled while wearing white gloves.” And, “its profound imagery, compounded by its brain-teasing text, comes with a stern warning: Please consult your physician or therapist before perusing its contents.” It states that “every Smith photograph is a canny encapsulation of an essential cosmic truth.”

In addition to stylish and successful, did I mention ballsy?

The accompanying letter encourages the visual community to invest wisely during these times of economic duress. “In this period of economic crisis and hardship, we photographers must band together in support of our respective endeavors.” When Wall Street is a sinkhole run by people who are supposed to be managing your money but seem generally preoccupied avoiding doing 3 to 5 at a minimum security facility, and stuffing your cash in a pillow seems as good a plan as an aggressive mutual fund, what do you do? Invest in–this book! The early bird asking price is $650 including shipping, a substantial discount off the retail price of $750. The book is described as “worth its weight in gold.”

There is an advisory about the book contained in the promo. “Its value will only increase with time, making it a prudent investment in these tricky financial times.”

It might be the way to go. I’m on the fence. I talked to my buddy Bill down at Nat Geo about it and tried to convince him we should pool our money on this. Problem is, he’s got what’s left of his dough tied up in bull semen futures.

Now here’s an entry in the “big is better” category. THE LAST MAGAZINE. Picked it up in Manhattan last week. (Downtown, where else?) For $15 bucks. Yep, 15 balloons. Geez, there are some big pictures in here. And I’m not averse to that theory, mind you. At LIFE we always used to say, “If you can’t make ’em good, make ’em big and in color!”

This mag has taken that theory and, well, enlarged on it. Many of these obscure, out of focus frames should have had a healthy chat with Mr. Delete Button, or at least remained on the hard drive until the authors had passed and thus gained a certain retrospective merit. (“He shot this during a time when he was struggling to find his vision.”) But somehow, they got loose, got fed reassuring burbles about how astonishingly fresh and new they truly are, and just like the monster in the first Alien movie, they got real big, real quick. The title of this mag is oddly appropriate. More tk…

Gerry says:

on May 28, 2009 at 6:34 am

Strange magazine… saw a book recently that was also made up of only out of focus images. Quite strange but in some weird kind of way art?!?!

Lindsey says:

on May 28, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Your rants consistently crack me up!

Carsten Bockermann says:

on May 28, 2009 at 2:19 pm

>>saw a book recently that was also made up of only out of focus images

Must have been “All Day, Every Day” by David Armstrong. Sometimes OOF pictures are quite beatiful, but that’s more the exception than the rule. Seems that some photogs overdo a certain idea….fisheye lenses and lensbabies come to mind, the narrow DOF possible with tilt&shift lenses and lighting everything with flash (just kidding on the last one, Joe….)

Eliot Baker says:

on May 28, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Joe! You son of a gun!! You have to tell us how you got your camera to sync with your speed lights at 1/8000s in the desert!!! I need that in my life! thanks!

Jamie Willmott says:

on May 28, 2009 at 5:41 pm

@Gerry – isn’t that the book that the lomo guys include with the Diana camera?

Dani Piderman says:

on May 28, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Joe, I have to tell you that I wasn’t having a good day until I read your review of The Last Magazine! Thank you!

Mark says:

on May 28, 2009 at 8:47 pm

That is One. Big. Magazine.

Nice bathrobe too. Maybe you should have been seated elsewhere to read that book 😉

John Leonard says:

on May 28, 2009 at 9:11 pm

@Eliot Baker- Auto FP sync……If you shoot Nikon and use CLS that’s all you need. Check the menu turn it on, and shoot away.

@Joe- Out of Focus is the new in…………uh or something like that, but uh yeah I know people who are OK with OOF frames…I don’t get it. Eyes should be…. you know sharp.

Jim says:

on May 28, 2009 at 10:28 pm

BULL SEMEN FUTURES? Now that takes a lot of Balls!

Tara says:

on May 28, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Thank you for that. I couldn’t stop laughing at ‘obscure, out of focus frames should have had a healthy chat with Mr. Delete Button’.

Thank you for sharing your rants, they always make my day a bit better :)

jeremy says:

on May 29, 2009 at 1:54 am

haha, now thats a great rant…i think i’ll get another copy of hot shoe diaries instead

lestha1 says:

on May 29, 2009 at 6:24 am

hello Mr. Joe, i love the way you make photos. i’m an avid fan of you and your works.. more power.. :)

Patricia Wiskur says:

on May 29, 2009 at 9:04 am

This is the funniest JMc blog entry ever. I loved your perspective on this book and your writing from life experiences. The “15 balloons” was fun and I loved that you didn’t use any of your pet expletives in this article. I always want to wash your mouth out with soap (Mom complex).
I am a HUGE Joe McNally photo fan. I love your images. You’re a genius–and you work really hard at getting it right. Thanks for being a consummate professional.

Richard Kozak says:

on May 29, 2009 at 10:15 am

That’s odd – I thought I was the only one on to the bull semen futures! Prices will only go up from here.

Marshal says:

on May 29, 2009 at 11:44 pm

An extra large magazine to perhaps compensate for extra small talent.

The $15 is not only to cover the extra size of the paper but also to give the illusion of value.

Marshal says:

on May 29, 2009 at 11:52 pm

As for the Rodney Smith book, yeah the guy is a really good photog, but $650-750.00?! Hmmm, and in these tough economic times? I think the guy is feeling the pinch too, but for that money, he’d better also send one of his female models over to my place to show me a really good time.

An exaggerated sense of importance perhaps? That book had better have THE BEST handmade construction, THE BEST print quality and THE BEST and most amazing content EVER!

Edd says:

on May 30, 2009 at 7:56 am

Ah yes…shite masked as “Artistic Expression”

Andy Pennebaker says:

on June 3, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Joe McNally educating, regulating — and most importantly — keeping it real.

ccsr says:

on June 7, 2009 at 10:59 am


Nike Kobe IV says:

on June 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm

A great rant…i think i’ll get another copy of hot shoe diaries instead

jason gold says:

on May 1, 2010 at 4:36 pm

i guess i’m in your boat! never could focus a Hasselblad! better with pentaprism.
better than nothing.i used Mamiya TLr’s. the BIG book. well he is an artist and has a great blog.if you know models, all that attractive isn’t always nice! i luv the blog.actually i mostly shot 35mm. Model shoots on 120.

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