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New York, New York…

Oct 11

In Seminars & Workshops at 11:45pm


Headed home yesterday. No break in the action, though. Today I am in the city and I start Jay Maisel’s workshop at the bank. Had to cancel a couple times, and it took a year and a half to send in checks in increments, but I am finally here. Jay’s reaction to all my shilly shallying? “I knew you were gonna be a pain in the ass, McNally.”

We could all use a dose of such direct honesty when it comes to our pictures, trust me. The congenial, supportive, “Awesome frame, dude” that gets tossed around the internet is all well and good, but there are times when our pictures just suck, and we have to hear that, too. There are days when, to borrow my buddy Moose Peterson’s phrase, I can’t find a pixel with a shovel. I hope I don’t have one of those this week, but it’s highly likely.

Classic Jay critique…..”See, I don’t think you gave a shit about this picture when you shot it cause you’re not making me give a shit about it now.”

Jay’s pure New York, and has incredible visual intelligence to boot. That’s a tough combo to weather. Maybe that’s why you get a “I Survived the Jay Maisel Workshop” t-shirt at the end of it. (I spent a week in New York and all I got was this lousy t-shirt?)

That, and hopefully a few good frames. Good, bad or indifferent, I will blog everyday next week, and post results of my shooting. Readers/editors/art directors (even Ranger 9) are invited to comment as you see fit.

Classic Jay….to someone who was obviously velcroed to their tripod, and shot an extraordinarily large number of uninteresting photos from the exact same spot. “Move your ass.” Presumably the camera moves with it.

I broke into the business in the city, shooting newspaper and wire service work. But then, seduced by color and the realization I would have never made for much of a newspaper shooter, I migrated to magazines. So shooting consistently on the streets is something I have not done in a long while, and I am looking forward to once again pounding the pavement, camera in hand.

Classic Jay at a Rich Clarkson workshop in Wyoming….A participant’s photo of a bedraggled elk with fur so splotchy it looked like a walking piece of carpet from a Motel 6 is on the screen and the faculty member next to him utters an unfortunately audible “Awwwww.” Jay looks over and says, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

It’ll be an interesting week. Jay has already looked at me with a wicked gleam in his eye and said, “I’m putting you out of your comfort zone, McNally.” Broad smile. “No lights.”


Now for the Second Part of New York, New York…

I’m teaching a Nat Geo Expeditions workshop in NY the week  Oct. 26th. From what they tell me down at the shop, there are still spots available.

We did have a blast last time. Toodled all over NY, cameras in hand, shooting people, skylines, bridges, you name it. It runs really smoothly, mostly cause I stay out of that aspect of things.

The organization is taken care of by the incomparable New Yorker, Liza Politi, who just may have originated the phrase, “Let’s do it my way, shall we?” Roughly translated, “Politi” means, “she who kills silently with a knife.” It’s handy to have someone with her grit and skills leading us through the mean streets of NY. Last time she was handing out subway tokens, giving a brief lecture on the historical significance of the neighborhood we were about to photograph, and single handedly subduing all three members of a Chinese street gang who got too close for comfort and were eyeballing a couple of our participants from the Midwest like they were overlarge dumplings already on toothpicks and coated with a zesty sauce. It gets interesting down on Canal St., sometimes.

We go uptown, downtown, round the town. A week of camera basics, hand holding, exposure, lighting, seeing, showing. Emphasis on the seeing. And there’s a lot to see in New York.

Albert Normandin says:

on October 12, 2009 at 12:01 am

Good luck this week Joe!
Jay’s harmless, really, really….

John Sturr says:

on October 12, 2009 at 12:02 am

I’m very interested to hear the good, bad, and ugly of this upcoming week – Hope to hit JM’s workshop in the next year – thanks for posting. JSturr

Ray K says:

on October 12, 2009 at 12:09 am

I’d love to be there for the Nat Geo workshop Joe, but I get real nervous anyplace that the trucks don’t have a gun rack in the window and a dog in the passenger seat. Have fun, looking forward the the Jay Maisel Posts.

Michael Rubin says:

on October 12, 2009 at 12:19 am

What shall we tell Annie if you don’t make it back?

But seriously, can’t wait to see what comes of this week.

Deji Osinulu says:

on October 12, 2009 at 12:22 am

Looking forward to the daily updates! Thanks for the wake-up call to get some of my work critiqued.

Nico says:

on October 12, 2009 at 12:24 am

He Joe, great post again, but i’m not sure how to take this one: I mean if even you has to go through Jay’s workshop?!?! how far are we all then ? it’s both inspiring and discouraging. I will stick to encouraging cos I’m stubborn too.

James says:

on October 12, 2009 at 12:27 am

I’d like to know what you would bring as the 10 best examples of your work that you would defend with your life (to quote the course description).

Lewis W says:

on October 12, 2009 at 1:10 am

Still looking for the definition of “Ambient Angst”. Show us a picture of it this week, Joe.

Richard Cave says:

on October 12, 2009 at 3:45 am

Jays a pussycat really I can say that hid behind my couch 4000 miles away with the lights turned off. If I stay under the blanket and if I cant see him he cant see me.

Really jealous of you, enjoy it, dare you to smuggle a sb900 into one shot to see if he notices…

have fun


Theis says:

on October 12, 2009 at 4:31 am

Damn sounds like a nice workshop, wish I was in the states near New York and I would drop by for sure.

Btw…. politi = police in danish :)

Tyler says:

on October 12, 2009 at 6:22 am

Black & White as the lead-in, hooray! Awesome frame dude!

Vincent Mistretta says:

on October 12, 2009 at 7:01 am

I attended Jay’s workshop in the spring. You will have a great time and probably gain a few pounds in the process. Please send my best to Jay and Jamie and I hope to see all of you at PPE.

Tom Luker says:

on October 12, 2009 at 7:12 am

Everyone photographer should be so lucky Joe.

Peter Geran says:

on October 12, 2009 at 9:19 am

Interesting shot of the subway car in New York.

I was recently in Shanghai and Bangkok. The rail cars there are spotless, and not a sign of grafitti on them.
Padded seats without a mark on them.

Nice to see that the developed areas of the world know how to look after public transport

Bill Graham says:

on October 12, 2009 at 10:44 am

I remember Jay’s ASMP workshop back in ’67. The assignment was shoot something you are deeply afraid of. “A crippled dwarf” was my subject. Seriously. I made friends with an appalling looking guy I had seen begging on the street in DC. Back in NY I pinned my shoot to the wall. Jay comes to it. Stops. “Who shot this?” My arm goes up. “It’s disgusting!” He walked on. (In fact it was, although the street beggar was really delighted to have the pictures of himself.)

Only 40 years later did a guy who had taken Jay’s workshop recently opine that I had “aced it”. He said if Jay walks past and says nothing you might as well go jump in the East River.

A “Jay” moment to remember :) Bill

Mark says:

on October 12, 2009 at 10:55 am

I hear if you can make it there, you can make it any where…I’m sure you’ll be able to take a bit out of the Big Apple! 😉

Liza P says:

on October 12, 2009 at 11:12 am

Ahhhhh…. Paesano…….

loosely translated…. ‘Politi means policies” in Italian……
so I come by my ‘gentle nature’ honestly………..

Now, my subtle skills with weaponry that clearly impressed you so……
McNally…. I didn’t live in the Meat Packing District for a decade for nothing…. cRRAACcccCCCKKKK! 😉

Have started practicing for our Moscow trip and potential handlings with the Russian Gulag……………..

but I can’t wait to work with you again NEXT WEEK!

liza p

ed linn says:

on October 12, 2009 at 11:17 am

I had the great pleasure of meeting Jay at PSW.
Have a great week, can’t wait to see the posts next week

Bruce says:

on October 12, 2009 at 11:18 am

For Peter Geran — the subway shot is not recent and NYC subway cars are relatively spotless these days. The type of subway car shown in the photo has not been in service for years.

Boston Photographer | MWynne says:

on October 12, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Sounds like a fun week. New York provides plenty of inspiration. Good, Bad and Ugly.

Robert Jensen says:

on October 12, 2009 at 1:09 pm

An interesting read as always Joe.

I was playing around with the cropping of your color photo in this blog and, well, have you considered cropping out the buildings on the right as well as the last two buildings in the center cluster? I think it makes a strong image too. Btw, took awhile to notice but I did see how you aligned the highlights on the red block to fit with those of the building. Nice touch!

Robert Jensen (the one who shoots pinup)

Myron says:

on October 12, 2009 at 1:25 pm

What no lights–just the opposite of “any Freaking light that’s available!”

What readers and photogs love about David Hobbie’s Strobist Blog is the technical support and the easy to follow, how to, step by step, instant playback of the lighting and camera/lens setup. Although the self-talk commentary does give an interesting perspective on the dark unlit corners of a pro photog stream of yesterday’s consciousness.

Love the over-saturated super-saturated red cube in the heart of the dark neutral monolithic towers. And the barrel distortion of the subway tube,Perfect compliment to the loneliness of the single well dressed man–isolated urban condition–oh what we can ignore on a daily basis–and the grafiti–don’t they sell color spray paint in NYC–where’s the art in all that noise?

Sarah Kavanaugh says:

on October 12, 2009 at 1:47 pm

“See, I don’t think you gave a shit about this picture…” Sounds like something Ken Hackman would say. Are he and Jay Maisel long lost brothers?

Christopher Knapp says:

on October 12, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Great entry here Joe, and I am glad you were able to survive the workshop, and New York!

Chris Klug says:

on October 12, 2009 at 2:15 pm

I’m really hoping to do that workshop someday. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

Antonio abadia says:

on October 12, 2009 at 3:55 pm

I would love to assist some of these days to one of your workshops. Can you imagine to be learning from one of the photographer legends? puffy ufff!!!! :)

Take care Macnally!! You are a real inspiration for lot of people just like me.

Marshal says:

on October 12, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Love the lighted red cube among the skyscrapers! :)

Susan says:

on October 12, 2009 at 11:15 pm

I was just in NYC last month and am still culling through my images…can’t wait to visit again and can’t wait to read your posts!

Michelle Knight says:

on October 13, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Just to let you know … Moose’s blog just hauled ass … it’s now at

Heymo says:

on October 13, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Wait a sec – so there is not “More tk…”??

Sergei says:

on October 15, 2009 at 12:34 am

dammit.. that makes me want to fly there for weekend again and just shoot streets like i did in february..

Good stuff Joe. Thanks for sharing.

Gerry Butler says:

on October 16, 2009 at 9:49 pm

I did the NYC workshop last spring and it was a blast. Joe’s right-Liza is not to be messed with.
It was a great tour of NY with rich shooting environments every day…and lots of technical stuff, too.
I think it was the morning photo review sessions that really upped the emotional ante. I loved that part of the day, when we got to see and hear critiques of everyone’s work from the day before.
Do it if you can!!!

tom says:

on October 18, 2009 at 12:31 am

wow, that really sounds like something I want to drop five grand on …

Uwe Noelke says:

on October 18, 2009 at 2:50 pm

I like the view of the sky scrapers.

CH says:

on October 18, 2009 at 6:32 pm

I’ll second the $5000…geesh, Jay is a good photographer and probably a good teacher but I can get allot of opinions/advice/help for way more than a week for $5000

Bertha Talmadge says:

on January 8, 2010 at 10:24 am

Hallo! Interessanter Post, ich habe mir mal deinen Feed abonniert.

Ex zurueckgewinnen says:

on May 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Abgefahren!!! Wirklich ein cooler Artikel. Freue mich immer was neues von dir zu lesen!

Minerva Newton says:

on May 31, 2010 at 6:30 am

If I had a quarter for each time I came to Great read.

Staten Island says:

on October 1, 2010 at 7:30 am

New York is a town that I’m longing to visit again. This time I’ll bring a better camera that will actually work. Took alot of pictures for Staten Island but my camera didnt really store them :/.

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