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Workshop at the Bank, Home Stretch….

Oct 16

In Seminars & Workshops at 9:10am

Last day of this October’s version of Jay’s workshop, or, more descriptively, the class the sun forgot. We’ve had about two hours of decent sunshine this week, and tried to make something out of it. It’s been a good week. Jay tore a hole right through the picture I posted yesterday when I showed it. He pointed out the lettering, “PAR,” “Zurich,” and “Yahoo,” hijacked any discussion the photo might have started with a prospective viewer. I was not wild about the pic, but liked some of the color and mood, which enabled me to not really consider my choice in an complete way. (This is why we need editors of our work.)

Thing is, he’s right. Ever been to a meeting where somebody who hasn’t done their homework, or feels compelled to assert some sort of superiority,  or whose therapist is on vacation, goes off on an irrelevant tangent for several minutes while the rest of the folks present engage in eye rolling exercises? I think that’s what Jay was saying. Those elements he brought to my attention are like that guy at the meeting, squashing meaningful discourse by clamoring for attention and distracting everybody. He also pointed out the bus on the right was not really a New York City bus.

I will try this again.

So I went out and photographed a man with sad eyes….


Classic Jay: A guy comes to him with a whole tray of slot canyon pictures. First one comes up, and Jay says, “This is nice. But, you know, I don’t think you’re challenging yourself shooting all this stuff, cause I’ve never really seen a bad picture of a slot canyon.” Second one comes up. Jay turns and says, “On second thought…..”

It’s interesting now, shooting on the street. The two pictures I feel strongest about I am reluctant to throw up on the blog. One had really nice gesture. A couple in a bar. They knew I was shooting them, and were okay about it. Their body language was great. Lots of questions as I look at the pics. Beginning of the relationship? End? Chance meeting? Pretty wonderful, the imaginings one could have.

The other was of a mentor relationship between a young boy and a 30 something guy. On the subway, the guy was showing the youngster how to warm his hands by rubbing them together. Nice moment. But, it’s a kid and I just dunno. Also, I shot it on the subway, and the pixel police might get me. The way we live now reminds me of a cartoon I saw years ago where this doofy guy comes out of his house in a bathrobe to confront soldiers, tanks, helicopters and a couple of trench coated G-men on his doorstep. They look at him and say, “We understand you tore the little tag off your mattress.”

More tk…..

Barbara Louise says:

on October 16, 2009 at 9:28 am

Ooo I remember that cartoon ! What is funny is I remember the “yahoo” sticking out at me in the photo, but I really didn’t pay it much mind… i was looking at all the other colors and shapes the photo said to me.

Iden Ford says:

on October 16, 2009 at 9:46 am

Pretty amazing shot. Love the depth of field, but more importantly the expression on his face captures his entire life story.

Otter says:

on October 16, 2009 at 9:57 am

Hmm. And I thought the lights and signs and words of the city all clamoring for my attention were the point of the shot. In fact, it was the opposite of the clichéd early-evening-deserted-city-street shot that I probably would have put up.

Thank heavens he’s never seen anything I took.

Ed says:

on October 16, 2009 at 10:28 am

Don’t be so sure the subway police will get you. Check out Travis Ruse here, last update 2007:
but still commissioned by the MTA through 2009 here:
Great series of posts from the Jay Maisel workshop. Thanks Joe!

Tyler says:

on October 16, 2009 at 10:39 am

Give us the couple Joe!

Alex says:

on October 16, 2009 at 10:44 am

Wow man, what a photo.

Sue says:

on October 16, 2009 at 10:45 am

Thanks for blogging about your week with Jay. I was a participant in his September workshop and reading your blog has allowed me to live vicariously through you for another week with Jay. The sad eyes are very engaging and the framing is excellent. In fact, I enjoyed all the pictures you posted this week. Thanks for sharing.

Chris Klug says:

on October 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

Well, I have to just say that to hear someone of your experience going through a thought process so similar to my own (doubt-wise) actually gives me hope. It doesn’t mean my images are any better than they were yesterday, it just means that what I experience is probably what most photographers experience when they regard their work. This series of posts is wonderful, Joe.

I hope you write a longer post-mortem, maybe addressing what makes Jay’s workshops so special besides his curmudgeon personality.

Michael Petrizzo says:

on October 16, 2009 at 11:30 am

Great image Joe. Good example a pro with your experience continuing to take lessons. Look forward to more.

Steve Hyde says:

on October 16, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Couldn’t agree more with Chris Klug! Great series of posts, Joe

Paul says:

on October 16, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Are you reluctant to throw them up because you don’t think the we’ll think they are as strong as you do?

If that’s the case, it’s nice to hear. I think photographers are always their toughest critics, and if they aren’t then they probably aren’t trying hard enough to get better.

Hope to see the shots.

If you want, you can just email ’em to me! 😉

John Dutt says:

on October 16, 2009 at 1:30 pm


Thanks for the posts. I would certainly like to see more pictures and more about what you got out of the workshop.

Btw, I think Jay is mistaken, that (I believe) is the M10 bus that goes up 8th Ave and down 7th Ave. He needs to get out of the lower East Side more .


Jay Maisel says:

on October 16, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Joe – it’s been a real blast to have you at the bank in this week’s class. The quote from the 13th about waiting for the fall is from Ernst Haas…I wish I had said it, but I didn’t.


Cody says:

on October 16, 2009 at 2:26 pm

We’d love to see the other couple of photos, Joe. If there’s any way to make it happen, that’d be great!

Frank says:

on October 16, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Again, thank you for sharing the emotions of these days at the workshop.

It sounds that this workshop can be a real eye opener for people which is something I’m looking for.

Hope I have the chance to be there one day.

Joe McNally says:

on October 16, 2009 at 3:21 pm

paul…no would love people to see these two snaps cause they’re easily the best frames I shot all week. just hesitate due to the fact of an unreleased minor in one, and while the other was shot with verbal permission, i was inside a bar and therefore on private property. just being cautious is all, very atypical for me…:-)

Joe says:

on October 16, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Funny you mention being reluctant to publish the pic of the kid… I was shooting an earthquake evac drill here in Norcal yesterday for the paper and I was told that pics couldn’t have the kids faces in them because they weren’t sure which kids parents signed the release they were all required to sign.

Mark says:

on October 16, 2009 at 3:25 pm

So…no flash…how did you get such nice light up under Mr. Hoodie’s hoodie? Great portrait.

Been doing some walking my self. If you want interesting photos, go to interesting places someone once said….

Billy Mitchell says:

on October 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm

The photos I like best are the ones I’m paid to deliver. I am not a photographer even though I have had over 40 years as a “so called” professional photographer. I am an “observer”. I like to look and I find that a camera gets in the way when you’re looking.

I have photos from around the world in my house and like the other things in my home, they are there to remind me of my past and the joy I have experienced. And more things to come. The photographs I deliver, I hardly ever look at again.

I like Jay and his work. I like you and your work. Some photographer said (maybe Jay) and I repeat it and change it a bit. “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of better stuff.”

JayB says:

on October 16, 2009 at 6:09 pm


Is there an issue with you posting the photos with out a release if you don’t make money on them? You’re just showing us here on the blog, just like a news story and not selling them. By the way, did Jay M. like them? Thanks for keeping us up with your activities.


Rory says:

on October 16, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I still struggle to wrap my head around someone as iconic as Joe McNally being taught anything. And I know photography is like medicine, where you never really stop learning things, but I’m sure there are so many of us who look at Joe as someone at the top of the food chain.(Kinda like teaching the dominat lion how to hunt!) I for one think it would be really insightful if you’d be kind enough to share the take home messages you got off the course. I am sure it would make great reading.
Thanks again for a great blog.

stephen says:

on October 16, 2009 at 11:53 pm

One of your better posts, Joe.

I really hate that we live in a place where you can’t post a photograph of somebody in a public place.

stephen says:

on October 16, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Hm, I thought you could ‘graph a minor in a public place and it’s treated just like an adult since it’s in a public place.

Jay Mann says:

on October 17, 2009 at 2:54 am

Joe, Of the various workshops you talk about in the blog, this one with Drill Instructor Maisal definitely sounds the most interesting. I will try to get over there next year to attend.
You should try street shooting in Tripoli……

Marty says:

on October 17, 2009 at 8:24 am

I’ve read Jay’s caustic comments all week and have have wondered…. is there a fundraiser to get him some therapy?

Cindy Farr-Weinfeld says:

on October 17, 2009 at 9:44 am

I love the sad-eyed man photo, Joe. I love also that you would challenge yourself by going to this workshop and it gives me courage to challenge myself. I liked what Jay said about not the slot canyon guy not challenging himself enough–my magazine keeps assigning me to photograph people, which I HATE, but like your editors have done for however long it’s been now (30 years?!?) mine direct me and guide me towards various portrait photographers for inspiration. I’m going to re-read The Moment It Clicks and I’ve been looking at Richard Avedon photos. But for me, it is a difficult thing at best to get inspiration from people. . . Give me a good slot canyon any day and I can knock it out of the park. Anyhow, it has been great for me to see your posts this past week about the Maisel workshop–so thanks for going out on a limb with us! The only thing I wonder is this: Is there any way to add metadata to the pictures you post so we (read: I) can see what f/stops, speeds, settings you used? I know this picture of the sad eyed man is quite shallow DOF, but I find if I use too shallow a DOF on a portrait to get the bokeh in the background as nicely as you have here, I sometimes have trouble getting the whole of the face in focus. I know you focus on the eyes b/c eyes are what people gravitate to, but just wondering if there is any way to get the metadata included? Thanks! Keep up the amazing work and great posts! Cindy

Linda Brinckerhoff says:

on October 17, 2009 at 9:55 am

Participating in a camera club has been my monthly opportunity to get some “editing”.

The peer-to-peer critiques slap you back to reality where you need to drop your fuzzy-wuzzy feelings and personal emotions about the photo and really look at that photo from edge to edge.

Jay Meisel sounds like a real slap-master! I can’t wait to see him at Photo Plus in NYC next weeek!

Syl Arena says:

on October 17, 2009 at 10:16 am

Jay’s wrong. “PAR,” “Zurich,” and “Yahoo” ARE the backbone of the image. Time Square screams incessantly. Without the words, your pic is a bunch of brightly lit shapes. Might as well photograph scraps of construction paper. Perhaps Jay is too close to NYC to see it as one who does not live there does? I say your intuition when you hit the shutter button is right on track.

Rich Moll says:

on October 17, 2009 at 11:28 am

Hi Joe,
I loved the color and mood of the night photo of NY, too. I’ve never been to NY, but it made me feel like I just immersed my head in a bath of bright light, crazy traffic, and utter mayhem – just as I would expect from a NY night. Thanks for all you do!

martin says:

on October 17, 2009 at 11:31 am

you have been a very braved boy.
now go home and have a scotch.

Gary Miller says:

on October 17, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Joe: Wonderful insight, and as noted above it’s a reminder that we all need to stay connected to strong editors.

Do you try for releases for everything you shoot on the street with an identifiable subject?

RE: Joe (comment, Oct. 16 3:22p.m.) Student parent photo releases are only for CA. school records and help to guide the administration and instructors to the wishes of the parents.
As an accredited journalist you don’t need the releases to protect you or the publication if the facility has given you permission to photograph in the classroom.

Codes in CA give the schools enough latitude to keep you off school grounds during breaking news under the umbrella of “the children are under our care, we’re charged with protecting their safety” during school hours.

It’s an issue of being courteous (as you were)at this point and makes it much easier when entering a classroom for an assignment rather than deciding 10 minutes to deadline or after an image has been on the web all morning.

It’s a different time.

Jamie Smith says:

on October 17, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Joe –
Slept in today – restful day, just came up for air and finally read the blogs from last week. Enjoy how your writing reads the same way you sound when speaking…

Each class he does has it’s own unique group dynamic that is difficult to quantify – having your voice last week was incredible. Hope to take a lighting workshop with you “some day”, have to check with the boss about time off…

Jamie (Assistant)

Noorizam Sabran says:

on October 18, 2009 at 4:23 am

Understanding the light source… Joe you are great.

I’m waiting for the next…next picture!

Christine Glade says:

on October 18, 2009 at 1:37 pm

For what it’s worth Joe I loved the street shot and thought those words (plus all the other type/logos in the shot) were part of the conversation I was having with the image. Seemed to me the idea that there was hardly a flat surface in the shot that DIDN’T have message on it was part of the allure of the shot – in addition to the fab lighting.

Uwe Noelke says:

on October 18, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I like the depth of field in this image.

Michelle says:

on October 18, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Total new be here and just wanted to ask you a question… How do you do it? Photographing people in public that is? I feel like a weirdo hiding behind bushes (not really… well maybe sometimes) trying to capture someone with out them knowing it. So what is the professional protocol for snapping images of folks in the real world? Really any advice would be greatly appreciated. I feel like I have a knack for seeing this delicious photo opportunities but have no idea how to go about it with out freaking someone out… (very new to photography) Thanks!!!

Eric says:

on October 19, 2009 at 3:13 am

according to this:
photos of children don:t violate any law. Is this outdated or untrue? Guess its always better to play on the safe side though.

Kurt Helge Røsand says:

on October 19, 2009 at 4:59 am

Great shot as always, beautiful bokeh also, I just wonder, what lens is that?

Thanks for sharing, you always inspire!

Polly Crongeyer says:

on October 19, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Joe, do we get to see your “final 5″ from the bank?

Morgan says:

on October 19, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Hey Joe, It’s really awesome to see a vet photographer going back to the basics and discovering shit again.

Get yourself an m9, or even better a beat up m6 and go to town with it. just for fun and something else – I find it a barrier to shoot street with anything but a rangefinder now. d700 too big, d3 unthinkable.

great images, keep posting – share the frames you spoke of…. they sound awesome.

moments make the world go round – we are privileged to share them.

morgan, australia

Eliane Filho says:

on October 19, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Hello I’ve been looking at your work it is amazing
I just stared photography 3 yrs ago and
my partner just noticed
I’m right handed and take pictures with my left eye.
So I was looking at your video now is that normal?
It doesn’t say there if you are right handed or not.
Thanks for all the tips God Bless

Michael Erb says:

on October 23, 2009 at 10:14 am

Actually, the guy in the bath robe is the only person who has the right to tear the tag off of his mattress!

andy says:

on October 23, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Just read the wholes workshop series of posts, fascinating and fresh.
Kudos to you for you bravery and humbleness to go out of your comfort zone and back to square one.

One of the unfortunate disadvantages of shooting with flashes/strobes/etc all the time is that you get hooked on it and ‘forget’ things, develop the tendency to unconsciously use lighting to compensate for creativity sometimes. it’s very refreshing to see how you were challenged and had to deal with your demons.

Very grateful for what I learned from these posts.

Mike Keller says:

on November 10, 2009 at 7:21 pm

I’m really behind on this blog, sorry. I, too, love the Times Square shot, it’s the signage that tells you where you are. Or is Jay pushing colorful stock photos of busy cities? tell him there’s no money in that anymore. :)

As for photos of kids, I think everybody’s kinda right and kinda wrong.

It’s perfectly legal to photograph minors in public places and use the photos editorially. Does this blog count as editorial? Even though it has ads on it, just like a newspaper, the images are used in “straight reporting” style, so I suspect it would be safe.

In the instance about the earthquake evac drill, if the kids were in a school situation or a school-controlled situation (where either the drill was at the school or the school brought kids to a location), it’s a bit of a grey area because the kids are under the protection of the school and are not expected to be put on public display. Parents have the right to ask the school NOT to have their kids photographed. We had a school group participate in the 9/11 remembrance ceremony here recently, and there were two kids we were asked not to photograph. It’s the kind of thing that can get the school in trouble with the parents, so you need to be sensitive about it.

viscara says:

on March 18, 2010 at 4:09 am

Wow… One word said it all “G-man” then the clincher was the “Doorstep” grew up with the tales of that fear from my mothers family.. Then ultimately learned the G-man liked to dress in drag.. LoL. I know what you mean.. I have a step son and took him to the snow for his first snow and ski trip. Poor fella was doing the Pee Pee dance and we both laughed at his first lesson in warm water “Melting” snow as he looked over his shoulder at me with a big grin on his face at his new discovery I wanted to take a photo for “Blackmail” to get my lawn mowed when he had a girlfriend later in life.. But thought of the those black days reminded me of the days we live in ala “Richard Allen Davis”.. And did not take the classic photo we ourselves had taken at some point of us when we grew up in the 60’s and 70’s…. and no one gave it a 2nd thought.. Sad..

Terence Felkel says:

on April 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Awesome posts, have you seen Mayhem Millers latest debaucheries in the Strikeforce brawl that broke out last night?

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