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I Second That!

Sep 5

In Friends, Links, Thoughts at 7:58am

A couple of indispensable blogs were posted this week. First, John Loengard’s guest blog on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider.

picture-3This I would suggest as a must read for photographers and picture editors alike. Tremendous economic pressures over time have fractured and adversely affected the historic and important relationship good picture editors have with the photographers they employ. This post, and John’s well reasoned and direct advocacy for the role of the photog in the world of publications, is very well taken.

The other is up on Strobist.


Greg Heisler burst onto the magazine scene around 1980 or so, and single handedly changed magazine photography. I am not overstating the case. His singular sense of light and color impacted so thoroughly that just about every picture editor out there was lining their magazine up for pictures that looked like Greg’s. He had lots of imitators (myself included) who devoured his stuff, looking at catch lights to see where he put what kind of flashes, and wondering what gel pack had produced the vibrant color palette that attended his pix. I could stand at magazine rack and look at a display of a couple hundred mags, and pick out a Heisler cover.

I have worked with Rudy, and can thoroughly corroborate what Greg breezily refers to as the “moment of truth,” on this shoot. This cover was done of Rudy at his personal zenith, and when a public figure is at such a point, their handlers are like a very effective offensive line in football, blocking all charges. The behind the scenes negotiating just to get Rudy to top of the Rock must have been intense. Then, of course, once he gets there, is gonna go up on the edge of the roof? Rudy’s actually pretty cool about that stuff once you get him to the location. Pretty down to earth, or edge of the building type of guy.

The planning of the light is very cool to listen in on. So is the lesson that could be easily glossed over. Research. A week of going to the location at the exact time of day to determine the look and feel of the light. This was an intense collaboration between an extremely talented photog, a picture editor who did and said all the right things to get the subject on board, and a magazine willing to go the extra mile to get something done right. This was the correct mix of craft, obsession, funding and preparation.

This photo is memorable, and memorable isn’t easy. You generally don’t get memorable from a $50 stock pickup.  Rudy was an icon at that moment in time, and thus demanded an appropriately iconic photographer. That combination is the reason we are still looking at this picture.

More tk….

Jerry Hammond says:

on September 5, 2010 at 8:36 am

Try this URL for the John Loengard guest blog posting { }.

T Michael Testi says:

on September 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Let me also recommend the John Loengard book. “Pictures Under Discussion” as well.

Abhijit Bhatlekar says:

on September 5, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Dear Joe,

Ever since I found myself in love with “your kind of pictures”, which means chasing the Nat Geos with your stories and searching for the Bolshoi Ballet LIFE, I really wanted to know what you feel of Greg’s work, and vice versa. He being a man with incredible energy of visualising the impossible (Michael Bloomberg on a tree..!!), and making it work so well, and you being a man who shot the “ultimate bulb changing job”, are my energy triggers. I am very happy to be your imitator, it makes me my work “not just work”.

many thanks,

Tom Curtin says:

on September 7, 2010 at 7:12 am

I love the way Greg blended all of the lights together in such a fashion to make them mimic that of the ambient light. Even upon close inspection it is very hard to see any introduced light especially the fill coming from the Octa bank.

Pat Delany says:

on September 10, 2010 at 11:24 am


Thanks for the link to Mr. Loengard’s blog on the Strobist, it was very timely for me. I just completed a two day photo workshop at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut which was run by three great sports shooters, Rick Dole, Robert Laberge, and George Tiedemann, all legends in their field as I’m sure you know. The workshop was in part, about how to technically shoot motor sports, but more importanly included composition. After each morning and afternoon session the participants would dump their cards onto their computers and then select the best dozen or so to review one on one with one the pros. Rick, Robert, and George each took the time to comment on the technical merits of our photos as well as the artistic merits. The post shoot one on one with the instructors really helped us all to better our pictures via the candid feedback about what they thought was good, mediocre, and just plain boring.

As I reflected on the benefits of the one on one approach I started to think about the two workshops I took with you at Dobbs this summer. Whereas I can now pretty faithfully produce the McNally style of lighting you taught, I still struggle with making my photos interesting. I was there the day you shot Walter in his workshop. I think any of us in the workshop could probably have made a well exposed picture of Walter, but most, if not all, of us could not have made the picture as interesting as you did. It wasn’t just the light that made the picture. So I have a suggestion for you; please consider adding some composition and participant photo critique to your small flash workshops. Or, better yet, have some one or two day workshops where composition is the main subject and lighting is only a part of it. You have been shaped in part by some of the greatest photo editors in history and your published images are always outstanding and to quote Mr. Loengard, “peculiar”. Those of us that are fortunate enough to attend your workshops would cherish your input on what you see, how you see it, and what goes through your mind when composing a picture like the one you took of Walter. I know you’re a shooter and not an editor, but you have the rare gift good communication coupled with great composition skills. Like Mr. Loengard, please consider sharing more of what you know with us. In the mean time, my copy of “Pictures Under Discussion” just arrived and I look forward to slowly digesting it. I hope you give serious consideration to my request.

In closing, in addition to Rick, Robert, and George, NPS was at Lime Rock with all their wonderful equipment and talent. Annie, Patrick, and one more really nice women (I wish I was better with names) also helped us by sharing their knowledge too. Annie has a great eye. I was lucky enough to spend some time with her in the paddock on Saturday and she helped me produce one of my favorite images from the event. Please pass along my sincere thanks for that sharing.

Here’s to hoping for more McNally workshops!


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