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And now a word from our FNG..

Sep 27

In Friends, Thanks at 5:15am


When Joe and the gang asked me to write about my experience as the “intern” for the blog, I was pretty damn close to having a panic attack.  Exactly how do I sum up one of the best experiences of my life in a few paragraphs.. especially for all of his followers to see?  Pretty nerve racking, huh?  After countless failed attempts to start my post, all of which sounded like I was about to give a speech at a high-school graduation, I decided to revert back to why I do what I do.. why I became a photographer in the first place.

This feeling of loving what you do is displayed from each and every person that takes a step through Joe’s door each day.  I can honestly say that I have never met a group of individuals who care about their “job” as much as those with whom I work beside.  We all bring everything we have to the table to make what we love possible.. beautiful imagery with meaning.

I must say; however, that they did have their fair share of “fun” with me.  For those of you who desire that internship opportunity with Joe.. you better have a strong head.  If I wasn’t such a tough and manly dude, I would have shed a few tears throughout my stay (thankfully I am, though).  From spending some time in a heavy-duty plastic bin, to being a carrier mule for gear, it was almost like going through a boot-camp of photography.  They tried to break me, but I think I’ve managed to come out in one piece :)


In all seriousness, words could not possibly describe my experience with Joe and his crew.  How many interns can say that they spent their very first assisting job on Jay Maisel’s rooftop photographing a ballerina? Or had the chance to spend an entire month helping with lighting workshops? Or got to personally know the photographer who made them love what they do in the first place?  I am proud to be one of those rare individuals that can say that they fall into that category.  The relationship that I am walking away from this whole experience with is something that is more valuable to me than anything on this earth (aside from my family.. and my friends.. and my dogs.. and.. just kidding Joe).


All in all, it has been an honor and a privilege to work beside such a great group of people for the summer.  It was tough saying goodbye to the big guy and his assistants, but more opportunities opened up to me through my time spent at the studio.  Aside from the intern hazing rituals, they treated me like family, and that’s what made the whole experience for me–a boss and coworkers who you can call family.  How I managed to find someone like Joe, who is  always willing to put you before himself, is beyond me, and that is a quality I will carry with me until I die.

I know this is blog post about my experience as a summer intern for Joe McNally, but it is also a huge thank you to him and his team for giving me an education and an experience that I could not have received otherwise, and for that, I am grateful.  I wish him the best in everything that he does, and I look forward to the day that we work along side each other again.

I am now off to continue working as an assistant in Newport, RI, as well as pursue my passion as a wedding photographer.  Thanks to Joe, I will be ready for anything that happens to come way.  Although my wedding site is currently being redesigned, you can check out my personal work in the mean time (

From Joe….

Way to go Cali…..nice job, even when we put you in that box in the garage…more tk….

Claude says:

on September 27, 2010 at 6:57 am

I met Cali at a Dobbs Ferry workshop this summer. During the hands on portion of the day our small group was assigned to Cali. Out of the multiple pages of notes I took that day, one of those came from comments and tips that he proffered during our time together. Joe, thanks for letting him out of the box that day.

Ban_D says:

on September 27, 2010 at 7:24 am

Lucky you are Michael, damn lucky!

Tim Skipper says:

on September 27, 2010 at 7:27 am

Best wishes Cali.

Kent says:

on September 27, 2010 at 7:39 am

You go Mike! Rock it.

Stephen J. Zeller says:

on September 27, 2010 at 7:43 am


Sounds like you had a great experience and props to you for putting up with hazing – it is definitely all in good fun.


It’s very refreshing to see ‘FNG’ used in such an endearing manner. :-)

All the best,


Dave D. says:

on September 27, 2010 at 9:17 am

“Effing New Guy” for JM will shine on your resume. I’m glad I could witnesss you roll gracefully with the punches at one of the lighting seminars. Congratulations and best of luck.

Steve P says:

on September 27, 2010 at 9:51 am

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. This was very well written and emphasizes what a great person & photographer Joe is!

You are off to a great start in photography,


hd says:

on September 27, 2010 at 10:07 am

what are you going to do next? are you a college student? how’d you hook up with joe in the first place?

snarky comment: sorry — but — you don’t revert back, you revert. maybe i’m just jealous…

Dennis Pike says:

on September 27, 2010 at 10:50 am

working with Joe, and then venturing into wedding photography, I think you are going to be miles ahead of the competition. You’ll light things better and more effciently than the rest. I know that after reading every workd David Hobby and Joe have written about flash, my wedding photography skillz grew by leaps and bounds. good luck.

Bob DeChiara says:

on September 27, 2010 at 11:40 am

Super post! Good luck to ya!

Doug E. says:

on September 27, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Mike (Cali),

I really enjoyed meeting you in Dobbs (x2) and in Hartford 9/15. You’re energy, assistance, warm smile and exuberance were really appreciated. Having survived the McNally fraternity – I’m sure you’ll go far.

Given the rich info I take away from just 1 day with Joe, I’ll bet you’re mind has really been sharpened – Glad you shared you website link, it’ll be nice to see your work (already took a peak – kudos!).

Great post and thanks for sharing… I’m guessing this was the FNG’s “term paper” before leaving McNally U. Well done… Now if I could just get that image of you with the pink lighting out of my head…


Take Care,


Barry Rayburn says:

on September 28, 2010 at 9:26 am


Met you at Dobbs Ferry and enjoyed our conversation before the workshop started very much. Keep your eyes on the social networking stuff too … you belong to a very unique generation of guys starting out. Best wishes. If you’re ever in ‘Bama, give a yell.


Michael Adkins says:

on September 28, 2010 at 11:02 am

Hay Joe, way is your new book “Life Guide to Digital Photography” price being slashed over 1/3 even before the book hits the shelves. Amazon has dropped pre-orders to $19.77. I for one am really looking forward to your new book. I love the moment it clicks. Enjoyed meeting you in Orlando at the Orlando Camera Club event.

Eric Muetterties says:

on October 1, 2010 at 1:15 am

Best of Luck and what a great internship! I would love a chance like that. I checked out your site, now that it is up. I can see you are already developing your own style.

Ben Madden says:

on October 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Photography may be your passion, but you’re no slouch as a writer. Excellent post, very readable.

Cindy says:

on October 19, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Way to go Mike! Love, Mom

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