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LIFE Launch…

Oct 19

In Books at 7:43am


Today is official release of a book I wrote for my alma mater, LIFE magazine. What a long strange trip photography is. I shot my first job for the magazine in 1984, and managed somehow to survive editor changes, shifts in format, style, and even the change of the physical size of the magazine to keep shooting for them right through the nineties. Just about 1995 they asked me to become their first staffer in 23 years, which also meant I became the last staff photographer in the history of the magazine, as it is no longer publishing. As I always point out, being the last in a series of 90 staff shooters at this illustrious picture magazine probably means that someone writing the history of this field will probably associate my name with the death of photojournalism:-)

It was an honor to write, given the fact that my editor was Bob Sullivan. Sully and I have done stories together over the years for LIFE, Time, and Sports Illustrated. As I always say about him, he is one of those editor/writers who know more stuff about more stuff than just about anybody I know. He gave the book coherence and structure, and a sense of the English language that my location influenced photo dialect falls far short of. He can switch hats from sports to news to music to celebrities in a heartbeat, which has made him the perfect editor at LIFE, which was about all that and more.

LIFE of course continues in electronic form as one of the most popular photo sites of the web world. is a treasure trove of the current pictorial news of the day, as well as a rich mix of images from the archives of the magazine, many of which never saw ink on paper, and are only now just being published for the first time. I’m the guest editor at the site right now, and I had a wonderful opportunity to ramble a bit about my favorite LIFE shooters and their images. Check it out here. Also do a stint on holding cameras, and a section called “dynamic photography.”

The LIFE Guide is just that–a guide. It can take a newbie right from opening the box containing the new digital picture machine right through composition, light, lenses, and color. Predictably, given the author, it is not a dry, nuts and bolts account of f-stops and shutter speeds, but more of a mix of basic information, leavened with 30 years of field experience offering notions of when it is appropriate to bring that information into play, and fly by the “rules,” or just chuck the manual and go with your head and your heart.

It’s got lots of stuff….





Not to mention a fairly bent set of tips…..:-)


They did the smart thing of making it with a semi-hard cover, flexible but tough, and of a size that is fairly easy to stuff into a camera bag or backpack. I plow through basics such as aperture and shutter speed, rule of thirds, lens use, light and color, and even a bit about flash. It is, well, soup to nuts:-) Hoping to make the basics fun, and to keep folks who already have those basics tucked away in their noodles entertained and intrigued with field strategies, and lessons from a whole bunch of hard won (and lost) assignments.

More tk…..

Stefano Tealdi says:

on October 19, 2010 at 7:55 am

I already have it in my hands from one week!! great book, as all yours Joe!

Johnny Worthington says:

on October 19, 2010 at 7:57 am

Congrats Joe.

Straight on my Xmas list :)

Tim Skipper says:

on October 19, 2010 at 8:12 am


I got the book a week or so ago and I have already finished reading it. When I first started reading I thought “OH no, this is written for just beginners,” but as I got into the book I realized you covered things for everyone regardless of their skill level. I think the thing I appreciate the most is the “real-working-life (no pun intended) tidbits” you give. Its those little insights that make reading your books and blogs so worth while to me.

I haven’t met you in person (yet) but you have had the greatest influence on my work more so than anyone. Studying your work and teaching on lighting and working has totally changed the way I think about shooting. I do have to admit that when I’m heading out and I seem to have more junk than I can carry or need I always say, “Blame it on Joe.”

Jay Mann says:

on October 19, 2010 at 8:19 am

Hey Joe,

Ordered it earlier this morning ( my time). Won’t see it until Feb. when I visit Canada, but really looking forward to it. Got some new this week, transfering to the middle of Sumatra. Good photo ops in Indonesia, close to ( actually in) the jungle. Gonna be a lot easier to photo the tribes. :)

Richard Stokes says:

on October 19, 2010 at 8:19 am

My favorite picture of all time is The Puppet Show by Eisenstaedt. I have a 24×30 of it on my wall. My wife tracked down the original issue of LIFE that it was in and had a friend scan the 2-page spread to make it one image. This was before LIFE opened up the vault and made everything available as a print.

Congrats on the new book.

JerseyStyle Photography says:

on October 19, 2010 at 8:20 am

Congrats Joe! I’m looking forward to picking this up and adding it to my collection of “Joe McNally Books” – need a new wing n my library! It’s been great following all your work from the Faces of Ground Zero till now.

Michael Hansen says:

on October 19, 2010 at 8:32 am

Looking forward to read the book. Hope Amazon ships it fast.

Pavel (Paul) Sporish says:

on October 19, 2010 at 8:33 am

Joe, my friend,

Congratz on the new book. May it see plenty of light.

One comment though, the graphics have removed the Nikon logo and the red triangle from the handgrip of the camera.
But, the model of the camera is still there…
What is it, the D300s?

Alan Kesselhaut says:

on October 19, 2010 at 8:35 am

Today may be the official launch day but I already got my copy from Amazon. Half way through. What can I say, OUTSTANDING. I can’t recommend it enough. Hacker like me or pro, you’ll get something from this book.

Bill Bogle, Jr. says:

on October 19, 2010 at 8:40 am


Photojournalism lives on, it is just being shifted as to the location and where it is seen. With tablets, readers, and other digital outputs. Who thought our phones would do so much, when all we wanted was a two way wrist watch? A speaker a couple of years ago mentioned that the youth don’t wear watches, as they only do one thing, and a cell phone has time, alarm and more.

My daughter interned for this summer and had a wonderful experience. She got to go through the archives to make a gallery for a story of the unseen Rat Pack photos, as well as help pick images for consideration of picture of the week. A wonderful experience for her, as she thinks her career might be as a photo editor. She also interned at the Eddie Adams Workshop, so she got to see what an icon did, and how much his influence continues to live on.

It is a long strange road, and it seems to have the speed increasing, with many getting off or careening off that path. But we still need content, so there will be a need for those who can provide the content, and to get it out to the public.

This is to those who journey down the path.

Bill Bogle, Jr.

Carlos Bruno says:

on October 19, 2010 at 8:49 am

I’m seeing properly?
Joe McNally using a Tripod????
I can’t beeeeeeeeelieve what my eyes are seeing!

Paul Alers says:

on October 19, 2010 at 9:06 am

Congrats on the release–will let others know–lots o’ moms and pops approaching me at my son’s school events about how to use these thing called cameras that they plucked down there gold card for and threw the paperwork (read manual) in the trash. I will say pluck down that gold card again for this book and keep it on your night stand.

Glenda Cherry says:

on October 19, 2010 at 9:13 am

Looks great … can’t wait to read it!

Alan MacRae says:

on October 19, 2010 at 9:14 am

Congrats on your newest book, Joe. Can’t wait to get a copy of it. Best to Annie, too!

Daniel Bartel says:

on October 19, 2010 at 9:17 am

Joe and Drew,
I got the book from Amazon two weeks ago on October 5th. Did they ship it early? Loved seeing the photo from DLWS Michigan on the cover and in the book. Wonder what those two guys and their flea ridden dog are up to now. If only I could remember that ridiculously long email address he had.

Johan Sopiee says:

on October 19, 2010 at 9:30 am

Congrats!! I can’t wait to read your new book! Way to GO!

Matthew Williams says:

on October 19, 2010 at 9:36 am


First off, I got the pre-order from amazon today, coincidence that I get it on the day it comes out, as I am deployed and the mail system is less than speedy.

Already halfway through it, awesome book! I try to model the way I teach photography to people after the way you explain things, this book rocks. I have already recommended it to at least ten different people. Great work Joe, knew it would be good before I got it!!
Thank you so much for taking the time to write this book, you continue to impact the world of photography in such dramatically great ways!

Barbara Bruckman says:

on October 19, 2010 at 9:51 am

We got ours last week — it’s great! Thanks for another useful (and entertaining) book.

Karen Cooper says:

on October 19, 2010 at 9:51 am

Congratulations on your new book, Joe. I am off to the book store right now to pick up my copy. If there are any left!

Jun Tanakawa says:

on October 19, 2010 at 9:56 am

@Carlos Bruno: You may not be blind, that’s a Gitzo tripod.

Ryan says:

on October 19, 2010 at 9:56 am

Mine is on order and will be shipping soon. Can’t wait!

Stephen Milano says:

on October 19, 2010 at 10:12 am

outstanding-heading to Amazon to get it now-congrats on the new book

Dustin Finn says:

on October 19, 2010 at 10:29 am

Why bother removing the “Brand” logo from above the lens but leave what looks likes the “d” name in the writing that looks like a Nikon branded model name in the image on the book ?

I cannot wait to get mine !

Sid and Michelle Monroe says:

on October 19, 2010 at 11:04 am

Congratulations on another great book! Waiting on big order for the gallery.

Courtney Haney says:

on October 19, 2010 at 11:06 am

Looks great!!! I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Kimla Holk says:

on October 19, 2010 at 11:12 am

The generosity of photographers is never ending. Joe exemplifies this.

Anders Wester says:

on October 19, 2010 at 11:25 am

Bought it last week on Barnes and Nobles on my visit to US and read half of it on the flight back to Sweden. Can only agree to what’s been said earlier. A really good book with lots of valuable info for us “wannabes” out there.
My congrats on this book Joe!

If you keep up this writing Joe I will soon have more books written by you than I have of Scott Kelby. 😉

Jay says:

on October 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Picked it up at lunch time… can’t wait to get home and start reading.

Jake says:

on October 19, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Just ordered mine and overnighted it for a flight tomorrow night.

Skip Barber says:

on October 19, 2010 at 12:39 pm


Got my copy at B&N a couple days ago, and have read most of it. I have already shown it to some of my photog friends, and it sits right next to my chair so I can readily find it.

Great job, Joe.

Skip Barber

Rob Acocella says:

on October 19, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Nice, Joe. I’m in the middle of The HotShoe Diaries. Maybe once I’m done with it I’ll pick this up. So many photography books I’ve been meaning to read, by so many great guys like yourself. Hopefully one day my work will be as easily recognizable as yours.

Cynthia says:

on October 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Great news Joe! Congrats on your new book! I have all of your books so far, so naturally I will be adding this one to my collection!
You are such a talented photographer and a great teacher!

Best wishes,

Cynthia Smith

Bob DeChiara says:

on October 19, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Congrats Joe! Looking foward to reading it. And belated condolences regarding Nigel. I having been giving extra attention to my cat Jake.

Iden Ford says:

on October 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Shall order it asap

Kathy Winter says:

on October 19, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I got my copy today on the way home from the office. As soon as my little one goes to bed, I’m going to curl up and start reading. Cheers!

William Chinn says:

on October 19, 2010 at 6:32 pm

How come we can’t see Numnuts’ face? Got the book from Amazon early last week. Yeah, its just another great McNally book. But it will be a hard book to read on a Kindle. Since we have a sense of humor, on the next book can we scan Numnuts’ autograph and print it on the cover page?

Rory Laubscher says:

on October 19, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Congratulations on another literary milestone.

I am sure I’ll love this book as much your previous 2.
Thank you for being so generous with your advice and experience, and for presenting it in the way you do.

Undoubtedly, you have influenced countless photographers who you will likely never meet.

Thank you for continually paying it forward.

Now, if you could spend the royalties wisely, like buying into Canon gear….

Preston Norris says:

on October 19, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Great read – always something to learn from Mr. McNally

Kevin Glackmeyer says:

on October 19, 2010 at 7:32 pm

This is a new publication? with a D100 on the cover? really? what year was the cover layout done? and BTW we’re still waiting in Montgomery for the tour…

Karen says:

on October 19, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Like the look of the book, but I want it in digital format, not paper based.

Jim says:

on October 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Got the Book, it follows the excellence of your first two and has made me realize some of my mistakes, is getting me back to learning to do things better. ie Shooting in Manual Mode. Slows me down a bit and that is EXACTLY what I need to be doing. Thanks Joe.

J W Nienstedt says:

on October 19, 2010 at 11:52 pm

I can’t wait to get my copy. Thanks for sharing Joe!

Eric Muetterties says:

on October 20, 2010 at 12:23 am

Already got mine. Someone said they were dissappointed it was too basci, but I really like it. Thanks Joe

Arash says:

on October 20, 2010 at 4:27 am

Thanks Joe .. We were waiting for it long time…
Hope to see you in Kuala lumpur workshop

Cedric says:

on October 20, 2010 at 7:16 am

Hello Joe. Being an owner of 2 old LIFE photography books (published in the 70s I think), I’m quite sure that this one would be no different: informative, helpful, and can be a pretty deep well of inspiration. :) Looking forward to buying a copy of this. Thanks for sharing your talent with us!

John says:

on October 20, 2010 at 9:26 am

Mine’s on the way, can’t wait to get it and delve into the mind of McNally!

Craig Howe says:

on October 20, 2010 at 10:27 am

I have had the book for about two weeks. It is great; every shooter should buy it. Despite its “…semi-hard cover, flexible but tough…” cover, my book will become dog-earred from use.

Sherried says:

on October 20, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Saw it last night at my local Barnes and Nobel. Looked through it! It is on the list to purchase.

Bryan C Ramsay says:

on October 20, 2010 at 2:21 pm

My copy shows up TODAY!! Looking forward to the hilarity – the obscure Python-esque references – and numnuts, of course!

Charlie Flynn says:

on October 20, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Joe, On the shelf at Barnes & Noble yesterday. Grabbed one. Also the new LIFE Pictures by Artists Book ($29.95). Thanks.

DennyCayman says:

on October 20, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Hey Joe,

I like the new book I think you did a great job on it.


Tom Snide says:

on October 21, 2010 at 8:00 am

In-freakin-credible Joe! How you find time to do everything and -then- on top of all of it, produce another book? You are a machine!

Take care,


SFW ’10

Drew Gurian says:

on October 21, 2010 at 10:29 am

Kevin: I believe it’s a D300s, and if you look on Amazon, the final layout has the model # cropped out, as not to make mention of any make or model at all. The book layout was actually done this year, and as I see it, is really quite current. Thanks very much for your concern.

Drew Gurian says:

on October 21, 2010 at 10:32 am

Dustin- we actually posted a version that wasn’t completely final. If you look on Amazon, it’s cropped a bit differently.

J Starace says:

on October 21, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Whens the book signing party? We need to hoist a few!

Kristin says:

on October 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Can’t wait to look at this!

When can we expect the e-version for our Kindles & iPads?

alexsiu says:

on October 23, 2010 at 6:55 am

Good Job!
I`m form China.

Christopher Campbell says:

on October 23, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Picked it up yesterday — I don’t get into town much. You can tell us, Joe — that camera you are hugging on the back cover. Borrowed from Moose Peterson?

Silvester says:

on October 24, 2010 at 11:17 am

Just bought the book !

CoventryBob says:

on October 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm

The fantastic new book arrived in UK Friday morning and been devoured ever since. A great read as ever Joe – keep up the great work. See you and Drew sometime next year in London again?

Ken Toney says:

on October 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Whats that song, video killed the radio star!
I’ve ordered your book, I’m sure it’s great. You continue to make me better (bet you wished I was a lady) :)
PS, see ya in Hotlanta.

michael says:

on October 24, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Hi Joe,
Thank you very much for all the information you share. Your stories are like a guide for me of what to try and learn next. I hope your new book is as exiting to read as the other ones.

Let me know when you visit Germany some day. (Too bad i already booked my trip to Thailand in December, otherwise I’d visit you on your Asia—Tour!)

Sincerely Yours,

Charlie Flynn says:

on October 26, 2010 at 8:14 am

Thank you for including the definition of “Drag the Shutter” in the Glossary of the “The Guide”.
Charlie Flynn

Erika Plummer says:

on October 26, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Yeah! My Hubby brought home for my birthday today!!!! Yeah!!!!!!!

Network Geek says:

on October 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I went looking for this book based on the strength of the author. I haven’t really started reading it yet, but the photography is, of course, fantastic. I look forward to digging into it!

Rachel says:

on October 29, 2010 at 3:22 am

yea nice Work

Chet says:

on November 4, 2010 at 9:12 pm

I want to add this to my collection of Joe McNally books but am unable to find a hardcover copy. Is this only available as a paperback?



Joe McNally says:

on November 5, 2010 at 6:46 am

hey chet…yep, just the cover as is. It’s kind of an in between cover treatment. Not a hard cover, but not paper either, which is a little different….best, Joe

Chet says:

on November 5, 2010 at 8:11 am

Thank you, consider another one sold!


Michael Murphy says:

on November 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Awesome book! Congrats!

cpa network management says:

on December 6, 2010 at 10:36 pm

What entertaining phrase

Tommy Lynch says:

on December 13, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Got mine for my 50th B-day…..what a great present!

Ulrich Roth says:

on March 1, 2013 at 6:57 am

Yeah! Love your Books and your style of writing!


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