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Pause for Thought…

Apr 14

In Thanks, Thoughts at 10:33am

We are goofing our way across the country, in our last week of life on a bus. It’s been a fun ride, mostly because of the people we have met, the passion we have encountered, and the incredibly warm welcome we have received from Seattle to NY to Grand Rapids to Atlanta to Albuquerque. We have taught, laughed, screwed up, thrown flashes in the air, logged over 11,000 miles (so far), and just in general, made light (ouch!) of everything. Just a bunch of bucketheads on a bus. Then, in the midst of a laugh, you get a note that’s like a quick snort of smelling salts. It clears the head, and removes the fog that sometimes descends after a bumpy night’s sleep in a rolling, two foot wide bed. It snaps you back to the wonderful reality of just how being involved in picture making on any level gets into the very marrow of your bones. If life is a patchwork quilt, photography can be the stitching.

From one of our attendees……

True Story about the day…

4 weeks ago the light of my life, business partner, and ongoing source of… umm… determination; was diagnosed with terminal, incurable, ultra rare, neuro-endocrine cancer. 2 weeks ago when we were meeting with the oncologist to discuss treatment, Eric informed his doctor that he refused to start any kind of treatment until after April 12th because he didn’t want to be ill for the date. I have been a follower of Strobist since I stumbled accross it a couple months after Strobist began. Eric has worshiped Joe McNally for years and we now own all his books. Off camera Nikon strobes is what brought us together. Between the 2 of us; the event of Joe and David finally coming to the Midwest to speak was a nearly religious experience.

So to Joe, thank you. I was the one with the snarky comment that you gave the disks to, it made me happy and it overjoyed Eric. We had already decided that we couldn’t afford the DVD’s. That was a gift with a double whammy that will make the trip to Indy so special for us for the time we have left together. I really can’t thank you enough or tell you how happy we were to be there. Neither of us are the kind to gush over celebrities and I NEVER write to them; but, thank you, thank you, thank you.

To David….. OMG I got to stand near DAVID HOBBY, the man made of light! And shake is hand! Seriously, it was funny sitting there listening to you and to have Eric lean over to me and say, “I understand why you think he’s so cool, he’s been hugely influential on every aspect of your photographic philosophy”.

Thank you all so much for a great day of laughter and light!

You get a note like that, and it is humbling, overwhelming, and motivating all at the same time. It makes you want to shoot better, teach better, and just be better. It makes you want to call your wife or husband. It makes you want to take more pictures of your kids. It reassures you that this lark we’re on has a good reverb.  It reaffirms that as a shooter, it’s about being in the trenches, keeping your eye in the camera, pushing through the mistakes and the misgivings and the slumps. It’s about sharing knowledge, and pushing each other. Giving back is so much more important than pixels.

Kat and Eric…sending light your way…..more tk….

Lou says:

on April 14, 2011 at 10:51 am

Wow…humbling and overwhelming indeed. Thanks for sharing this, Joe, and to perhaps underscore a bit, David duChemin recently stopped in Atlanta and another master of light, Zach Arias, hosted a meetup at his studio. The evening was fun & light-hearted until Zach asked David to share a few words. Then things got very boring, I mean a bit serious, as David shared some of the things that brought him to undertake his current open-ended tour of the US and beyond. Bottom line, he implored everybody listening to not wait until tomorrow to do what your heart or passion is driving you to do today. Risk big and be willing to fall, be willing to fail, for tomorrow might not come. And it might turn out that the big risk turns into HUGE dreams come true.

Thanks for sharing a bit of Kat’s & Eric’s story – they sound like an incredible couple who are pursuing their passion with vigor. All the best to them and to you, David, & your team as you wrap up an incredible journey.

Gerry Johnson says:

on April 14, 2011 at 10:52 am

Thank you Joe. I’ve had somewhat similar experiences by taking neighbor’s photos (despite their protestations), only to find that the photo I took is the best one for the family to use at their funeral! Or some similar sad event.
You are correct – that is what it is all about!!
Thanks again

阮之梦ruanzhimeng says:

on April 14, 2011 at 10:59 am


Iden Ford says:

on April 14, 2011 at 11:15 am

Whoa, this is a most heart warming and motivating story. Every day counts, and every time we are with our loved one’s we need to remember that it is not forever. So thank you for posting this story. Sending light and love to Kat and Eric

Teymur Madjderey (icedsoul photography) says:

on April 14, 2011 at 11:20 am

Thank you for sharing this! And godspeed to Eric and Kat!!!

Brycia says:

on April 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

Aww, Joe, you made me cry again! Thank you for sharing this touching note.

darren_c says:

on April 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm

This story shows the true power of photography and what we can do with it… inspiration and hope!

Thanks for sharing.

Thoughts and prayers to Eric and Kat.

Dude says:

on April 14, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Thanks for bringing Justin Beiber for the ride!

Dave Kallaway says:

on April 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

“..this lark we’re on has a good reverb.” Quote of the day Joe.

James says:

on April 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for posting this. I am sure you debated not posting it. But it was important for me today.

DaveB says:

on April 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Puts a perspective on life and helps us all realize that we can make an impact on the lives of others…

Henrique says:

on April 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Very cool story and I can truly share their feelings as I have come to a couple of your classes live and is really is an experience to learn from people like you and David

Jim child says:

on April 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I am a follower of your great talent. Had the opportunity to shake your hand at DLWS, Photoshop world, and Flashbus tour. If you knew the influence you have on jr. photographers it would blow you away. I now as a fact. I know of several myself that cannot afford to be close to you at these events. So I take back any and all information to them. It’s like manna from GOD.
Thanks for your down to earth personality. Welcoming all. As famous, experienced knowledgable and motivated as you are you still take time to look us in the eye and say hi! Somewhat unusual for someone of your caliber….

Kevin says:

on April 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Perspective is a beautiful thing. Our time here is fleeting at best. Good luck Kat and Eric. Thanks to Joe and David for being a regular source of inspiration to so many.

Fotogrāfs Valters says:

on April 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Over 11,000 miles! Great plans, article image are awesome, thank you Joe.

Love Your photography work!

Tom says:

on April 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

How a story can be so sad, humbling, and wonderful all at the same time. I had the honor of being in Indy when Kat made that “snarky” comment and it was very funny. Good for her! God bless her and Eric, may he regain his health. My prayers are with them both.

Thank you Joe, David, and all your team for making it a wonderful day for all of us.


Doug Rice says:

on April 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I was at the Indy event also. I greatly enjoyed hearing and learning from all of you. And, yes, I have been a huge fan of Joe and David for years. Thanks so much for sharing!
And, most of all, best wishes to Kat and Eric.

Paul Roberts says:

on April 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm

It is so true that this photographic mystery tour we jumped on whenever it was that we couldn’t put the camera down is populated by the greatest people on the planet. I hope the fixer is fresh where ever we all meet again…

Tom Marriage says:

on April 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Really puts things into perspective about what is important doesn’t it? Such a sad, happy and beautiful story. I was at this seminar and was sitting right across from this couple. Her comment was great and funny.

Thanks Joe to you and David for this amazing tour. Even though it was about lighting it was also so much more. Tons of inspiration. You two are the best. Thanks for everything that you both have shared with us.

Kat & Eric. Love to both of you and thanks.


Tim Skipper says:

on April 14, 2011 at 6:58 pm

That is awesome.

Nick Van Zanten says:

on April 14, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I just checked in with the blog to say a Thank You for the event today in Grand Rapids. Reading the blog, the first thing I want to do is wish Kat & Eric all the best. I share with them the wonders and wisdom of all you gave today. Layers of light and really good thoughts go out to both.

And now the thank you, for a very inspirational day! Going at your pace for six weeks can’t be easy, so THANK YOU for your effort, even if it is too much fun McNally, it is a great thing to share.

When I first saw the promo I thought nah! I don’t shoot flash. My wife said one of us should go, but I said I’ll probably never use the that SB 600 you bought. So who am I to argue? Well boys, now two hours after the Q&A, and btw, thank you also for the Trigrip, the cat is on the table and SHE IS GETTING LIT!

Thanks so much!

Rick Paul says:

on April 14, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Last week my youngest daughter, only 8 years old, collapsed in an apparent seizure. For 30 seconds my wife and I thought we had lost her. For days we were sleepless with fear of what was wrong. Luckily this past week we have met with doctors who have assured us she is fine and the incident was nothing to work out.

This has caused me to covet every picture I have taken of my daughters, give them an extra hug each day, and be thankful for every moment I have with them, and of every picture I take.

William Chinn says:

on April 14, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Joe, when your new book is published can I help contribute to get Kat and Eric a copy? All I ask is a picture of Eric reading the book in this blog. Please finish it soon and have the publisher do their magic soon. I am ignoring the new Amazon release date.

To Eric: You really want to read this new book. I’m sure there will be an autograph from Numnuts! Hang in there!

Joel Nickerson says:

on April 14, 2011 at 7:52 pm

It was surreal meeting you, David, Drew and the crew today in Grand Rapids. Thank you for sharing. Kat and Eric are just the tip of the iceberg when you think of all of us that are positively affected by you all on the Flashbus. Life is too short, sweet if your lucky, and a down-right blast when you surround yourself with the right people. The right people were definitely in the room today. Thank you – Joel

Chris Van Winkle says:

on April 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Thanks for a great day and for sharing the letter you guys received. Pretty cool.

Chad Goldman says:

on April 14, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Kat and Eric,
I wish you the best. Your story made me go give my wife a hug.

Joe and Dave,
Thanks for stopping by the midwest. Seriously, If you come by French Lick IN, give me a ring, I live right down the road. (and there’s good stuff to photo here too!) Had lots of laughs and rubbed it in the face of anyone I knew who had a camera 😉

Jim says:

on April 14, 2011 at 9:17 pm

You are so fortunate to do what you do Joe and David. I thank God for You both and I hope YOU Thank him every day to.

Jenika says:

on April 14, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Thank you for sharing that note. I was at the Indy workshop as well, and it was an honor to be there – even more so now that I know how much it meant to someone else.

It was my birthday present to go to the workshop and I had a fantastic time. I posted a few images from the day on my blog and it made all my photog friends jealous – you’ve inspired so many people, myself included. Thank you for doing this for us, thank you for making yourself available to the photography community. I loved watching you go from being rip-roaring hilarious to totally professional and kind when you pulled someone out of the audience to take their photo. I also appreciated you and David Hobby’s efforts to make sure that no one got left behind in the conversation. Thanks for dazzling us and educating us at the same time. I’ll never forget it.

Lee Ann says:

on April 15, 2011 at 8:21 am

Bittersweet story. Thanks for sharing. I sat a few rows behind Kat and Eric in the cavernous convention center room in Indy and loved her comment and the way you responded. Reminds us all that “you just never know” what impact you may have on another person’s day/life.

Thanks for coming to Indy and shaking our hands as we stood in line that morning–very impressive thing to do! Learned and laughed a lot!

Hugs to Kat and Eric!

Richard Kozak says:

on April 15, 2011 at 8:37 am

So touching on so many levels. You do bring light to so many of us. Had the opportunity to meet with you once again in Pittsburgh. What a great day!

Keep up the inspiring work you do so well.

Lee says:

on April 15, 2011 at 8:56 am

Dear Joe and David
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the “Tour”. I found the whole event very informative and entertaining.
I guess I am more of a landscape/architect photographer than a “People” photographer.
Since I did not get the chance to ask this question while I was there… Can a person apply this information to shooting landscapes?
Can you possibly blog about using “manmade” light vs Ambient in the Great Outdoors?
P.S. I got to shake Joe’s hand!!

Vic Peek says:

on April 15, 2011 at 8:58 am

I was at the Indy Flash Bus stop – was a very informative and casual event. I really appreciate all the information. I now know what to do with those three old SB 28’s setting on my shelf. Tell Hobby that I am going to relly, really try manual.

Paul says:

on April 15, 2011 at 9:14 am

….ya know we paid good money to see some motivational speakers yesterday in Grand Rapids….and we wound up listening to a couple of photographers!!

Seriously the day WAS motivational and inspirational. My wife and I loved every minute of it. Thanks.

Best of luck and love to Kat and Eric. Thanks to Kat for sharing and reminding us with such grace to cherish and savour every moment.

kettlepot says:

on April 15, 2011 at 9:30 am

happy thoughts and well wishes to Kat and Eric

Ivan says:

on April 15, 2011 at 9:31 am

Joe, Powerful, and well said. Thank you for sharing.

It’s emotion like this that we as photographers are all about.

I have lost two important people in my life, one to cancer, the other from heart disease, and this story is a reminder how fragile we all are.

Cherish every day.

Cindy Farr-Weinfeld says:

on April 15, 2011 at 9:42 am

Wow–that was amazingly touching and moving–Kat and Eric’s story is so so sad and yet so uplifting at the thought of Eric’s determination and love for photography (and of course for Joe McNally!) I’m so glad that Kat shared the story and that you shared it with us, Joe. . . You go so far beyond taking brilliant pictures; you bring people together and move us to tears both happily and in a bittersweet way over and over.

I was at the Boston day and having just gotten into David Hobby after years of being a Joe fanatic, it was a dream realized to learn so much and enjoy and laugh so much at the same time! Thank you cubed! Cindy in Portland, Maine

MP Singh says:

on April 15, 2011 at 10:09 am

So well written and thanks for sharing the post. You are as good with pen (keyboard) as you are with 20 SB900s together. I attended flashbus at San Jose and it was great.

Bill Griffin says:

on April 15, 2011 at 10:40 am

A wonderful letter and recognition by you and David as well. Looking at the group photo I sense that David had control of the lighting. Looks like manual mode, stopped down 1.5-2 stops and bring the subjects back up to zero to me. He!He!

Nikki says:

on April 15, 2011 at 11:01 am

Thank you for sharing that touching story, Joe. It’s just another reminder to us all how precious and short life is. Lucky for me, the cancer I had last year was treatable and didn’t stop me from attending my photo courses (altho I had to leave a Dave Cross seminar early for my radiation :-)). So sad that this disease still takes people away. Important for us to make every day count and that’s what you seem to do.

Rob Byron says:

on April 15, 2011 at 11:37 am


Al says:

on April 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Joe, I attended your session in Buffalo, N.Y. I am the guy who said we were at Syracuse University at the same time…Anyway, seeing you and David live confirmed what I already knew. You are a wonderful and talented photograper but even a better human being. Your writing has had me in tears on more than one occasion. It was an honor to be at your session and actually get to meet you. I hope you know what a “Rock Star” you are…

Jerry Sheehan says:

on April 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm

My best to Kat and Eric.

We’re going through breast cancer at our house. Cancers can and do get beat. It’s a hard trail but there is reward in the journey. I know it doesn’t seem like it but there is.

Joe and David
I caught the bus in Seattle. Best time of my photographic life. I’m glad you felt at home in the Convention Center.I also met a new friend. All in all well worth the price of admission doubled!

I don’t gush over celebs but it was a treat to share a few words with Joe. His work with firefighters is very much noticed. At least by this one.

Live long and prosper.

Brenda Richterkessing says:

on April 16, 2011 at 12:54 am

Sometimes on the days when I am being particularly hard on myself, in order to snap out of it, I think about the Jimmy Stewart movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” except I try to think of my own life as Jimmy Stewart’s in the movie…”What would have been different if I had never been born?” It doesn’t take long to find ways that each of us have impacted or influenced another’s life, in both large and small ways. Just think if you had never been born…the heroes of 911 would not have been captured in life-size photos, the beauty of a dancer may have been missed, Kat and Eric would not have had this bright moment at a time of darkness, and I may never have learned to use my SB900 to capture my dad’s 79th birthday! I am glad you were born, Joe McNally. Your passion, wisdom, and photography have inspired so many, including me. I have all your books, have watched all your Kelby videos, and always attend your seminars when you are in Atlanta. Loved the Flasbus Tour! Thanks for sharing so much with all of us. God speed to Kat and Eric.

Dirk says:

on April 16, 2011 at 10:19 pm

What an amazing story. Like you said, it’s about more than pixels — it’s about how we connect with one another and how we learn and grow together and from each other.

Speaking of learning, thanks again for a great day in Madison yesterday! I still can’t believe you got Justin Bieber to come along on your tour! I also respect your guts, McNally — tethered straight to the big screen. Thanks for putting yourself on display for our amusement and learning. Where else can you crack jokes about f-stops and have 300 people laugh with you? Hats off to you and David for putting together a great adventure for yourselves and for everyone along the way!

BobK says:

on April 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

I really enjoyed the session in Grand Rapids. Absolutely the best. You and Hobby are truly impassioned and attendees can’t help but take back some tips and more importantly, understanding. As for posting on this topic, I am tearing up a bit reading about Kat and Eric. I have to shoot a big cancer race today and will truly approach it in a more inspired way due to this blog.

Dirk says:

on April 17, 2011 at 9:35 pm

One more thing… Eric and Kat, you’re in my prayers. I hope your time together is filled with many wonderful photos and lots of great light!

Brian Powell says:

on April 18, 2011 at 8:59 am

YESSS!! Thanks again for coming to Indy – was great to meet you and hear from both of you. Good stuff.

From a 2-time survivor,


RobyFabro says:

on April 18, 2011 at 9:07 am

Surely the tour de force you are doing around the, not so small USA, is paying off in several ways, and the feed back from Kat and Eric is a sound proof!
I wish them all my best, we all need more strength in our life!

Christian Held says:

on April 18, 2011 at 10:58 am

What about a 3 minute feature video and some pictures from in the bus?

Anim8me2 says:

on April 20, 2011 at 8:38 am

I attended the photo safari at PSW this year (amazing day), and one of my fellows remarked that Joe doesn’t smile much. I told him “Are you kidding? You just aren’t looking at him right.”
Joe, your humor and willingness to let it all hang out are an inspiration to me as an educator.
Between you and DH you rekindled my love of flash photography and got my sorry butt moving again.

I did not choke up when I read this (lie), and I did not immediately call my wife to tell her I love her (another lie), so just cut it out with this stuff.
Thanks again for everything you guys do!

To Eric and Kat, never forget that love will get us through the best and the worst. I think I can comfortably say that as a community, “we got your backs”.

BTW Joe, I was the guy with the Phase One at PSW. Thanks for calling me out. Nothing like having 100 fellow photogs looking at you with a “Who does he think he is” look.

Michael says:

on April 20, 2011 at 10:10 am

i had a good time in Madison, even when i look like an incompetent boob in front of hundreds of
people with an SB-900, oh well, i guess. I’m glad Drew open his mouth so the idea of
the Flash Bus Tour could happen. again i had a good time. i hope you do this again!

Thanks, Michael

nando says:

on April 21, 2011 at 8:16 am

This post is one of those, Joe.
Thanks a lot for sharing.

Arno says:

on April 21, 2011 at 11:39 pm

My heart goes out to Kat and Eric, I hope you find comfort remembering these shared times as you proceed on your tough tough journey.

I was on the other side of the coin. Flashbus was the first all day event that didn’t bring me to my knees. Even two years after brain surgery I still feel the effects of the brain tumor every day. I thought it was a tribute to the teaching styles of both these guys that I was able to make it through the whole event.

My heart goes out to the two of you. I wish you much strength and hope you can find the strength to enjoy each other one day at the time.

Barbara Thorbjornsson says:

on April 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Kat and Eric, please receive loving thoughts as they come your way.
Joe, thank you for thinking of others.
Does anyone know if Joe has released his instructional DVD’s yet?

Glyn Dewis says:

on April 23, 2011 at 11:38 pm

OMG…how incredibly powerful and humbling!
What else is there to say other than ‘Good on you…Joe and David for putting this all together’…clearly this has meant alot more to folks than you first imagined.

Best wishes to you all,

Jack Rigby says:

on April 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I really enjoyed the Pittsburgh Bus tour stop. Thanks a lot.

Jack RIgby
PS: Joe, do you have a brother named Randy?

Eric says:

on May 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm

I sort of had to read these all and think a while before I could say a word, you see, looking through the tears was a bit difficult…now, perhaps, I can.

Wanting to be a photographer since I was a kid I never really had the chance till later in life, my late 30’s. Now in my early 50’s I realize what I actually want to do…but may not have the time to do it. Now…remembering Maplethorp… perhaps I have all the freedom in the world… yet time is trying to stop me.

To all those who left words and those who thought about it…my humble thank you!

As for Joe…words cannot tell you how much you’ve taught and guided me having never even known of me. Your willingness to show others the light gave me the freedom to do the same. Showing those who are wanting to know and hardly know which end of a camera to point at a subject, or how to frame them, or how to…

Now that none, but a few souls, will ever see this post, all my love to those who care to take it.

Joe, you mean the world to so many people in your life, those you touch daily, those who touch you and those you’ll never know. (Pull your head out, Joe, this was a compliment, not a…)

Thanks, Joe!

littlechild says:

on May 19, 2011 at 2:15 am

I really enjoyed the Pittsburgh Bus tour stop. Thanks a lot.

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