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Travels, and, Calling Dr. Brown

Mar 26

In Friends, Travels at 10:22pm

Russell Brown is one of the geniuses and driving forces behind all the innovation over at Adobe. To say he speaks a different language than I do is really putting it mildly. When I’m amongst people speaking in a foreign tongue, I can usually pick up a few words here and there. But Russell uses terminology quite regularly that is from a dialect of tech speak that I can’t even begin to get a handle on.

But, the wonderful thing about Russell is, no matter how manic and formidable his intellect, he is always up for a prank, a laugh or a photo session. He came by my lighting class at this past weekend’s Washington DC PhotoShop World seminars dressed as “Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.” For any explanation of this costume, you’ll simply have to ask Russell. But it was cool and the class was up for it as we tried to go about making Honest Abe look like he was auditioning for True Blood. Many thanks to all at my classes over the last few days, and of course to the Kelby Clan for pulling off a terrific PSW for the first time in our nation’s capitol city.

Then I spied Philip and Alexandra in the audience, and I could tell from a distance they had something special going between the two of them, so I called them up on stage. Turns out, Philip asked Alexandra to marry him the day previous, and and he had worked out a making a snap of his proposal while they were out making pictures with remote flashes. Awesome! I was able to use the new Elinchrom indirect soft box, which has an unbelievably forgiving quality of light, to make an impromptu engagement snap.

My path since PSW has been interesting. Left after my Sunday class, and jumped to Dulles Airport. Flew to NY. Then flew to Prague. And then to Tallinn, Estonia. Landed in Tallinn at 3:10 in the afternoon, of course without my luggage. Had to abandon even doing the lost bag paperwork and get into a car, and by 3:45 I was lecturing with Bill Frakes at Nikon’s week long D4 tour of Scandinavia. (His blog yesterday was titled, basically, “Waiting for Joe McNally.”)

Did not stay in Tallinn. Went back to the airport. Flew to Helsinki. Had a wonderful dinner last night with Peter Brodin and the whole Nikon group, went back to the hotel and passed out. Woke up this morning in Finland.

It’s always an honor to do stuff with Bill. We’ve known each other for 30 years, roughly, and to say we’re no strangers to the road is, well, accurate. He leaves here after this tour, flies back to the States, and walks off the plane to shoot the Final Four. I go back and pick up shooting this Nat Geo story that has been routinely kicking my ass for the last two months. Lots of miles, lots of pictures, laughs and friendship.

More tk….

Mark Olwick says:

on March 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm

You realize that now everyone in your audiences will be dressing in costume so they can be picked. Can of worms – opened!

brook says:

on March 26, 2012 at 10:35 pm

What we somehow need is a blogpost that explains to us the new focusing options with the new d4 and the d800. What works best for moving away? towards? sideways? etc

Rebecca Getsfrid, Vancouver, Washington Commercial Photographer says:

on March 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Killer shots as always!

Jesper Vang Skærbæk Jensen says:

on March 27, 2012 at 1:13 am

Busy schedule, Joe :-) Looking forward to seeing you and Bill on thursday in Copenhagen :-)

Henri says:

on March 27, 2012 at 1:22 am

Welcome to Finland Joe! Looking forward to your lecture today! On my way to Helsinki atm.

Petteri Vilkki says:

on March 27, 2012 at 1:53 am

Welcome to Finland. See U in few hours.

Tenisd says:

on March 27, 2012 at 3:02 am

Heii, Your lecture @Tallin was awesome. Thank You.

Patrik Lindgren says:

on March 27, 2012 at 4:59 am

Nice stuff as always. I do look forward to see what you and Bill have been cooking on friday when you reach Stockholm Sweden on your Nikon tour.
I acutally got my big Elinchrom Softbox last friday, i ordered it in december and had almost forgot about it. It looks awesome and i´m gonna try it out when i get a chance.

William Chinn says:

on March 27, 2012 at 9:01 am

OK, I’ll bite since no one else will. McNally’s luggage caught up with the source when and where, or has it?

John says:

on March 27, 2012 at 10:28 am

Joe, I attended the session at PSW as you made these photos. It was my highlight of the conference.

Dean Huber says:

on March 27, 2012 at 10:44 am

And I thought I wanted to be a professional photographer. Crazy life Joe. I think I’m content to live it remotely through you. Thanks for sharing.

John says:

on March 27, 2012 at 10:54 am

Ah, but think of the frequent flyer miles! This guy sure gets around! Dubai, Washington, Prague… How do you do it?!!

Yrjö Mäenpää says:

on March 27, 2012 at 11:35 am

Joe, many thanks for you lecture in Helsinki just a few hours ago! I enjoyed your lively style and insight into a experienced photographers life and work!

Marko says:

on March 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm

It was great to see your presentation. Thanks for visiting Finland!

Martin Castillo says:

on March 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I was fortunate to be at that class. As always, it is a pleasure to see how a true professional works through so many of the obstacles faced when doing a shoot. In the end the results are wonderful.

Can’t wait to hear about the Nat Geo shoot.

Bo Johnsson says:

on March 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm

See you in Copenhagen on Thursday. Welcome to Scandinavia!

JF Machado says:

on March 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Any change of an eventual workshop in Portugal?

Joe McNally says:

on March 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

not yet! first I’ll see of it is thursday when we (me and the bag) reconvene in Copenhagen….:-)

Justin Van Leeuwen says:

on March 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I was surprised to see that indirect come in at around $500 considering the other indirect lights are *ahem* more.

Sam Ellis says:

on March 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Joe, that was a great workshop and interesting to see how you approach a job. Now imagine Phillip and Alexandra interviewing wedding photographers…”No, we don’t need engagement pictures, we had some done by Joe McNally.” No pressure on the wedding photographer! I hope they get Cliff Mautner, he wouldn’t be intimidated :)

Henrik Olsen says:

on March 28, 2012 at 12:47 am

Can’t wait to meet you in Copenhagen tomorrow.

Kyle Jerichow says:

on March 28, 2012 at 2:50 am


Back in the day, when Kamila and I used to gallivant around Europe on the weekends, one of my bags, a small roller, never made the trip on the plane with me. It would always arrive the next day in a private car from the airport to wherever we were staying. That damn bag traveled better than I did.

I hope you and your bag are reunited happily and that it has its own vacation photos to show off.

Safe Travels, and all the best,


Lauri says:

on March 28, 2012 at 6:59 am

Again as always, it was a inspirational to see your pictures and hear the stories behind them. I am always amazed by your pictures and also how you well take and handle your audience…even the old bearded guy in the front row.

Lot to learn, this n00bie haz.

Harrogate Wedding Photographer says:

on March 28, 2012 at 7:19 am

Creepy photos at the top there!

Arturo says:

on March 29, 2012 at 1:23 am

I am looking forward to your talk tomorrow at Fotografiska in Stockholm!
Perhaps you could discuss with the museum about having an exhibition there! 😉

Bhashkar Ghosh says:

on March 29, 2012 at 6:59 am

Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked blog.

Pete Tsai says:

on March 29, 2012 at 11:51 am

Joe, you really need to have a GPS log of this, would be really cool to bring it up in LR4 and watch your global zigzagging with great images interspersed!

Piero Capannini says:

on March 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Joe there’s any chances for a workshop in italy? Please come there!!!!!

ian says:

on March 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm

i liked your stuff at photoshop world here in DC. Thanks for taking the time to show us some tips and tricks. Are any of the other photos posted online somewhere? I ask because you shot me too…

Insight Images says:

on March 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Very cool shots Joe! I see your work in a whole new light since attending your workshop! Keep it up!!

Ville Vintola says:

on March 30, 2012 at 10:22 am

Yes, really thanks for the inspirational speech, once again.
Too bad you did not have time to shoot in Finland. I have always wondered what you could with the amazing light in here.

Laura says:

on April 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm

The photo of Philip and Alexandra is magic!

Shaunna Sparks says:

on April 4, 2012 at 8:53 am

Joe I just love reading your blog! I love how REAL it is (i.e. the casual nature) yet, how informative you make it. Thanks for keeping it real!

Alexandra Way says:

on April 23, 2012 at 9:05 pm


Your class was amazing! Philip and I enjoyed it so much. I can’t express to you how much of an honor it is that you chose us and took some photos of us. THANK YOU soo much for that!! We loved the opportunity we had. We learned so much in your workshop and we have engagement photos from YOU! Thank you and thanks for posting this on your blog. So amazing!!!

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