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Lots of Miles in July…

Jul 19

In Travels at 5:35am

Used to be summer slowed down a touch. Not so much this turn of a very hot July. The month started with shooting a simple day or so for Geographic, and then spun into a huge, festive wedding weekend. It was a wonderful event, but one with lots of moving parts, so we put together a team of four shooters and went after it to the tune of 330 gigs in a couple days.

Less than 24 hours later, headed to Canada, and Drew and I were on seven flights in eight days, stopping in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. Flew a lot of Westjet, and they did a pretty good job. Spent so much time up there over the great white north I  figured I’d make a quickie Iphone pic of a familiar view.

Was in Canada for Kelby Media, teaching on the “One Light, Two Light” Tour. (Next stop, Miami, Aug. 20th.) It was fun, and I really have to thank everyone who came along to the various stops and helped out. I simply pick audience members out for subjects, and we work our way through the day, keeping it resolutely simple. We do TTL, manual, one light, two light and three light solutions. It’s a fast paced day.

Had some really fun, adventurous people help me out on stage, for which I am very grateful. They took the plunge and were willing to be photographed in front of three or four hundred strangers, and have the results go immediately to big screens. Talk about a leap of faith. The main point of the pix is to shoot  simply, with super basic tools, and not really finish anything, but just keep experimenting. The above grids were just quick selects I made in Aperture and did screen shots of.

I asked at one point for someone small, and a wonderful, expression filled young lady answered the call. She had a terrific range of moods she could project, and we worked our way through a bunch. Her being about the age of my oldest daughter, I asked her to give me a facial expression that might accompany that time honored, exasperated phrase, “Whatever, Dad!”

We had a blast together. And then, there was Nancy, in Montreal. She fairly bounded on stage and before you know it we had quite an array of visuals.  A Montreal based wedding shooter, she was just a non-stop live wire everybody in the room enjoyed.

By the time we rattled through some pix, the audience was laughing so hard that I just looked at her and said, okay, give me the expression you might give a guy who sidles up to you in a bar and hands you a cheeseball pickup line like, “Would the keys to my Porsche fit in your handbag?”

Okay, then! The audience, Nancy, Drew, and I just lost it. Below is a crowd scene, with the big guy from Adorama, Jeff Snyder, tucked in the corner.

Arrived back home just in time for a Welcome to Newburgh party at David Burnett’s new digs. Hard to believe I’ve known David, who is one of the quintessentially important photojournalists of our time, since the 70’s. It’s great to have him and Iris in the neighborhood.

Also, over the last couple weeks, FakeChuckWestfall suggested I had been separated at birth from a sock puppet. I’m okay about that. I’d always wondered where that puppet had gone off to.

It has also been eventful over at, where hell froze over. For the first time in forever, the Strobist site picked up and ran a tip from none other than Gary Fong. It’s a good tip, and the Fongster did well in offering it, and DH responded in kind by noting its usefulness. It’s called “The Red Hallway Trick.” Kudos to both gentlemen.

About that time, Gary also sent out a missive to his fans, soliciting their participation in an opinion poll about the cover of his newest book. He promises to abide by the results of the poll, and run whichever cover folks deem the best.

Here’s the link to vote. I think it’s still active. Weigh your thoughts carefully. These are the kind of decisions, quite frankly, that keep me up at night.

Just arrived a couple days ago in Hong Kong to lots of clouds. Teaching at a wonderful event called Creative Asia, with some excellent instructors. My daughter Claire is with me, and we’ll go on together to Kuala Lumpur, along with Louis Pang and Zack Arias.

Working my way through the fatigue. Had some great dim sum the other night, and grabbed a bunch of that amazing Asian medicine that I have always found to cure all manner of ills, aches and pains.

More tk….

Andor says:

on July 19, 2012 at 6:36 am

Awesome post again – wish I could be there in August!
Yep, these kind of ‘asian medicines’ can help at the end of a tough day indeed ;-)))
(Only to avoid overdose :-D)

Karen B says:

on July 19, 2012 at 8:03 am

Great post, Joe. Your story is a chaotic whirlwind churned with humor. I still smile when I think of “Nancy” in Montreal…. fantastic gal!

Nick Giardina says:

on July 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

When are you going to bring the “one light, two light tour” to the tri-state area (namely North Jersey)? My wife can’t understand me spending a couple thousand dollars to come see you in Florida or Oregon!

Justin Van Leeuwen says:

on July 19, 2012 at 9:10 am

What a handsome group of people 😉

Nikki says:

on July 19, 2012 at 10:00 am

Fabulous seminar in Calgary. Hope you’ll make your way up here again. I really like that medicine, we had that kind lots when we were in China, very helpful :-).

Vlad Dodan says:

on July 19, 2012 at 10:04 am

The worst thing the overdose of that can do to you is piss off everyone else that`s waiting to use the loo. Trust me, I`ve been drinking it for the past 5 months. 😉

Is Shanghai on your list in the next 7-8 months, by any chance? :)

Vic Peek says:

on July 19, 2012 at 10:19 am


You and Kelby need to get the “One Light Two Light” seminar somewhere close to Kentucky !!!!

Portrait Photographer | Diego Molina says:

on July 19, 2012 at 11:12 am

Great work. We tend to be more creative when we have no time to spare. Thanks for inspiring the newcommers.

MaryT says:

on July 19, 2012 at 11:29 am

Oh seeing that bottle of Tsingtao has stirred up so many memories for me! I’m “green” with envy LOL!

Jim says:

on July 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Had a great time with you in Toronto, Joe – great presentation with lots of good info.


JerseyStyle Photography says:

on July 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Whew. Busy month!

Especially love the shot of David and Iris. Still owe you one for that… ~ Mark

Peter West Photo says:

on July 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Was at the Toronto event. This was a blast!

Simon says:

on July 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Caught the webcast last night of the panel at Creative Asia fielding questions from the audience & internet – looked like a great event. I love Zack Aria’s comment on success smelling like sewage & fish, referring to him doing some of his own shooting in the back alleys of HK.

If you guys can figure out how to bottle those fumes you run on I’d be up for buying some shares into the brewing process…

Mario Plouffe says:

on July 19, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I go in Montreal and i have a lot of fun. You make some beautiful portraits live, i love the portraits of the black guy and we have a lot of fun with Nancy. Thank you to have come in Montreal and i hope you came back in the future.

Save the planet, the only one with Joe Mcnally and Nancy.

Russ Gelardi says:

on July 20, 2012 at 12:26 am

Three things Joe, first, on the wing shot, did you use spot or matrix metering? Plus or minus exposure compensation? Focal length, shutter speed, what IS…Oh! wait a minute, it was an Iphone… nevermind, shoulda used a D4 coulda answered a lot of really important questions. Second, as I said to you last year, when you shot me for a class in Palo Alto, you’re getting pretty good at this stuff. I wonder what the value would be if all those students were to pay to have McNally portraits done? I should’ve asked for the files from my class, though probably not done… I could’ve asked… talk about numbnuts! By the way, I vote no on both of Fongs covers.

Perry Lewis says:

on July 20, 2012 at 10:41 am

Joe, read the article over at Westfall’s web…much venom for Nikon over there. Is it true they tried to get you to switch to Canon?

Von Wong says:

on July 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm

was a pleasure jumping for you !

Pierre Vignau says:

on July 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Joe and Drew,

Thanks for the visit in Montreal. It is extremely rare that people like you guys, in the photographic world, come to a French speaking city in Canada. And I must concur, being the first one on stage in Montreal is kind of scary! I’m not shy at all and I forgot to do faces for your pleasure!

Next time maybe!

Thanks again!

Kevin Finch says:

on July 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Had a great time at “One Light, Two Light” in Toronto; it was a great learning experience that I highly recommend. Joe teaches more than lighting, he also demonstrates the interpersonal skills that build a rapport with the subject – from a handshake and intro to the patter between the shots. That, and the flying softbox. But, je digresse!

RicardoC says:

on July 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Recently I had the terrific opportunity of attending your One Light Two Lights seminar in Toronto. I went there not even knowing if I was going to be able to learn anything. I don’t even consider myself an amateur photographer. I have an OK camera and I take pictures of my kids all the time. However I am a huge fan of your work and a subscriber of Kelby Training, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to attend the training and try to learn a bit. I learned a lot… I learned about speedlights, modifiers, controlling light, etc. etc. etc. This was all great and way beyond what I expected, but I also learned things that go beyond photography.

Every single time someone was up on stage to be part of your demonstration, you would start by saying “Hello, I am Joe”. The first time you said that, my first thought was… “duh… everybody knows who you are … that’s why we are here!” However, for most of us there, you are an idol, which would make anyone nervous; by that simple ice breaker gesture you were making your future photography subject more comfortable. More important, you were showing simple-old-fashioned respect.
Sometimes a Thank you, a Hello or a simple smile, can go a long way. Although we all know that, it was so obvious during your training that it made me think. It got me to make a conscious effort to say thank you and hello more often (just like mom and dad taught). Realizing that changed me and I know that by doing this I can change people around me.

Thank you! Thank you for teaching me about light, photography and simply making me a better person.

Yours truly,

William Chinn says:

on July 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm

7/27 – Happy Birthday … and many more

D Tang says:

on July 28, 2012 at 7:33 am

Thanks Joe for visiting Hong Kong. Lots of Inspiration and learning from you and the other speakers in the conference.

Hope you’d enjoyed your stay here, and look forward to your next visiting. :)

Richard says:

on August 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Hello Joe,

I’m looking forward to watching your antics when you come to Phoenix in a few weeks.

After attending the Flash Bus Tour, watching many of your videos, reading your books, etc. I’m not sure how much new lighting info I’ll see, but I always look forward to your stories and would love to learn more about getting people to relax and be themselves in front of the camera, and getting those images to tell a story.

You subjects all look like great in the shots above. Being a photographer, I’m notorious for being a horrible model. My kids are about the only people who have gotten decent shots of me. I usually make the same dumb face my wife calls my Richard Face. If you are feeling adventurous, maybe I’ll get brave and give you a challenging subject when I get there 😉

Looking forward to chatting with you again in a few weeks.

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