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Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

Prague and Vienna

Apr 23

In Seminars & Workshops, Travels at 4:59am

This past week on the Charles Bridge in Prague, I touched this image, below the statue of St. John Nepomuk. They say, if you touch this icon, you will return to Prague. I certainly hope so.

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Cuban Windows

Apr 3

In Travels at 5:26am

Dancer by a window, Havana……

Nikon DF camera, 1/25th sec; f4; ISO 400; 24-120mm lens.

Cuban Cowboy, by a farmhouse window….Nikon DF camera; 1/50th sec; f3.5; ISO 100; 28mm f1.4 lens.

GPP.. Through the Eyes of the Lost Boys

Mar 27

In Travels at 8:35am

Cali and Jon here from the studio..

With another amazing GPP event looming in Singapore, Joe asked us younger shooters in the studio to comment on what the annual workshop has meant to us.


The crew has recently arrived back to the ranch after a lengthy, yet thrilling month and a half on the road.  I mentioned the crew’s return home, however, Joe’s schedule continued him onward to the marvelous city of Havana, Cuba.  At the end of each year, we look back at the previous 12 months and laugh about the crazed schedule endured by all.  It’s only nearing the beginning of April, and we’ve already had a few of those laughs this year.  I’m incredibly fortunate to have traveled the world as much as I have at 24 years old.  With regular trips to Europe (London; Birmingham; Germany; Prague & Vienna next month), the Middle East (Dubai; Qatar), South Africa (Cape Town; Johannesburg; Kruger), St. Lucia, and Asia (Singpore & Hong Kong this year), I invariably believe that I’m stuck in some sort of alternate reality.

Although we find ourselves exceptionally busy a great deal of the time, we still find it within ourselves to enjoy the travels and friendships that have been so graciously planted in front of us.  One particular trip that engulfs all the positivity mentioned is our annual trek to Dubai.  Gulf Photo Plus hosts a wonderfully beneficial series of photography workshops in the Middle East.. the biggest of its kind.  It’s a rare occurrence when so many of the top names in the photographic industry are in the same place at the same time, and GPP is one of those unique exceptions.

This most recent trip I made was my third Joe workshop with GPP, and I’ve watched the program grow tremendously year after year.  Having thought about how fast time has gone, since I first visited, and how much I’ve grown since, I am absolutely baffled.  Walking in the doors of the workshop for the first time, I was nothing more than an overly nervous, newly appointed second assistant.  When you’re placed in front of such raw talent, the only thing going through the mind is “remember to keep your mouth shut, and when spoken to, try not to say anything stupid.”  Although everyone is completely gracious and sympathetic, there was a perfectly normal, yet constant sense of feeling star struck.  Now that I find myself as Joe’s first assistant, and having worked in Dubai several times, my levels confidence and maturity have exceedingly developed, since my start with Joe McNally Photography.  As I grow older, and develop more into my role as Joe’s right hand man, my priorities have shifted dramatically (in a positive manner that is). However, experiences such as GPP allow you to sit back, forever humbled by the sheer love and joy shown by unbelievably hard working photographers.  I understand how lucky I am to sit where I sit, at such young age, and I’ve come to greatly respect those who have gone before.. handing down their passion of the craft.  For that, I am thankful.

I also find myself extremely proud of our newly appointed second assistant (I say new.. but he’s been here for almost a year now).  Due to all of his hard work in the studio, Jon was asked to join us in Dubai this year!  Having gone through the same experience with our former assistant Drew Gurian, I was just as excited for him to see this new world.




As the newcomer to Joe’s studio, this was my first year attending Gulf Photo Plus. I’ve heard plenty of stories about all that GPP and Dubai has to offer, so the anticipation had been building for months prior to the trip. Plus, this was my first international adventure with Joe and Cali, so the term ecstatic (and scared shitless) doesn’t nearly begin to describe what I was feeling. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

My week was largely spent soaking in the bottomless pools of inspiration left by the ridiculous line up of instructors Mo and Hala brought in. It was such an honor and a privilege to spend time with photographers I’ve admired for years. I also had my eyes opened to some extremely talented younger photographers, whom I now consider great friends. I look forward to following their careers, as they continue to make some serious waves in their parts of the world. The overwhelming measure of passion for their art, as well as the desire to spread their knowledge and grow the industry, was undeniable and immensely motivational.

In addition to sharing quality time with the instructors, I had the opportunity to bond with the incredibly diverse student body, from all corners of the globe. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about their backgrounds and cultures, over the course of the week. It was so encouraging to see such a variety of ages and occupations, joined together in their dedication to learn and expand their proficiency in the world of photography.

I suppose there was some “work” involved as well, but when your boss is Joe McNally, there is rarely a dull moment. Every hour on the clock is further education in the school of life and the ever rewarding craft of photography. I can’t thank Joe enough for bringing me along and for everything that he’s done for me in my first 9 months at the studio. It is safe to say that I have never had the pleasure of experiencing anything quite like GPP and probably won’t again until I go back next year!


All in all, we cannot recommend experiences such as GPP enough, especially to the younger crowd.  If you find yourself so in love with a craft like photography, take that ambition and run with it.

Visual Notes, Cuba

Mar 26

In Travels at 6:57am

Just returning from Havana, where I taught at the behest of the Santa Fe Photo Workshops. I only took one DSLR with me, the newly minted Nikon DF, which proved to be the perfect, quiet, unobtrusive camera for the vibrant streets of that amazing city. Shot basically with one camera and one lens all week.

Exhausted boxer…..Nikon Df – 1/2000 sec;   f/7.1;   ISO 200;   28mm f1.4 lens.

More tk….

Moving into the Freelance World…

Aug 19

In Memories, News, Thanks, Travels at 4:45am

Drew is leaving the studio. (His account below.) As I always say, Drew grew up as a drummer in a rock and roll band, but abandoned that unstable lifestyle to embrace the security of freelance photography. And we here at the studio are certainly glad he did. He stayed with us for five years, and was a mainstay as a first assistant, constantly troubleshooting, solving problems, handling the mysteries of post-production and generally being a great road companion, and we certainly saw a lot of road together. (When he joined the studio, he was just another Delta frequent flyer. As he leaves, he is Delta Diamond, having logged easily a half million air miles during his tenure here.) He was a great team player, a talented shooter, and he fit right in with the twisted humor and irreverent conduct of the studio. (FYI, we have no human resources department here.) We will miss him. I will miss him, as beyond all the stuff listed above, he became my good and true friend. 

Today’s blog is about Joe. And me.

A real life bro-mance, dream job come true, happily ever-after, fly me to the moon kind of working relationship I’ve experienced over the past 5 years.

He’s one of the few people I know in the industry who’s stayed afloat for 35+ years, has maintained a huge level of respect within the industry and – through it all – has kept a good head on his shoulders. He’s truly one of the most decent human beings I know. Full of integrity, courage, wit and an ongoing quest for pasta and red wine, Joe has taught me much more than just ‘the ropes’.

(My first ever tear sheet, accompanying Joe’s Power Grid story in National Geographic)

We all know the life of a photographer isn’t a 9 to 5 gig, but working with Joe is one of the more all-encompassing workplace scenarios one could imagine. Joe and I have spent a lot of time together, and by that I mean an average of 70% of the year on the road, and sometimes a good deal more. That means not only working in the field, but traveling together, eating together and often seeing more of each other than our significant others and families.

(The Flash Bus crew)

Working with Joe has been a major turning point in my career.  Prior to joining Joe I was a young photographer/musician living in a relatively small town and earning a living shooting mostly weddings and events. I didn’t have a whole lot of clarity of where to go from there.  I started applying to graduate schools for photojournalism – and in the midst of all that – Joe’s former assistant (Brad Moore) was leaving and Joe offered me the position. My game plan was to work with Joe for two years. As time went on, more travel came upon us and I just couldn’t help but to sign on for more adventure and experience.  I got to climb the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world; I had my own helicopter and pilot while on assignment for National Geographic; and was once lead by a heavily armed militia through traffic in Nigeria. That’s just a glimpse into the countless extraordinary, hilarious and sometimes dangerous tales I have from the past few years.

(Cali and I surrounded by drones, on-location for National Geographic. By the way, Cali’s a great guy, and an incredibly talented shooter. He’s done an amazing job transitioning into the first assistant position, and I can’t begin to say how excited I am to hear about his travels.)

But even at the highest points in my time with Joe, Lynn and the entire studio family, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of an inner struggle.  As amazing as things have been, all I’ve wanted is to be a full-time photographer, and I’ve felt the itch to go out on my own more recently, especially in the last year. The thing is, I’ve had the absolute best apprenticeship I could have ever hoped for: Joe has been an amazing mentor, Lynn has balanced me with business smarts, and I’ve been immersed into the culture of the best and brightest photo talent in the World. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel around the Globe and back again. The thing is, if I didn’t want/need to be my own photographer, I could work with Joe happily for a very, very long time.

(Rolling Stone tear sheet, from the March, 2013 issue)

But the time has come for me and I’m now officially off on my own: with more clarity than I had five years ago, lots of contacts in the industry, tons of technical know-how and hands-on experience from working with one of the best guys out there.  If there was ever to be a good time to make that move, it feels like this is it, and I’m incredibly excited to create a body of work that’s all my own. Even with all that, i’m just as scared as I am excited to embark on this journey into the world of freelance photography.  Yes, I’m absolutely going to figure it out, like all things I do. I am more passionate about photography than anything else. I know it’s going to take some time to gain traction and that my future may hold nights of Ramen noodles and Hot Pockets.  But I’m ok with it.

(John Butler of John Butler Trio)

I became interested in photography at a young age through a love of live music. Back then I just wanted to capture live moments from my favorite bands. Over time my work has improved and a true passion towards music, photography and their marriage remains to this day. Most recently I’ve been trying to evolve my work away from live music and into a fresh perspective.  I’m not changing the world and I’m not reinventing the wheel, but every now and again I feel like I’m onto something really good. It’s in those moments I feel as though I’ve moving a step closer towards crafting a unique aesthetic that’s my own.

(Tyler Glenn of The Neon Trees)

Choosing to work for Joe was the best career decision I had made up until that point, and I’m certain that i’ll be able to look back upon this transition in a few years, and say the same thing.

(My incredibly patient girlfriend, Jessica)

Joe, Lynn, Cali, Lynda, Annie: You’ve all been the best friends, colleagues and family one could ever ask for, and I’m grateful for the time and memories we’ve shared.

It’s been a blast to meet and get to know lots of you out on the road, and I invite you all to keep in touch.

You can find me at any of these places:

Website/Blog: http://www.drewgurian.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/drewgurian

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/drewgurian

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/15cM7xp

Google+: http://bit.ly/15cMrfz

Thanks again,