Making its way around the photo-blogosphere (I heard about it from Jason Anderson at Canon Blogger who heard about it from David Hobby at Strobist) is a terrific Talks@Google video of Joe McNally giving one of the presentations on which his current book is based.
I have to admit I don't like watching video. Video just means I have to turn the music off, which I find almost physically uncomfortable; I work at my desk, of course, but what I'm really doing here—what keeps me chained to the leg of the desk—is music. I can do without it for 22 minutes a day to watch Jon Stewart (although sometimes—mea culpa—I skip the author interview), but that's about my limit. Voluntarily turning off the music for an hour and ten minutes is like going without a sufficient amount of air for that long. I'd much rather read something than have to sit still for the same information to go by on a video.
The Joe McNally video, however, was worth turning off the jazz. It's one of those "windows into the world of photography" that you find every so often (another is "At Close Range," about Joel Sartore). It's a great talk, even if most of McNally's laugh lines don't get laughs from the Google wonks. (The lines are still very funny. I laughed a number of times when the non-virtual audience didn't.) There's a whole lot of insight here—earned insight. Lots to look at, lots to think about. Worth giving up your air for an hour.
It's eloquent when he asks his audience things like, "Anybody
remember Ozzie Smith?" and the response is silence. Right there is one of the
problems of being an assignment location photographer—news doesn't stay
news. (Nobody ever forgot Ozzie Smith who ever saw him.)
Here's the book. It's called The Moment It Clicks: Photography secrets from one of the world's top shooters (New Riders Press, 2008). The video version makes you sit in an audience, but it's a lot cheaper.
Some photo enthusiasts like the tech stuff; they want to know every detail of how pictures were made, as if the tech stuff is either the secret or the point. (Not.) Me, I like to look at pictures. The Moment It Clicks splits the difference; call it a guided tour of a thirty-year career in photography and you're not far off. Hardcore techies won't find every nut and bolt. But there's more than nuts and bolts to living a life as a top-dawg pj—and a whole lot more to the pictures, really.
Is there anybody out there who wouldn't a) learn something from, and b) enjoy the hell out of this book? I'm not seeing it.
Anybody read it? I'd love to hear what you think.
I remember so many of these pictures.
Mike (Thanks to Jason)
Featured Comment by Gerry Morgan: "The day this book arrived, I started dipping into it late at night, always planning to just read another couple of pages and then put it down. I finally got to bed at 2 a.m. having read it from cover to cover but in completely chaotic order. Since then, I've dipped into it so often that I've effectively read it through at least once again. It strikes a wonderful balance between being an instructional manual, a collection of photos, and a great read. I started watching the YouTube video but turned it off after ten minutes because it was all taken from the book. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I like being able to access this type of material randomly and the book is perfect for that."
Featured Comment by Stan Banos: "Interesting to see how he managed to integrate his commercial assignments with his personal interests, relate how he took time off to shoot the 9/11 portraits and then have to reestablish his commercial cred—only to have someone ask if he shot any 'personal work.' "
Featured Comment by Scott Jones: "Even my wife who is not a photographer read this book almost cover to cover. She loved the stories and distinctions and creativity displayed. Great read...."
Featured Comment by Stephen: "One of the best books (of any kind) I've read in a while. It's also probably the only book I've ever read that's really inspired me in my photography, especially to pick up and do some personal projects. I was wondering if or when it'd come up on TOP...."