I came across this book by Joe McNally while listening to a podcast where they discussed the book. I decided to see if the book was available online and on a whim, ordered it when I saw it was.
When my package arrived the book was smaller than expected, softcover and not even A4. The shot on the cover seemed old fashioned and I immediately resented my impulse buy. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the content of this book. Every spread has an image, and either a story behind the shot, or some kind of instruction about how the shot was made, or what it took to get this shot (sometimes a bit of everything). Every page is a story on it’s own, but the book becomes the “Life of Joe McNally”
I read a random page, read another random page, then went back to the kitchen made myself a sandwich and a cup of coffee and sat down and read the book cover to cover. What a Joy! After a few pages it’s like you are sitting in a pub listening to photographers swapping stories. I was truly disappointed when the book was finished, and have read it a few times since.
The writing style is so nice and down to earth, easygoing, and really inspiring. Let me share a piece:
“…I was shooting a University of Alabama home football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, which is like going to church with your cameras. I mean, these folks take football seriously.
The band and the cheerleaders were all lined up on the library steps doing a lively number, and I thought it would be cool to shoot them with a long lens from a higher vantage point. There’s a ceremonial rock out in front of the library, some sacred stone that actually looks like the swiped it from Stonehenge. It’s about, oh, eight or nine feet high.
Perfect, I thought. I’ll climb the rock and get my long lens view! An elderly couple was standing nearby, and I asked them to hold my cameras for me, and my shooting vest. They were sort of puzzled as to why a complete stranger would hand them three very expensive, motor-driven cameras and an article of clothing, but they were willing to go along. They looked trustworthy and not capable of running very fast.
I took a few steps back and started sprinting. Wham! I went from Spiderman to Wile E. Coyote in a heartbeat. I mean, I just pancaked myself into the side of the rock. And not content with making a fool of myself just once, I tried it a second time.
Same result. Even worse, ’cause the very public humiliation of the first go caused me to run at it harder. I sort of slid down he face of the rock, just like in the cartoons.
I looked over at the couple, who were staring at me with their heads tilted, like a pair of puzzled cats. I got to my feet, retrieving my gear, thanked them, and staggered off. Simple fill flash in the locker room was looking awfully good.
I’m sure those folks told everybody they saw that day about how “that photographer fella” did the damnedest thing thing… just ran into the rock – Twice!”
p60, The Moment it Clicks by Joe McNally