lighting seminar with joe mcnally

Last week I was one of hundreds at the Colorado Convention Center to attend a seminar with Joe McNally on off-camera lighting techniques. Not only does Joe have a great sense of humor and ability to connect effortlessly with a large audience (at one point he mentioned the number “750” when referring to all of us) but he makes beautiful images with seemingly little effort. But with over 30 years experience and many awards and accolades to his name, he’d probably be able to make better images than most of us with his eyes closed. I’m not going to dwell on that, though.

To demonstrate the different techniques, Joe had two different models to pose for him. First up was Lindsey who could probably look good no matter what the photographer’s level of experience or equipment. I didn’t take any pictures during that time because I was busy taking notes (sorry guys!). As the lighting setups got more complex (and thereby, less likely for me to be using them), I grabbed my camera out to snap a few photos. This happened to coincide with the use of the male model, Solomon. :)

On either side of the stage, there were two enormous screens to display the images as Joe took them. Here’s one of Solomon giving us his “blue steel” look.

Joe has an incredible way of setting the models at ease. Here he’s explaining how he’d like Solomon to jump with the ball but not before commenting on his utter lack of basketball skills.

My view of the leaping Solomon from roughly a half mile back…

Joe’s version using, I believe, a minimum of 4 off-camera flashes…

Now it’s time to get up close and pensive…

During break time, I was hoping to get Joe to autograph the book I purchased (The Moment It Clicks) but he was always swarmed with other eager wannabes.

Joe through the iPhone…

No idea what he’s talking about…

After break, Solomon changed into his “street clothes” and Joe used even more equipment that I may never be able to afford. Bah! Who needs it?

Lindsey came back out for a little more face time. She’s so average looking, isn’t she? ;)

Lindsey had a hard time doing serious poses in the beginning what with Joe constantly making wisecracks but she managed near the end to get her composure. I guess that’s why she’s paid the big bucks. Although I have no idea how lucrative modeling at a seminar is.

Even though some of the more elaborate setups are not something I’ll be experiencing anytime soon, it was fascinating to see how quickly and easily Joe works and I look forward to trying out some of the more simple setups in my own work.

To get an idea of Joe’s humor and to see what he wrote about the seminar, check out his blog post.

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  • Love your work! I am more of an event and outdoor photographer but do have a studio in my home. With winter in New England fast approaching and wanting to keep my business going year round I am forced to become a studio person. My question is what do you use for equipment? Basics only please. And what camera are you shooting with? I use a D300 Nikon, but do not seem to have the same clarity you get?
    Thanks!
    Cindy in New HampshireReplyCancel

  • p.s. I do have a facebook professional page-
    just search
    Cindy Martin PhotographyReplyCancel