Every once in a while, if we are lucky, we have an ah-hah moment. In my case, having retired from an unrelated career, I’ve been wondering just how far I could take my photography, both artistically and commercially. It’s always been apparent that this field is highly competitive. It was less apparent that the value of professional photography had diminished over time, what with the proliferation of both on-the-spot cellphone professionals and software that can make almost any image look professional.
Then I met Joe McNally. Well, at least met him online.
Joe has been a practicing photographer for 35 years, and has a resume that includes Life Magazine, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic. He describes himself as a generalist, not specializing in any one domain, with the exception of his love of people and the things people are involved in. I initially watched some of his lighting courses, which are exceptionally produced and gave me just a hint of his talent and experience.
Then I found a few of his “on location” and “day in the life” courses, as well as an interview session he did with Scott Kelby. My jaw dropped. He takes control of a location when he finds it, both technically and artistically, and is immediately aware of what the location and the people in it can bring to an image (or what an image can bring to them). He conveys that information to the viewer with enthusiasm, drawing them into the moment, making them a partner in his work. His love of the art shows through, despite both self-deprecating comments about his mistakes over time, and occasional frustration at something missing or not quite right with the shot. It’s a joy to watch.
Through his instruction and storytelling, you get a clear sense of how hard he has worked, how much he has learned, and how tough the journey has been.
I don’t need to ask anymore what it takes to be successful as a photographer. Now I know.
Here are some samples of his work. You WILL want to subscribe to this channel (Joe McNally). Joe: thanks for making it real and magical at the same time.