Joe McNally’s Lighting Seminar in Calgary

Joe McNally, one of the photographers who casts a long shadow and makes imagery that is unique, compelling and tells stories in a way that very few can, was in Calgary this weekend leading a lighting seminar.

This was one of the last set ups that Joe completed during the weekend.  In this single exposure he started the dancer on the left in a pose in front of one of the two flashes.  After the flash, Mel, danced across the stage and came to a stop in front of the second flash.  She posed, Joe fired the second flash and an incredible image was made.  This is my capture from the crowd with my camera hand held which certainly impedes the quality but then it isn’t my photo.  Just wanted to show a glimpse of the creativity that the good fellow of Irish descent commands and which he enjoys sharing.

Joe was hosted by CAPIC, The Camera Store and Mount Royal University and they put on a very smooth event.  Great models, a good set and a small enough venue (250 person theatre) that it remained personable and engaging.  I learned a ton and am so excited to start applying it into my people photography.

If you ever have the chance to join Joe for a workshop, hear him speak at a conference or read one of his books – DO IT!  There is much to learn from this giant in the industry who is eager to share his knowledge.

Thanks Joe and Drew – I can’t wait to meet up with you guys again.

7 responses

  1. Hi Guys…would that this level of cordiality and professional discourse be more prevalent throughout the internet, which at least occasionally, can get a touch on the rude side. I think you talked this out really well. Just wanted to thank you both, and let you know you have no worries on my end in terms of either Chris’ post, or Jaimie’s comments, and the dialogue you guys have had. There will always be those who might tend to be aggressive in a situation like that, for sure. What happens to those pics in the aftermath is not something I can control so I don’t worry about it. What a weekend like that is about is sharing information on this passionate art and craft we all share. And the discussion both of you have had on the matter is perfectly reflective of the best of that sharing. Way to go…all best, Joe

    November 17, 2010 at 8:28 am

    • Thanks for taking a few minutes to comment Joe. Glad to hear nothing rubbed you the wrong way. As you noted, it’s very nice when the discussion can be just that rather than a flame war.

      Hope to see you in 2011.

      Enjoy Vancouver!


      November 17, 2010 at 8:52 am

  2. Jaime

    Thanks Chris.
    Good to talk this one out !
    All the best.


    November 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm

  3. Jaime

    The guys poaching mcnallys flashes all seminar were incredibly distracting, and inconsiderate both to Joe and other photographers attending the workshop. Was the $200 fee to ask joe his settings then shoot over his shoulder? Or was it to learn something new, and be inspired to shoot new and better photographs on your own? Did anyone else feel this way?

    November 15, 2010 at 6:32 am

    • Hi Jaime,

      Thank you for commenting. You present a different opinion from mine although I agree with you that my goal was to be inspired (I am), learn new things (I did) and create new images of my own (I will -the hamsters are running overtime). I appreciate you sharing your point of view.

      My opinion is that different people will take different things away from the seminar in different ways. Over the weekend I saw some people sketching layouts, some people taking pictures of the sets and the screens of the images, others took notes and many stored away ideas, tips and approaches in their heads. I think it is all good. Some may have found certain questions annoying, picture taking, tweeting, etc. distracting as well. However, I would list that as a negative of having a theater full of 250 photographers of all different skill levels – humans in close contact will always step one toes a little.

      Regarding poaching Joe’s flash, it is a gray area for me in that if I use a photo for my portfolio or commercial purposes then that crosses well over the line. If I use it only on my computer as a reference for future ideas then that’s just fine. If I post it on a blog, as I have done, to try and provide my small audience with a feel for the kind of work Joe creates in a workshop or seminar and to share my enthusiasm for his teaching, I think that’s still okay. Your comment did cause me to revisit my decision to post this image but I stand by it in the context of the writing I included in the blog. I will keep it as a reference but it is not an image that will be in one of my portfolios or paraded around as my own creation as it most certainly is not.

      November 15, 2010 at 8:43 am

      • Jaime

        Thanks for your response, its great to hear your take on the workshop. I agree with what you said, and I think your blog post is great. Take notes, take photos, tweet out quotes, all find and good. It was your twitter post that caught me off guard and led me to believe you were taking credit for a photo you didn’t make. So its awesome to know your on the end of sharing what you learned, and what inspiration you have to go out and shoot your own unique images, rather than taking credit for someone elses work.

        I really was trying to understand the people behind me shooting bursts of slow shots trying to catch the frame you posted… was it a reference of how his lights were set up, angle and direction? a screen shot of his final frame on the projector? It felt a lot more like stealing a shot, and saying “look at a photograph I made during a workshop”

        Your right when you said, throwing a lot of different people in a room with different approaches and skill levels can get people on edge after two days. I think Joe was feeling it by the end just like some of us in the crowd. I loved his comment “wow, I should have you guys come to each of my shoots” after people were making so many different suggestions. Even at the end of two days Joe had a great sense of humor and a ton of patience.

        All the best.

        November 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm

      • Hi Jaime,

        Thanks for following up. I had a re-read of the tweet and I can see why you read it the way you did. On a first read, it’s easy for it to come across in a taking credit, look at me way. Totally not my intent – which I hope comes across in the original post and in my comment. I was snake-bitten by the 140 character limit – I recall trying to fit in the text and the link last night and obviously lost the forest for all the damn trees a little bit.

        I heard the bursts as well – didn’t get that either. I sketched out roughs of some of the posing angles and I took a few iPhone shots of set ups with the big lights as I don’t have much experience using them yet and found that work fascinating. I brought out the SLR for the dance so I could show what Joe created and for my own reference later. I’m plotting to do a two flash exposure of a dancer friend in an LRT tram car with ribbons to catch the ambient car light and then the dancer flashed at either entrance. The hamsters are mad but I’m just happily whipping them still.

        Had a chance to check out your work and really like it. You have a signature to your work and seem very comfortable with available and made light using whichever brings out the character in your people. The swimming pool shoot was awesome – I’ll be re-reading that again (and probably once more after that).



        November 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm

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