A Day with McNally

By Roger

I took a day off from work, yesterday, to cover for Mark.  He had won a free seminar from Scott Kelby's blog, Photoshop Insider.  He had a ticket to the One Flash, Two Flash seminar, with Joe McNally.  Since Mark was already committed that day, someone had to attend, and I courageously took the fall.  ;-)

We've both preached the value and fun of quality photo workshops.  Books and videos are great, but workshops allow you to escape from distractions and concentrate on the topic at hand.  The Kelby Media folks consistently present workshops that are topnotch.  We've both spent some time in past Photoshop Worlds with Joe, so I knew that it was going to be well worth a few hours of road time to attend.

Joe McNally is a well-known, highly acclaimed photographer.  He's shot cover stories for the big magazines everyone knows: National Geographic; TIME; Newsweek; Fortune; Sports Illustrated; and many more. He is a master at lighting the subject.  I have his books; I've watched his training videos; and I visit at least one of his classes at every Photoshop World.  Yeah, I'm a fan.

The Virginia Beach Convention Center ballroom was full when Joe kicked it off.  He spent the day showing us, with one or two flashes (OK, sometimes three), how to solve lighting problems.  He wasn't teaching buttonology; he was demonstrating techniques to use flashes to their best abilities.  Joe has a very laid back approach to teaching, with lots of humor.  He warns you, up front. that things will go wrong. And, when they do, he explains what happened and how to remedy the situation. 

He builds from one bare flash and progressively works through flash positioning; adding a second flash; and introducing light modifiers. By the end of the day, he's showing you studio flashes and 80” soft boxes.  The day flew by, and, as always, I learned some things I didn't know.  That's a successful day.

You can become a fan by reading Joe's blog.  It links to his portfolio of inspiring photos.  I highly recommend his books and videos.

Joe McNally, at Photoshop World, working out a solution.

Joe McNally, at Photoshop World, working out a solution.

While you're at your seminar or workshop, be sure to meet your neighbors. You'll be sitting next to them all day, so you might as well make a new contact.  The day is much more enjoyable when you have someone to talk to. I ask for one of their cards.  I visit their website and drop them a line afterward.  This helps you build your network.  You can never have enough photography contacts. 

I wouldn't bring a camera to a seminar unless shooting is part of the day.  You don't need the distraction (neither does the presenter), and you aren't going to get anything worthwhile, anyway.  If you just want a snapshot with the presenter, use your phone camera; it will do just fine. 

Look for show specials from the sponsors.  Even at this small venue, we got big discounts from OnOne, B&H Camera, SmugMug, Tamron, NAPP, and Kelby Media.

What does all this cost? This one was only $99; $79 for NAPP members. Of course, the price of workshops can vary greatly, depending on the company offering it.  This one was well worth the investment.  You can find other upcoming events at Kelbytraining LIVE. Thanks for the ticket, Mark.