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Joe McNally’s Hot Shoes Diaries 2

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As I wrote in one of my previous post “Joe McNally’s Hot Shoes Diaries”, Joe McNally was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in early February doing a series of workshops and a one day seminar. I attended the one day workshop and I must say, I’m really glad I went.

I’m very new to flash photography. So new that people would think why the hell am I jumping into Joe’s workshop right away. To give you a swimming pool analogy, it’d be like throwing myself into a pool when I don’t even know how to float.  But the thing is, I believe that if I threw myself into a pool, it’d make me learn how to swim faster than any other methods out there.

In Joe’s workshop, I learned of course about lighting (e.g. flashes, ezyboxes, trigrips, snoots…) but there was more to it than just that.

It was simply inspiring to see Joe work and to see the kind of work he creates right on the spot with different settings of lights. Joe makes it all seem so simple (and fun!). A flash here, a trigrip there and voila, the image created would be so strong it makes you want to create an image like that too.

It was also a different experience to work with other photographers in groups. We were divided into fours and assigned a model an hour for 2 hours. My group was very lucky to have Tarachin and Ong Tou. Both were very friendly and so easy to work with. Here’s what I got out of a short 15 min session each.

This was shot indoor using a black background. One of the photographers thought it was good to use a black background and create a ‘blend in’ effect’ since Tarachin was wearing black.

Tarachin was very expressive with her hands and had a great eye makeup done to highlight her beautiful eyes which was why all four of us focused very much on her left profile. In hindsight, I should have used lights to bring out more lines in the picture.

This shot of Ong Tou was taken at a spot where Joe showed us a technique to use the grills for strong shadows in the picture. All four of us liked the spot so much, we  decided to stay there throughout the hour. Ong Tou was cheerful and nice throughout the session and kept on saying it’s ok (to work under such condition) even though he was sweating buckets.

I like the red and blue mixture in this but somehow I feel it lacks something. Perhaps more red light on his face would have been better. What do you think?

P.S. Here’s more pics of Tarachin and Ong Tou by Milan Teh who was in the same group as me.

P.P.S Oh! And I heard Joe’s planning another workshop in Malaysia again next year. For those who missed it this year, make sure you don’t miss next year’s!


Written by SE

March 2, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Workshops

Joe McNally’s Hot Shoes Diaries

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Joe McNally

If you are into photography, it is hardly possible for you not to know who Joe McNally is. But just in case, here is a bit about him.

Joe McNally is an American photographer who has been shooting for the National Geographic Society since 1987.

His most well known series is the “Faces of Ground Zero — Portraits of the Heroes of September 11th“, a collection of 246 giant Polaroid portraits shot in the Moby C Studio near Ground Zero in a three-week period shortly after 9/11.

Joe McNally is known internationally for his ability to produce technically and logistically complex assignments with expert use of color and light.

You can also check out his work at his website (I recommend the dancers series!) or take a look at his blog. If you’ve done those before, you can also check out this promotional video he did for his book ‘The Moment it clicks‘, or look at some works of his that come with the story behind it.


So, why am I introducing Joe McNally?

That is because he will be holding several workshops and a one day seminar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 1st till 6th Febraury 2010. The workshop is named after his book ‘The Hot Shoe Diaries‘. (The publisher, Peachpit Press, made a part of the book available in pdf form for your sampling pleasure. You can find that here.)

Of course I have signed myself up for it. Have you?


More info on the workshop can be found at


Written by SE

November 17, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Posted in Workshops