On meeting your Heroes

It's not everyday you get to meet your Photography Hero!

The Photography Show Birmingham 2017

This year the highlight for me at the Photography Show was a live stage presentation by the one and only Joe McNally.  I've been a big fan of his work for years and have collected his books, watched every tutorial via utube I possibly can, to see him live at the show was just brilliant. Check out his stupendous work here.....


Joe was working and I guess sponsored by Nikon as he is one of their ambassadors.  I caught up with him towards the end of a presentation at their stand, here lighting a chap from the audience with just one speedlight with a small softbox....

When this presentation finished it was a case of speedily racing over to the main stage to see the full seminar...

What was all the fuss about????

Well for me Joe is an inspiration about how to use light, sunlight, or flash. How to balance the two and even how to use a mixture of sunlight, studio lights and portable speedlights.

In the great outdoors having this control over the light hitting your subject was a real game changer for me and transformed my business photography, specifically my environmental portraits, here's my first foray into a off camera speedlight portrait.

I think this is the original frame straight out of camera, an Canon 5D. Taken whilst lying in a field avoiding horse muck and lets just say wet patches of grass.... it's not all glamorous!  The other thing I had learnt is what I call working the scene.... that's to keep moving looking for new angles adjusting the lighting and getting the subject involved.

Back to Joe,  what was fantastic about the presentation was his passion and joy for photography. Being amongst so many other photographers who were clearly as thrilled to see him as I and getting the feeling we were all working with him a little to produce a really cool shot out of nothing.... alas I didn't get a clear monitor shot of the finished article (there's amonitor in the background), but if it appears online I'll link it here....

I think the refreshing things to see was such a legend in the photography world just having to work and sweat it out to make an image, not having all the answers, having kit not work perfectly all the time and having to work with that... the banter and enthusiasm... 

Having the control of lighting transforms your images, which is especially useful when shooting for business with Environmental shots.... popping a little extra light in to fill in shadows or highlight a subject can really make a difference.

Here a Speedlight was stuffed under the bonnet to get rid of the harsh shadow, it has created ashadow but because of the eye contact it works. Having Mike lit brightly also meant I didn't lose the background colours as the day was so sunny.

With having literally ten minutes to make this photograph a handheld speedlight made it possible to balance ambient light to see the clouds adding drama to the shot.

I got to say a quick thank you to Joe after the presentation.  His inspiration has definitely changed my photography and with that the amount and quaility of work I do, which in turn has been life changing.  Cheers Joe!