Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Joe McNally is my Jesus

In my previous post I mentioned that reading the blogs of David Hobby, Chase Jarvis, Joe McNally, etc. was an important part of every day for me. Well, let me amend that.

I'm a pretty firm agnostic. Just not sure if we're being watched over, or if the watcher was our own invention because we didn't like the idea of dying being the end of it. But what I do believe in firmly is the pursuit of a creative life. And in that pursuit, Joe McNally is either the Messiah, or at least one of the most important books in the Creative Bible.

I recently got my copy of The Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally. I know my way around my camera pretty good, but I had barely gotten past the foreward in Joe's book before I felt like I had never really used my camera before. And by page 50, I had soaked up so much new information that I started to read with my camera next to me so I could read a paragraph, pick up the camera and see what Joe was talking about, change some settings, get back to reading, pick up the camera...you get the idea. Joe's got that perfect balance of technical knowledge, original vision, and (in his own words) bat-shit craziness. Which is how you can learn so much from reading his books without feeling like you've just read an owner's manual. Has anyone ever read a manual anyway? I don't even know where mine are. For anything.

I'm totally a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants guy, and am sometimes (read: most of the time) amazed at the images I get without truly understanding how that just happened. So it's sometimes a little embarrassing how much I DON'T know about my main creative tool. (heh...Creative Tool was my nickname in high school). Which is probably why The Hot Shoe Diaries speaks to me so loudly. Feels like he wrote it specifically for me, "The Hot Shoe Diaries: Seth, Stop Being an Idiot and Learn Your Instrument".

Those last paragraphs sounds a little too "school girl crush" in its effusiveness, unless you're a shooter and have read the book. Then you know the value of that book cannot be overstated. This new - or at least it feels new - culture of sharing knowledge is really exciting. And I think it's extra cool that even though Joe's a photo rockstar, not only is he willing to lift the veil on everything he does, he even went "power to the people" enough to list a Flickr Group for readers of his book.

Buy this book. For yourselves, and for anyone...and I mean anyone...with the slightest interest in becoming a better photographer.

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