“The Moment It Clicks”

I haven’t been taking as many photographs as I would like recently. One thing I have managed to find some time for is some new photography books. Several of the photography blogs that I read have been talking up Joe McNally’s book “The Moment It Clicks”. McNally is a very accomplished magazine photographer, and the book is an accumulation of his experience in 30 years of shooting. There are over 100 little section in the book. Each section begins with a short quote/quip, and is accompanied by a full page photograph along with a full page explanation of the lesson, and often times an explanation of exemplar photograph.

Several other reviewers, including David Hobby, reported getting the book and then staying up way too late reading it cover to cover. I was sorely tempted to, but there was just too much information to do that. There’s an enormous amount of content and when I finished I was grateful for all the experience that I had just run by my eyeballs and brain. This is a book for working shooters, and if you don’t put the stuff to work, you won’t really get the value out of the book. The challenge for me, and I suspect many others, will be translating these short pithy lessons into a part of our regular photographic practice. Since we’re reading a condensation of 30 years of Joe McNally’s life, there’s no telling how long that will take. But at least now we have something that we can turn to periodically to remind us.

Even better, McNally has started a blog that picks up where the book left off.

Blog: subscribed. Book: highly recommended.

4 Responses to ““The Moment It Clicks””


  • From a quick glance at the weblog I would infer that McNally is interested in “made” photos rather than “found” photos. Is this true of the book itself?

    (By “made” I mean photos where props and people are positioned and posed, lighting and backdrops are carefully selected, etc.)

  • It’s not just made photos, although there is a focus on that. But even when you set out to make a photo, there are things that are difficult to make.

  • He was a pretty well-known shooter for Life back in the day, and they were more PJ-oriented, not commercial “made” images. Oh, they had their share of celebrity and VIP portraits, some of which allowed a bit more creative freedom, but mostly it seems like it was “shoot what you see.”

    (I recently checked out a “Life Photographers” book from the library and its full of pretty incredible “found” images in general. Worth looking at if you get the chance.)

  • Well, coming home tonight and looking through the Life book, I’d have to say that his pictures included actually are a bit more “prepared” than I had thought earlier – definitely not shoot-from-the-hip PJ stuff (as is much of the photography in the book.)

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