Sunday, August 22, 2010

Joe McNally's Lecture in Iceland!

This last Friday I had my first "formal" education in photography. Most of what I know about photography I have learned from forums, blogs, books, articles, videos and most importantly experience. Focus On Nature, Icelandic photography community decided to bring in a famous photographer and lecturer Joe McNally. Now Joe is a legend within the photo community as he's been a staff photographer both for Life and National Geographic magazine. 

The lecture was at Grand Hotel and it was very interesting as Joe gave an insight into his carer as a photographer, both the hardships and highs. I had some questions that I had been pondering for a long time and he gave me some answers. 

One question I had been wondering about what how to approach personal projects, how to decide what to photograph and where? His answer was fairly simple, to photograph was moves and compels you. Additionally If you shot compelling stuff and show it to others that is the best self promotion that might give you work in the future.

Also how to approach sensitive subjects such as tragedies or children and how to find such subject? His answer was to have full disclosure about what you want to do and be very direct about what you want to do and achieve and then leave the decision with the subjects. Now how to find such subjects he said was a matter of journalism. He mentioned that photographers that want to become photojournalists usually don't get enough education or training in becoming journalists, which is often more difficult than actually taking the images since it requires storytelling and often exceptional human relation skills. 

So photographer + journalist = photojournalist! Simple yet a big revelation to me! 

I also wrote down some memorable comments from Joe as he answered questions on various photography related issues. 

"Think of a world where nobody is watching." 
- Commenting on the much overrated death of photojournalism. 

"You have to be happy at the moment of exposure." 
- Commenting on being published and seeking reputation vs. being actually happy with the images you photograph. 

"You have o love this! You have to love this with a  passion that cannot be quenched!" 
- Joe's advice on how to continue staying in business as a photographer.

Now Joe's lecture was not long and he did not cover a lot of the technical aspects of photography, but I was reminded of what I love about photography and what compels me to shoot...

Me and Joe

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