In his book, Outliners: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000 Hour Rule,” which he claims is the number of hours it takes to achieve expert status or success in a specific field or craft.
What about doing something for 10,000 days?
Considering that Joe McNally has been working his photographic ass off for over 30 years, which roughly equals 10,000 days if you do the math, it’s easy to see why he’s just so damn good.
During his long and prolific career shooting for Time, Life, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, and just about every other major publication, he’s garnered more expert tips on photography than most of us will ever be able to absorb in our entire lifetimes.
However, that’s not what makes him such a great teacher. Merely knowing stuff isn’t the key to being able to effectively instruct people and help them advance at their own craft, it’s being able to pass on your hard earned experiences to others in a way that excites and inspires your audience.
In his book The Moment It Clicks: Photography secrets from one of the world’s top shooters, Joe gives us 250 pages of practical insight about what it takes to create great imagery as only he can.
What do I mean by “As only he can?” Anyone who’s attended his workshops or heard him speak knows that the true magic of Joe’s instructional genius doesn’t come in the form of long winded pontifications or technical explanations. It comes in the form of golden one-liners.
Joe has an uncanny ability to distill years of photographic experience about a particular subject down into a single Earth shattering tip. Why Earth shattering? Because it’s essentially so simple, that when it comes out of his mouth, you’ll stamp your feet so hard that you’ll literally shatter the surface of the Earth wondering why you didn’t think of it.
The visual design and format of The Moment It Clicks works so well as a learning tool, because for each example, Joe lays out the background and behind the scenes info for an image that he presents. Then in big bold letters, he gives you the single tip or piece of insight that made that particular shot come to life.
Stuff like: Sometimes the best light happens after the light is gone. Or, Remember, it’s a game of inches. Even getting the light source out there at the end of the reach of your arm makes the light better. Or how about this one? When I look at a window, I will often say, you know, ‘nice view.’ But in my mind, I’m saying, ‘light source. Or, even something like this, There’s nothing as sweet and simple as basic human interaction. It trumps everything. And, If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it.
Of course, the images in The Moment It Clicks are outstanding, just as you would expect they’d be. The represent such a wide diversity of subject matter that they’ll appeal to just about anyone. Combine all this with a section that outlines Joe’s 10 masterful lighting tips, as well as detailed descriptions of his camera and lighting gear, this book is an absolute winner.
If you’re like me, you’re always trying to read about five or six books at once. The great thing about this one is that you don’t have to read it cover to cover to get the goods, you can just as easily skip around and read one tip at a time. It’s designed to be able to do that.
You could just keep it by your bed or desk, or your favorite reading chair, which is what I do, and read one or two pages when you get a free moment. This gives you chance to really absorb what he’s saying, without having to commit to the entire book at once.
Want something that’s going to teach, inspire and challenge, entertain you, and help you really understand photography? Then do yourself a favor and get The Moment It Clicks and learn from a true expert. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
Special treat: Check out this old video of Joe McNally and see what he was like back in the day. Same enthusiasm. Same energy. Same vision. Just 10,000 days younger.