Friday, March 7, 2008

Book Review : The Moment It Clicks

As a photographer, its hard not to know about Joe McNally. He is without a doubt a legend in his own right. Joe has a unique and creative vision that shows in his photos, garnished with a pinch of humor and wit (something that I believe is important).

So when this book arrived in the mail a few weeks back, I locked myself in my room and quietly absorbed it.
Since most of the readers of this blog are Malaysians, I know you will ask - 'Why not just take 3 or 4 trips to the bookshop and read it there instead of buying?' Not this book. Joe throws in a lot of 'behind the scenes' moments and dishes out plenty of useful advice...well, you can bring a pen and paper to Borders and start jotting down notes if you want. I think one of the most important features of this book are Joe's thought processes, how he reacts to the problems that threatens to spoil the shoot and make it work.

Another impression I got of Joe was that he likes to take risks. You may have many radical ideas, but what use are they if you don't try to make it work? Imagine hanging Michelle Yeoh from a helicopter for a photoshoot... now that's thinking big! And to make a shoot like that work is nothing short of amazing.

Actually there are a few pics in the book that I've remembered seeing before. The Michelle Yeoh hanging from a helicopter picture, I have that issue of National Geographic. This picture above, with the laser being shot in the eye, I'm sure I have that issue of NG somewhere as well. Back then, I didn't know who Joe McNally was, but I knew his photos. That's how powerful a photograph can be. I can't remember anything about the articles...but I still remember the photos.

The book also details some of the personal sacrifices that Joe had to make to be at the top of his game. Being on the road always as a travelling photographer means you are not always around for your family. This is probably one of the most memorable quotes in the book -

"I slid down in the seat and began to weep (for his newly-born daughter). I wept for her, for me, but mostly because the siren call of my first big story with a yellow border around it was more powerful than the call of fatherhood."

If Joe had ignored that first assignment with National Geographic, who knows what would have happened. Anyway, its a great book and an interesting read. I highly recommend this book!