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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Joe McNally

My favorite photographer is Andy Anderson, but I think the best photographer is Joe McNally. Is there any genre that he can't shoot better than anyone else? I'm tempted to say something very specialized like food or architecture, but I'd be wrong - he'd still shoot it better than a specalist practioner.

In these days of specialization, Joe defies even gravity, never mind normal expectations. He's a throwback to the old "camera men" of the 1940's and 1950's,who no matter what the situation, always brought home the bacon. His technical expertise is daunting, his imagination is incredibly fertile and his sense of humor is as wicked as it is legendary.

I've met him a number of times and he's impossible not to like. I met an ex-assistant of his once and thinking I'd finally get the inside skinny I asked "what's McNally really like. Is it all an act?" No way, she says, "he's an absolute sweeheart." Damn! I thought I was going to get the scoop on a McNally expose.

I have my specialites and I stick to them, not because it's good business or even expected, it's just what I like. It's nice that Joe defies that conventional wisdom and even the business advice of the need to specialize. His talent and curiosity are just too big and wide to be constrained.

I think that Joe has a problem of perception though. He's such a joker - can't stop - that it diminishes his aura. Everyone knows he is amazing, but he hasn't reached (deserved) icon status. On one hand it's too bad. On the other, McNally would be the first to say "Yeah? And who gives a shit?" That's Joe, Groucho Marx with a camera - and lights, lots of 'em.

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