“The Moment It Clicks” Book Review

“The Moment It Clicks” by the famous magazine photographer, Joe McNally is an incredibility useful book for photographers of all levels who want to perfect their lighting and portrait (fomal and candid) photography skills. In essence, this book is about using artificial lighting, specifically, large lighting set-ups.

This 236 page coffee-table book is well written, easy to understand and is filled with many useful tips and techniques. The example photographs are incredible. Chapters titles include the following:

Shoot What You Love, Keep Your Eye In the Camera, The Logic of Light, There’s Always Something To Bounce Light Off Of, Joe’s Lighting Tips, Joe’s Camera Bag, and Joe’s Lighting Gear.

The book is organized in a two page spread format with one page devoted to describing the specifics of a shoot and the opposite page containing the resulting photograph. My favorite part of the text is the section titled ” How to Get This Type of Shot” where McNally expains how to duplicate the example photograph.

A lot of the techniques described in the text are elaborate and require professional lighting equipment of the type owned by professional portrait photographers. A few techniques are more simple in nature and can be accomplished with minimal lighting equipment such as photographing a group of people with candlelight. Joe’s tip is straight forward and easily mastered by the beginning photographer: “Use ISO 400 1/15th of a second, f2.8, and a half; Flash setting: dial minus 2EV (exposure value) and place a amber/warm gel over the flash head”. I wish McNally would have included more of these simple tips which would have benefited the less experienced photographer who does not own a lot of lighting equipment. I also would like to have seen more examples of Joe’s work where he used only existing natural light.

After completing this book, the reader will better understand how an assignment photographer works and the difficult conditions and time pressures they sometimes work under. The stories behind the photographs are fun and entertaining to read. Even though I’m not a portrait photographer, I found this book inspiring and difficult to put down.  I’m looking forward to trying some of the techniques described.



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