Hot Shoe Diaries Review

Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNallyI am finally finished reading my copy of the Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally. If you want to check out what Joe had to say, here are links to a couple posts from his blog. But don’t forget to come back 🙂

Why did it take so long? Is it that dry? Far from it. It is an awsome book. Joe manages to work in quotes from several movies, including the Princess Bride. That was funny. I like his style of writeing. It might not be for everyone. Joe writes just like I imagine him talking, if he was talking to me. Just one photographer who has been around the block (or globe, really) to another photographer who wants to know more about this whole lighting thing. It feels very personal. You get to step into the shoes and life of someone who has taken shots with 47 Speedlights, or maybe it was 108. Not sure.

The book doesn’t really have seperate chapters per say. Some of the content is grouped into chapters, but the content is really one shoot. So it feels like every 2-4 pages is another chapter. This is good and bad. It’s great because I can read little bits at a time. I can read about one shoot while waiting for my kids to finish something. I can read about another shoot just before bed. You never have to stop in the middle of one of thes sections, because you only ever have a page or so to go. That’s where it got me. I never sat down with the intention of reading the whole thing, or 40 pages at a time. I just read bits and pieces every once in a while. Now that it’s done though, I wish there was more. I will probably start over with the location shoots again. I did with his previous book The Moment it Clicks too.

I found myself stairing at the pictures and rereading the text, trying to figure out where all the lights were hidden. He calls it a game of inches. Some of the lights are set up to just give that extra little flick of light that most wouldn’t notice, but taken all together, make for extrodianary images. I would find myself tyring to figure out the sight lines for the triggers too. How did he manage to fire that SB900 that is outside shooting through the window? With two extension cords from the hotshoe to a MU800 bounced off a reflector? What? Really?

As I am starting to get more and more into using little flashes, I am realizing just how amazing his pictures are. The lighting diagrams that he has in his head are astonishing. How he can look at a scene and know how to light it is still beyond me. Never mind the pulling it off. And yet it tells you how to do it. It’s all there. You just have to go out and give it a try yourself.

Thanks Joe. The book is great. I learned a lot, and expect to learn more as I reread it. I hope you sell a truckload. (To other non photographers that won’t try to put this knowledge to use 😉