I’m a big fan of Joe McNally and his photography. He, along with Jay Maisel are perhaps the two people who have influenced my photographic career the most. I identify with Joe more, perhaps because we are of similar age and seem to have so much in common. For example:
Joe: Went to Journalism school (Syracuse University) intent on becoming a sports writer. After taking a class in photojournalism, he decided that his career involved having a camera in his hands.
Me: Went to Journalism school (Carleton University) intent on becoming a sports writer. After taking a class in photojournalism, I decided that I really enjoyed having a camera in my hands.
Joe: Loves the sound of the shutter.
Me: I love the sound of the shutter.
Joe: Admits he is a bit of a dreamer.
Me: I can take a trip without leaving the farm and frequently do.
Joe: The son of a small Irish lady who could instill fear in the hearts of anyone she chose to.
Me: The son of a small Irish lady who did instill fear in the hearts of everyone she met.
Joe: As a child he moved frequently due to his father’s employment.
Me: As a child I moved frequently due to my father’s employment.
Joe: Commonly makes pop culture references to the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s.
Me: Commonly makes pop culture references to the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s.
Joe: Loves to find a way to make things work.
Me: Love to find a way to make things work.
Joe: Often makes self-depracating comments (because he’s humble.)
Me: Often makes self-deprecating comments (because they’re true.)
Joe: Says that If nothing else, he is tenacious.
Me: Been called tenacious many times (Terribly Tenacious Terry Tinkess).
Joe: Says he is a generalist because he’s not good enough at any one thing to specialize at it.
Me: Says I am a generalist because I’m definitely not good enough at any one thing.
Joe: Loves to teach and share what he knows.
Me: Loves to teach and share what I know, such as it is.
Here is where it starts to fall apart a bit:
Joe: Nikon shooter for over 35 years.
Me: Nikon shooter for over 435 days (Canon convert; should have done it sooner).
Joe: Once had the cover of National Geographic and Life on the newsstands at the same time.
Me: Once read both the cover of National Geographic and Life while standing at a newsstand.
Joe: Has an interest in climbing tall buildings.
Me: I have no interest in climbing tall buildings but will take the elevator to the top if there’s no glass floor.
Seriously though, I don’t for one minute think I am anywhere near the photographer Joe McNally is, but I’m working to head in that direction, normal human life span probably being an issue though.
My point is that regardless of where you are in your photographic journey, you will find people you learn from and people who you would like to compare yourself against, as a way of seeing how your work measures up. I think you learn something from every person you come into contact with during your life, so why shouldn’t you look towards those people you feel a connection to?
The funny thing is, Joe McNally himself does not think he should be compared to the people he learned from, believing that each subsequent generation stands on the shoulders of those who came before. In my mind, that is exactly how it should be, and I consider myself honoured to have had the opportunity to cross paths with so many people so willing to share. I feel strongly the obligation to continue the practice.