Book Review: The Moment It Clicks

I had the pleasure of reading through the highly acclaimed photography book The Moment It Clicks by world-renowned photographer Joe McNally. My official assessment? WOW!

Each page is filled with stories, insights, behind-the-scenes tips about setups, and of course some of Joe’s amazing work. We are treated to a look behind the lens into the unpredictable world of professional photography at the hands of one of the industry’s masters.

Throughout the book, Joe takes an image and uses it to illustrate an important concept or technique. Whether it’s how to bounce light from one source to fill an area of your subject or how to soften sunlight coming through a window or how to get your subject(s) to look more natural.

Though he doesn’t give an exact lighting diagram – which a number of reviewers had hoped for – many of the amazing images come with a short discussion about the position and number of lights in relation to the camera and subject and what to look out for while setting up a similar shot.

It’s not just about lights and angles, though. Yes, using interesting lighting, compositions, and poses help to make your images look their best the main thing is always the subject and how that subject is communicating with the viewer. Photography can be a very intimate medium, capturing moments in time, conveying emotion, telling stories. As Joe talks about over and over in the book, light and color are what we as photographers use to tell those stories.

Along with the opportunity to examine the tremendous examples of Joe’s art, the chance to read the stories behind the images were just as moving and truly set this book apart from your average “how-to” or “coffee-table” book.

Joe’s style is conversational. Just as the idea for the book was inspired by one of Joe’s live presentations, the book is told as though you are sitting with Joe and asked him to tell you how he accomplished this photo or that. I sat at times in awe, at times close to tears, and at times laughing out loud at all the things you don’t see when you look at an image and how the back story can really make an already beautiful photo unforgetable.

I was amazed by how often and how easily luck and the unexpected can trump the best layed plans. The number of times Joe recounts how he was in the right place at the right time or he fired his camera at a decisive moment that just made the frame is astonishing. In the end, it just goes to show you that experience and know-how are key and the equipment, while important, is secondary.

I can’t recommend a book much more highly than I do this one. I was inspired on every levelĀ and came to the bottom of each page wanting more. Not only will you witness the work of one of the world’s top shooters, you will learn how to be a better photographer yourself.

  • great review Jason

    July 9, 2008 at 10:11 am
  • Your review makes me want to read the book more than ever. Great job!

    July 9, 2008 at 1:33 pm

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