Book Review: The Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally

Joe McNally is one of my favorite photographers and his book The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light From Small Flashes is one of my favorite photography books.

I think no other photographer illustrates the concept of photography being paining with light as well as McNally. Rather than using big studio lights he uses small hot shoe flashes to light his scenes on set.

Wait! Haven’t you been told you should not use on camera flash because your photos will look flat? McNally proves the opposite. By using small off-camera flashes he integrates different sources of light in his scenes in a way that the flash light cannot be recognized as such, giving a very natural feeling.

Further, I like the fact, that McNally shoots portraits using wide angle lenses. This adds context to his photos, that consequently tell a real story. While many photographers use portrait lenses with wide apertures and shallow depth of field, McNally uses light to separate his subjects from the background and create depth.

This short video gives a glimpse of his photography approach:

In his book, on 303 pages, McNally describes the creative process of creating his photographs, the stories behind and how he uses flash light.