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Direction and Wardrobe

Lesson 4 from: Lighting, Logistics, and Strategies for a Life in Photography

Joe McNally

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Lesson Info

4. Direction and Wardrobe


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Location Assessment


Gear Overview


Direction and Wardrobe


Exploring Location and Available Light


Bar Owner: Setting the Scene


Shoot: Bar Owner


Shoot: Bar Owner, Evolving the Look


Lesson Info

Direction and Wardrobe

I described the team in the first hour or so, but you didn't meet 'em, they were off the set, so time to meet them. The heart and soul of our studio Lynn DelMastro, over here. Hello, everyone. Okay, Lynn is wonderful. (applause) And as I said, she is, she wears many hats. Her overall title is Studio Manager, but she does our bids, our estimates, our billing, our client dialogue, emails, and then also when we finally do land that job, she then takes that hat off and she becomes a producer. Sometimes she wears them actually simultaneously, and those make for very long days, but Lynn has gotten everything for me from an elephant in the desert, to a 40 ton crane over the Venice canals, to, oh, I don't know, any manner of wild, sort of animals, from snakes, to this and that and the other thing. So yeah, she's one of the top Producers, I feel, in the business. She will be more self effacing than that, but let's just say you're an excellent producer. Would you accept that? I appreciate ...

that. Okay. Thank you. The other member of our team that I mention that you did not meet, is Michael Cali, back in here. Cali has been with us for seven years. He came as an intern, left, came back, as a Second Assistant, became a First Assistant, and now he holds dual titles of First Assistant and Chief Videographer, and he's been with us for seven years. Came out of the Hallmark Institute of Photography, and got a good grounding, I mean, the Hallmark Institute was, you know, a good overall kind of intensive... What is it 10 months, or something like that, Cali? Yeah, it was 10 months. 10 months, and so he came to us well equipped with certain skills, Photoshop, and stuff like that. And so he is a lot of the underpinnings of the day to day operation of the studio. Including delivery of clients, finished files to the client. Okay, on an average job, if we're delivering, you know, finished tiffs, Cali is the one doing the Photoshop. If it goes beyond, and he's very good at it, but if it goes beyond, into a specialized realm, we do liaison with other Photoshop experts, I guess you could call, you know, retouchers who really do it for a living. Then we have Anne Cahill, who might be watching. Anne. Anne, in addition to being our Director of Social Media and Marketing, is my wife, and she's amazing. We met, she was a Nikon Tech Rep for 12 years, so she knows the cameras backwards and forwards, and then she left Nikon, and became the Director of the Professional Division at Adorama Camera for about three years, and she actually created the Professional Division. And that essentially, I mean, there's a lot of various things that she had to do there. One of the principle ones was marketing and social media, to advance the mission of the store. So, she came on to the studio in that capacity, and she's been amazing at it, so we are a small, but wonderful team, and we're here, most of us here. And Linda is with us as well. Linda is not core staff, she is a freelancer. She's a wonderful photographer, and she comes in a couple days a week and Linda is our logistics person. Would you say that Cali? Yes. Yes. You know, she keeps us in line. Serial numbers, camera logs, files, the equipment depo. My garage is acclimatized, so all the equipment lives out there, and so we keep it dehumidified and there's certain kinds of temperatures for the batteries, you know, and everything out there. And Linda has that kind of garage, I don't even know where things are in my own garage, but Linda does, you know, so Linda's amazing, a detail person. Fair enough? I think we're bringing in Andrew, to also join us. Yes, tomorrow, or actually later today, you'll meet Andrew Tomasino. He's a wonderful photographer based in Pennsylvania. He is part of our studio family, he comes up quite regularly, 'cause what happens now, because we are a small team, and say, we live in an era now where the BTS is just about as important as the actual shot. Have you experienced that? You know, client wants the BTS. So, that's when Cali then, puts on his videographer hat, he's no longer my First Assistant. And that kind of, well, if I didn't have Andrew, it would be hard, because Cali knows the way I work, he knows the systems, etc. Andrew steps in quite fluidly. Good photographer, he'll be here later today. And that's kind of the sum total of. As I say, we're a very small studio, but we've done a lot of major projects, and when we go at something, we go at it really really hard, and we're all in, 'cause we are a team. And as I said earlier, yeah, everybody says oh, Joe McNally did this wonderful picture. Okay, fine, you know. I'm happy that someone likes the picture, but behind that camera, okay, are all of us. It is very much a team effort, so I can't stress that enough. 'Cause I don't have that skills, I mean if I'm left to do Photoshop, you don't want to know that, you know, you don't want to see that. To the extent that I trust Lynn implicitly, in all manner of things, I also trust her sense of taste and style, so when we're on the set, she not only is the Producer, but I will call her in questions of wardrobe, questions of makeup. What do each of us look for when we start to edit pictures? Lynn has a set of things that she's really keyed in on. Cali has a set of things he's keyed on. I have a different subset that I am looking for. So hopefully if someone's collar is like this, I might not even notice it, 'cause I'm into the, I mean, like camera look, you know, like yeah, yeah, okay, do this. Now that's nice. I'm thinkin' about, you know, there's a lot of programs running in the background in my head. Are the lights firing? How is this working? How much time do I have? Is the client upset, or whatever it might be. So I might miss certain things, and Lynn will be at the camera, and sort of say wait, wait, no, we have to do this. We have to, you know, no I think this works with this. And we just did that with Ryan, how about we introduce Ryan? Our first subject, the... (applause) Our bar owner/bartender, he's gonna be our first subject, and he's got a wonderful, wonderful kind of visage and demeanor for photograph, and I think it's going to be just fun to do this. So he showed up in basic street clothes, and had a rack outside, an array, and so Lynn kind of went through it, you wanna talk about that, just breaking up color? Sure, we went through, there's a rack of clothes outside, and we don't actually have a wardrobe stylist on set with us per se, so what Joe is describing, that I often do, is I'll jump in, sometimes with a stylist as well, and we'll just confer, but the clothes and the wardrobe options that Ryan brought were wonderful, and this just stood out, it was like, there we go, this'll be fantastic. What we might have him do, is roll up the sleeves. You know, if you wanna have more of that bartender washing the counter look, you know. And otherwise, this man's good to go. Yeah, he basically walks in the door, and he's a photograph, which is pretty wonderful, and less maintenance and less fuss, absolutely a big fan of that on the set. So, we're gonna start, now there were some comments, right? On Kenna, that folks wanted me to kind of go over a little more closely some of the equipment and also how the flashes are gonna talk to each other, and we'll get into that, I kinda glossed over that, 'cause there's just a bunch of lists and stuff like that. Trust me, I'm totally comfortable with any manner of question, or if you just want to stop for a minute and ask questions, please do that, 'cause this is not just me talking. I always say this, and I really sincerely mean it. I enjoy the company of photographers, right? We are, as I said earlier, we are in the same boat together. So I don't view this as a lecture, this is not a one-way street, like, whoosh. It's a discussion, it's a discussion. You guys have strengths and weaknesses, same as I do. All photographers share them, there's a commonality of experience that we all have here, so not a lecture, more of a discussion, more of a participation. That's really where this is, so by all means, you know, join in, sing out, talk to me, whatever. The only thing I might have, quote on quote, "on you guys", is that I've been doing it longer. I got 35 years of experience backlogged, and it's still amazing to me, after 35 years down the pike, how many bad pictures I still shoot. Get used to it. Embrace your mistakes, take 'em to dinner. Sit down, have a conversation. 'Cause they are your path to better pictures, they absolutely are, so if you're not makin' mistakes, you're not, you might as well hang the cameras up, 'cause you're not challenging yourself, you're not being adventuresome. If you think you know it all, definitely hang the cameras up. Then you can go inside and become an editor. (laughs) 'Cause the editors of course know it all, and we're just bumbling around out here in the real world. So, no, I've been blessed to know a lot of really terrific editors, who have helped shape my work over time, and pushed me in the right direction.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Joe McNally Gear List
McNally Lighting Diagrams

Ratings and Reviews


What is there to say, this is a master at work. I feel like I owe Joe a hundred lunches for the information I’ve learned from him and used in jobs through the years. Personally I relate to his slightly self-deprecating style quite well. Joe’s a confident, supremely knowledgeable and incredibly experienced photographer who doesn’t need to wear that on his sleeve to get the point across. He is also clearly a great leader who has built a terrific team. I snap up everything of Joe’s I can find and use it as a library, where every time you watch you take away something new. Thanks Joe, you’re a legend and good on Creative Live for offering this wonderful and beautifully curated course.

ileana gonzales photography

When I saw the chance to learn from the great Joe McNally I jumped through the screen at the chance to be in the audience. It's one thing to see how a fantastic photographer works, thinks, composes and styles, but to get a behind the curtain view at the way his entire shop operates was truly amazing. By allowing us to see Lynn's processes and Cali's workflow it encouraged me to diversify before taking the plunge into the business side of photography. Truly an amazing team and an unforgettable learning experience.


Joe is fantastic! The wealth of information, experience and extraordinary talent he shares is invaluable! He's also a very engaging, humorous instructor who keeps an audience a part of the "discussion." Don't miss a Joe McNally class, seminar or workshop opportunity!

Student Work