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Shoot: Bar Owner, Working Location Options

Lesson 9 from: Lighting, Logistics, and Strategies for a Life in Photography

Joe McNally

Shoot: Bar Owner, Working Location Options

Lesson 9 from: Lighting, Logistics, and Strategies for a Life in Photography

Joe McNally

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Lesson Info

9. Shoot: Bar Owner, Working Location Options


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

Shoot: Bar Owner, Working Location Options

Can we get one of the small softboxes? Let's shut down all the lights, please. Just kill the power and everything, and let's fix up a, um- did you see Ken just do that? If I tried to do that, I would be in the hospital. What, do you want a small one, you said? A small box with a grid on it, please. White light? White light. Is this too much fun or what? You know, just think about, just think about what everybody else is doing today. They're sitting in offices looking at spreadsheets on a computer screen, you know? And we're out here in a bar playing with lights. You know? That's the best part of this, right? Because it's like being at permanent recess when you're outside with a camera, because everyone else is inside. They got something to do. They got someplace to go. Such a beautiful thing is, photographers, increasingly, like we're on our own, you know? So there's this beauty about being absolutely irrelevant. You know? Isn't that wonderful? You know? I find it absolutely ma...

gical, you know? And then, of course, you are relevant at certain points in time where you have to step forward and complete the job, but especially when I'm gadding about with the camera, conjuring ideas, trying to push an idea to somebody, and I actually get that across, ah man. You know, that's why you remain doing this, as hard as it is to continue to do. Tony. I have a question. Other than your years of experience, would you say your confidence comes from the fact that you're willing to be patient? Because if someone like me or some of us would do what you were doing, we'd be scared. We wouldn't know if we're in the dark for a while, maybe whether we're going down the wrong path. What would you say to that? Yeah, you have to have an idea. You have to be willing to run off a cliff with the idea without a guarantee of success. Like, nervous? I mean, I'm not just shooting this in front of you guys. I'm shooting in front of thousands of people. I don't care, I really don't. It's okay. If I fail, I fail. I have failed before, you know? The gist of this is about learning, and that's where, that's the important mission for you guys, for sure. But for me, I just enjoy time behind the camera. You know, I really do. And the fact that I kinda turned the corner on that photograph feels pretty good, you know? So anyway. Lens thrown up in this? We have a 35 on right now. I'm thinking 35, let's stay with 35. Or maybe, let's go with 24, let's go a little distorted. As I say, this is your fault. Come right here, Ryan. See where that beam is? I need you to line up right here. If you don't mind, and face this way. Push back further just a tiny bit. Okay, cool, alright. Everything else is shut down, so we only have this light going. So let's do this, let's shut the radio off right there. Alright, so we've got blackness up in here, okay. We've got blackness, alright. Now remember what you did with the squinch, kind of the- yeah. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Think, think of yourself as an evil minister. (audience chuckling) Like a Puritanical man of the cloth, okay? You have to have an imagination about this stuff. Okay, alright, so Callie, let's go kinda table top, let's start there. (crew member mumbling) 00. Alright, and I'm gonna go with 250 f/4, that was an excellent choice. Thank you, ISO 200, I would have agreed. You just saying that? I think so. I mean, just give me the camera. I just start shooting, you know? I mean, like, alright. Here we go. Come a little tighter to him, Callie. No, too much. Okay. Let's go see if we can go really beam on, okay, to him. Okay, let's go, it's too frontal. Let's go more table top, narrow eyes, okay. And I'm gonna put another stop of power into that light. Alright, now, would you confess your sins to that man? (chuckles) Now, let's do this. Guys? Do me a favor. Full cut of CTO, 2 sticks, either side, zoom to 200 and pop it off of those paintings. Why don't we, yeah, grab that auto there, good. I think the CTO's actually on the inside of that. I'd like it to happen today, Ken. (laughter) I'm just messing with him, you know? He's never worked with me before, so I'm just like, you know, you gotta mess with the guys every once in a while. Now, you know, the crew needs to do what the crew needs to do, and I'm very kinda, graceful about that, you know? Because this is a business where a lot of folks are involved, and I've met a whole bunch of folks and they, bunch of hardworking people. You know, you pick up a local photo assistant where you go and very, I would say 99% of the time, it's just a really terrific, hardworking person. You know, they're into it, you know? They're passionate about it. That doesn't mean you're not gonna mess with them, you know? So that's, what, group B guys? Okay, now. I don't know that I can spot this, but what you can do, and it usually works better if you're closer. That feels better, and B group? (crew speaking inaudibly) I don't know either. Okay, alright. Now, let's get a second, second one of these guys. Let's take this grid out, and let's put a normal front on this, but let's take the fill with the grid in. So what is it in this image, which is super cool, by the way. From this angle, wasn't expecting that to pop up that way. What is it that you just switched and why, that you just asked them to switch? What did I just switch and why? Well, I'm gonna continue switching, but this is white light, that's full cut of CTO. I think, let's pull, I'm gonna pull these CTOs out. Now, can I also get another light just like these, zoomed to 200, small stand, and that does have a CTO, and I'm gonna put it right here. Alright, now, who wants to come and help Callie out here? Nick, why don't you come on up? Don't mind helping us out? You just want, Nick? Hey, Callie. Nice to meet you man, you just want him to hold the film? Yes, please. Okay, so the film's actually gonna be the grid now, right? So this is B. A, B, C, Callie? Those are C now, yeah. C? D. See how quickly you just went to four flashes. Um, and it's not me. Trust me. It's not me. Would this work, if I just put up a single umbrella? No, absolutely not! It wouldn't even come close to working. Why? Mirror. Has to be small, selective light sources. Impact of Ryan's face, okay? Do I wanna light him nice and gentle? No. I wanna light him like he's a hellfire and brimstone minster, you know? Yeah. That's the deal. Do you want us to do it without D first? Do you wanna just stay with C, or do you wanna go right to D? Oh, yeah. Let's just do A, B, C. Okay. (crew speaks inaudibly) D. Alright, so directly behind Ryan, please, and try to make it as equidistant as you can or symmetrical as you can, and like, bang it right up into the middle of those two paintings, alright? Now that light may ruin everything, we'll see. We'll see. That might be too much light. Okay, alright, so A group? Alright. Group B, yeah, right in there. Alright, see now how he's got that little gleam in his eye? Right? Okay, group C. Detail 00. Yeah, I think it was the right call to eliminate those CTOs, don't you think? Because they're warm enough on their own. Okay. (crew speaks inaudibly) Group D, okay. Let's see if Ken screws this up. Little bit of detail now. Now imagine if that was a crucifix up there. (laughter) Wouldn't that be cool? Let's do this. Let's take group D up plus one in TTL. Alright. Alright, I came up a little bit. Now I've got the two flashes in the mirrors, so I have to get, I have to stay low, because these two flashes are starting to radiate. I gotta get rid of them, okay? And it would also be advisable to get rid of Callie's softbox, but- Alright. Now, let's just, for laughs, Ken? (laughter) No, I just, I find things funny, that's all. Can you take the light behind Ryan here and turn it around so it's a backlight? Raise it up and bang it into the back of his head. Are you doing okay, Ryan, or are you, like, losing it? Are you okay? Alright. Ooh. Now, we'd have to modulate that. You know, we'd have to modulate that. But you see where I'm going with this? Okay? Now, that's the language of light. Like, before with the bigger softbox and the fillboard, he looked like a nice, pleasant bar owner. Now, he looks like, welcome to my church. You will seek forgiveness now in an appropriate fashion. Or something along those lines.

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