A Great Face for Radio

Mohamed Somji and the folks at Gulf Photo Plus have made good on their threat and posted their video of the live shootout between Zack Arias, JoeyL and yours truly.

Two things learned.

First: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." (But only slightly less well- known is this: "Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!")

And second, "Never wear a black shirt into a dark auditorium when you are being interviewed with just one hard light."

The video, and links, inside.

This is the official video, but if you would like to watch it unfold real-time (more sweating!) there is a set of bootlegs (of my session and Zack's as far as I can tell) which were shot from the stands.

Not sure if he filmed Joey's session. But then, they did not have to compress Joey's shoot for the final video, anyway. Heh.

Thanks again to my coconspirators, Zack and Joey, and many thanks to the folks at Gulf Photo Plus for such a fun, exhausting, week.

And next time, I wanna be the one heckling Joe.


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Blogger Eric Doggett said...

That's a pressure cooker, for sure. Especially having your shots on the big screen while you are working through the lighting.

March 29, 2010 11:33 AM  
Blogger ErikRc said...

"Fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders." Gives a whole new meaning to the words "talking head".

March 29, 2010 1:35 PM  
Blogger DGV said...

hmm...you may have spelled Mohammed Somji's name wrong.

March 29, 2010 1:35 PM  
Blogger salvadorparada said...

I've never realized that Joe McNally is the older brother of Matt Damon!

March 29, 2010 2:11 PM  
Blogger VT said...

Hello! My name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father! Prepare to die!

Good video.

March 29, 2010 2:19 PM  
Blogger John said...

Wow. Big stones to do that on-stage in front of hundreds. Awesome.

Really appreciate the way to talked us through your thinking and the sequence of steps, you're a terrific teacher and good sport.

March 29, 2010 2:21 PM  
Blogger Mikey said...

That looked Very fun and very intense at the same time!

March 29, 2010 2:24 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

That would be fun to see in person.

March 29, 2010 2:46 PM  
Blogger sevemiller said...

I LOVE watching "Princess Bride" with my little girls.


"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

I would have been like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News if I was in your shoes in Dubai. The faucet would have been wide open and I would have been drenched.

March 29, 2010 3:35 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Maybe it was just me, but I felt a little uncomfortable watching and listening to Joey being shoved into taking the shot for the screen.....

March 29, 2010 4:41 PM  
Blogger Jade Falcon said...

Totally off topic, but I figured you might be interested in this from MAKE magazine. It's the ultimate DIY camera remote with a supposed 2-mile radius.


March 29, 2010 6:57 PM  
Blogger brauhaus said...

David - Just one opinion, but I have to say, that video was almost painful to watch. If I were looking to hire a photographer, I know who I'd hire. Or rather, more specifically, who I wouldn't. There's a vast difference between edgy and sophomoric. Edgy pulls the Polaroid gag and then follows it up and gives the audience what they paid good money to come see, some quick useful tips and demonstrations about how the pros get the job done done, as you and Syl did. Sophomoric -- well, at this point, we all know what that looks like. They used to say "on the internet, no one knows you're a dog." I think, these days, with multitudes of media streams, the opposite is true. Everyone knows.

March 29, 2010 8:50 PM  
Blogger brauhaus said...

Whups, meant you and Zach Arias, rather than Syl Arena.

March 29, 2010 9:35 PM  
Blogger Stewbphoto said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 29, 2010 10:59 PM  
Blogger dkile said...


What a blast. Enjoyed the paparazzi thing idea. So how much does it take to bribe Joe?


March 29, 2010 11:11 PM  
Blogger David said...


Going rate: 100 Dirhams. No matter where you are.


Thanks! Fixed. (But only one 'm' in the middle.)


The problem was, the emcee kept thinking he was only joking, and was pressing him to get on with it. :)


I dunno. It was a calculated stunt. I see both sides of it.

[bait]Of course, I would like to think there was some abject fear involved, too.[/bait]

March 29, 2010 11:34 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Looks like you had a great time. Great idea - what was your inspiration? Would you be willing to post your final shot? It only flashed for a moment and I'd love to look at it in detail.
Best, Steve

March 30, 2010 12:10 AM  
OpenID daligeri said...

Agreed, that Polaroid stint could have been awesome. Y'know, if there was actual picturetaking involved. Even if he set everything up and pooped one out of a Polaroid back ... that would have been like The Joker and his *bang* gun.

Thanks for showing respect David. Unfortunately, some people are too busy worrying about being edgy and damaging the credibility of other young photographers.

As a side note, High Noon? Awesome movie. Princess Bride might be a perennial favourite, but I love me some Westerns. And you can't beat the tension in those old movies, back before special effects were considered mandatory.

March 30, 2010 12:19 AM  
Blogger David said...


Already posted my final, a couple of weeks ago, here: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2010/03/speedlights-at-twenty-paces.html

March 30, 2010 1:22 AM  
Blogger Emmanuel said...

Fantastic inspiring work as always. To me, you're,by far the winner of this shoot out!
I've been a fan of yours since I discovered your blog a year ago, and learned since a huge deal from your work and advice. Hope you'll stop by in France some day. Cheers !

March 30, 2010 7:04 AM  
Blogger brauhaus said...

Calculated - I'm sure it was. Maybe they just <A HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Climate_Orbiter>Used the wrong units for the calculation</A>.

Think its really a matter of context and then follow through. You all were at a teaching photo conference, not shooting for a poorly scripted beer commercial. The schtick came off as lame, in my opinion.

March 30, 2010 7:30 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

If I were watching that in the audience, I would have felt a bit ripped off from the JoeyL performance too. Ditto brauhaus' comments about sophomoric. Professionalism is part of being a professional and that's forgotten too much lately, including by customers who only shop for the cheapest price instead of professionalism and experience...

March 30, 2010 10:20 AM  
Blogger allan said...

Sounds like maybe people are being a little hard on JoeyL. What could he hope to add after following those two guys?

If he had gone first or, even worse, been the only participant it would have been terrible unprofessional.

Looked like it was a moment of levity as opposed to a "teachable moment" (that talent trumps tech).

March 30, 2010 12:13 PM  
Blogger nchambers said...

In the video, I noticed that you said you wanted to shoot at ASA 400 and that a lot of your pictures seem to have that in common. Is that just where you find the best trade off of picture quality vs power from your lights, or something else? I apologize in advance if you've covered this before in a post that I haven't come across yet. Thanks for all the great info you share and this great blog.

March 30, 2010 12:49 PM  
Blogger nchambers said...

In the video, I noticed that you said you wanted to shoot at ASA 400 and that a lot of your pictures seem to have that in common. Is that just where you find the best trade off of picture quality vs power from your lights, or something else? I apologize in advance if you've covered this before in a post that I haven't come across yet. Thanks for all the great info you share and this great blog.

March 30, 2010 12:50 PM  
Blogger Gregory said...

I think people are being a bit too hard on JoeyL.

I think one key here is audience. His audience for that presentation was the students at the class, who had just spent the last week in photographic lighting workshops. Given that audience, he viewed this as a fun show and chance to unwind, not a serious learning experience, as that had been done already, and he guessed that the participants had had enough. Instead, he tried to make them smile by doing something wacky. Did he make a mistake in judging that audience and their patience for "one more class?" Maybe, but it's hard to tell without having been there.

What he definitely was NOT doing was catering to the blog community who would be watching the video afterward. To the blog community, this was a big let-down, as we didn't get to see one of the masters in action. Then again, we didn't have to pay to go to the class either.

Had I done it, I would have seen it as a chance for the students to see the pros working "for real" without having to focus on teaching. The idea being to be able to see what you'd see as a VAL on a real shoot (where time constraints and surprises are real issues), and not as a student in a class. In that respect, I think both Zack and David succeeded brilliantly.

All of that said, I will chime in with the sentiment that if he had used essentially the same method but come away with even a mid-level professional looking picture, his play would have gone from "fun show for the weary students" to "show-stealing awesomeness" as he reminded everyone that it isn't the equipment that makes the photo, it's the person behind the camera.

March 30, 2010 1:39 PM  
Blogger Rhino said...

Total noob, I know, but what does "lighting 5:6" mean. I have gone through the tutorials here and did some searches... Anyone can give me some enlightenment?

March 31, 2010 11:41 AM  
Blogger Rhino said...

I'm a noob to this, and I know this is probably a stupid question, but what does "lighting 5 6" mean? I have gone through several tutorials on lighting and all the tuts here but can't find anything. Can anyone offer any enlightenment? Thanks!

March 31, 2010 11:43 AM  
Blogger Joris said...

I don't agree on the JoeyL part. Imho he could have just as easily showed the audience not to forget the fun in Photography and not being too focused on equipment.
He certainly is an very talented photographer.

April 01, 2010 9:32 AM  
Blogger Cesar T Sanchez said...

I was a bit disappointed at first, with what Joey pulled. But giving a demonstration in a room which include pros that have been shooting for as long as he’s been alive, well. Having something up your sleeve may not hold true if the length of your sleeve is proportional to your years behind a lens. Sometimes we have ideas weaving in our heads for weeks wanting to try something out, but sometimes we are fresh out of them. A lot of us can probably come up with some new and crazy idea in 20 min but also a lot of us need a few days. If you are held in high regards, doesn’t necessarily mean you can pull off a holy-shirt-that’s-a-lot-of-sleeve response. Or maybe what he would have showed would have been the same thing the taught all week, after all some (not me) say his lighting is kinda monogamous.

April 02, 2010 3:12 AM  
Blogger bobusn said...

@ErikRc--talking head, indeed!

"Anybody want a peanut?"

April 06, 2010 9:16 AM  

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