Joe’s seminar is as much a demonstration of lighting possibilities as well as a sharing of philosophy. Due to field constraints, Joe’s lighting solutions have to be deployable quickly and effectively. He travels with an equipment load of 240 kg, consisting of a wide array of lighting tools as well as backups of backup kits. He shoots RAW + jpeg, the former format for archival and the latter for quick workflow. He has two assistants but he is still vulnerable to human error.
He is, however, not afraid of making mistakes. ‘So what?’ he challenged. He is confident that many editors at National Geographic have seen his every mistake when he shot with slide film. Instead he encourages us to appreciate that mistakes are paths to your future. ‘If you don’t make mistakes, you are playing it too safe,’ he added.
Joe has a fierce reputation of winning assignments that others avoid. He likes to solve problems and handles challenges as part and parcel of his learning process. He urges us, as photographers, to realize how short and precious our time is when we are behind the camera. Hence it is for us to optimize every minute of it. The objective is to convey the impact to those who are not present with good images.
Joe advises us to ‘take the job and pull it out of the fire.’
On Joe’s White Balance (WB) Rule of Thumb
Get the skin tone right and be prepared to let the background go to hell.
Crude as it sounds, WB@location is never precise science. There will always be a need to compensate for the flash due to the ‘ambient bleed’. Since no camera system, presently, can solve all the issues, we have to actively work things out ourselves.
On Being Hands On
Joe highlighted perhaps the one main flaw of his, and any other, seminar.
Practice. Photography is a very hands-on activity. The photographer doesn’t learn merely by watching or reading. Seminars and books inspire and share knowledge but they are not replacements for actual photographing. The photographer must experiment and learn from practice. The best way to start, according to Joe, is two speedlights and any lighting tools that can be packed into a camera bag.